Considering that your hands are the only thing that ever touches the golf club, few fundamentals are more important than a solid grip. The key to placing your hands on the golf club properly are simple in theory; however, like most simple things in life, it’s those minute details that matter most. Before we get into any of the technical aspects of how to get a proper golf grip, it’s important to ensure that our equipment is right for us.
What Grip to Get
Unlike most other golf equipment, golf grips are relatively cheap, and an imperative essential to maximizing your feel and technique. Whenever you visit your local golf retail store or pro shop, you’ll see the wide variety of golf grips available, but for the scope of this article, we are mainly concerned with the size of your grips.
Grips that are too small will have too much of a tendency to turn in your hands, while oversized grips can make it difficult to square the club at impact, creating a tendency to hit cuts or slices.
Many of the larger retailers offer a guide to which you can place your hand on a chart to see which size benefits you. If you don’t have access to one, you can always take a measurement of the distance from your wrist crease to your middle finger, and provide this information to the sales rep or golf shop attendant.
The proper fit should allow your middle finger to barely touch your palm. If you buy your grips online, manufacturers such as Golf Pride, Ping, and Lamkin have sizing charts to help determine what grips are best for you.
NOTE: While grips are cheap individually, the cost of changing out thirteen (excluding the putter) grips can add up quickly, especially if you change into new ones and you discover they aren’t comfortable.
If you find a grip you like, it’s best to get one or two clubs (preferably ones you use often during a round of golf) regripped and test them out for a range session or round before committing to a full set change. Once you get your grips squared away, we can delve into the more technical and feel aspects of the proper grip.
The Hands Have to Work Together
The overall key to a golf grip is that your hands work together to deliver the club squarely at impact. With both hands on the club, there are three main ways for your hands to sit on the club relative to each other:
- The 10-finger (or baseball) grip: With this grip, all of your fingers will make some type of contact to the grip.
- The overlapping grip: All five of your fingers in your top (left hand for you righties) hand are on the grip while your bottom hands’ pinky rests on top of the top hand’s index finger.
- The interlocking grip: instead of resting on top of your index finger, your fingers at the contact point link together, resting on the opposing hand’s knuckle.
The 10-Finger Grip
Each grip has its pros and cons. The 10-finger grip creates the most sensation of “control” with the club. This can be both a good and a bad thing. For example, if your club tends to move all over the place during the swing, having more contact points may help secure the club in your hands. The problem is that too many contact points can create inconsistencies in your grip pressure in each hand.
The Overlapping Grip
Overlapping grips are usually the most popular amongst men or (typically) anyone with large hands. It brings the hands closer together, allowing them to work more as an aligned unit, which is ideal. The con is, depending on your preference, the club will feel the least under control than the other two grips.
The Interlocking Grip
If you like the idea of having more of a solid connection between the hands and club, then the interlocking grip will suit you best. The only downside to this grip is with the fingers interlocking, it can create some tension in the area of your intertwined fingers and knuckles.
What really matters when choosing a grip style is how your hands feel on the club. If it feels good, go with it. This comfort should also extend into the technique of how you hold the golf club as well.
The Upside Down ‘V’
Some of the most common terminology used to describe someone’s grip include “weak”, “strong”, and “neutral”. What these refer to are the position of your hands relative to the clubface. For example, if you take your grip and look down, you’ll notice an upside-down “V” is created on both hands from your thumb and the base of your index finger. The general line of the points of these Vs determine where you fall on the weak-to-strong scale.
For right-handed golfers, the strongest grips will have these Vs pointing outside of your right shoulder. Players with stronger grips will tend to hook/draw the ball, and typically must focus on lower body rotation to keep the club from releasing too soon.
As your hands rotate to the left, the Vs follow, which will take your grip into the weaker spectrum. Players with weaker grips tend to hit the ball straight or with a fade, but typically require a great deal of hand rotation through impact. When the timing in your hand rotation is off, you can hit all sorts of different shots, most of which aren’t very good.
A neutral grip is typically defined as one where, when you look down at your hands, you can only see one of your left knuckles. The problem with using the definitions between what constitutes a weak, neutral, or strong grip is that they are arbitrary. However, there is a simple guideline any golfer can follow that will help determine the most comfortable grip for each individual.
Start with standing with both arms hanging loosely at your sides, and put the club in your left hand (for right-handers) and just close your hand over it, without turning it. Then, look down: how many knuckles do you see, and about where does your left-hand V point? Write these down as a guideline.
Once you have your left hand set, place your right hand on the club, matching your palm to the clubface as closely as possible, then close your fingers over it. The placement of your thumbs on the grip is something that will be debated amongst players and teachers alike.
Some will argue that the right thumb should touch your right index finger, while others will argue it should be on top of the grip, along with the thumb on your left hand. They both have their pros and cons, but what really matters is not putting any pressure on the shaft. As long as you aren’t adding any pressure into the grip from your thumbs, where they are placed doesn’t matter. Comfort when holding the golf club is the number one key.
For most players, holding the club as lightly as possible while still maintaining control is the optimal grip pressure. If your hands are too tight, you won’t be able to release the club properly, which can cause a whole host of problems.
One way to eliminate some of the pressure is to practice throwing the club down the fairway. Don’t worry about looking silly or like you have a temper problem. Tension is the most important thing to avoid in every aspect of golf, and considering the club connects to your body from your hands, tension in your hands, arms, and shoulders can make golf very frustrating and difficult to enjoy.
Get Used to the New Grip
If you find yourself having trouble with your game, and feel like a grip change could help, know that these kinds of changes can be incredibly tedious. The more time you spent with your hands being placed in a certain way, the more your hands will want to revert to what is comfortable until you’ve ingrained the new feel as normal.
You can do a couple of things to help change the sensation. First, before every round, go to the range and take an extra second or two to make sure your grip is how you want it. Secondly, while you’re on the golf course and waiting for your turn, take the club you plan on using and take your grip beforehand, just to continue to incorporate the new feel in your hands and arms.
I hope the above information will help you improve your game as well as your understanding of the importance of getting a grip that fits properly, the various types of grips available, and how they can affect the ball flight. Take what information is most suited to your game, and best of luck out on the golf course.