|Grip style: Vardon (overlapping)||Hand position: strong||Grip style: Modified interlocking|
It anchors the swing that delivered the biggest victory in Finnish golf history, which makes Mikko Ilonen’s grip worth a close look.
The veteran European Tour pro knocked off Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson en route to the 2014 Volvo World Match Play title, a mighty big deal in his icy home country. The win capped the best season of Ilonen’s 14-year career… So far.
Like his recent results, Ilonen’s grip is strong. Very strong. The 6’2” golfer clasps the club with a left hand turned so far to his right, his grip’s logo is nearly parallel to the target line. Contrast this with a neutral position, where the logo is almost perpendicular to the same line, to visualize just how extreme Ilonen’s grip is.
His right hand essentially matches the left, with the thumb/forefinger “V” directed at his right shoulder. Somehow, Ilonen avoids hitting huge hook after huge hook with this hold. He’s certainly not the most accurate driver out there, though, finding fewer than 60% of fairways on average.
He does shine on the greens, however. With his trusty putter, Mikko Ilonen’s grip is rather unusual. You try it: Assume a standard interlocking grip (pictured on this page); now, instead of pushing the right little finger up between the left index and middle fingers (with the fingertip sticking out), reverse it and push the pinky down between those fingers so that the tip is hidden and touching the handle. That’s how Ilonen putts.
Oh, he also leaves his glove on, a la Jack Nicklaus. It may look odd, but it’s effective. Ilonen ranked among Europe’s top 10 for putts per green in regulation in 2013 and ’14.
Our takeaway: If it works, who cares how it looks?