Grip style: Vardon (overlapping)Vardon grip Hand position: strongstrong grip Grip style: Modified interlockinginterlock grip

    Mikko Ilonen Grip
    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?


Golf Grip Terms
Note: All descriptions are for right-handed golfers.

Vardon / Overlapping Grip: Method of holding the club by placing the right pinky finger on top of the crease between the left index and middle fingers. Named for British golf legend Harry Vardon.
Interlocking Grip: Method of holding the club by wedging or locking the right pinky finger between the left index and middle fingers.
vardon grip interlocking grip
Neutral: Position in which the hands are directly aligned with the clubface. The golfer with a neutral grip can typically see two full knuckles on the back of the left hand when addressing the ball.
Weak: Position in which the hands are rotated left (toward the target) on the club’s handle. The golfer with a weak grip can typically see one full knuckle on the back of the left hand when addressing the ball.
neutral grip weak grip
Strong: Position in which the hands are rotated right (away from the target) on the club’s handle. The golfer with a strong grip can typically see more than two full knuckles on the back of the left hand when addressing the ball.
Reverse Overlap Putting Grip: Conventional putting grip style with the left hand above the right and the left index finger extending downward, on top of the fingers of the right hand.
strong grip reverse overlap
Cross-Handed / Left Hand Low Putting Grip: The right hand is placed at the top of the handle, above the left hand, the opposite of a conventional grip.
Claw Putting Grip: The left hand is placed in the conventional position, at the top of the handle, with the right hand lower on the handle and holding the club between the thumb (on the grip’s underside) and fingers.
cross handed Claw Grip