A golf club isn’t a rake. It’s not a broom, an axe or a fishing net, either. Unlike those tools, a golf club can’t simply be picked up and wielded willy-nilly. Not if you aim to swing it effectively.
Unfortunately, most golfers grip the club with no more care than they’d take to grab a mop. Their hands akimbo, at odds with each other and squeezing the handle with vise-like pressure, they inhibit their power and accuracy before the swing even starts.
Bottom line: A proper golf grip is vital to making a good or perfect golf swing.
Of course, that raises an obvious question: What is a proper golf grip? The obvious answer: It depends on the player. Whatever grip helps him or her deliver the clubface squarely to the ball with maximum speed is correct and proper golf grip.
But that’s not exactly helpful insight. Better to look at the common ingredients all good grips share, regardless of their style or position.
First and foremost, the palms face each other directly. This allows the hands to work in unison rather than letting one dominate. A sound proper golf grip allows the wrists to hinge freely, up and down, on the backswing, downswing and follow-through.
In a proper golf grip, the perfect placement of the palms and fingers permits freedom of movement and promotes feel without excess hand/wrist action. And grip pressure is light enough to prevent tension in the arms, firm enough to keep a solid correct hold on the club.
Aside from those common elements, many good grips are as different as night and day. Let’s examine the various grip styles and positions, then go step-by-step through the gripping process.
The Three Grip Styles
Nearly all golfers hold the club using one of three methods. The main difference between the three is the placement of the right pinky finger (left pinky for left-handed golfers). In all three grips, the left thumb is extended down the handle between the right fingers and thumb pad.
- Overlapping or Vardon grip: The right little finger is placed on top of the crease between the left index and middle fingers. British golf legend Harry Vardon popularized this method in the early 20th century, and it remains the most widely used style among amateurs and pros.
- Baseball grip: Many novice golfers employ this grip style, though very few experienced players do. The right pinky is not overlapped or interlocked with the left hand, but simply placed next to the left index finger on the handle.
The Three Grip Positions
Not to be confused with grip type or style, grip position describes where the hands are placed on the handle relative to the clubface and target.
- Neutral: The hands/palms are directly aligned with the clubface, perpendicular to the target line. With a neutral grip, you can see 2 – 2 ½ knuckles on the back of the left hand at setup.
- Weak: The hands are rotated left (toward the target). With a weak grip, you can see fewer than two full knuckles on the back of the left hand.
- Strong: The hands are rotated right (away from the target). With a strong grip, you can see more than 2 ½ knuckles on the back of the left hand.
How to Take Your Golf Grip
Most golf instructors teach their students to grip the club with the left hand first, then the right hand. Here’s how it’s done.
- Cradle the handle in your fingers, leaving a space of ½” – 1” between the top of the grip and your hand. (This enhances your control of the club.) The underside of the grip should cross the middle of your index finger and run diagonally to the base of your pinky.
- Close your fingers and wrap your palm around the top of the grip, with the thumb running down the handle. The thumb should be slightly right of center as you look down.
- Place the club on the ground as though addressing a ball. Ideally, you’ll see 2 – 2 ½” knuckles on the back of your left hand, meaning you’re in a neutral position. More knuckles and your grip is on the strong side; fewer and you’re grip is weak.
- With your left hand in place, wrap your right fingers around the underside of the grip. Your right pinky placement depends on the style of grip you’re using (overlapping, interlocking or baseball, described above).
- Place the right thumb pad on top of the left thumb, squeezing lightly.
- Your right index finger should be slightly separated from the middle finger, squeezing the handle in a trigger-like manner.
- Once you’ve secured both hands to the club, release them so that your palms are flat against the handle. The palms should face each other directly.
One final note: Make sure not to grip the club too tightly. On a scale of 1 – 10, with 1 being extremely light and 10 extremely tight, your grip pressure should be about 4 or 5.