As the only physical link between your body and the golf club, the grip is arguably golf's most important fundamental. A good grip makes it much easier to move the hands and arms properly through the swing and hit the golf ball with a square clubface. It can also cure a lot of problem shots and help you develop a consistent set up.
The first step is orienting the hands on the club. For right-handed golfers, your left hand will be on top, closer to the butt of the shaft, with the right hand below the left. Lefties, of course, simply reverse the order. The thumb of the top hand is extended down the club's handle, not wrapped around the underside.
There are a several ways to unify the hands on the club. The three most common styles are described below, but choosing the right grip for you is mainly a matter of personal preference.
Give every method a try to find out what feels and works best.
Interlocking grip: With this grip, the pinky of the right (bottom) hand is locked between the index and middle finger of the left (top) hand. Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus are among the famous golfers who use this method.
Vardon or overlapping grip: The most popular grip among touring professionals, this method is similar to the interlocking grip. However, instead of linking the fingers together, you keep the left index and middle fingers together and place the right pinky finger on top of the gap between them.
A variation of this grip is the double overlap grip used by Jim Furyk. This is just like the traditional Vardon or overlapping grip except it involves two fingers overlapping the left hand (for right handed players). This grip can be a good fix if you tend to hook the ball or get too handsy. The extra finger overlapped will help the hands control the club as a unit. It is an obscure grip but has clearly worked well for Jim Furyk who is a great example of a player that has gotten the most out of his golf experimentation.
Baseball or 10-finger grip: Rarely used by pros, this is a fairly common grip among amateurs. There's no locking or overlapping of fingers, but you should still extend the thumb of the left (top) hand down the club, between the palm and fingers of the right hand, to provide stability. Some golfers grip the club exactly like a baseball bat, wrapping the left thumb around the handle.
- Keep your grip light! On a 1 to 10 scale, your grip pressure should be around 5 -- tight enough so the club doesn't slip during the swing, but loose enough to allow your wrists to hinge freely and keep tension out of the arms. For more on grip pressure click here.
- When taking your stance, grip the club in front of you to ensure that the clubface is square, not open (pointing right of target) or closed (pointing left).
Beginner Golf Tip – The Grip
There might not be a single fundamental in the game of golf that is more important than the grip. When you take your grip on any one of your clubs, you are forming the only connection that you have between your body and the club itself. All of the movements that you make with your body are going to have to pass through the grip and the handle of the club before they will be able to affect the ball in any way. If you get the grip right, you will be able to efficiently and effectively translate the motion of your body into the movement of the club. On the other hand, if you take a flawed grip, it will be difficult to hit good shots even if the rest of your body is doing everything perfectly. Any way you look at it, taking a proper grip is critically important.
One of the biggest challenges when trying to learn the grip is the fact that there is no one 'right' way to grip the club for all players. Sure, there are some definite mistakes that need to be avoided, and we will get to those later, but there is plenty of room for personal style and freedom in this part of the game. However, you need to make sure that the grip you settle on is going to help you swing the club effectively, as you don't want to be fighting your grip with each swing that you make. Everything within your swing, including your grip, needs to be working together if you are going to achieve success.
As a beginner, you might be a bit overwhelmed with the sheer volume of things that you need to learn in order to get started in this game. You have to figure out what kind of clubs to buy, you have to learn etiquette, you have to practice a variety of swings, and much more. However, if you would like to get your golf experience off to a great start, moving the grip toward the top of your to-do list is a smart choice. By ironing out the details of your grip right off the bat, you will be better prepared to work your way through some of the other challenges that are going to come along. It is hard to go back and change your grip once you have gained some experience, so get it right early on and then move on to other things. When you are confident in your grip, you will have one less thing to worry about on the course.
You should understand that, in general, you are going to have two grips that you use in golf – your full swing grip, and your putting grip. Most golfers use different grips for those two categories of shots (full swings and putts), with the putting grip being far easier to learn. You should be able to get yourself comfortable with a putting grip after just a couple of practice sessions, but the full swing grip is going to take significantly more time and effort.
All of the content below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
Often in golf it is easier to learn what you shouldn't do rather than what you should do. When it comes to the grip, there are a few mistakes that you absolutely need to avoid if you are going to have success with your swing. So, to get you off on the right foot, we have listed a few of those fatal flaws below. By making sure none of these mistakes are present in your golf swing grip, you will be one big step closer to building a quality swing.
- Squeezing too tight. This is the leading mistake when it comes to the grip across all golfers, but it is a particular problem for beginners. As you stand over the ball, you feel like you need to hold on tight in order to make sure you can keep control of the club throughout the swing. This, of course, is a natural reaction – you don't want to send the club flying into the distance when you swing through impact. However, holding on too tightly will actually inhibit your ability to swing the club. Too much grip pressure will make it nearly impossible to release the club through the hitting area, meaning the face will be open at impact time after time. Many new golfers struggle with a slice (a shot that quickly turns to the right in the air), and tight grip pressure is one of the leading causes of this error. By relaxing your hands on the club, the release will be able to take place through the hitting area and you will have a chance to get the club back to square in time. Also, your swing speed will improve as a result of the freedom that has been gained in your swinging motion.
- Placing the grip in your palm. Another one of the classic grip mistakes that is made by beginning golfers is putting the handle of the club too far up into the palm of the hand. Placing the handle into your palm might feel like it gives you more control, but again, this is a mistake that is going to cost you in terms of the release. With the club in your palm, your wrists won't be able to work as effectively during the swing, meaning your hands will be slow through the hitting area and the club head will be sluggish. Move the handle down into your fingers to permit the club to move as quickly as possible at the bottom of the swing. Ideally, you will have the grip of the club running along the base of your fingers, where your fingers connect to your palm. Get the club in that spot time after time and you will quickly notice how much faster you can swing through the hitting area.
- Failing to match up your hands. The hands need to work together on the grip, but all too often they are placed in a position where they have to work against each other instead. To make sure your hands are 'on the same page', the first thing you should do is position your palms such that they are facing each other. Most golfers find it easiest to accomplish this goal by first placing the left hand on the grip and then putting the right hand on to match. While you will need to check on this point regularly at first, it will become easier and easier to grip the club in this way as you gain experience. In fact, after a short period of time, this type of grip will become natural and you won't need to think about it going forward.
Avoiding the three mistakes listed above will help you to get on the right track in terms of your grip. You don't want to make the game more complicated than it needs to be as a beginner, which is why it is such a good idea to focus on these three points. None of these points are complicated, but all of them have a strong impact on your game. If you can simply steer clear of these costly mistakes, you can be confident you are moving in the right direction.
To Glove or Not?
Are you going to wear a glove when you play golf? That might seem like a simple question, but it gets a little more complicated when you think closely about the topic. There are pros and cons to using a golf glove, and there are successful players on both sides of the equation. The majority of golfers do use a glove, but that doesn't mean you have to go in that direction. Use the information offered up in this section to decide which is the best path for you as a new golfer.
First, we will discuss the arguments in favor of using a glove. For most golfers, using a glove is going to provide a better grip on the handle of the club. The friction that is offered up by a glove will help to secure your hand in place, meaning there will be little to no slippage as you swing. You don't want the club to twist in your hands as you strike the ball, and using a glove should help toward that end. Also, wearing a glove will help to soak up some of the moisture that might be on your hands throughout the day, again working to create a solid grip on the handle.
In addition to preventing the club from slipping, a golf glove can also protect the skin on your hands. Playing a full 18-hole round, plus hitting shots on the range before you start, can be hard on your hands. It is easy to develop a blister or two during the course of the day, especially if you aren't wearing a glove. While wearing a glove certainly won't guarantee that you aren't going to have any blister problems, it will be a good start. You don't want to have your round compromised, or even cut short, by the development of a painful blister.
While there are plenty of positives to using a golf glove, there are some negatives to be mentioned as well. For one thing, you will have to buy the gloves on an ongoing basis. Most golfers only get a few rounds out of a glove (at most) before they need to move on to a new one. This isn't going to be the most expensive part of playing golf, but it is a factor to keep in mind.
Also, you may find that you lose some feel for the club when you put a glove between your hand and the grip itself. This is a problem for some golfers and a total non-issue for others. Golf is a game that requires you to have a lot of 'feel' in your hands in order to produce all of the shots necessary to get around the course. If you lose feel due to wearing a glove, it may be better to try playing without one. Or, as many golfers do, you could choose to use the glove on full swings before taking it off to play the shorter feel shots on and around the greens.
To make this decision for yourself, the best thing to do is likely to experiment with hitting shots both with and without a glove. Head to the driving range with a new golf glove in your bag and hit a collection of shots both with the glove on your hand and with it put away in your pocket. What difference do you notice between the two types of shots? Are you more comfortable one way or the other? For most golfers, the right decision will make itself quite obvious after just a short period of work on the range.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Like most everything else in golf, it takes a lot of practice to get comfortable with your grip. If you simply show up to the course for your next round expecting to have a good grip because you read this article, you are going to be sadly mistaken. It is going to take plenty of time and effort to get comfortable with your grip, and comfort is the key to being able to swing the club freely. If the club doesn't feel natural in your hands, you will never be able to turn it loose through the hitting area with the confidence needed to hit great shots.
So, how do you go about the task of practicing your grip? To start, put a club in your hands as often as possible. Fortunately, you don't even have to be at the golf course to do this. For example, you can hold on to a club while you are around the house doing a variety of other things. Keep a club nearby and pick it up from time to time to form your grip, only to put it back down again. Doing this over and over – picking up the club, taking your grip, and putting it back down – will help you to quickly gain a level of comfort with the club in your hands that you will not get any other way. Practice might not actually make perfect when it comes to golf, but it certainly will make you considerably better.
Once you have gotten comfortable with how you are going to hold the club, the next step is to head out to the course in order to hit a few shots. However, since you are still learning how to hold the club while swinging, the best thing you can do is to hit short shots while getting started. Try hitting plenty of pitch and chip shots from around the practice green in order to gain a feel for your grip while the club is in motion. Since you aren't making a full swing at this point, it will be easier to trust in the grip that you have built. As you progress and gain confidence in your grip, you can gradually swing the club harder and harder until you are up to a full swing with the driver.
Another important point to keep in mind while practicing is the fact that you can't lose track of your grip while working on other parts of your game. Yes, there are a lot of techniques to remember when trying to make a good swing, but you don't want to forget to use a good grip each time you pick up the club. During a range session, focus on forming a solid grip before each swing. Don't rush through that part of the process, either – take your time, make sure your grip is just right, and then hit the shot.
Remember, on the range, you don't have to worry about keeping up with pace of play. This is the perfect place to take your time while focusing on the basics. You won't have quite as much time out on the course to pay attention to every small detail, so now is the time to do that work. When you leave the range and head for the course, you should feel well-prepared to replicate what you did on the range time after time during your round. Many golfers have trouble taking their 'range game' out onto the course, which is largely because those players don't practice the right way. Stick with a consistent pre-shot routine, pay attention to even the smallest details, and only hit shots when you are actually prepared to make a good swing. It might take you longer to go through a bucket of balls this way, but the work will be more than worth it in the end.
The Grip Itself
In golf, the word 'grip' can refer to two different things – it can mean the way you put your hands on the club, and it can also refer to the actual piece of rubber that is wrapped around the end of the shaft. While it is obviously important to place your hands correctly on the club time after time, it is just as important to have a quality grip on the shaft to allow you to maintain control from start to finish. If you have worn out grips on your clubs, or if you have grips that don't really fit your hands, you will be in for an uphill battle.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you always have relatively new grips on your clubs. Depending on how much you play, you probably shouldn't count on getting more than one or two seasons out of your grips. To get the best possible lifespan from the grips, do a good job of cleaning them on a regular basis after your rounds. The sweat and oils from your hands will quickly do a number on the condition of your grips if you don't take action to keep them in good repair. When you do have the grips changed, make sure to go to a golf shop which offers professional installation so you can make sure they are put on the clubs correctly. Most shops will even do the installation work for free if you purchase the grips from their store.
Beyond keeping your grips in good condition, you also need to make sure your grips are a fit for your hands. There are a variety of grip sizes available on the market today, so have your hands measured at a golf shop to ensure you are using the right size for you. Using grips that are too small will make it difficult to hold the club steady through the hitting area. On the other hand, using grips that are too fat will inhibit your release, meaning you will be prone to blocking your shots out to the right of the target. When you are able to put the right grips in place on your clubs, you will have another small piece of the overall golf puzzle in place.
To a beginning golfer, it is easy to see how the grip could seem like a relatively minor thing. However, the truth is that the grip is extremely important to your success on the course. Holding the club properly will make the swing easier, while holding the club the wrong way will make golf even harder than it already is. Take the time to learn the correct grip early on in your golf experience and you won't have to go through the painful process of changing your grip later on. Making a grip change is one of the toughest things for a golfer to do, but you won't have to deal with that headache if you get it right to begin with. Have fun and play well!