Because the hands are the only direct contact a player has with the club, it's imperative nothing is left to chance.
This includes how far up or down the hands should be placed on the handle. Although each player has their own unique way of holding a club, it is widely acknowledged a neutral grip is the one most likely to give the most success to golfers across the board. Before changing or adopting any particular type of grip, players should consult with a professional but here is a quick guide to a neutral grip.
- Place the club face behind the ball, keeping it square to your intended target.
- Firstly, let the grip run through the base of the left hand (for right handed golfers). The grip should begin at the joint of the little finger and run through the hand until it goes through the middle of the index finger.
- After the grip has been placed correctly, wrap the left hand over on top of the grip.
- When looking down on the left hand, players should be able to see two and a half knuckles. The V shape made by the thumb and index of the left hand should point towards the right shoulder.
- Depending on which method you prefer, the right hand joins the left hand on the grip with either a ten fingered (baseball), interlocking or overlap grip.
- The right hand sits on the grip with the left thumb covered by the base of the right thumb.
- The V shape made by the right thumb and forefinger should also point at the right shoulder.
After the neutral grip has been deployed, players must decide on how high or low on the handle the club should be held.
In general, for a standard shot, players should be leaving about half an inch of the grip visible above the left hand. This should ensure the handle is held with the thick end of the grip (the butt) not interfering with the swing.
High vs. Low
When top professionals look to play different shots, how far they grip the club up the handle can often change. For example when playing a low punch shot, as well as adapting their ball position, weight distribution and swing, many golfers grip the handle closer towards the shaft. Gripping a club down in this way increases the amount of control a player has over the shot but decreases the possible distance achievable. On the other end of the scale, if a player really wished to hit the ball a long way with a driver, for example, they could hold the handle at the very end of the grip. This would increase the swing speed by making the club as long as possible, although some control of the ball flight could be lost.
How Far Up Should We Grip the Golf Club
The grip is one of the single most-important aspects of your golf technique. Without a good grip, you will struggle to hit quality shots on a regular basis, even if the rest of your swing is mechanically sound. Building a good grip isn't particularly difficult, but it does require some attention to detail and a little bit of practice. If you are willing to put in the work that is needed to create a nice grip, you should be rewarded with improved performance and a boost of confidence for your game as a whole.
Determining where you are going to place your hands on the grip at address is one of the key components to building a great overall grip. You could place your hands all the way at the end of the grip, you could choke up close the steel (or graphite), or you could land somewhere in the middle. In fact, you don't even have to choose just one hand position – you can customize your hand position for each shot based on what you are trying to do with the golf ball. However, it is best to have one hand position that is your 'go-to', and you can make adjustments off of that point as needed.
It is important to understand right from the start that there is no 'correct' position for your hands on the grip of the club. The grip is an individual thing, and different positions will feel right for different players. Rather than concerning yourself with how other players are holding onto the club, you will be better off finding your own way through experimentation. The driving range is a great place to test out a variety of grips in order to find the one that works best for you. Whether you are experimenting with how far up you want to put your hands, or if you are trying stronger and weaker grips, the range is the perfect testing ground. The lessons that you learn on the range will help you make your way around the golf course.
In the content below, we are going to be referring to the 'grip' in terms of the way you put your hands on the club. However, the word 'grip' in the golf world can also refer to the actual piece of rubber that is on your club. That piece of equipment is also a key component to hitting good shots, so make sure you don't overlook its condition or design. You want a grip that feels good in your hands, and is in good condition. If the grips on your clubs get too worn, they will become difficult to hold onto as you swing through the shot. Grips are relatively inexpensive to replace, so consider putting a new set on after every season or two.
All of the instruction 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.
Why It Matters
Before we start to discuss the placement of your hands on the grip, we should first talk a bit about why this is an important point. Does it even matter how high or low your hands are on the grip? Yes – it does. The positioning of your hands on the grip will say a lot about the kinds of shots you can hit, so this is certainly a point that is worth your time and attention.
Essentially, the position of your hands on the club is going to determine the length of the club that you are using for the shot. For example, consider the case of a driver, which is typically around 45'' in length. If you are using a 45'' driver, and your hands are right down on the end of the grip, you will be using all 45'' of the club for that shot. However, if you come down on the grip a couple of inches, you will only be using a 43'' driver. That two-inch difference can mean big changes in both the distance of your shot and the trajectory that it takes. A shorter club is generally going to produce a shorter flying shot, as there will be less swing speed at the bottom to apply to the back of the ball. Also, choking down on the grip of your driver is going to usually lead to a lower ball flight, as the club shaft will play stiffer when you don't use its full length.
It should be obvious from that previous paragraph that the location of your hands on the grip is a big deal. Using the whole length of the club will lead to the maximum swing speed that you are capable of producing, and it should lead to the highest possible shot as well. As you come down, your swing will get gradually slower and the shots will get gradually shorter and lower. Of course, shorter and lower shots are not always a bad thing, as there is certainly a time and place on the course for using control to position your ball successfully. However, you need to have a clear plan in place when you adjust your grip position so you can be sure to achieve the desired results.
As you gain experience with moving your hands up and down the club, you will find that this is one of the most-powerful tools you have as a golfer for controlling your shots. It is hard to make in-swing adjustments on the fly to produce various ball flights, as the swing moves much to quickly to process changes on the go. However, it is easy to change your grip position before the swing even starts, as you will have all the time you need to get set. With that in mind, it would be a good idea to learn how to use this kind of adjustment to your advantage. You can never have too many options on the golf course, especially when it comes to knowing how to alter your trajectory and your distance on command.
Start at the Top
If you would really like to get to the bottom of this issue and determine exactly what hand position on the grip is going to work best for you, the best thing to do is set aside a range session for specifically this point. By dedicating a bucket of balls or two just to figuring out your hand position, you should be able to settle on the right spot for your swing pretty quick. Even if you think you already have your hands in a comfortable position, it would still be worth your time to go through this exercise just to confirm. It will only cost you around 20-30 minutes and a bucket of balls, which is a fair trade in exchange for an improved golf game.
To work through the process of finding the right hand position, follow the simple steps below –
- To start, take the seven iron from your bag and pick out a target for your shots. The target that you select should be within reasonable range for the seven iron, based on your usual distances. So, if you can hit a seven iron 150 yards normally, pick a target that is somewhere around 140-150 yards away. You don't want to have to strain or swing extra hard to reach your target, so make sure it is on the short side of your range.
- For the first five shots of this practice session, you are going to use the entire length of the club to hit your shots. Place your hands all the way at the end of the grip and make your best swings. As you watch the shots fly through the air, take note of the trajectory that they follow and the distance that they cover. Are these shots making it all the way to your target, or even beyond? Are they flying high through the air, or are they staying low to the ground? Take a mental note of the outcomes on these five shots, and then move on to the next step.
- For your next five shots, you are going to go all the way down to the bottom end of the grip, to the point that the pointer finger on your right hand is almost directly on the shaft of the club. To adjust for the significantly shorter club that you are now swing, it will be necessary to stand closer to the ball. You may want to bend slightly more than usual at the knees, as well. Hit all of these shots at the same target, although they probably won't fly all the way since you have shortened up the club (and your swing). Again, you should take careful not of the ball flights that result from these swings. Most likely the ball is going to come out low and fly significantly shorter, but watch your own results to confirm this outcome.
- To complete this portion of the practice session, place your hands right in the middle of the grip and hit five more shots. Your grip for these shots should be halfway between the top of the grip and the bottom, and you should again be hitting shots at the original target that you selected. As you might expect, the shots that are produced by this grip position should fall somewhere in between the first two sets of shots – they should have a medium trajectory and should carry short of the first set but beyond the second. While this is the expected outcome, you need to be sure to watch the shots as they fly to determine if your own personal results are matching with what is expected.
Now that you have hit 15 shots, you should have a clear picture of what your hand position can do to the flight of the ball. Did your results match up with what you expected? For most players, the ball is going to carry a shorter distance as the hands move down closer to the club head. However, that isn't going to be true for every single golfer. Some players, for instance, will find they hit the ball a little farther by coming down an inch or so off of the end of the grip. This is usually due to the improved contact that they make at the bottom of the swing. If you find that you frequently make poor contact with the ball when using the whole club, coming down an inch or two off the end of the grip might actually lead to improved performance overall.
After just 15 shots, you probably have a fair number of practice balls remaining to finish out the bucket. At this point, you should go ahead and attempt to dial in your hand position to a precise spot on the grip. Think about the shots that you just hit and the results that you achieved. Were the shots that you hit using the full grip the best ones of the bunch? Or did you perform better when you were choked down some? Going off of those results, experiment with other grip positions between the ones you used in the drill. Work your way through the rest of the bucket using various grip positions until you are settled on one that you can use for the majority of your shots. This will be your 'go-to' grip, and you will only change it when you want to produce some sort of alternative flight.
Make Adjustments on the Go
Now that you have your standard grip position decided, the next step in the process is to get comfortable with the idea of changing your grip during a round in order to hit different types of shots. If you want to hit the ball higher or lower than normal, that kind of change can usually be made by sliding your hands up or down the grip. Also, having the ability to take distance off of your shots can come in handy from time to time, and that objective can also be hit by moving your hands (usually down the grip).
As you are practicing your ability to manipulate the shots you produce, keep the following tips in mind –
- Shorter means shorter, and longer means longer. If you want to add or subtract distance to your shots, you need to either lengthen or shorten the club. If you use less of the club, you should hit the ball shorter, and using more club should send the ball longer through the air. Of course, if your standard grip has you already on the end of the club, you aren't going to have the option to go longer – you will only be able to adjust down as needed. The only way to get a great feel for how much distance you can take off of your shots by choking down is through practice, so experiment with these shots on the course until you gain a great feel for your distance control.
- Address position adjustment. This point was made earlier, but it bears repeating here. If you are going to choke down on the grip at address, you need to stand closer to the ball as well. In the same way, you should move back away from the ball slightly if you are going to be using more of the club than usual. The idea here is to get your body into a comfortable position prior to starting the swing, and that is only going to happen when you stand at a distance that makes it easy to reach the ball.
- Ball position matters as well. Moving your hands down on the club should help you to produce a lower flight, but moving the ball back in your stance can do that as well. When you need to hit a low shot – for instance, when you are playing into the wind – it is helpful to both move your hands down the club and move the ball back in your stance. As you would probably guess, hitting the ball higher can be accomplished by moving the ball up closer to your left foot while keeping the rest of your swing the same.
- Maintain light grip pressure. No matter where your hands are on the club, they should always be holding on with a light grip pressure. Squeezing the club tightly will make it difficult to have good 'feel' in your swing, and your right hand is likely to become too active as a result. Practice using a light grip pressure on the driving range (while maintaining control of the club, of course), and then transfer that feeling out to the course.
Every level of golfer can benefit from learning how to make these kinds of adjustments. Many players think they aren't good enough to bother with trying to adjust their ball flight, but that is simply the wrong way to think. Whether you are a high handicapper or a player who regularly shoots in the 70's, the goal is always the same – to learn more shots that you can use to get your ball around the course safely. Take some time to learn how to produce a variety of shots through grip position adjustments and you will be a better player in the end.
The Short Game
All of the content above has focused on the full swing, but you are going to need to know how to position your hands for your short game shots as well. For short shots, you can pretty much toss out everything you have read above – it is a totally different situation when playing on and around the green. You don't need to concern yourself with things like distance and trajectory, as your sole focus is going to be on your ability to make clean contact and feel the shot.
To get putting out of the way right off the top, you should almost always be using the entire length of your putter while making your stroke. Putters are carefully designed with proper weighting that is based on using the whole club. If you choke your hands down the grip of your putter, you are going to throw off the feel of the putter – and you will likely struggle with distance control as a result. The only exception to this rule is some of the new counter-balanced putters which are designed intentionally to be used with a choked down grip. Unless you own one of those putters, keep your hands at the very end of the grip and use the full length of the putter to roll the ball nicely.
For your chip shots, you will want to come down on the club at least a little bit. Why? Mostly because you want to make sure you are making clean contact, but also because you will be standing a little bit closer to the ball than you would while making a full swing. The amount that you choke down on the grip of the club is a matter of personal preference, but you will probably want to come down at least an inch or two from the top. However, be careful not to come down too far as the club will start to feel lighter as you keep moving down the grip. Feeling the weight of the club head is important during your chipping motion, so it would not be recommended to move more than halfway down the grip (unless dealing with a severe lie that requires that kind of adjustment).
The grip is always going to be a matter of feel and personal preference, but the content above should have given you some help in determining exactly where to place your hands on the club. Even just a short practice session or two working on this fundamental can pay off in a big way. The positioning of your hands has a major impact on the flight of your shots, so be sure not to overlook this element of the game.