Pros and Cons of Every Golf Grip Style 1

    What’s the most important fundamental in golf? Hint: It can be difficult to grasp.

    If you said the grip, pat yourself on the back. You clearly understand that how you hold the club affects most everything that happens during the swing. (Or perhaps you just made a lucky guess.) And that makes the grip more critical than alignment, stance or posture.

    The funny thing about this fundamental is, there are countless ways to do it right, and just as many ways to do it wrong. And sometimes, what’s right for one golfer is wrong for another. That may be why so many find the grip so confusing.

    Professional golfers exemplify the grip’s individual nature. For every Jack Nicklaus who grips the club in a “textbook” manner, there’s a Fred Couples whose grip defies conventional wisdom. Some pros use an “interlocking” grip while others prefer the “overlap” method. From “weak” to “neutral” to “strong,” you can find a top player at virtually every position on the grip spectrum.

    Indeed, sorting out everything that goes into the grip can be quite puzzling. Let’s survey the different styles, identify noteworthy golfers who use them, and break down the potential benefits and drawbacks of each type.

    (Note: All descriptions are for right-handed golfers.)

    Interlocking Grip

    This grip is formed by placing the right pinky finger between the index and middle fingers of the left hand, essentially locking the hands together.

  • Famous examples: Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson
  • Upside: It’s used by Nicklaus and Woods, arguably the two greatest golfers of all-time, as well as the current world No. 1 (McIlroy) and the reigning Masters champ (Watson) – there must be something to this interlocking thing, right?
  • Often recommended for players with small hands (a la Nicklaus), the interlocking method unifies the hands tightly and cuts down excessive wrist movement. Interlocking gives players a firm hold on the handle without having to squeeze very hard, reducing swing-killing tension.

  • Downside: Some players find the interlocking grip uncomfortable or awkward, while others feel it limits free movement of the hands and wrists.
  • Overlapping (aka Vardon) Grip

    The choice of most pros, the overlapping grip was popularized by the great English golfer Harry Vardon around the turn of the 20th century. The right pinky finger is placed on top of the small gap between the left index and middle fingers.

  • Famous examples: Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar
  • Upside: Golfers with large and/or strong hands tend to overlap. The grip provides necessary unity between the hands without inhibiting their movement, freeing the golfer to fully release the club through impact for powerful shots. Some find it more comfortable than the interlocking grip as well.
  • Downside: Those with small/weak hands may find it more difficult to control the club when overlapping. Strong-handed golfers may actually gain too much freedom of movement, resulting in a “handsy” swing.
  • Neutral Grip

    Neutral is considered the ideal grip position because it aligns the hands directly with the clubface. Your grip is neutral if you can see two knuckles on your left hand when addressing the ball.

  • Famous examples: Nicklaus, Ernie Els, Adam Scott
  • Upside: If your other fundamentals are in order, a neutral grip requires no manipulations to keep the clubface square to the target line throughout the swing. By itself, a neutral grip won’t cause slices or hooks, and makes it easier to work the ball in either direction by hitting fades and draws.
  • Downside: In theory, the neutral grip has no real drawbacks. However, some golfers find it unnatural and uncomfortable.
  • Weak Grip

    “Weak” in this sense has nothing to do with how firmly you grip the club. It means the hands are rotated to the left on the handle. If you can see only one knuckle on your left hand at address, you’ve got a weak grip.

  • Famous examples: Hogan, Corey Pavin, Curtis Strange
  • Upside: Hogan famously fought a hook early in his career, and went to a weak grip as part of the cure. Because this style keeps the clubface open, it can also help you hit the ball higher and with more backspin.
  • Downside: A weak grip causes most golfers to slice and may make it difficult to properly release the club through impact. Few players feel comfortable when their arm rotation is restricted.
  • Strong Grip

    The opposite of a weak grip, a strong position means the hands are turned to the right on the handle. If more than two knuckles on your left hand are visible at address, that’s a strong grip.

  • Famous examples: Couples, Paul Azinger, Dustin Johnson
  • Upside: Many golfers find it the most natural way to hold the club. A strong grip allows the arms to rotate freely, aiding the release and decreasing the chances of a slice. It’s much easier to achieve a low, controlled shot trajectory and hit a draw with a strong grip, too.
  • Downside: A nice draw becomes a dreaded hook when the hands are overactive. Strong grippers also tend to play with a “shut” or “closed” clubface (see Johnson), making them even more hook-prone. Hitting the ball with sufficient height and backspin can be a problem if your grip is overly strong.
  • Pros and Cons of Every Golf Grip Style 2
    Proper Golf Swing Starts With the Grip

    Let’s be honest – the golf grip is not the most exciting part of the game. In fact, many golfers will play their entire lives without giving much thought to the grip at all. Plenty of players just grab onto the club, take a stance, and make a swing. Unfortunately, that isn’t a strategy that is likely to be effective. Good golf requires more attention to detail than that, so if you have designs on becoming a better golfer, the grip is something that you are going to want to pay close attention to. As your only connection between your body and the club, the grip plays a vital role in hitting good shots.

    Discussion about the golf grip can be divided into two categories – how your hands form the grip, and the actual grip on your club. Golf grip tips that help you find the perfect golf grip generally are focused on how you use your hands to create the perfect golf grip, but it is also important to pay attention to the various golf grip types available and which one will work best for you. Having the right golf grip size on your clubs, and making sure your grips are in good condition, is a detail worth paying attention to.
    At this point, your grip is probably something that you don’t think about too often. It likely feels comfortable as is, so you might not thing that there is any reason to make a change. However, you might have more problems hiding in your grip than you realize. The following issues might point to a hidden problem within your grip that needs to be addressed –

  • Blisters on your hands. Getting a blister while you play might seem like no big deal, but it actually could indicate that there is something wrong within your grip. A blister is a sure sign that your hands are moving around on the club during the swing, which is a problem that could hurt your performance overall. If you find that you regularly get blisters during or after your round, you might want to take a look at your grip to make sure there aren’t any problems that need fixing.
  • Slipping in your hands. Your hands should feel secure and stable on the club throughout the swing. If you notice that your hands are sliding around the grip – either during the backswing or through impact – that is something that needs to be corrected. It could be that there is a technical problem with your grip, or the grip on your club could be slippery and need replacing.
  • Extreme ball flight. Issues with your grip can actually lead to ball flight problems when they are bad enough. Should you find yourself fighting a serious ball flight issue like a severe hook or slice, it might come all the way back to a problem in your grip. Many golfers waste time trying to fix the mechanics of their swing for years and years when the problem was with their grip all along.
  • There might be more exciting things you could do at the driving range than work on your grip, but it is something that needs to be addressed. By taking the time to breakdown your grip and confirm that it is technically sound, and also to confirm that the grips on your clubs are the right size and in good condition, you will be taking out yet another variable from the golf equation. Once your grip is sorted out, you can move on to other areas for potential improvement.

    Pros and Cons of Every Golf Grip Style 3
    Golf Grip as Equipment

    When you think about golf equipment, golf grips probably don’t even register in your mind. Most golfers pay far more attention to things like shafts and club heads, but grips play a vital role in the golf swing. Getting the perfect golf grip on your club - on that fits your hands and keeps them securely in place during the swing – is important for your performance and comfort on the golf. Even something as simple as getting the right golf grip size for your clubs can make a big difference.

    If you haven’t paid much attention to your golf grips up to this point, the following process will help you get the right grips on all of your clubs. Use the three steps below and you will come away with grips perfect for your game.
    1. Pick out the style you like. There are a number of styles of golf grips on the market today, and it is up to you to pick out the right one to suit your hands, and your swing. Some grips are soft and cushiony, while others are harder and include cords that help you grip onto the club. Try to test out as many different grips as you can until you find the ones that feel just right. There is no correct answer when it comes to grip style, either – any of them can work as long as you are happy with the way they feel.
    2. Get fitted. If you have taken the time to get fitted for your clubs, it only make sense that you should get fitted for your grips as well. Most golf shops will be happy to help you pick out a grip size based on the way you hold the club, and the size of your hands. It is extremely important that you get grips which are the right size for you. Grips that are too large will make it difficult to release the club properly through impact, while grips that are too skinny will allow the club to release early. You want the grip to fill up the palm of your hand so that the tip of your middle finger just barely touches the base of your thumb when you grab onto the club.
    3. Have them installed. Putting grips onto your clubs is a pretty easy job, and you might be able to do it yourself if you have the right equipment at home. However, if you have never installed grips before, it may be better to have a professional do the job at your local golf shop. In fact, most golf shops will actually do the installation for free if you purchase the grips from them. If you do decide to put the grips on yourself, make sure that they all get aligned properly on the shaft and that the grips are pushed completely onto the club so there is no loose portion at the end.
    Once you have your new golf grips installed on your set of clubs, you should be set for quite a while. There is no specific number of rounds or period of time after which you should change your grips – rather, you will have to use your feel and just ‘know’ when the time is right. If your grips start to feel harder or slicker than they did when they were new, that is a good indication that they are wearing out. Of course, if you are having trouble holding onto the club through impact, that is another obvious sign. Replace grips as soon as possible when you notice them wearing out so you can avoid a drop in your performance on the course due to grip problems.

    Pros and Cons of Every Golf Grip Style 4
    Building the Perfect Golf Grip

    Now that you have quality golf grips on your clubs that feel comfortable in your hands, you can move on to the matter of actually placing your hands on the club. This is more complicated than it seems, and is actually a point where many golfers go wrong. If you can simply form a good grip with your hand around the club, you will be well on your way to making a quality swing.
    Note: All of the instruction in this section is based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, simply reverse the directions.

    Before you make your grip, you need to decide which style of grip you will be using to hold the club. While there are technically countless possibilities for your grip, most players use one of three different styles –

  • The overlap. When using this grip, you will first place your left hand on the club, then add your right hand to the grip by resting your right hand pinky finger on top of your left hand, in the crease between your second and third fingers. This is a grip that is most useful for players with large hands – those with smaller hands and fingers will likely find it too difficult to control the club throughout the swing.
  • The interlock. Another popular grip, this option is very similar to the overlap, except you will put your right hand pinky finger in between the second and third fingers on your left hand so that it is locked in place. As you might guess, this grip is a popular option among those with smaller hands because it does a good job of giving you control over the club and placing power in your hands.
  • The baseball grip. As less common grip, this option keeps the hands separate and just has your right hand pinky finger pushed up against the pointer finger of your left hand (but not interlocked or overlapped in any way). The main reason to try this grip is to gain additional release through the impact area. You might be able to find more power using this grip, but it can be difficult for many golfers to control the club head this way.
  • Again, there isn’t necessarily a ‘right or wrong’ when it comes to what style of grip that you use. The important thing is that your grip makes sense for the size of your hands, and the style of swing you make.
    With your style selected, the final step in taking your grip is getting your hand oriented on the club properly. To do this, you will want to start by standing in your normal address position with the golf club in your left hand only. The left hand is the main determining factor in the position of your hands on the club – the right hand is simply added at the end to complement the position of the left.
    As you look down at the left hand grip that you have taken, note how many knuckles you can see on the back of your left hand. Two? Three? All four? This is the best way to figure out what kind of position your hand is in, and what adjustments need to be made. A grip that only allows you to see one or two knuckles is considered a ‘weak’ grip, while seeing three or all four at address is a ‘strong’ grip. For most golfers, seeing three knuckles at address is going to be the perfect balance. Too much weaker than that and it will be hard to develop club head speed – too much stronger than that and you may have trouble hitting solid shots without the ball hooking to the left.
    It is important to note that you need to experiment with different left hand positions on the club while you are at the driving range hitting some practice shots. Not all golfers are the same, and your grip has to work together with the rest of your swing to create good shots. There are plenty of talented golfers who use weak grips, and there are plenty who use rather strong grips as well. You need to be comfortable with your grip, and it needs to produce good results.

    Pros and Cons of Every Golf Grip Style 5
    Practicing Your Grip

    Many golf grip tips that you read will end right there, but it is important that also understand how to practice the proper golf grip. If you are going to get comfortable with your proper golf grip and be able to take it time after time, shot after shot, it is going to require a little bit of practice. The good news is that it is rather easy to practice your golf grip, and you don’t even need to be at the golf course to do so.
    The first way to practice your grip is simply to keep a club out around the house and work on your grip while you are doing idle tasks such as watching TV. All you have to do is just take your grip over and over, making sure to get your hands in the same position each time. Take the grip, check your positions, and then set the club down. If you do this off and on as you go about your daily life, you will find that the club quickly feels more comfortable in your hands.
    When you are at the practice range, hitting one handed shots is a great way to work on your grip and make sure that it is doing what it need to do during your swing. In this case, you should try to hit some one-handed shots using a wedge and only your left hand. Since the left hand is the biggest influence over the grip, try hitting a few wedges while keeping your right hand off the club. If your left hand grip is in a good position, you should have no trouble hitting some decent shots (after a few tries, of course). Obviously these shots aren’t going to fly as far as your normal, two-handed swings, but you should be able to achieve solid contact and get a good ball flight relatively quickly.

    No matter which of the golf grip types you decide to use, it is important to practice your grip as frequently as possible to make it feel comfortable. Ideally, once you step on the course you won’t have to think about your grip one time all round. Instead, you can focus your energy on the task at hand, picking smart targets and hitting quality shots. The grip is something that should be sorted out on the practice range so that it is completely automatic when playing a round. If that isn’t the case for you just yet, keep practicing your grip and making small adjustments as necessary until you are happy with the comfort and consistency that you have achieved.

    Pros and Cons of Every Golf Grip Style 6
    Golf Grip Troubleshooting

    Even when you do pay attention to all the details and work on your grip as much as possible, you still may find that is just isn’t quite right. This troubleshooting section will touch on some of the most common grip problems, and how to get them corrected.

    The first problem that many golfers will find after they have worked on their grip is a tendency to hook the ball to the left quickly – especially off the tee. This is usually as sign that your grip is too strong. When you notice that you are starting to have trouble with a hook, try turning your left hand a little bit to the left until you reach a slightly weaker position. Experiment with different hand positions on the driving range until you are able to find one that seems to produce the ball flight you are looking for on a consistent basis.

    Another grip-related issue is when you start to deal with shots that are pushed out to the right of your target. Often, these shots won’t turn either right or left in the air – they will just start on a line out to the right, and then travel straight until they land. This can be a frustrating problem to deal with because you will feel like you are making a quality swing, only to look up and see the ball sailing off to the right of your intended target. Frequently, pushed shots are a result of a grip that is too weak. Try turning your left hand grip a little bit to the right, and then hit some practice shots. Just as above, keep experimenting with grip positions until you find the spot that allows you to hit straight shots right at your target.

    Losing power in your swing is the last troubleshooting point that needs to be made in relation to your grip. Commonly, golfers who work on their grip specifically will suddenly notice that they are unable to hit the golf ball as far as they used to. What happens is that when the golfer is working on the technical aspects of their grip, they subconsciously start to grip the club tighter and tighter. This is especially true if you are making a big change in your grip, as you will be tempted to hold on tighter because you are uncomfortable with the new position of your hands.

    The result is obvious – the tighter grip leads to less club head speed through impact, and a loss of distance. To remedy this problem, make an effort to grip the club with less pressure at address. If you have formed a good grip on the club, and your grips themselves are in good condition, you should be able to control the club without squeezing it too tightly. Practice a lighter grip pressure with small swings at first to make sure you can maintain control of the club before moving up to larger, more powerful swings. With your grip pressure just right, you should soon see your power return.

    As a golfer who is serious about improving your game, spending time on your golf grip is something that you should look forward to doing. Sure, it isn’t as exciting as other parts of the game, but the effect that it can have on your scores is powerful. From making sure you have the right types of grips on your clubs to practicing the proper grip mechanics, this is a seemingly small part of the game that can dramatically change the shots you are able to hit. Grip changes are notoriously difficult to get comfortable with, so you will need to commit to plenty of practice time in order to successfully make your new grip a natural part of your game.