How to Hold a Golf Club
How you hold a golf club is going to have a tremendous effect on how well you are able to swing a golf club and where your golf ball will finish.
While it is possible to play golf using a non-standard golf grip, beginners would be advised to use one of the three orthodox grips used by the vast majority of golfers. If you have a poor grip then you are unlikely to reach your full potential. If you fail to get your grip correct from the outset you will find this is one of the hardest things to change later.
The three types of orthodox grip all have one thing in common. You are gripping the club predominantly in your fingers rather than using the palm. This allows you much more freedom of movement to swing the club correctly.
The Vardon Grip (Overlapping Grip)
Devised by six-time open champion Harry Vardon. This grip involves unifying your hands. The little finger of your dominant hand resting between the index/forefinger and middle finger of your non-dominant hand.
It is also known as the overlapping grip. This is far and away the most popular grip amongst Tour professionals.
The V’s formed by your index finger and thumb should point between your chin and dominant shoulder. (right shoulder for a right-hander). Looking down from above you would seek two knuckles on your non-dominant hand. This would be considered a neutral grip and is what you should be aiming for.
For a right-handed player, your left thumb would run down the right side of the grip and your right thumb would run down the left side of the grip.
The Interlocking Grip
Similar to the overlapping golf grip. Rather than resting the little finger between the middle and index fingers, you interlock the index finger and little finger.
Two notable players from the professional ranks that use this grip are Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
The Baseball Grip
The least common although it is sometimes taught to juniors. It is sometimes known as the 10 finger grip for obvious reasons.
The obvious downside with the baseball grip is the hands are separated and may not work together very well through the golf swing.
An often overlooked aspect of the grip is how tight you should be holding the club.
If you start to grip the club too tightly then that will bring tension into your arms which will not help you produce a smooth swing.
On the other hand, holding the club too lightly will mean the club is likely to move during your swing and that is no more desirable.
The ideal grip pressure is where you feel you have control of the club so that it doesn’t move when you swing. It should not be so hard that you develop tension in your arms.
An analogy that some instruction books make is to imagine you were holding onto a bird.
You should feel that with your non-dominant hand that you are holding on with the three longer fingers and the thumb. You should feel that your index finger and thumb of your dominant hand form the main hold for that hand. Indeed the index finger will probably have a slight gap between it and your middle finger. In some older instructional works, it was sometimes referred to as your ‘trigger’ finger.
Another point to mention is your golf glove. You need to make sure that your glove fits snugly around your hand. If you have a badly fitted glove then you will tend to compensate by gripping the club too tightly.
Strong or Weak Grip
If your grip is described as strong or weak it’s not referring to the amount of pressure you are applying.
A strong grip means one where you can see more than 2 to 2 ½ knuckles of your non-dominant hand as you look down at your grip. It also means that the V’s formed by your thumb and index finger point to your dominant shoulder or even in extreme cases outside.
A weak grip is just the opposite. Your hands are turned in the opposite direction so you can see less than two knuckles of your non-dominant hand. The Vs formed by your forefinger and thumb point to your left shoulder or even outside.
Now you know how to hold a club correctly it is actually a useful aid in determining whether you have the right size grips.
When your non-dominant hand is gripping the club you should find that your middle and ring finger just reach the pad below your thumb. If there is a big gap then this means the grips are probably too thick for you. If you find that your fingers can dig into this pad then that would suggest you would need thicker grips.
Having the correct grip size is important as it will affect how well you are able to square the clubface through your swing. If you are using grips that are too thick for you then you will find it more difficult to square the clubface. This would mean leaving shots out to the right (for right-handers).
If your grips are too thin then it is likely to encourage too much hand action and you will have a tendency to hit the ball to the left.
Clubface and Ball Flight
Technology such as TrackMan has shown that the angle of the clubface at impact determines around 80% of the ball’s flight direction. Knowing this hopefully, you realize how important it is that you have a grip that can return the clubface to a consistent position at impact.
In fact, much of the teaching from a number of years ago has proved to be somewhat inaccurate.
For example, I was always taught that to hit a draw one needed to close the clubface at address. In fact, the opposite is true. You need to have a clubface that is slightly open (to the target) at impact in order that the ball will start to the right of the target. Then your swing path from in to out will encourage draw spin on the ball bringing it back to the target.
I have seen golf instruction when I first started playing golf which suggested strengthening your grip when you wanted to hit a draw. It also advised to weaken it when you want to hit a fade. More accomplished players might feel comfortable adjusting their grip in this way but I wouldn’t suggest it for beginners.
A neutral grip puts the hands in a position that they would naturally return to. This makes it much more likely that you will return to this position at impact. This will lead to better quality shots.
With a strong grip, your hands are going to want to return to a neutral position which effectively closes the clubface. Depending on the path of your swing this might lead to pulls or hooks.
A weak grip means you will tend to open the clubface at impact causing pushes or slices depending upon your swing path.
Several companies have developed training aids to help you improve the quality of your grip.
Earlier versions tended to be stand-alone devices that allowed you to get a feel for the correct positioning of your hands. Basically a golf grip but with mounds and ridges showing you where to place your fingers and thumbs on the grip.
Looking at Amazon this design has now been copied by many, many companies.
SKLZ latest version actually fits onto your own clubs and allows you to hit balls when practicing.
How to Hold a Golf Club: Conclusion
You should now understand the importance of getting a proper golf grip. To achieve consistent results you will need to have a grip that allows you to return the clubface to the same position at impact every time.
Golf is a game where getting the fundamentals correct is important if you are going to reach your full potential.