Playing better golf is the result of learning better technique--and practicing--and nothing is more fundamental to swinging correctly than having a sound grip. Surprisingly, many golfers don’t pay enough attention to how they are gripping the club. They opt for what feels comfortable, or what grip they have always used, rather than employing a grip that will allow them to hit straighter, longer shots.
Purpose of the Grip
The obvious purpose of the golf grip is to allow you to hold onto the club. Without gripping the club firmly, it could fly out of your hands on the backswing. But your grip also affects the path the club takes going back and coming down. It affects the timing of your swing and whether you are able to consistently strike the ball squarely. It also affects the curve of the ball when it is in flight. You can learn to control ball flight by adjusting your grip. The grip accomplishes all of this by helping your hands work together.
Most Popular Grips
The overlapping grip, also called the Vardon Grip because it was popularized by British Open champion Harry Vardon, is the choice of the majority of golfers. You grasp the golf club in your left hand and then place the right hand on the club so the right little finger fits snugly in the crevice between your left index finger and middle finger. Golfers with smaller hands often prefer the interlocking grip. The only difference is that the left index finger and right little finger are intertwined or linked together. With both grips, when you look down at your hands you see that the thumbs and index fingers of each hand form a “V” shape.
Golfers sometimes need to produce a left-to-right ball flight, or right-to-left flight, because of the shape of the hole or the positioning of hazards. Adjusting your grip can facilitate either of these. Turning the “Vs” slightly to the right is termed a strong grip. This technique encourages a right-to-left flight. Turn the Vs to the left and you have created what is called a weak grip. With practice you will see this grip makes it easier to curve the ball from left to right.
The last three fingers of the left hand provide much of the grip pressure, as do the ring and middle finger of the right hand. Common mistakes are gripping too much with the right thumb and forefinger and having a grip that is too tight overall. A tight grip makes it difficult to swing freely and create maximum clubhead speed. Experiment with different grip pressure levels until you don’t feel tension building in your forearms or shoulders--but still have total control of the club during the swing.
The putting stroke requires keeping the hands firm going back and through the stroke rather than hinging your wrists. The cross-handed grip is used by many golfers to get the feel of this one piece action. You place the left hand below the right hand, the opposite of the standard golf grip. Some golfers extend the left index finger down the shaft to keep a more stable hands position. In recent years some golfers dissatisfied with their putting results have tried an extra long putter that nearly reaches their abdomen at the address position. They split their grip, the right hand gripping the club lower and the left hand holding the club near the top.