When it comes to improving your game, most golfers think it’s an equipment issue.
It’s just what we golfers do – blame equipment not fundamentals. Don’t get me wrong, while equipment does play a big role, the answer to lower scores might be something that you are completely overlooking.
The answer might actually be in your hands.
Let’s face it, the grip is a critical part of your game. Your hands are the only link that is touching the club and are used on every single shot.
Although many parts of your body are involved in a full golf swing only the hands actually make contact with the club.
How to Grip a Golf Club: Step by Step Guide for Beginners
Before you spend hours of time working swing changes or thousands of dollars on new golf clubs, start with the fundamentals. Aside from setup and alignment, the proper grip is another key fundamental to building a consistent golf swing. Hence, this is why most instructors always check a new student’s grip before doing anything else.
A fundamentally sound grip will enable you to feel the clubhead on full swings and give you soft hands around the green. By understanding the different types of grips and how they affect each shot, you can evolve as a golfer and start consistently shooting your best scores yet.
Keep reading to learn how to grip a golf club properly and how it can impact all parts of your game. Please note, instructions are for right-handed golfers. Reverse hands for left handed golfers.
Step 1 – Left Hand
Using your right hand, grip the shaft at the top of the grip; this should hold the club in front of you at a 45 degree angle. Next, turn your left palm toward you and the the grip between your first knuckles and the top of your palm. This should feel as though the club is more in your fingers than in your palm.
Step 2: Left Hand Pt 2.
Curl your left hand pinky finger, ring, and middle fingers around the grip. This should feel like the under parts of your fingers are in direct contact with the grip.
Step 3: Left Hand Pt 3.
Roll your left pointer finger and thumb over to the grip. Your left thumb should be to the right side of the handle. You should apply enough pressure with your grip to hold the club but still bend your wrist.
Step 4: Right Hand
Slide your right hand toward your left and allow the shaft to sit between your first knuckle and the base of your palm. Your right pinky should go over the pointer knuckle of your left hand if you are using an overlap grip. If you choose to interlock your hands, your pinky would go in between your left pointer and middle finger.
Step 5: Roll Trail Hand
With your right pinky finger on top of your left pointer knuckle, roll your right ring finger and middle finger around the grip.
Place your right palm directly over your left thumb and curl your right pointer finger around the grip. Make sure to keep the grip in your fingers, not your hand. Finally, roll your right thumb to the left side of the grip. It should be facing up the golf club.
Why is the Proper Golf Grip Important?
The grip is crucial to your golf game as it’s the only thing that connects to your golf clubs. If you have the wrong hand placement, it can make it nearly impossible to properly release the golf club. A weak position is a common error and why so many players lose control of their ball flight.
Pour hands also play a huge role in determining your shot shape. For example, a golfer who has a problem with a strong right-to-left ball flight (a hook) or left-to-right flight (slice) would be wise to first look at his grip before changing other parts of his swing. A correct grip is an instructor’s favorite golf tip. According to one poll of top 100 teachers, 81 percent said they started with a player’s grip when working with new students.
Not to mention, the club face angle and club path are essential elements in a solid golf swing. The new ball flight laws tell us that face angle dictates where the ball starts and club path dictates the curve. So if your grip is off, it can make it very difficult to hit a certain type of golf shot.
Needless to say, the grip plays a significant role in your club face and club path. If the club is manipulated into an open (aiming right) or shut (aiming left) position because of grip, then it will be extremely difficult for a player to consistently square the clubface at impact and produce a solid and accurate shot. By placing your hands on the club incorrectly can also make a negative impact on the relative path (or direction) the club moves through the impact zone.
Creating a consistently solid golf grip is the starting point for building a great all-around golf game. A well placed grip will let you hit it longer, more accurately, and also help tremendously with your short game.
Different Styles of Golf Grips
Here are three basic styles of grips used by most golfers.
Vardon Overlap Golf Grip
Known as the overlapping, overlap, or Vardon, this is the most popular grip and used often by low-handicap or professional players. This was named after the famous golfer Harry Vardon who championed this grip in the late 1800’s.
If you are a right handed golfer, the overlap grip places your right pinkie on top of the left index finger. The ring finger on the right hand also touches the outside of the left index finger as well.
A few things to keep in mind about the overlap grip:
- This grip allows more freedom of hand movement and extra hinge (which can lead to more clubhead speed).
- Many world-class players and teachers have described this as the perfect grip because of the union it creates between the two hands. It’s the perfect blend between power and control.
- Harder to grip if you have weaker or small hands.
Interlocking Golf Grip
The second type of popular golf grip is the interlock which is extremely popular as well. In fact, the two arguably greatest players ever, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, both use this style of grip.
Jack had “smallish” hands and short fingers used this grip throughout his entire career. Tiger Woods, who modeled much of his game after the Golden Bear, also used an interlocking grip style despite having larger hands.
With the interlock golf grip, the right pinkie (for a right-handed golfer) interlocks between the index finger and middle finger on the left hand. This forms a solid bond between the two hands as all 10 fingers remain in contact with the golf club during your swing.
Here are some things to consider when thinking about using the interlock grip:
- Your hands stay connected throughout the swing.
- This style might lead to a loss in distance vs. overlapping golf grip.
- Great for younger players or golfers who have small hands and can make it easier to grip the club throughout the round.
- As fewer fingers are in contact with the grip, you may sacrifice feel and touch that is possible with overlapping.
You can read our full article on overlapping vs Interlocking golf grips here.
10 Finger Golf Grip
This is known as the baseball grip, because all 10 fingers are on the grip, just as you hold a baseball or softball bat. This is not taught in normal golf instruction and far from the “proper golf grip.”
With the 10-finger grip, each finger is on the club, with the hands resting side-by side. The right thumb rests down the shaft from the left thumb for a right-handed player.
Here’s the good and bad of the baseball grip:
- The freedom created in this grip can lead to greater wrist hinge or wrist cock during the swing. This can lead to higher clubhead speed that is produced by whipping the club during impact.
- The biggest downside to the 10-finger grip is losing control of the clubface. While you can get more distance, it will often come with accuracy as it’s hard to keep the club face square.
When you hear the words “grip strength” it’s easy to think about grip pressure but it’s actually the hand position. The three types of grip strength are neutral, strong, and weak.
Neutral Golf Grip
A neutral grip allows you to easily work the golf ball both ways without much manipulation during the swing.
To have a neutral golf grip, of all, you want to form a “V shape” between your left forefinger and left thumb. You also want this synergy between his right forefinger and right thumb as well.
Ideally, these V’s will point in the same direction. This position will form a married position between the hands which should deliver a consistent strike on the golf ball.
In a neutral grip, both V’s are pointing approximately to the right ear (on a right-handed player).
- This will give you a good foundation to build a consistent, repeatable swing.
- With a neutral grip, you should not have to make many compensations during your golf swing. The less that is happening on your swing, the more consistent you will hit it.
- When using a neutral grip, weaker or less physically developed players may struggle to generate clubhead speed and or square the clubface through impact.
Strong Golf Grip
With a ‘strong grip’, the two Vs formed between the thumb and forefinger would point more toward your right shoulder. The knuckles on the right hand are turned underneath the shaft while three knuckles on the left hand are visible to the golfer at address.
A few things to keep in mind about a strong grip:
- A strong grip is most often used by players who prefer to draw the golf ball.
- Because the hands are manipulated farther right than in a neutral grip, squaring the golf club at impact consistently can be difficult. It’s not uncommon for golfers who use a strong grip to fight a hook or overly right-to-left ball flight.
This isn’t to say that you can’t play a fade with a strong grip but more manipulation is needed. In general, more players need a stronger grip with their left hand as they’re too weak and it leads to a fade.
Weak Golf Grip
With a weak grip, your right hand is turned on top of the golf club, so that the V actually points left of center, toward your left ear or beyond.
This grip is often used by players who want to hit a fade. A weak grip usually promotes an outside-to-inside swing path and left-to-right (fade) ballflight.
Often, golfers who use a weak grip will have more face rotation through impact than will a player with a strong grip.
- This grip could help a golfer neutralize an extreme inside-out swing path.
- Over the generations, there haven’t been many great players who used a weak grip. The trend among low handicap and professional golfers in recent years has actually been toward a stronger grip, which can allow them to hit their irons longer distances than players who use a weak or neutral grip.
- A big disadvantage to a weak grip is not having the power to get it out of rough. If you’re a senior golfer, I recommend against this grip style.
For more on this debate, check out our full article on a strong vs. weak golf grip.
Grip Pressure 101 – Everything You Need to Know
The right grip pressure is also needed for a perfect golf grip.
Your grip pressure is a big part of having a solid grip and can directly determine the outcome of your shots. Grip pressure is how tightly or loosely you apply your hands to the golf club. An extremely common mistake many amateur or beginning golfers make is to grip the golf club too tight.
If you grip the club too tight, it creates unnecessary and harmful tension which can spread through the forearms, into the shoulders, neck and back. Gripping the club too much can lead to a unnatural swing tempo and choppy swing.
It’s important to grip the club with the correct amount of tension and to apply the pressure in the right areas. Having a consistent grip pressure for each type of shot is a common piece of advice from great players and teachers for decades.
If you’ve ever been to the driving range, I’m sure you’ve come across the one guy that walks around giving unsolicited golf tips to anyone who will listen. His favorite advice is “keep your eye on the ball”. But his second favorite is Sam Snead’s advice on grip pressure. Sam advised golfers to “hold the club like it was a baby bird.”
Unfortunately, that’s not exactly going to help. You see, Sam Snead had outrageously strong hands so the feeling in his hands would be much different when compared to the average golfer.
Unless your day job is professional body building or logging, you might want to hold the club just a little bit tighter.
The Pro’s Advice on Grip Pressure
So how hard should you grip the golf club? Butch Harmon believes the perfect grip pressure is somewhere between 5 and 7 on a scale of 10. But it changes based on the type of shot you are faced with.
For example, shots out of the rough or from a buried lie in a bunker may require the grip pressure in the 7 range. But with your driver and fairway woods, you want a lighter grip pressure (in the 2-3 zone) so you have minimal tension in your forearms.
Ben Hogan talked about the importance of grip pressure in his book, Five Lessons. As he said,
“In the left hand apply the pressure on the pad of the hand and the index finger. On the right hand, pressure with the two middle fingers. The right thumb and forefinger are simply placeholders.”
Finally, maintain consistent pressure throughout your swing in both hands. It’s easy to realize if you aren’t doing this by noticing your follow through or if you have a lot of one-arm finishes.
How to Fix Ball Flight With Your Grip
If you’re hitting a slice or hook, your grip might be the reason. While it’s not the only reason, it’s always worth adjusting or trying out before making a total swing overhaul.
If you’re hitting a slice, try to use a stronger grip. A stronger grip will allow your right hand underneath the club and make it easy to roll your hands on the downswing. When you roll your hands more, it should create a power draw. Don’t forget, adjust your alignment right and pick your target accordingly.
If you’re hitting a hook, try to use a weaker grip. A weaker grip will allow your right hand over the club more and make it easy fade the ball. As the club face won’t twist as much, it should create a power fade. Don’t forget, adjust your alignment left and pick your target accordingly.
We can also take this one step further. If you are an advanced golfer (or just want to be one), you can strengthen or weaken your grip to help you hit a fade or hit a draw.
Golf Grip FAQ’s
Do you have more questions about gripping the golf club the correct way? No problem, we have the answers.
The Long Thumb Grip or Short Thumb Grip?
A lot of beginner golfers aren’t sure about the proper thumb placement. Should you have a “long thumb” or a “short thumb”? See the images below for more clarity:
The position of the thumb can have a direct impact on your clubhead speed and control of the shaft at the top of the backswing. A long left thumb increases range of motion while the short thumb restricts range of motion.
- The long thumb means the thumb runs vertically down the shaft. The thumb becomes separated from the other four fingers on that hand.
- The short thumb describes when the thumb goes down the right side of the shaft. The thumb ends up in a position just beyond the forefinger on that hand.
- If you have an extremely long swing, try to experiment with a short left thumb. If you are looking to lengthen your swing, try to experiment with a long left thumb.
Like anything in golf, it’s always a good idea to experiment with different grip and hand positions while practicing or working on your game around the house.
What is the correct golf grip?
The short answer is there is no proper golf grip. Instead, the right grip is the grip that matches your swing, body style, clubface rotation, forearm speed and strength.
Golfers who seek more distance or have issues hitting a slice should try to shift their left hand to the right in a stronger position, where three knuckles are showing. This could cause shots to head low and left at first, but that will be a welcome change for anyone who is tired of chasing a high, weak slice.
On the other hand, some golfers fight a hard hook and their ball normally goes left. If you are one of these golfers, you will want to rotate your hands to the left in a weaker position. A neutral position will help you with a straight ball flight and hopefully, lower scores.
Do you have to interlock your fingers?
Absolutely not, you can produce a good swing with an overlapping grip.
While the two best players to ever touch a club use an interlocking grip, a lot of amazing players use a traditional, overlap grip. I recommend trying out both styles and seeing which works best for your swing.
How far down should you grip a golf club?
A common error among amateur golfers is to choke up too much on the grip. Ideally, you want to leave an inch between the top of your grip and the end of your club. If you want to take some distance off the club, choke up an inch and it should take off 3-10 yards depending on the club.
How do I grip the club around the greens?
When you’re around the greens, you need soft hands for delicate shots. This is almost impossible to achieve with a death grip. Instead, you want to have a lighter grip pressure than full-swings.
But, each shot and lie will determine your overall grip pressure. For example, if you have a clean lie in a greenside bunker, you want a super light grip. This will allow you to create enough speed and hinge your wrists.
But if you’re in the deep rough and the ball is sitting down, you need more grip pressure. This will help you keep the face open through contact and not let the hosel twist at impact.
How do I grip the putter?
While gripping your clubs on full swings is important, it’s also wildly important with your putter as well. With putting, you aren’t hitting the ball very far so it’s important to keep a light grip pressure. This will help you get the necessary wrist hinge and keep the putter face square through impact.
What are the best golf grips?
There are so many grips out there it’s hard to tell you to pick a specific golf club grip. Like your golf grip, it’s all about testing and figuring out which one works best for you.
Here are some of our favorite golf club grips. Also, don’t forget to read our post all about grip size as well.
How to Change Your Golf Grip Fast
Bad habits are hard to break but having a great grip is key to better golf. Like anything in golf, if it doesn’t feel weird at first, you’re probably not doing it right. Start experimenting before you go out and play golf by:
- Keeping a club in your office, your living room, bathroom, wherever you spend a lot of time.
- Every time you are in that room, hold that club with your new grip for 10 – 15 minutes at a time.
- Focus on putting your left hand on first and then your right hand and assessing your knuckles and where the club fits in your hands.
- Lastly, make sure to evaluate your grip pressure by holding your club out at a 90 degree angle.
Remember, anytime you make a big change to your game, it might take a while to get adjusted. But it’s such an important element and the only connection that it’s worth getting out of your comfort zone.
Don’t be surprised if a grip change creates a golf blister, if that happens make sure to check out this article on how to deal with a golf blister.
If you’re struggling with your game or unhappy with your ball striking in general, look at your grip first. Don’t go right into expensive lessons and brand new clubs.
Always start with the basics when you’re not hitting as well including grip, alignment, and tempo. Like Ben Hogan said, “Good golf begins with a good grip.” A consistent golf grip is vital to playing great golf.
Here is a quick overview of the proper golf grip:
- Two knuckles (or three) are shown at address
- Your V’s are aligned based on the type of grip you want
- Keep consistent pressure on the grip throughout the entire swing
- You should feel the clubs more in your fingers and not in your palm
By understanding the fundamentals of a solid grip, you can find the right one for your game.
See what feels natural and test out different positions on the range. In general, the overlap and the interconnected grips will usually work the best for most amateur golfers.
Hopefully, you know how to hold a golf club, even if you are just getting started with this great game.
2 thoughts on “The First Lesson: How to Grip a Golf Club”
Thank You for your advise and insight on this topic! I wish I knew it long ago!