Golf is all about hitting booming drives and holing clutch putts. That’s what we all play the game for, right? But before we can contemplate doing that on a semi-regular basis, it is all about nailing down the fundamentals of the game. There is little chance of success if the pillars of our technique are not there. One of those is how to grip the club.
There is more than one way to grip the club. What we are looking for is a method that works for us. So that when our hands grip the club, everything falls into place like a glove and it feels right. Because if we are unsure about our grip, the prospect of hitting a good shot is minimal. Our brain becomes clouded with theory and that’s before we have even begun our backswing.
At American Golf, we think this is the perfect time to work on our technique, and the grip is a prime part of that. If we can get everything sorted now, we should be in fine shape by the time the golf season really gets going.
How to hold a golf club
Types of grip:
The first thing to say about this classic grip is that it will not feel natural or comfortable at first. It will dominate our thoughts while we get used to it. But eventually we should reach a point where it becomes natural and our hands seamlessly move into this position without us thinking about it.
But let’s rewind and go back to the start.
Pick up the club. There is usually some marking or writing on the grip of the club that is straight on with the club head. That allows us to get the right aim when we line up at the ball and we should use the markings as the starting point for our hands and our grip.
The key with gripping the golf club is that we want it to be firm but not too tight. We want to apply some pressure to the club, but not to the extent where it feels like we are strangling the club or gripping it too tightly.
Take the gloved hand with the palm facing slightly inwards and place that against the handle of the club. The club should sit between the edge of the little finger and the middle of the index finger. We want to create a V-shape between the thumb and our index finger.
Then with the bottom hand or our striking hand, we should go to the side of the grip. The squishy part of the hand should rest on the thumb of our gloved hand or top hand. Then the little finger on the striking hand should be placed between the index finger and the middle finger on the top hand. This is the interlocking part.
This should create a neutral grip and should allow us to be able to take the club straight back. If there is too much of one hand or the other in our grip, that can manipulate the club face as we bring into a striking position and causes us to hit offline, whether that be left or right.
The interlocking grip locks the hands into position and gives the player natural strength in the swing, getting the hands to work as one rather than two separate entities.
However, one possible drawback is that it probably suits players with smaller hands. While if gripping too tightly with one hand, it can lead to hooks or slices as the dominant hand takes over.
The two greatest players in golf, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, have both used this method. So if it’s good enough to win 33 Majors, then it is definitely good enough to use in our local medal or stableford competitions. Of today’s superstars, Rory McIlroy is the leading proponent of this grip.
The major alternative to the interlocking grip is the overlapping grip. It is also known as the Vardon grip, after the late English golfer Harry Vardon, who invented the grip.
It is very similar to the interlocking grip, but instead of the interlocking, the little finger of the striking hand is placed over the top of the saddle between the index finger and the middle finger on the gloved hand. The little finger sits on that saddle between the two fingers. It overlaps with them rather than interlocks with them.
This is a very common grip for most pros and many amateur players. Arnold Palmer and Phil Mickelson are two of the greatest ever golfers to adopt this technique of how to grip the club. It suits players with bigger hands. It is more comfortable than the interlocking and it generates more power through the wrists. However, that extra freedom with the wrists can lead to a player slicing the ball more.
Many players believe that the club can be released more freely with this method, while there is less friction with the grip and the handle and it is less likely to cause blisters or irritation between the fingers.
This method of how to grip the club is the most simple way of doing things. It is the ten-finger grip, although it is also known as the hammer grip or the baseball grip. That is because it imitates the way we would pick up a hammer or a baseball bat or a cricket bat.
The gloved hand is placed at the top of the grip handle with the striking hand below it. The thumb of the gloved hand can rest against or touch the striking hand but there is no interlocking or overlapping involved as the two hands remain separate.
This is a very easy grip for beginners, especially, to use as it feels like a natural way to do things. It’s how we would hold a hammer, for example, and it can generate a lot of power. But that power, as well as creating distance, can cause us to knock it a long way offline too. That’s because the two hands operate independently and can fight against each other rather than work together.
The ten-finger grip is a great way of starting out in golf, learning how to hit the ball and to get that feeling of the club striking the ball. But to make real progress and lower our handicaps, we need to change to one of the other two methods.
So our grip is basically the same whether we have a driver or a lob wedge in our hands. Yet when we get to the green and reach for the short stick, things can change. Just look at some of the methods the pros have reverted to down the years to get the ball in the hole. Good putting requires good technique and a calm mind. Sometimes a jittery mind causes a jittery technique. That is often the reason players opt for a different grip with a putter to the rest of the clubs in their bag.
The method we use to grip the rest of our clubs, whether that is the interlocking or overlapping method. And the most commonly used by most golfers and still by most professionals. If it has been good enough for Tiger Woods, it’s a good starting point for the rest of us mere mortal golfers.
With this grip, the dominant hand is lower. The hands come together and to finish, both thumbs point downwards.
This is when we swap the position of our hands. The dominant hand moves to the top of the grip and the gloved hand moves to the bottom. Or in other words, a right-hander adopts a conventional left-handed grip and a left-hander uses a conventional right-handed grip. For some players, their hands are too prominent in the putting stroke and they can easily pull or push their putts.
The reverse grip method brings other parts of the body more into the stroke and can produce a more accurate and consistent stroke. Jordan Spieth is the most prominent player to use this technique.
This method of how to grip the putter is all about minimising pressure on our hands. Wrap our gloved hand around the putter at the top of the grip. Then with our other hand, keep the wrist in a flat position and lay that gently over the putter below the other one. There is no interlocking but we should squeeze gently between our thumb and forefinger.
This can feel a bit alien at first, but this is a stroke dominated by arms and shoulders, rather than hands. And for those who don’t sound convinced, Sergio Garcia conquered Augusta’s treacherous greens using the claw grip to become the Masters Champion in 2017.
It does look ungainly and people may think it’s a sign of someone who has been struggling on the greens, but so what? Golf is a game of how many, not how. And we all need to find a method that works for us and the idiosyncracies of our own game.
The wrist-lock grip is focused on eliminating the wrists in the putting stroke and for any putter who gets too wristy. There is a conventional grip with the dominant hand at the bottom and the gloved hand at the top. But the hands should be further down the grip of the putter. That means the wrist of the gloved hand can be pressed against the top of the putter handle, effectively locking it into place. The main aim of this is to reduce the moving parts of the putting stroke. American Matt Kuchar is a lead example of putting in this manner.
The most important thing to remember with all these putting grips and grips for swinging our other clubs is that there is no right or wrong. It is a question of trial and error. We have to practise, on the practise ground, at the driving range, even at home in the living room! That is the only way we can find the right method for our own golf game.
How to choose my grip: Thick versus thin
This is all about the type of grip we want on our clubs. Some players want a thin grip, others want a very thick one. It is about finding the right one for us. A general rule for a standard-size grip is that the third and fourth fingers should just about be touching the palm of the same hand when we grip the club in one hand. If there is a gap, it probably means the grip is too big for us. However, some players really enjoy the thicker grips. Think of big-hitters like Bubba Watson and Bryson DeChambeau and they have huge, thick grips on their clubs. This stops the player becoming too wristy and makes it harder to hook. Whereas a player with a pronounced slice may opt for a thinner grip, so the wrists can get more involved in the swing.
About the Author
Adam Lanigan - Golf Writer
Adam is a freelance news and sports journalist who has written for the BBC, The Sunday Post, The I, The Times, The Telegraph and more. He has been writing about golf for nearly two decades and has covered 13 Open Championships and two Ryder Cups. Not only does Adam cover golf, but he has played golf for as long as he can remember. He was a member at Northenden Golf Club for around 25 years until his children arrived and his last official handicap was 11, although on any given day his form fluctuates anywhere between eight and 18.