The golf grip is a point of confusion for many beginning, novice and high handicap golfers. How to grip a golf club is a question students have asked me many times on the lesson tee.
A proper grip is essential to playing good golf consistently. The hands are the only part of your body that touch the golf club to provide a "connection". Your golf grip will influence the clubface angle at impact and how fast you are able to swing the club.
A good grip helps return the clubhead square to the ball at impact without hindering the natural centrifugal force generated by the swinging of the golf club. As the late Tommy Armour stated, “The basic factor in all good golf is the grip. Get it right and all other progress follows”.
Throughout my years of golf instruction, I have taken a fundamental, simplistic approach to the golf swing. For a proper golf grip, I stress the importance of the three P's. Placement, pressure and precision.
Placement - the placement of the hands on the golf club will have a direct correlation to the face angle of the clubhead at impact. The placement of the golf club in your hands will also have a direct correlation to the clubhead speed generated throughout the golf swing.
Pressure - Close your eyes and wave the club head in small circles with varying grip pressures from very firm to very soft. The grip pressure that allows you to feel the weight of the club head yet feel relaxed is the proper grip pressure. A very firm grip pressure creates tension in the wrist and hinders a natural wrist hinge throughout the golf swing.
Precision - placement of hands and pressure of the grip must be the same with everything swing to become a consistent ball striker. Meticulous repetition of hand placement and pressure is essential.
We've talked about the importance of the grip. What is a proper grip? How do I attain a proper grip? Here is a step-by-step guide to applying your hands to the golf club. Notice how I stated "applying your hands" and not "gripping the golf club". A proper grip needs to feel natural.
1. Start with the left hand. Place the club diagonally across your hand, so that it runs just above the base of the little finger, through the crook of the forefinger. Don’t get it too high in the palm, which is a common error that creates tension and results in a lack of mobility of the wrist. Holding a golf club is similar to holding a steak knife. The steak knife is controlled by the fingers, not the palm of your hand.
2. As you wrap your fingers around the grip, join the thumb and index finger together. Avoid creating a gap between the two. Pay attention to the position of the left thumb. You don’t want to extend the thumb too far down the shaft.
3. Holding the club off the ground, you should see two to three knuckles of the left hand and a distinct ‘cupping’ at the back of the left wrist, while the last 3 fingers (pinky, ring and middle) anchor the grip. The left hand is now in the best position to allow the wrist to hinge correctly in the backswing.
4. When applying the right hand on the club, think in terms of it sitting parallel to the left hand. Parallel hand position is the key to creating a unit. Then, when you close your right hand on the club, the left thumb should now be covered, fitting beneath the fleshy pad at the base of the right thumb, with the right index finger and thumb forming a slight trigger.
Is there a checkpoint for grip pressure?
You should hold the golf club soft enough to allow for a tension free and flowing swinging motion, while remaining firm enough to keep the club from flying out of the hands.
Take a proper set up of grip, posture and alignment. Raise the club head until the shaft is parallel to the ground and perpendicular to the target line. Squeeze the club until you cannot feel the weight of the club head. Release the grip tension until you feel the club head’s weight. In this position the weight can be felt no matter how tight or how soft the hold of the club.
Now, hold the shaft perpendicular to the ground and repeat the squeezing of the club’s handle. In this position you cannot feel the weight of the club head no matter what your grip pressure. Finally, hold the club shaft at approximately a 45-degree angle to the ground or half way between the last two shaft positions. Close your eyes and wave the club head in small circles with varying grip pressures from very firm to very soft. The grip pressure that allows you to feel the weight of the club head yet feel relaxed is the proper grip pressure.