How To Grip a Golf Club
The first step to perfecting your golf shot is perfecting your golf grip. Golf expert David Freeston has some advice for beginners - or anyone looking to improve.
“If ya ain’t got G.A.S., ya ain’t gonna last.” -Dr. Robert K. Winters, PhD
The above quote is my go-to phrase when teaching the fundamentals of golf. Coined by my mentor, sports psychologist at the world renowned David Leadbetter Academy and Golf Channel TV Show Host Dr. Robert K. Winters, it is essential to learning the game.
There is a reason why the G comes first in the acronym G.A.S. (Grip, Aim, Stance). While all three of these are key ingredients on the way to a great golf shot, without the proper grip first, you will not be able to hit a consistent and solid shot, even if you have the aim and stance correct. Dr. Winters got his teachings from the legendary Mr. Arnold Palmer, so I think of how I grip the club a hand me down from him. In this article, I will first be breaking down the fundamental way to physically grip the golf club, followed by “how it should feel” when you do.
Ways to Grip a Golf Club
There are two main popular types of grips: interlock and overlap. You may have heard of the term “baseball grip,” but I will not be covering that in this article as it is not recommended. (You may feel more powerful with that grip when starting out, but it is impossible for the hands to work as a cohesive unit together, so consistency is near impossible.)
I will be focusing most on the interlock grip as it is what I use myself, but will touch on the subtle differences between that and overlap along the way, just in case you want to test out the latter. I am right-handed as well, so if you are a left-handed player, just replace the word “right” with “left” and vice versa in the step by step instructions to follow. These will be easy to test as you read to see if you are doing it correctly!
Using your left hand, touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pinky. See the big crease it forms leading towards your pointer finger in your palm? This is where the club will rest. So go ahead and gently wrap your left hand around the club with your thumb resting on top. The “fleshy” part of your palm below your pinky near your wrist should be on the bottom. To test this out to see if you have it correctly, you should be able to balance the club on that part of your palm with only your pinky and ring finger supporting it, almost like a see saw. Pretty cool how that works, huh?
Now, once you have the left hand in the place, it’s time to focus on the right hand. Open up your left hand (club still resting in the proper spot), and take your right pinky and insert it between your left pinky finger and ringer so it's between those two knuckles under the club . Then, slowly wrap your right hand around the club.
*For overlap, instead of interlocking the two, rest the right pinky on top of the left pinky knuckle.
The club should now also be resting on your FINGERS on your right hand too, NOT your palm. It should be on the first of the three sections of your finger going from your knuckles to your fingertips (see Figure 3). Then, take your right thumb and as you close your right hand over the club it should be barely resting on the side of the golf club.
To do one last check, take a peek down at your grip from a normal golf stance. It should almost look like there is a ‘V’ pointing to each shoulder, with the left hand pointing more towards your left shoulder and the right hand pointing more towards the right. If it looks very close to or exactly like that, you’ve got it down!
How It Should Feel
Think that’s all there is to it? Ready to test out a swing? Not just yet. We have to touch on how the club should actually “feel” in your hand.
It is a golfer's instinct to grip the club with strength and power. But unlike sports like baseball or hockey, a strong grip will not get you the extra foot for the homerun or extra force for a slapshot; it will actually hurt you. The golf grip is meant to be a starting point and aid for where you actually generate your power from your hips to get that mega distance. While it is still the most important part in setting up for a great golf shot, it is still in essence a support mechanism. You see, if you grip the club too hard (go ahead, test it out), can you feel your forearms all the way up to your shoulders tighten up? This is causing tension, and you will never be able to hit a consistent golf shot this way. The swing is a machine and that will mess up one of the key moving parts.
When having that strong grip, your swing will not be as flexible and relaxed and the ball could go a million different directions. When I was a junior golfer, I’ll never forget reading an article in Golf Digest that said you should hold the club “as if you are holding a bird, but just to keep it from flying away without harming it.” That has stuck with me until this day, and I wouldn’t be at the level of golf I am without it. When you first try this, the club will feel very loose if you are not used to it, but don’t worry! It will not fly away - I promise.
So guys, there you have it. My process that I used in honing my golf grip that has never let me down. Now, that being said, when you first try this grip, it WILL feel weird and unfamiliar. This is completely normal. Did it feel normal the first time you played an instrument? I think not. It will take some getting used to. 10, 20, even 100 shots. But stick with it. Once you fight through the new feeling of the proper grip, you will be seeing a fantastic, consistent ball flight and dropping tons of strokes in no time. Do not let any frustration get the best of you. Think of the awesome shots that are just around the corner! See you on the course.