Grip. The club. Properly. Sound simple, doesn’t it? It is – but most beginners need a little guidance. That’s what I’m here for.
“Why can’t I just hold it however I want to?”
Your hands are the only part of your body that actually touch the golf club. Therefore, you need to hold it in a fashion that will help you make the cleanest strike on the ball. There’s no chance of reaching the promised land of the black target if you don’t get your fingers in the right position first. Here are the principles you must follow:
Step 1: Hands in the correct order
If you’re right-handed, your left hand (lead hand in this case) goes on top and your right below. For left-handers, vice versa. Many beginners make the easy mistake of assuming their strongest hand should be on top, controlling the swing.
Step 2: Fingers not palms
The base of the fingers provide greater speed than the palm. If you force the club into your palm, you cannot “hinge” properly in the backswing which slows down your swing and affects the angle the clubface hits the ball at – impairing the distance and direction of your shot.
Restrictive palm grip: An ideal finger-base grip
Step 3: Choose your hold
There are three styles of “grip” or “holds” that you can choose from. These three styles are a) interlocking b) overlapping and c) baseball. Each approach has strengths and weaknesses.
In order: Interlocking, overlapping & baseball grips
An interlocking grip ensures the hands stay connected, which helps your swing stay stable and consistent. However, those with small hands (such as ladies and juniors) among us may struggle to link the hands around the club. Another potential drawback is that the linkage can at first feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
The overlap grip brings identical benefits to the interlocking grip. Overlapping is more popular among rookies as the hand position feels more natural.
Finally, the baseball grip doesn’t connect the hands, which means that it’s easy for them to slide apart or over-rotate, leading to instability and hooked shots. I prefer to teach my first-time students the overlap or interlock.
Step 4: Strong, weak or neutral?
This refers to the positioning of your hands on the club. Just like holds, all three have advantages and disadvantages for each golfer:
In order: neutral, strong & weak
A strong hold is best suited to right-handers who slice the ball right. The extra rotation of the bottom hand means the club face will have a squarer impact, helping to hit the ball straighter and further. The major disadvantage of the strong hold is that it can shut the club face at the top of the backswing, leading to a hooked shot to the left.
A weak grip suits those who consistently hook the ball to the left. By reducing the amount the top hand comes over the grip, the clubface will open up and transform hooks to straight shots. With hooky side-spin eliminated, the ball will fly truer and higher.
Most beginners opt for a neutral grip, where you can see only the first two knuckles of the top hand.
5) Don’t hold on too tight!
Hold the club too hard and it’ll reduce your swing speed and prevent you hinging your wrists, ultimately reducing speed and power. Grip it too softly and you’ll have no control whatsoever over the club; not only will you miss the ball, you might actually let go of the club.
Ideally, you should hold the club halfway between these two extremes. A simple test is to make sure a friend can slide the club out of your hands when holding parallel to the body.
And there you have it. The above principles might seem like a lot to bear in mind but they’ll be easy to put into practice once you’re on the bays. Don’t think of the number of concepts here as a list of things that could go wrong – think of them as proof of how much you can improve your technique before you’ve even hit a ball.
And if you want another easy way to improve your golf, look out for our advice on posture. Or, better still, check out our beginner lessons.