Golf, like other sports, is about mastering the fundamentals. Jack Nicklaus, the greatest champion in the history of the game, has said your grip is the first of those fundamentals.
Here we are discussing the positioning of your hands and not the material where you hold the club. The reason this is so important to the game is due to the fact that getting the grip correct comes before any other aspect of your swing.
Getting the grip wrong can wreck even the most beautiful and technically correct swings. Getting it right means one of three options for most golfers. The three different types of grips are: the Vardon (or overlapping), the interlocking, and the ten-finger (or baseball).
This is the most common of the three. Popularized by Harry Vardon, one of the great players at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, the grip was actually invented by another golfer.
John Laidlay, a talented amateur golfer from Scotland, invented the grip. But Vardon was much better known and his adoption of the grip gave it cachet.
The grip is achieved by placing the pinky finger of the top hand over the top and between the index and middle fingers of the bottom hand.
This allows the golfer to keep their hands acting as one on the club without impinging on movement, allowing for a full swing. Golfers with strong and/or large hands tend to gravitate to this grip.
The Vardon Grip in Golf
Interlock or Overlap | Vardon Grip Golf Lesson
The only difference between this grip and the Vardon grip is the placement of the pinky finger of the top hand. Instead of being atop the index and middle fingers of the bottom hand, it is placed between them.
This grip ensures that your two hands will stay together throughout the swing. Some players, especially those who grew up in the game using the Vardon grip, may find this grip to be uncomfortable.
The fact that perhaps the two greatest players ever both use this grip gives it a great deal of credibility. Jack Nicklaus used this grip, as does Tiger Woods. Nicklaus famously has small hands, and this grip is great for golfers with that trait.
It allows for a firm grip on the club without inducing tension, a real swing killer. It could be a great choice for senior golfers who don’t possess the strength in their hands that they once did.
What Does the Interlocking Golf Grip Do?
Jack Nicklaus Tip #1 – Fundamentals
Also known as the baseball grip, the 10-finger grip is done by butting the two hands together on the club. This is similar to the way baseball players hold a bat, which is how it came to that name.
While the 10-finger grip is the least common of the three, you should not dismiss it out of hand.
Golfers with small or weak hands might find this grip allows them to swing with more power. Like the interlocking grip, this can also be a good grip for seniors who don’t hit the ball as far as they once did.
Golf: How to Grip It for Power and Consistency with a 10 Finger & Baseball Grip
What is The Best Golf Grip for Small Hands?
You may see online or hear it elsewhere that whichever grip you choose does not matter. That is not quite correct. It is true that any of the three could be the right one for you. If you have been using the same grip for years and find that it works for you, there is no reason to change.
But it might be worth trying out a new grip on the driving range if you find you are not getting the distance or otherwise are unhappy with your results.
Unfortunately, choosing one of the three grip styles is not all there is to mastering your grip.
Another consideration, which happens to also come in three styles, is the positioning of your hands. You can have a strong, neutral, or weak grip.
If you are a right-handed golfer and have your hands twisted to your left a bit, that is considered to be a strong grip. A strong grip will allow you to see three knuckles on your right hand at address.
This kind of grip tends to produce a low, penetrating ball flight with a draw. If you are thinking that’s a good thing, you may want to be careful with that.
It’s very seductive to want to hit a low draw with a great deal of run out. One problem is that it is quite easy with a strong grip to turn that draw into a hook. The reason why is that a strong grip means you will have a closed club face, also called a shut face.
Some players will find this perfectly natural and you can play well with a strong grip. Most players, however, will do better with a neutral grip.
In a neutral grip, the hands are centered on the club. One good way to check this is to look at the bottom hand and the “V” formed between the thumb and the forefinger. That “V” should be pointing between your right ear and shoulder at address.
Your thumbs will be pointing straight down the shaft, or very nearly so.
This position is the most common for golfers and it is the best for many. A neutral grip allows you to swing the club freely and return the face back to square at impact.
If you will do this consistently, the result will be straighter shots.
As you might have surmised, a weak grip is the opposite of a strong grip, where you will now see your hand rotated to the left on the club.
It is also the opposite of a strong grip in that it often means adding loft and an open face at impact. That will mean slices. Few players want to slice the ball.
Perhaps the only type golfers who should go with a weak grip are those that struggle with hooks. That is a small percentage, as the most common miss – especially for amateurs – is a slice.
With three different grip styles and three different positions for your hand on the club, that creates nine different combinations. It’s not necessary to practice all nine to find out what is best for you.
As we noted earlier, if you have been using an overlapping grip and finding success with it, stick with it. If you are not getting the distance you want, maybe consider a baseball grip. Or if you have small or weak hands, you can give the interlocking grip a chance.
As for strong, neutral, or weak, be wary of trying anything other than neutral.
If you really struggle with a slice, you may want to position your hands a bit to the strong side. Don’t overdo it or you risk fixing one problem by creating another one. And for the tiny percentage of you who struggle with hooks, feel free to strengthen your grip just a bit.
Another aspect of the grip to think of is how far up or down the club you should position your hands. Most of the time, leaving about an inch at the top is ideal. Gripping the club at the very tip of the shaft will give you a longer and more powerful swing, but that often comes at the price of lack of consistency.
You also should not grip the club too tightly at address. As you swing the club, you will naturally grip the club tighter at impact. Like closing your eyes when you sneeze, this is almost impossible to not do.
Squeezing the club too tight will introduce tension in your swing. Tension is a sure swing killer and should be avoided at all times.
Think of holding a club the way you would with holding a bird. You want to hold it tight enough to not allow it to escape, but not so tight that you injure the bird.
You should also hold the club mainly in your fingers with a bit of the club in the palm of your hand. Many golfers could do well with thicker grips.
To test if you need thicker grips, hold the club in one hand just as you would when playing. Then look to see if your fingers are digging into your palm. If so, thicker grips should do you well.
As you can see, there is a lot to think about when gripping the club. Even very skilled golfers will do so 70 times per round. It pays to get it right.
A good, solid neutral grip will mean your thumbs are pointing down the shaft or just off center. You should be able to see one or two knuckles on both hands when at address. Practice this while looking in a mirror or have a playing partner help you check. Do it over and again until it becomes second nature.