Get a grip: Find the perfect one for you

by   (Senior Writer I)   |   July 23, 2012
Golf grip

Some years ago I was watching the great Spanish professional Jose Maria Olazabal hitting balls on the range at Bay Hill.  I was struck, not only by the quality of his shots, but also by his grip — particularly how far he had his left hand turned to the left on the club.  The guy next to me, another teaching professional said, “That’s the weakest left hand I’ve ever seen on a great player.”

The spot next to Olazabal on the range was vacant for maybe 45 minutes until David Duval stepped in and started his warm up routine. This was when Duval was on top of the Tour’s money list.  I could not believe how far to the right he had his left hand — it was in a super strong position.  The contrast with Olazabal was shocking.  Here were two of the best golfers in the world, with grips as far removed from each other as you can imagine. And here’s the best part:  Duval was fading it with a strong grip and Jose Maria was drawing it with a weaker one!  That’s when it occurred to me that there is no such thing as THE grip! How could these guys have developed such dissimilar methods of holding the golf club?  If you read on, I’ll explain why, and try to help you discover the best grip for you.

The purpose of the grip is simple: to square the club face and allow you the freedom and flexibility to swing the golf club so that you can square the club face.  There are three motions of the hands and arms involved in swing the golf club: flexion (Palmar and Dorsi), deviation (Ulnar and Radial) and rotation (pronation and supination).  In layman’s terms, flexion means bending your wrists, deviation mens cocking your wrists and rotation means rolling your forearms. So depending on your anatomy and preference (within certain parameters) you need to find a way to hold the golf club that gets the job done for you.

Every one of us has anatomical differences in these areas, including the size and strength of our hands and arms. Some golfers can rotate their forearms easily and quickly. Some have big hands, some have small hands and others have more flexibility. A select amount of golfers are even “double-jointed.”  You can do a lot of self discovery with your grip, and some trial and error experiments to see what works or and what does not. If it doesn’t work, simply discard it. It’s just another range ball. There are any number of books, website articles and videos showing you a neutral starting position, but that “classic” grip can be customized to you.

To help you find out what grip works best for you, try these experiments:

If you slice, or hit the ball shorter distances than you think you should, try a stronger grip.  I would experiment with a very strong left hand grip, turned all the way to a “3-knuckle” position.  Keep the right hand fairly neutral with the “V” formed between the thumb and index pointed to your right shoulder.  The left hand is your anti-slice hand.  Feel the golf club more in the fingers than in the palms, and keep the pressure very light.  Warning: You might hook the ball or hit it lower, but I guarantee two things:  the golf ball will not slice and it will go further. As you start to hook, you can increasingly weaken the hand until you find the position that gets the job done.

Conversely, if you hook or hit very low shots, place your left thumb a little more on top of the club, and be sure your right hand “V” is pointed at your nose or even a little left of that.  Try lengthening your left thumb a little, and feel the club a little higher in your hands, more toward the palms.  The right hand is the anti-hook hand.  This grip will get the flight up and reduce the hook. Interlock, overlap or ten finger?  Your call. Here is a short list of poor grips and the shots they might cause:

Weak left hand:  Slices, high short shots, difficulty hinging at top, casting, some shanks.

Strong right hand:  Hooks, low ball flight, long pulls, flat backswing, topping, drop kicks.

Weak right hand:  Over the top, getting in front of the ball, pulls and slices.

Strong left hand: Generally solid shots that might fly low and long, occasional hooks.

Pressure too tight: Slicing, some topping.

Finally, always, always let ball flight be your guide.  Don’t ever make a grip change because you heard it on TV or one of your buddies thought it was a good idea. The ideas above are from my experience, they don’t have to be yours.  I had seven (7) lessons today.  Three grips I strengthened a bit, one I weakened, and three had no change at all. You can hold the golf club one of a few ways, but it has to complement your action, your personal swing pattern. It is easier to change a grip to something that works for you than to change an entire swing you have had all your life!

Good luck.  DC

Click here fore more discussion in the “Instruction and Academy” forum.

About

Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional and advanced certified instructor, a distinction held by fewer than 2 percent of all PGA Professionals. He is recognized as one of the top instructors in the country, and holds no less than seven PGA awards including "Teacher of the Year" and "Golf Professional of the Year." Dennis directs his own academy in Naples, FL. He can reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

Dennis holds two degrees in education and has worked with golfers of all levels for over 30 years. A native of Philadelphia, Dennis currently directs the Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the Marco Island Marriott in Naples, Fla.

GolfWRX Writer of the Month: April 2014, May 2014


8 Comments

  1. wmtipton

    April 24, 2013 at 12:03 am

    I started playing 19 months ago and while I have been happy with my progress so far it was time to get it more together so I started working seriously on my putting and now I can typically one and two putt most every hole.

    My other problem is army golf…right, left, right, left…but generally always in play one side or another, but its something I figured I could fix somehow.
    I got oversized grips which apparently was the right size for me based on my hand size which helped tremendously. Standard grips feel like they are slopping around in my hands so I really have to sqeeze the begeezus out of them to old on so they dont slip.

    Better but Im still a little loose in my swing so that Im not entirely consistent.

    A few days ago I got to thinking about it and wondered if there was a way to ‘restrict’ (for lack of a better word) the remaining slop in my swing.
    I thought about taking a stronger left grip to four knuckles or so and then just slightly strengthening the right grip to try to keep the club from having as much ‘play’ as far as open/closed at impact.

    Wow. I couldnt believe the difference once I got comfortable with it.
    I danged near eagled a par 5 today and had so many bombs down the center fairway basically on accident that I cant believe I didnt stumble on this somewhere on the web.
    It worked so well that the guy I played with today who was a really good player was even taking notice.

    I have to agree with the author here because Ive had a number of players tell me what I should be doing and it didnt work, but I finally ‘found my grip’ that works for MY build and MY body, including a broken right arm that never really healed back to normal which seriously affects my wrist action on the right side.

    I think Im starting to understand some of the golf instructors Ive seen who dont tell their student what to do but more help them do what theyre doing on their own to make it better.
    I thought that there was ONE way to do the golf swing but it never occurred to me that with all of the differences in our bodies that very few people would be able to swing exactly the same as someone else.

    Very encouraging revelation.
    Thanks for the article.
    Its definitely good to hear that I dont have to be text book to play the game.

  2. Pingback: Scratch The Golfin' Caveman's Blog » Blog Archive » The Caveman’s Golf Essentials: Grip Part 2

  3. Anthony

    July 27, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    I have not tried to play with the grip any but after reading this I played around in the living room (while watching the opening ceremony) withe a stronger left hand and I can actually feel the club head closing a little faster. I can’t wait to hit the range tomorrow and see what kind of ball flight I have. I’m a low end long hitter (8i=150+) but with my long irons I have a tendency to slice the ball. I think this will help with my draw shot also. I really appreciate this post, thanks DC!

  4. DCGolf

    July 27, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    To do a thorough driver fitting you need to have all elements of ball flight and club delivery factors examined. It takes time. And you need to see someone with a TRACKMAN or other good monitor to do it. Speed, attack angle, dynamic loft, launch angle, centerdness of contact, spin loft, spin axis, trajectory, landing angle etc. should all be monitored. And to do it right you need a variety of shafts, heads, and golf ball types to hit to see what combination is best for you.

  5. Mark

    July 27, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I’m wondering if I have to weaken my grip in order to keep from hooking my shots could it primarily be a result of not having the proper fit (shaft) for my swing.
    Is there a common tendency to make the swing/grip fit the clubs instead of the other way around? If so, before going in for a proper fitting should you practice swinging with a good, slightly strong grip and a full release for a swing that should produce the type of flight you’re looking for (with properly fitted clubs) or simply show up with the swing/grip that you use with your current clubs?
    A related question is whether the shaft flex should be determined by club head speed or ball flight. In other words, could I be slowing my release and/or weakening my grip in order to hit the ball straighter with the clubs that I have?

  6. Greg

    July 27, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Nice read!
    I personally like to experiment from time to time. So I will use this as food for thought to shake up my grip a bit.

  7. DC

    July 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Yes, thats why you need to play with the grip a bit. If you move the ball or flatten your plane or change you path, it may require a change in the way you’re holding it.

  8. Troy Vayanos

    July 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Nice Post,

    It’s interesting to note those 2 top players with different grips yet they were hitting shots against the type of grip they had.

    Yes the grip is important but more important in being able to get the clubface square at the impact point.

    Cheers

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