What is the proper golf grip? This is a question that has been pondered—and experimented with—since the game’s invention many centuries ago. And although several grips have been tried (with varying levels of success) throughout this popular sport’s many decades, today these choices have been narrowed down to just a few: the overlapping grip, the interlocking grip and the ten-finger grip. Today, most professionals in the sport of golf rely on one of these “general” grip options. But while their grip style may vary, all of these professionals agree that the manner in which the golf club is initially positioned in the hand is the absolute key to power and control.
Below we will briefly define each of the grip styles mentioned above. We will then provide a step-by-step tutorial for properly gripping the club—a tutorial that will lead to better club control with every shot you take.
The 3 Ways to Properly Grip the Golf Club
According to a recent poll of some of the world’s top golf instructors, “even the slightest error in the manner in which the golf club is held can have enormous negative consequences on the course.” Hence, most of these teachers admit that the proper golf grip is one of their first instructional priorities when working with new golfers.
Golfers can choose from three basic grip options: the overlapping grip, the interlocking grip, and the ten-finger grip. Here we will briefly explain each of these options.
The Overlapping Grip
The overlapping golf grip, also known as the Vardon Grip or Vardon Overlap, is perhaps the most popular grip in the world of professional golf. The grip was popularized by Harry Vardon, a global golf superstar in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with six British Open titles to his credit.
As the name suggests, the overlapping grip is one in which (a right-handed) golfer should overlap the pinky finger of their right (bottom) hand, placing it between the index and middle fingers of their left (top) hand. As this is done, the thumb of the left hand should fit into the lifeline of your right hand (the lifeline is the line on your hand that extends vertically from the base of the palm to the index or middle finger).
Most of today’s professional male golfers (over 80 percent by all estimates) employ the overlapping grip.
Ten Finger Grip (aka the “Baseball Grip”)
Popular among many weekend golfers, the ten-finger grip is widely used on municipal golf courses around the country for its comfortable feel. However, it is used by very few professional golfers—golfers who prefer the control provided by the other two grip styles. Hall of Fame LPGA golfer Beth Daniels is one of the most notable users of the ten-finger grip, which was also the grip of choice for PGA stars Bob Estes, Dave Barr and Masters Champion Art Wall Jr.
To properly grab the club using a ten-finger or baseball grip, you will want to begin with a perfect lead hand (top hand) grip (explained in the next section). Once you have set your top hand correctly on the grip, you will then place the bottom or trail hand on the club, making sure the pinky finger of that hand is pressed closely against the index finger of the top hand. Next, you will once again cover the thumb of the top hand with the lifeline of the bottom palm.
People who lack strength in their wrists and forearms, such as arthritis sufferers, should perhaps use the ten-finger grip, but all others should seriously consider switching to an overlapping or interlocking grip, especially if their goal is to improve their score.
The Interlocking Grip
Although the majority of professional male golfers employ the Vardon overlapping grip, it is interesting to note that two of the greatest players ever to walk a golf course—Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods—used (and continue to use) the interlocking grip—the second-most popular grip in professional golf.
The interlocking grip, which is widely used on the LPGA tour, is perfect for those with smaller hands or less-than-muscular wrists and forearms. It is commonly taught to beginners because it helps take some of the guesswork out of finger positioning.
To employ the interlocking grip, you will want to take the little finger of the bottom hand and interlock it with it the index finger of the top or lead hand. As with the overlapping grip, you’ll need to make sure that the thumb of the left or top hand fits along the lifeline of the bottom or trailing hand.
The Proper Golf Grip: Positioning Your Hands for the Perfect Grip
As we mentioned briefly in the introduction, the three above-outlined golf grips are all used in the sport of golf today, some certainly more than others. However, despite how the two hands ultimately come together on the golf club—by overlapping, interlocking, or just touching (ten-finger)—the manner in which the two hands are initially placed on the club is far less subjective. In fact, the majority of professional golf instructors agree that the following step-by-step guide for grasping the golf club can mean the difference between a great and a poor shot.
Step 1 – Grasp the Club with Your Right Hand
Note: For this detailed guide on how to attain the proper golf grip, we are assuming you are a right-handed golfer. If you golf left-handed instead, simply reverse these instructions.
With your right hand, also referred to as the bottom or trail hand, grasp the golf club where the metal of the shaft meets the grip. Naturally, this is not where your bottom hand will remain in the final gripping of the club, but it is a necessary step that will help you properly align the top or lead hand. After you have grasped the club where indicated, hold it out in front of you at a 45 degree angle.
Step 2 – Set Your Lead (Top) Hand
As you are holding the club in front of you, place your left or lead hand behind, but not on, the club, with the palm facing you. Next you are going to properly set this lead hand. To accomplish this correctly, you will want to nestle the club along the line in which your first knuckles (closest to the palm) meet the very top of your palm. Many weekend or amateur golfers have the tendency to set the club more to the middle of the palm on their lead hand. This is a no-no—one that takes the fingers out of the swing altogether and tends to cause erratic shots.
Step 3 – Grip with Your Lead Hand
With the club set along the very top of the left palm where it meets the fingers (and without moving the hand), curl your pinky finger, ring finger and middle finger around the grip or handle of the club. You do not need to grasp it tightly. In fact, most instructors advise golfers NOT to grip the club too tightly. If you have done this step correctly, it should feel as if the underside of each of these three fingers is now in contact with the grip.
Step 4 – Set the Thumb and Forefinger of Your Lead Hand
With the three most outer fingers of your top hand now wrapped around the club—and with the club still nestled along the top of your left palm where it meets the fingers—it is now time to set the lead thumb and the forefinger.
Without changing the position of the club, simply roll your thumb over to the right side of the handle or grip. As you do this, curly your left index finger around the club. If this step is done correctly, you should feel the meaty portion at the base of your thumb pressing directly down onto the handle or grip of the club.
Step 5 – Set Your Trail (Bottom) Hand
Once the top or lead hand has been properly set, the next step is to incorporate the bottom or trail hand into your grip. As you will recall from Step 1, up until now the right or bottom hand has been grasping the club at the point where the shaft meets the grip, as you were setting your top or lead hand.Now, slide your right hand up the club towards your left hand. As you did with the left or top hand, you will want to set the club along the line formed by the base of your palm and the first knuckles of the fingers.
Step 6 – Overlapping, Interlocking or Ten-Finger Grip
At this point of the grip procedure, you will need to choose between the overlapping, interlocking or ten-finger grip. If you select the overlapping grip, simply wrap your right pinky finger into the space where your left middle finger and index finger come together. For the interlocking grip, you will want to intertwine the right pinky finger and the left index finger. And if you select the ten-finger grip, press your right pinky finger against the forefinger or index finger of the left hand.
Whichever (final) grip you select, it’s important that you add some pressure to the club with these last two fingers—the right index finger and the left pinky finger. This is where a lot of your control and power can be gained or loss, so this connection is critical.
Step 7 – Setting the Thumb and Forefinger of the Trail Hand
In this final step, you will want to roll your right or trail thumb toward the left of the club, while also curling your right index finger around the club. Be sure to place the right hand directly over the left thumb, using the lifeline of your right palm as a guide. If you have performed this step correctly, you should feel some pressure on your left thumb. This pressure is caused by placing the meaty portion of your right thumb over your left thumb.
Proper Golf Grip Video
The proper golf grip can add a measure of power, control and enjoyment to your game, helping you shave strokes even on the toughest of courses. Keep in mind that this grip is often referred to as a “neutral” grip by teaching professionals. Many of today’s star golfers are known to slightly tweak this grip from time to time, opting for a strong or weak grip when hitting certain types of difficult shots. This, however, is not recommended for beginners, as the results can often be disastrous.
The Propert Golf Grip Infographic