The proper golf grip, specifically how to grip a golf club is an often overlooked detail as golfers tend to be far too interested in the complexity of the swing itself. However, a correct golf grip has everything to do with how the swing will develop including the motion of the arms and wrists, clubface control, lag and release.
It could be a separate article unto itself, but suffice it to say that extreme grip errors lead to extreme swing errors. A “weak” grip, in which a right-handed golfer has the hands set too far around to the left on the club, will lead to an open clubface, an over-the-top downswing, casting and scooping at impact and generally high ball flight with slicing and lack of power. On the other hand, a strong grip in which the right-handed golfer has the hands situated too far to the right around the handle, will lead to an unusually flat downswing with severe in-to-out swing path, duck hooks, straight blocks to the right and generally lower ball flight with longer than average distance on short irons.
If these errors and ball flight problems sound too familiar, keep reading to learn what the “neutral” grip should look like before investing too much effort in swing changes.
The Neutral Golf Grip
Step one is to attach and properly position the lead hand to the golf club. Get a club and sole it as it would sit in the playing position, but do this beside your lead leg, or left leg for a right-handed golfer. Standing at attention with the club resting beside the left leg, position it so the shaft is right against the leg, clubface is aimed at target and clubhead soled flat on the ground. With the handle positioned just behind the left hip, reach down and grasp it so the handle runs through the middle joint of the left forefinger then back along the base of the pinky finger while being pinched under the heel pad of left palm. Starting this way ensures that the handle will run diagonally through the hand causing the fingers to wrap in a spiral fashion around the club – note this is different than the way we grip a baseball bat which is held in the fist with the fingers wrapped perpendicularly to the handle vs. the spiral, diagonal wrapping of the fingers on a golf club.
The left thumb should sit at about 1 o’clock, or slightly right of center when looking straight down the topside of the handle. The heel pad of the left palm should be sitting up on top of and across the handle so the handle is trapped under the meaty pad of the hand. No space should be visible around the pinky finger – it should be clinched snugly around the handle. The thumb should be retracted up into a “short-thumb” position which forms a tight seam between thumb and forefinger creating the classic upside down “V” referred to in so many golf instruction manuals.
Step two is to lift the golf club around in front of the body and check the left hand position. Lift the club so it extends straight out horizontally to the ground out in front of the belt buckle with the leading edge of the clubface perfectly vertical or “toe up.” (Click here for setup article and video to see exactly how to position the club for this step.) As you look down at the left hand, the first two knuckles on the back of the hand should be visible. The seam that forms the shape of a “V” should be angled to point toward the right cheek or shoulder area. Try holding a golf tee pinched in the seam of the “V” to use as a pointer. The tee also works great to keep the “V” sealed together so it does not gap open during the swing and cause the club to move in the hands.
Step three is placement of the right hand on the golf club. If you look down at your right hand as it rests naturally at your right side, you will notice it turns slightly inward – palm facing the right thigh or even facing slightly behind you. Humans definitely don’t walk around with the right palm facing up, but they will sure put it on a golf club that way if left unsupervised.
As we already did with the left hand, you can go ahead and pinch a golf tee in the gap between right thumb and forefinger to accent the “V” formed on the right hand as well. As the hand comes to the golf club, it is important to maintain the natural, anatomically-neutral joint alignment you saw when the arm was hanging at the side of the body. Focus on first laying the handle in the crease of the middle two fingers and slide them back until they touch against left forefinger. Allow the right pinky to lay on top of left forefinger – DO NOT INTERLOCK them together. The interlock grip tends to work the right hand too far underneath the club as the player attempts to shove the right pinky and left forefinger all the way together. This inevitably creates a right hand position too far to the right with the palm facing up. This is referred to as a “strong” grip.
Once the right hand is fully attached to the club, the “V” should point straight up at the chin. The lifeline crease in the right palm covers the left thumb, which should be totally covered. A pronounced “trigger” finger is created by the right forefinger. It literally sits on the backside of the handle in the same position it would sit on the frame of a gun to pull the trigger. The right thumb rests on the left side of handle so just the inside edge of the thumb touches the handle. Note the right thumb is not straight down the center and it is worth repeating … only the inside portion of the thumb pad is in contact with the handle.
Final Check. If you look down at the hands from above while holding the club horizontal to the ground in a “toe up” position straight out in front of belt buckle, you should see two knuckles on the back of each hand. Two knuckles showing on each hand suggests a perfectly neutral grip position. The V’s on each hand should be sealed together – left hand V pointing to right cheek or shoulder, right hand V pointing to chin. Conversely, if you were to place the club on the ground behind the ball while assembling the grip and then tried to look at the hands, it would be too difficult to see the correct positions.
With both hands in final position on the club, it should be comfortable to hinge the wrists up and down as though driving a nail with a hammer. That completes the grip by removing any unwanted tension as you prepare to sole the club behind the ball and move into setup position. With a solid setup, good backswing, downswing path and release, you can trust this perfectly neutral grip to be able to deliver the clubface squarely to the golf ball time after time. Try it and leave me a comment to let me know how it worked. Thanks.
Herman Williams, PGA