Golf Grip Pressure – The Secret Key to Better Golf

Written by Michael VanDerLaan 

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Finding the proper golf grip pressure can be daunting. Everyone tells you that grip pressure can be the difference between playing great golf and not being able to keep the ball on the planet. Are you squeezing too hard? Are you not holding the club firmly enough? Where are the proper pressure points in your hands? These are all questions that we will answer. 

What Is The Proper Grip Pressure On Golf Club

Holding a live bird in your hand

According to Sam Snead, you should grip the club as if you're holding a baby bird. You want to keep the bird in your hands without killing it. Others have likened gripping a golf club to holding a toothpaste tube without squeezing any of the toothpaste out. 

It can be hard to put into words what the proper golf grip pressure should feel like. That said, there are a couple of important points to remember when trying to decipher how tightly to hold the club.

First, as a concept, let's talk about grip pressure on a scale of 1-10. 1 is barely touching the grip, and 10 is squeezing it as hard as you can. You want to try to hold the club at around a 4. This should feel like you are gripping firmly enough to keep control over the club without any strain in your forearms or wrists.

The other important thing to remember is that your hands and wrists are going to naturally tighten around the club in the downswing. You won't even feel the change, but your body will do it naturally. 

Having an understanding of the proper grip pressure points and the basics of a proper golf grip will help you to naturally find a grip pressure that works for you. 

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Golf Grip Pressure Points Explained

The commonly taught way to think about golf grip pressure is to remember the three major pressure points in the hands. Keep in mind that these pressure points will not be a perfect fix for all of your problems on the golf course. However, playing with proper grip pressure will make you more consistent, and make the game more fun. 

So what are the three major pressure points in the golf grip?

Left Hand Pressure Points

Left Hand Golf Grip Pressure Points

The last three fingers of the left hand. The middle finger, ring finger, and pinky of the left hand should play the main role in holding the club in the left hand. This will be made easier by holding the club in the proper part of the left hand, and will make it easier for your wrists to hinge and rotate properly.

Right Hand Pressure Points

Right Hand Golf Grip Pressure Points

The middle two fingers of your right hand. The middle and ring fingers of the right hand are the strongest and most reliable when the right hand is in the proper position. Similar to the left hand, maintaining the proper pressure points in the right hand will help you use your wrists properly.

The lifeline of the right palm, where it overlaps the left thumb. This is the main connection between the two hands in terms if pressure, and exerting downward pressure onto the left thumb with the right palm will help you keep your hands low through impact and properly release the golf club. 

Many golfers tend to pinch the bottom of the grip too hard with their right index finger and thumb. This is a common problem that locks the wrists in place, slows down your swing speed, and often leads to a slice

Grip Pressure During Golf Swing

I think one of the most important things to remember when you are learning how to maintain grip pressure during your swing is that the swing happens too fast to control every little thing. It can be so easy to want to micromanage everything that you want to change in your golf swing, but learning to let go of control will actually end up giving your more control over the club in the long run.

As we talked about earlier, your body is naturally going to tighten your grip in the golf swing. This is a reaction of your body's desire to continue holding onto the club, despite the increased force needed to do so. If you are consciously trying to hold on to the club, you are actually making it harder for your body to do what it wants.

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How Does Grip Pressure Affect The Golf Swing?

Golf grip pressure has different effects on the golf swing depending on whether you are holding the club too tightly or too loosely. Neither is a good option, and both will lead you to frustration and higher scores. In order to understand why the proper grip pressure is so important, it is important to understand what each mistake will do to your swing.

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Golf Grip Pressure Too Strong

Gripping too tightly

Holding the club too tightly is by far the more common problem we see in amateur golf. If your grip pressure is too strong, chances are you will also be able to feel a lot of tension in your hands, wrists, and forearms. Important note - tension kills feel amd may even result in topping the ball.

The wrists and forearms need to be able to hinge and rotate both in the backswing and through impact. Tension and squeezing the grip eliminates your ability to do either of these things. When you can't set the club on the way back or release it through impact, the ball is going to go short and it is going to slice. If that sounds familiar, check your grip pressure. 

A great way to check whether you're squeezing is to look at your knuckles. If you aren't sure what the tension we are referring to feels like, the color of your knuckles will tell the story. If you take what feels like your normal grip and your knuckles are white, you're grip pressure is too strong. You would be emptying the toothpaste tube.

An easy fix to gripping the club too tightly is to use the tackiest golf grips you can find. The tackiness gives you the confidence to grip the club lightly without worrying about it flying out of your hands.

Another tip for using light grip pressure is to keep your golf club grips clean. When they become dirty or oily, you will have a tendency to grip tightly in order to avoid losing your grip on the club.

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Golf Grip Pressure Too Light

On the other side of holding the club too tightly is holding it too lightly. In this instance, the baby bird from Sam Snead's metaphor would fly away. While holding the club too loosely allows your hands and wrists to move properly, it creates another problem. If you feel like the club is moving around in your hands, your grip pressure is too light. 

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There is an easy way to check whether your grip pressure is too light. If you feel like the club is going to go flying in your follow through, or the grip is moving around in your hands, you are holding the club too loosely. 

While light grip pressure is better than squeezing the club, you still want a firm connection with the golf club. Don't worry, we are going to walk through a couple of great drills to help you nail down the proper golf grip pressure for you. 

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Putting Grip Pressure

Putting Grip Pressure

I have been asked so many times about putting grip pressure versus grip pressure for the full swing. Should they be the same? Should you feel the same pressure points? There is a lot that goes into this answer. In its simplest form, putting grip pressure should be the same as full swing pressure - firm enough to control the club without locking you up. 

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As far as pressure points are concerned in putting, it is less important to focus on them than it is to understand the different putting grip styles. If you know how to build the proper grip based on the style you choose, pressure points in the putting grip become an afterthought. 

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Does The Size Of Your Golf Grips Affect Grip Pressure?

The size of the grips on your clubs and how tacky those grips are, absolutely do affect your grip pressure. Grips that are too small will cause you to squeeze the club, while grips that are too big might make your grip pressure too light. Grips that are slippery will make you feel like you have to squeeze the club.

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An easy way to feel what a grip that is too small would feel like is to grip the club on the shaft. Because of the way the smaller surface fits into your hands, you are forced to squeeze harder in order to control the club. 

Thankfully, there is a very easy system you can use to decide what size grip is right for you. Keep in mind that this is a guideline that is not perfect for everyone. Some people require bigger grips due to things like arthritis or other wrist issues, while other simply cannot feel the club with a big grip.

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That said, here is a good way to start to find the best grip size for you:

If your glove size is:

  • Small/Cadet Small
  • Medium/Medium Large - Including Cadet
  • Large - Including Cadet
  • Extra Large - Including Cadet

Your grip size should be:

  • Undersized
  • Standard Grip
  • Standard with extra wraps or Midsized
  • Midsized or Jumbo

How To Maintain Consistent Grip Pressure?

Finding the right golf grip pressure for your game can be intimidating. The most important thing is to be consistent on a day to day basis. Here are a couple of drills that some of the worlds best - including Jack Nicklaus and Fred Couples - have had success with to monitor and practice grip pressure.

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Golf Grip Pressure Drills

Pressure Point Swings 

Gripping The Golf Club With Only The 3 Major Pressure Points

Gripping the golf club only with the 3 major pressure points, hit some balls. The goal is to feel how the club is supported by the pressure points. With this in mind, it doesn't matter how far or which direction the ball goes. Simply feel how the club works with the hands.

Make Some Circles

Making Circles With Proper Grip Pressure

This is a great drill especially for golfers who squeeze the club. Once you understand the pressure points and how to grip a golf club, take your grip and hold the club at shoulder height. First, your grip should be firm enough to support the weight of the club. Once you feel like you are supporting the club well, start to make small circles with the club head. Golfers who squeeze the golf club will have a hard time moving it in a circular pattern. As you work through the motion, make the circles bigger and bigger. After 10-15 circles, put the club down behind the ball. This is a great benchmark for how tightly you should grip the golf club. 

These are two drills you can do every day. Making pressure point swings doesn't necessarily require hitting a ball. You can simply make swings and control the club with those pressure points. Similarly, you can do the Make Some Circles drill any time, including during a commercial break when you're watching your favorite show!

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Final Thoughts

No matter what kind of golfer you consider yourself, grip pressure can be both an overlooked and confusing aspect of the game. Understanding the proper golf grip pressure and how you can improve your's is a surefire way to have more fun and bring your scores down.

Whether you're the golfer who loves drills or you like to think more abstractly, there is a good way for you to think about grip pressure. Try some Pressure Point Swings, or the Make Some Circles Drill. Remember the baby bird and toothpaste tube concepts when practicing at the range. Play around with the interlock and overlap grips to see if one works better for you. Whatever works best for you, find an idea and a feel you can take to the golf course, and get a better grip on your own game.

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Michael VanDerLaan

Michael is an Associate Editor here at Golf Gear Advisor. He is a playing professional with a passion for finding the best equipment through product testing and evaluation. He has an intimate knowledge of the golf swing and a very effective way of communicating his knowledge to those that are interested in learning more. As an Associate Editor at Golf Gear Advisor, Michael shares his knowledge about the golf swing, fitness and finding the right equipment for your game.

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