The Proper Golf Grip – How To Hold A Golf Club

Written by Michael VanDerLaan 

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A proper golf grip is probably the most important fundamental to master. It is the only connection between the golf club and the body, and so will have a major impact on every other piece of the swing.

In this article you will learn how to hold a golf club properly and in such a way that you will be able to create strong and consistent power in your golf swing.

How you grip the golf club will determine whether you are going to hit a slice, hook, or a beautiful fade or draw and gripping the club properly is the fastest way to get better at golf without lessons.

Let's take a look at the different types of golf grips and see which is the best way to grip the golf club for you.

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Types Of Golf Grips

3 Types Of Golf Grips

There are 3 styles of golf grip, all of which have been used at the highest levels of golf. They are:

  • Overlapping Grip - characterized by the right pinky finger overlapping the first 2 fingers of the left hand
  • Interlocking Grip - similar to the overlap, except the right pinky finger hooks in between the first and second finger of the left hand
  • Baseball Or 10 Finger Grip - all 10 fingers rest directly on the grip, with little or no connection between the hands

Overlap Grip

Overlap Grip

The overlap grip is created by placing the pinky finger of the right hand on top of the gap between the index and middle fingers of the left hand. The grip can also be referred to as the Vardon grip. This is after Harry Vardon, a professional golfer from the early 1900's, who made the grip popular.

Golfers who find the most success with the overlapping grip tend to be those with larger hands, and who have a need to control their grip pressure a bit more. Some people find it easier to release the golf club when using the overlapping grip. It is even thought that irritation and blistering occur less often when using this grip style.

Some golfers who have succeeded at the highest level with the overlap grip include Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, and Phil Mickelson. Some studies suggest that as many as 90% of players on tour use the Vardon grip. While it does seem to be the more popular grip on tour, don't count the interlock grip out just yet. 

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Interlock Grip

Interlock Grip

The interlock grip is characterized by the pinky of the right hand being inserted in the space between the index and middle fingers of the left hand, creating a very tight connection. Players with smaller hands will find that the interlock grip helps them to control the clubbed throughout the swing. With this style of grip, golfers feel as though their hands work as more of a single unit.

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With the interlocking grip, some golfer have trouble with gripping the club too tightly. Other complaints with the interlock style include that it feels strange, and that it creates more friction between the fingers.

Even though it may sound like the less appealing grip, the thing to remember is that both Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus have use the interlock grip their whole careers. Those results are difficult to argue with when considering the interlocking grip. However, there is still one more grip style to consider when choosing the right grip for you.

Baseball Grip

Baseball Grip

The baseball grip, or the ten-finger grip gets its name simply from the fact that all ten fingers are in direct contact with the club. It is commonly called the baseball grip for its resemblance to the way a baseball bat is held. Many amateurs tend to gravitate towards the 10 finger grip for its very natural feel and comfort in the hands and wrists.

For those just beginning to learn golf, the this grip tends to be the most widely used. The comfort and ease of use make for one less thing to worry about while trying to learn all of the other ins and outs of the game. 

While it is rare to find the 10 finger grip in high level golfers, it is not impossible. PGA Tour player Scott Piercy uses the ten finger style, and has had a successful career of his own. 

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Guide To The Proper Golf Grip

Before choosing the right grip for you, it is important to understand the basic fundamentals of holding the golf club. Regardless of which works best for you, follow these guidelines to create a more consistent connection with the golf club. 

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Left Hand Grip Position

Placing The Left Hand on The Golf Club
Proper Golf Grip with The Left hand

The grip begins with the left hand. Hold the club in your right hand, waist high and parallel to the ground with the toe of the club pointed towards the sky. Take your left hand with fingers stretched, and lay the club diagonally across the base of your fingers. It should rest in the middle portion of your index finger, and the pad at the bottom of your pinky finger, just as in the picture above. Close your hand around the grip. Now you're ready to position your right hand.

Right Hand Grip Position

Placing The Right Hand On The Golf Club
Proper Golf Grip With The Right Hand

With your left hand in the position shown above, place the heel of your right hand on the bottom joint of your left thumb. Wrap your hand around the shaft so that the "V" created by the thumb and index finger of your right hand point towards the center of your right ear. The grip should run directly across the base of the fingers of the right hand.

Thumb Position

Left Thumb Rests In The Lifeline Of The Right Hand In a Proper Golf Grip
Right Thumb Runs down the side of the shaft in a proper golf grip

While the thumb position can vary slightly based on comfort, both thumbs must run down the length of the grip, rather than wrapping around. The left thumb should rest in the lifeline of the right hand, and the right thumb should rest on the top of the grip, as shown in the picture.

Grip Pressure

Feeling the correct grip pressure by gripping an open tube of toothpaste

Gripping the club too loosely and too tightly are both common flaws in golf. An often overlooked aspect of the grip is how firmly to hold the club. Should you actively squeeze it, or try to let it rest lightly in your hands?

Sam Snead, who's PGA Tour win total of 82 wins is only matched by Tiger Woods, once likened the golf grip to holding a baby bird. The goal is to grip it tightly enough that the bird cannot fly away, but also not so tightly that the bird is crushed 

Another good swing thought is that you are gripping an open tube of toothpaste and you have to swing without squeezing toothpaste out of the tube.

Keeping your golf grips clean will help you keep light grip pressure during your swing.

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What happens if you grip a golf club too tightly?

A grip that is too tight will create unwanted tension at address and during the swing. Extra tension typically results in shots struck thin, and slices. This is because a tight grip pressure does not allow the club face to properly rotate and square up at impact, meaning the club face will be open to the target line (pointing right for a right handed golfer). A lighter grip pressure allows the wrists to hinge properly through the swing, which is an essential aspect of creating speed and power. 

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What Does The Right Golf Grip Look Like

Proper Golf Grip

You can see how a golf grip should look in the image above. The Vs formed by the thumb and forefinger of each hand should point between the right shoulder and right ear for a right handed player.

A weak grip would point more to the right and a strong grip would point more to the left.

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Alternative Golf Grips

Cross Handed

Cross Handed Golf Grip

Most commonly used in putting, the cross handed grip involves placing the left hand lower on the shaft than the right for a right handed golfer. Many golfers feel that the cross handed, or left hand low, putting style helps them control the club face and improve their speed control.

More recently, 2022 US Open Champion Matthew Fitzpatrick employed the cross handed technique to his chipping. PGA TOUR winner and Masters Champion Vijay Singh has chipped and even hit bunker shots that way, and Oklahoma University standout Patrick Welch plays every shot cross handed. While hitting shots other than putts cross handed is certainly unconventional, some golfers find that it works for them, and there is nothing wrong with that!

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The Claw

The Claw Golf Grip

The claw is a unique putting grip style in which the left hand rests on the grip as normal, but the right hand is turned, and the grip is held in the space between the thumb and index finger, with the fingers pointing towards the ground.

Unlike the full swing, wrist hinge in putting can hurt a player's chance to control the ball. Utilizing the claw takes the hands out of the stroke and forces the player to move the putter with their shoulders. The end result is a smoother stroke with less pop. It is especially effective on faster greens, and for those who struggle pushing or pulling putts.

Common Golf Grip Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Since the grip is the only connection between the golfer and the club, even slight mistakes can have a major impact on the rest of the swing. There are a few common mistakes, which we have detailed below. 

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Too Weak Or Too Strong

Golf Grip Too Weak
Golf Grip that is too strong

In a correct golf grip, the Vees created by the thumb and forefinger should point between the right ear and right shoulder in a right handed player and the opposite for a left handed player.

Perhaps just as important is that the Vees from both hands should match each other, to insure that the hands are working together.

You can get a good visual of this by placing a tee in the Vee of both hands to see where they are pointing and that both hands are the same.

In the illustration above, you can see a grip that is too weak with the Vees pointing to the left shoulder and a grip that is too strong with the Vees pointing way to the players right.

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While most golfers tend to naturally place the trail hand - the right hand for right handed golfers - well on the club, many have trouble with the left hand.

The more common error is a grip that is weak, or turned too far on top of the golf club. When the right hand is weak, it is very hard to release the club, making the common miss a slice. Some golfers go to the opposite extreme and have a grip that is strong, or turned too far to the right and under the club. Strong grips promote a left miss, since the club will release too much through impact. Golfers who try to hit the ball too hard will tend to develop a strong grip.

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Gripping The Club In The Palm Of The Hand

Gripping the golf club in the palm of the hand

As discussed above, the club should be held in the fingers. When the grip moves into the palm of the hand, it is very difficult for the wrists to hinge and work how they are supposed to. A grip too far into the palm of the hand will result in loss of both power and control.

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Squeezing The Golf Club

Gripping too tightly

Holding the golf club too tightly is one of the easiest flaws to fix when it comes to the grip.

Jack Nicklaus has stated that squeezing the golf club is a common cause of a slice. As mentioned above, gripping the club too tightly - or squeezing - can prevent the club from releasing properly. At impact, the club face remains open (aimed to the right for a right handed golfer) and the shot will tend to curve from left to right more than is desired

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In addition, an improper release of the golf club can significantly decrease the speed of the club through impact. There are reasons to hit the ball shorter that can benefit many golfers, but an improper grip pressure is not one of them.

Using tacky golf grips can help you too grip the golf club more lightly and help to eliminate the urge to squeeze the golf club.

Gripping the club too tightly can also lead to topping the ball. Mastering the art of grip pressure will undoubtedly improve your game, whether you are trying to break 70 or break 90.

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Final Thoughts

Even the best golf tips will be useless without a good golf grip. Whether the overlap, interlock, 10 finger grip, or an alternative grip style is the best choice for you, the key is to master this fundamental. Understanding the relationship between the grip and the golf club is the beginning of developing a deeper understanding for the whole game of golf. 

A good grip will create more consistency, lower scores, and help you have more fun. At the end of the day, that really is the goal. 

One of the best ways to learn the how to hold a golf club properly is to use a training aid that incorporates a grip trainer.

Now that you know how to hold a golf club, get out there and go to the driving range and start playing better golf!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you use same grip for driver and irons?

Yes, you use the same grip for driver and irons. This keeps the golf swing more consistent and reduces the number of variables. 

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What is the best grip to hold a golf club?

The best grip to hold a golf club is the one that is the most comfortable and effective for the individual golfer. There is no universal "best" grip.

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Should you grip a golf club in the fingers or palm?

You should grip a golf club in the fingers. Holding the club in the fingers allows the wrists to hinge more efficiently, promotes higher swing speed, and aids in controlling the clubface throughout the golf swing.

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Do you use the same grip for chipping?

Yes, you use the same grip for chipping. Most golfers have great success using the same grip to chip as they do for their full swing. Maintaining the same grip makes both the swing path and the contact with the golf ball more consistent and reliable. 

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What grip does Tiger Woods use?

Tiger Woods uses the interlock grip.

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What is the most common grip in golf?

The overlap grip is most commonly used among both tour pros and amateurs, however, some of the greatest players in the game use the interlock grip, which continues to fuel the interlock vs overlap grip debate.

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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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