Let’s clarify at the outset that there is no right or wrong grip – grip is a preference, not a principle. There are three types of grip, any of which may be right for you if it leads to the best performance. If you’re not sure which grip is best for you, you can experiment until you find what works.
Let’s compare the three types of grip and some information about each that can help you determine which is likely to be the best grip for you:
1. The Vardon, or Overlapping Grip This is where the pinkie finger on the right hand overlaps the crease between your pointer and middle fingers of your left hand. Developed by Harry Vardon to deal with his very large hands and to mitigate a terrible hook. This grip allowed him to take a portion of his right hand off the club to compensate for the size of his hands and it prevented the club from releasing. The sad reality is that many coaches out there teach this grip and yet very few players out there actually have a problem with hooking the ball (slicing is a different matter altogether). Using a grip that delays the club releasing for most players is actually a detriment – you want the club to release. So unless you fall into the relatively small percentage of golfers out there with huge hands who hook the ball, this is probably not the best grip for you.
2. The Interlocking Grip This is where you join your hands by placing the pinkie finger of your right hand between the pointer finger and the middle finger of your left hand and “hooking” it between there and joining them together. This is the grip of choice of Jack Nicklaus. Generally, my preference as a golf coach is to recommend this grip to men with medium to large-sized hands or people with strong, fairly athletic hands.
3. The 10-finger, or Baseball Grip This is where you place your hands side by side on the club. You’re not changing hand position here, you’re just not hooking them together and are instead placing them side by side. My general preference is to recommend this grip to juniors, women and men with smaller or medium-sized hands, or any individuals with relatively weak hands. Grip is a fundamental tenets of any golf swing, so choose your grip carefully and wisely, keeping in mind that the best grip for you is the one that allows you to play your best golf. (And by the way, if you are having any problems getting a feel for what a proper grip feels like, there is a wonderful teaching aid called the form grip which helps you feel a proper grip. )
Tom Patri is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher and the author of “The Six-Spoke Approach to Golf" (2005, The Lyons Press; foreword by Fred Couples), available at http://www.globepequot.com or http://www.amazon.com In 2003, Tom was chosen as Southwest Florida's Teacher of the Year. Tom coaches players of all levels (from beginners to PGA and LPGA Tour professionals) at his golf academy, TP Golf Schools, based in Naples, Florida. To subscribe to Tom's free golf newsletter, visit his website at http://www.tompatri.com To contact TP Golf Schools, call (239) 455-9179.