I am writing about this important subject because I have been watching how the wrong grip can ruin a good game. It is often hard to identify the problem. You know there is something wrong with the swing, you see that the golfer does not have everything under control. The stance looks good; the strategy seems right, but the shot is still not on target. What is going wrong?
If this sounds like you, take a look at the grip. Unlike many of the other things which we concentrate on to improve our game, often we expect our grasp to come naturally. It is also the last thing we look at when we buy our clubs, usually just taking the grips the set has. In this article, I am going to look at both the equipment side of this subject (the bit of kit on your club) and also the skill of how you hold the club (your grip on the club).
What’s the big deal with the wrong-sized grips?
The answer is straightforward. If you have the wrong-sized grips, then your hands will not move properly. If your hands are not flexible, you will never get a perfect golf swing.
If you have big hands, by this I mean more than an average man, then you will have particular problems. Unless you have paid special attention when purchasing it is likely that your golf grips will be too small. It can lead to a too-early release and a danger of you hooking the ball. You will find you cannot feel the club properly and this can lead to slicing the ball.
How do you get the right-sized grip on your golf clubs?
The place you need to start is by measuring your hands. Here is how to do it properly
Different suppliers suggest slightly different ways of making these measurements. I am going to distill the best advice. If you follow this, it will give you an accurate measure. There are several factors which you need to take into account.
The most important thing is to be very accurate when you take these measurements. Although it sounds hard to believe, the smallest differences, tenths of an inch can make a real difference.
There are two essential hand measurements.
- Measure the length of your hand from the deepest crease on your wrist to the end of your most extended finger.
- Measure the length of your most extended finger itself.
This measurement will inform not only the size of the grip you need but also its thickness. The top grip manufacturers provide grips in several diameters to suit different hand sizes.
These exact measurements might sound over the top, and many golfers have started out being skeptical. But once you have tried this fine gradation and found the correct one for you will see the difference. You will find you have a much better feel for the club. And can get more control over your swing.
How to check your golf grip is the right size
It is a simple way of telling if you need to invest in a different size grip.
Take your normal grip. Pay attention to your upper hand. Your most extended fingertips should touch the bottom of your thumb. If your grips are too small, they will be digging into your hand. Or if you have to stretch or hold your fingers in an unnatural position to get this, then you may have the wrong size grip.
Customizing your golf grip
Even with the very fine gradations, you may still find it difficult to find a grip which is perfect for you. Some golfers find it is useful to put layers of grip tape under the grip until it feels perfect. It is best to try out the different grips on the practice course. There is an increasing recognition that getting the grip right is just as important as the other custom fittings on which the enthusiast golfer will spend time and money. I would say that if you change the loft of your clubs, for example, then you should also be customizing your grips.
We have talked about how to measure for a grip, and it is essential to do this. But it will never be perfect. The reason is that getting an ideal grip is about your game and your style as well as your hand size.
Hand measurements and golf style
There are instinct and art in improving your golf game. So, the perfect size for one golfer will not suit another. There have been many tests of this, as golf grip manufacturers strive to get the perfect fit for every golfer. Whenever golfers’ preferences for grip size are tested something interesting emerges. Nearly all these tests have found that most golfers prefer a grip size which deviates slightly from the grip which their exact measurements would suggest they prefer. And this is not just about analysis; it is also about feel and performance. Golfers deviate from the supposed norm even when they are just holding the club. When they start to hit the ball, the individual preferences, away from the exact measurements, the difference becomes even more marked.
What does this all prove? One straightforward fact. The individual style of the golfer is just as important, if not more important, than the size of the hands.
And the lesson from this? Don’t just measure for new grips. Use the measurement as a rough guide and then test out as well.
How do you test new grips?
Here is my simple guide. A drill for testing out new grips
- Go to a professional for a fitting
- Check out what grips you have on your clubs at the moment. (If you do not know the expert will be able to tell you)
- Have your hands measured
- Try a new set of grips based on this measurement
- Try a slightly smaller set
- Try a slightly larger set
- Practice with each in a golf simulator
- Base your decision on which grip is most successful in this test. Which enables you to make the most on-target
- The professional helping you will have the experience to look at your game and offer advice through this process. But the feeling you get is the most important thing.
What is an oversized grip?
If you have big hands, then an oversize grip may be what you need. An oversize grip is usually about nine inches long, which is up to a quarter inch longer than a standard large grip.
Any good golf supplier can install this on any or all of your clubs. But as we have said earlier the exact grip which will suit you may be very individual so do try out and customize until you get the exact right size for you.
To do this, practice with slightly different sizes. And then it is more about feel than about any measurement.
One golfing buddy of mine described knowing you have the right golf grip as the difference between a plastic ballpoint and an expensive fountain pen. Just hold each, and you will see the difference.
Once you have that great feeling, then get out on the practice course, or do a session on a golf simulator and note if you are more accurate in your shots. If you have chosen the right grip, you should notice an immediate improvement.
The most important thing which you should notice is that you have more control over the trajectory of the ball. If you have a good grip, then you will have more control over the club, and you will hit the ball at the correct angle. It means the ball will travel in a beautiful arc fast and accurate down the fairway. Those days of slicing or hooking the ball will be behind you.
Your grip: how you hold the golf club
Remember the golf grip is your point of contact with the club, and therefore with your ball. Think of it that way and you will begin to give the grip the respect it deserves. You need to grip the club properly; otherwise, you will not swing it properly. Your swing should be fluid and confident, and it will not be if you cannot feel the club properly.
The famous and record-breaking golfer Sam Snead put it well. He said it was impossible to play good golf unless you had a good grip. And he should have known. He still holds the record for winning PGA tournaments and played top-level golf for four decades of the twentieth century.
So, what makes a good grip?
There are three basic grips
- The overlap grip
- The interlock grip
- The ten-finger grip
As you develop your game, you will refine and customize whichever you find best. But by understanding the three types, you will begin to discover which is the correct one for you.
The overlapping grip
The overlapping grip has the longest history in the game. It was the trademark of one of the most significant early players. Harry Vardon. He was born in the Channel Islands near Great Britain in the nineteenth century. He then built his reputation playing in Scotland and also played in the United States. He identified with the overlap grip that it is still known today as the Vardon Grip.
He is an inspiration to all large-handed golfers. Harry was a big man, and he had to find a way of holding which enabled him to grip the club firmly and flexible and still keep control. He discovered that using the overlapping grip is not only more comfortable it is also efficient. It helps the golfer to use the big muscles in his core and his back to significant effect. As long as you are quite flexible and can rotate your body, the overlapping grip will allow you to transfer the strength and energy from your body to the ball. And that means the ball will really move and move fast and accurately.
Watch this video of Andy Lee showing how to do the overlapping grip well.
The interlocking grip
If you have large hands, but short fingers this grip may be for you. It is also good for players who lack strength, especially in their hands. But it is not just for amateurs. Jack Nicklaus was a proponent of this grip. He felt that it was more secure than the overlapping grip. He also believed it enabled the working of both hands together better.
So, this grip will give you the right balance. But be careful that you do not interlock the fingers too hard. If you do this, you will lose the maneuverability and flexibility which you need to make precise shots.
Here is some advice on the interlocking grip
The ten-finger grip
Many new players start with this grip. Even if you have big hands, I would suggest you try it if you are a new player. It enables you to square the clubface and make good contact between the ball and the clubface. It is generally recommended for players with small hands as it allows a player to get a greater area of touch with the club. But it can work for players with bigger hands where they lack muscle power and strength as well. Try it and see.
Here is an extensive guide to the ten-finger grip
Best golf grip for big hands conclusion
If you feel you lack control over the ball, perhaps the club feels as if it doesn’t belong to you then check out your grip. Make sure you have the right tools, check you have the correct sized grip on your club. See a professional and get what is right for you. Then check that you are holding the club correctly for you.
Try out the grips we have talked about here. You are likely to find one that feels right. If you are still not sure, then I would suggest you see a golf coach. Target the session, concentrate only on your grip, and you will come out a better player.