Get A Grip On Grips

What’s in a grip? How many stories can it tell you about what you can or cannot do with your club because of how you hold it?

Here Paul Hart examines various grips to give you a clue as to what to look for in your grasp and encourages you to try them out. Have no fear there will be follow up articles on each to show more of the actions that can be performed with their strengths and weaknesses and more photos with step by step views of how the grips are taken.

There are six grips from which you can learn important golf lessons from. There is a best grip for everyone. Finding it is the trick. So let’s start with the standard grips used by most good players, variations on the Vardon Grip (see below), but there are many more that are worth looking at for many reasons. It is much more fun to learn for yourself all the possibilities of each.

I was surprised to learn that some good players changed grips under pressure to allow for their tendencies. One would go from a Vardon to a Baseball grip for a shorted more heavy shot to avoid dainty indecisive movements. Another would weaken the grip to avoid hooking caused by the extra adrenaline making the swing stronger.

Children, some ladies and older men without great strength benefit from baseball grips.

It is a simple grip that without any schooling most people will assume is the correct way to hold a golf club. It allows for strong right arm, bottom hand participation.

The average man should experiment with strong grips, one or both hands turned to the right. If they do not learn rotation in their swing, a grip could take most of the slice out of their game.

For the curious the cross hand grip, besides being useful for putting and chipping, will teach much about the start of the downswing, after a few air swings and shanks. I have seen five players with this grip all were club champions and one professional from South Africa. They all hit the ball very straight and low but sacrificed some power.

As players get better the weaker grips, hands turned more to the left, keeping the power draw from moving their ball flight too far to the left of the fairway.

We want the grip that will give the strongest strike and the best direction. Sounds obvious but many grips are taken with no testing. They do as they are told or grip any way at all but usually without knowing what they could do for their own good.

Vardon Grip
The Usual or Vardon Grip (Figure 1a and 1b), named after the great Harry Vardon, who popularised it, shows the right hand below the left close enough together to overlap or interlock the touching fingers. Both wrists will be vertical and showing two knuckles on the back of the left hand.

The grip can feel very foreign to begin with, almost uncomfortable. Its great strength is in how closely the two hands can operate as one single unit and once learned it becomes the number one choice of golfers.

It allows for easy left wrist cocking in both backswing and downswing uncocking and the right wrist to maintain its set up bent angle. This allows for the easiest way to stay on-plane throughout the stroke.

Baseball Grip
The baseball grip (Figure 2a and 2b) has the hands far enough apart so as all ten fingers go on the grip. It is comfortable and gives the right hand the best feel of the club. Baseball grips have the hands together (though not overlapped or interlocked). For those who use the bottom hand to belt the club with, throwing the shaft actively in a hitting motion, the baseball grip is very handy.

Kids love this grip as their strong dominant hand is usually the one at the bottom end of the grip. It is a great starting place for most golfers.

Exaggerated Baseball Grip
An Exaggerated Baseball grip (Figure 3a and 3b) will show you just how much thrust you can apply to the club and how thrust gives a solid crushing impact. I like to use the example here of an ice hockey player who slap shots the puck. It is all right arm thrust in an extreme sense.

Experiment with the separation and see how far you can hit the ball with a shorter swing. It helps you learn what heavy Lag Pressure is and what the hitting action of Drive Loading means. It might be useful from under trees at some point in time as the backswing will be very much shortened using this grip.

Cross Handed Grip
The Cross Handed grip (Figure 4a and 4b) is difficult to learn but many putt and chip with it. Here the right hand moves to the top of the grip and the flat left wrist goes to the bottom of the grip. The stronger the right hand action, the flatter the back of the left hand action.

If you try this grip out you will find that it is very hard to have the Flat Left Wrist (being the number one thing you must do in any swing) break down. It explains why you see people putt this way and around the greens chipping as it is simple to hit down on a chip and eliminate clubhead throw away – aka the dreaded scoop.

It is worth learning to play a few shots with this grip to learn a lot about how and when to uncock and turn the hands . Ignore the early air swings and shanks. Tee the ball up.

The Strong Underhand Grip
The Strong Underhand grip (Figure 5a and 5b) is relief for the slicer. This grip will feel like you have taken your normal right hand grip and then almost put your right hand only under the grip. Your elbow will have probably moved to point more towards your right hip and also your right forearm moves more in line with the clubshaft.

This also helps in early days learning how to arrive at the ball with that forearm on plane as well as the anti-slice roll that it produces. With the hands close together or spread this grip cancels the need to actively roll the hands through the ball.

Four Finger Grip
The Four Finger grip (Figure 6a and 6b) has the little and ring fingers off the end of the club doing nothing. It is gripped in the fingers (left hand) and palm (right hand) as per a Vardon grip The same fingers of the right hand overlap the left hand. This grip is for the purpose of teaching the free Swing Action of Drag loading.

If the club tries to escape you might try five or six fingers. The fewer fingers on the club the more you can feel how the clubshaft is loading and releasing. You will feel the inertia of the clubhead strongly using this grip and it is a good training grip for those who lack feel from what is going on with the club.

The choice is between where the hands are in relation to each other then how much they are turned in relation to the clubface. Remember that the left hand controls the clubface and the right hand controls the clubshaft and clubhead as we have discussed in previous Golf School articles.

There are countess variations but these are the most interesting grips to fiddle with giving you an informed choice for the job at hand.

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