Grip pressure is a much-overlooked part of the golf swing that can have a big influence on how well you strike the ball.
Hold the club too loosely and there’s a chance the handle could twist in your hands at impact – or, even worse, you could let go of the club completely – while an overly tight stranglehold will stop the natural flow of the swing and may rob you of distance and accuracy.
Many amateurs – especially players who are quite new to the game – often struggle with getting their grip pressure right when they first take up golf, as the anxiety of standing over the ball causes them to really choke the club.
A common question beginners may have regarding grip pressure is: should the golf club move in your hands?
If the golf club is moving in your hands – either during the backswing, downswing or especially impact – it means you are not gripping the club tightly enough. If the handle and shaft twist in your hands as you strike the ball, it will make it difficult for you to control the clubface.
As I’ve explained in another article, clubface control is an extremely important skill to master if you want to become a single figure, or even scratch, golfer.
If the club is moving in your hands during your swing, it’s going to make it much harder to deliver a square clubface consistently and hit the ball at your intended target.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what some of the world’s best golf instructors are saying about grip pressure, and explain how firmly you should be gripping the club.
Table of contents
Why does the golf club twist in my hands?
If the golf club is twisting in your hands, it is likely due to inadequate grip pressure. However, the club can also twist in your hands if: the grip is worn; the grip is wet; your golf glove is worn; or because you’re not wearing a golf glove.
Like all man-made products, grips and gloves wear out with use and there will come a time when you need to replace them – and if your club is slipping around in your hands on every shot, this might be a good indicator that it’s time to replace them.
Grips – whether they’re leather or synthetic – are relatively cheap to buy, and can easily be refitted at your local golf shop.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try to do it yourself (this video on YouTube gives a good step-by-step guide).
Similarly, if your golf glove is looking worse for wear, a new one (such as the Srixon Z All Weather glove, which is what I use) will set you back no more than $30 in most cases – the last thing you want is to play with a glove that has no tread left on it, or is full of holes.
But the most common reason for your club twisting in your hands has nothing to do with your equipment – it’s most probably because you’re not gripping it tightly enough.
How hard should you grip the golf club?
One a scale of zero to 10 – with 10 being the hardest possible grip pressure and zero being no pressure at all – you should aim to grip the golf club with a pressure rating of around two or three. You should then aim to maintain that constant, light pressure throughout the backswing.
What you will find is as you come into the downswing, your hands and fingers will naturally tighten their grip on the golf club to stop you from letting go of it – this is why it’s best to start the swing with lighter grip pressure.
So, while you don’t want to be strangling the club with all your strength, you want to apply enough pressure to stop the club moving around in your hands as you go to strike the ball, as this can hamper your ability to control the clubface.
It’s equally important to relax your wrists, as too much tension can impede the correct wrist hinge and also lead to a shortened backswing (which will rob you of clubhead speed and therefore distance).
As YouTube golf instructor Chris Ryan explains:
When we talk about grip pressure, we really have to think of it in two areas.
It’s how much pressure you apply through the fingers, but also how much tension you apply through the wrists.
It’s often the wrists where we see too much tension.
You can check out the full video below:
As Chris also explains, a great way to practice the correct grip and wrist tension is to take a 7-iron, grip it with both hands as you normally would and hold it directly out in front of you at shoulder height.
Next, try and make small circles with the club, increasing to bigger circles as you go.
If your grip and wrist tension is correct, you should be able to create these circles without moving your shoulders and arms.
If your grip pressure is too tight, it’s likely you’ll find it very difficult to do this exercise without moving your arms, and possibly even shoulders, in order to make the circles with your club.
What happens if you grip the golf club too tightly?
Gripping the golf club too tightly creates excessive tension in your hands, wrists, arms and shoulders. This will limit your shoulder and hip turn in the backswing; ruin your smooth swing tempo; and prevent natural lag. All of these flaws will rob you of clubhead speed, distance and also accuracy.
There is a reason why many instructors say “tension is one of the biggest killers in the golf swing” – because it’s true.
Applying too much grip pressure to the club will cause your body to lock-up and be rigid when addressing the ball, rather than relaxed and supple.
It’s why you see so many pros ‘waggle’ their golf club right before taking each shot – they’re doing it to keep their arms relaxed, and remove any tension from their hands and wrists before starting their swing.
As Robin Rosado, from Top Speed Golf, explains in a very informative video about grip pressure:
The reason why we want to keep that same (gentle) grip pressure all the way to the top of the backswing is you’re going to have less tension going through your forearms.
The energy is going to transfer all the way up to your shoulders and your chest, torso and hips.
So, if you’re loose, that’s going to free up your hips and shoulder turn (and translate into faster clubhead speed and distance).
Should the golf grip be in the fingers or palms?
Golfers should grip the club in their fingers – slightly above where the base of their fingers meets their palms. Gripping the club in your fingers helps you to remove tension from your hands and wrists, allowing them to hinge correctly at the top of the backswing and release properly through impact.
Many amateurs make the mistake of holding the club in the middle of their palms, which is incorrect.
Gripping the club in this manner often promotes casting of the club from the top of the backswing, usually resulting in an early loss of lag angles and a flipping or ‘scooping’ of the clubhead at impact.
This can cause many undesirable swing flaws such as an ‘over-the-top’ club path, fat or thin strikes, or a weak ball flight (due to poor compression) than can be easily affected by the wind.
If you’re someone who struggles to grip the club correctly in your fingers, a great way to solve this is to take a permanent marker and draw a line on your golf glove along where the fingers meet the palms.
Before you take a shot, line up the handle of your club along that line – doing this will guarantee your lead hand is gripping the club in the appropriate manner, every time.
Similarly, you can also purchase the SKLZ Grip Trainer Attachment, which is an inexpensive training aid that clips over the handle of your club and has grooves showing exactly where to place your hands on the club.
It’s a great little tool beginners can use in practice (not during a round) to learn how to grip the club correctly.
Golf can make you tense – we all know that – but it’s important not to let that anxiety translate into how hard you grip the club.
While you don’t want the club moving around in your hands when you’re trying to make a swing, you don’t want to be strangling it either.
A firm, but relaxed grip that allows full, unrestricted movement of your hands and wrists throughout the backswing and downswing is what you should be aiming for.
If you can do this, it’s likely you’ll gain greater control over your club and even add some extra distance with your wedges, irons and driver.