We’re going to explore one of the most fundamental aspects of golf: the grip.
When you first hold a golf club, you may not think much about how your hands are positioned.
But as you progress, you’ll find that your grip is instrumental in determining your shot’s direction, distance, and overall success.
This article will take you step-by-step through the nuances of the golf grip, from understanding the differences between a strong and weak grip, to knowing when to employ each one.
Let’s get started.
Table of contents
Understanding the golf grip: Strong, Neutral or Weak
Imagine your golf club is the steering wheel of your game. Your hands, then, are the drivers. The way you grip the club essentially dictates where the ball will go.
In simple terms, a grip refers to the manner in which you hold your golf club. It’s the point of contact between you and the instrument of your game, forming the basis for your swing.
Despite being such a basic element, it plays a crucial role and can significantly impact your performance.
There are three main types of grips: strong, neutral, and weak.
Each refers to the positioning of your hands on the club, more specifically, how your hands rotate around the grip.
In a strong grip, when you look down at your hands, you’ll see more than two knuckles of your left hand (for right-handed players) or your right hand (for left-handed players). This means your hands are rotated to the right on the club (for right-handers) or to the left (for left-handers).
In a neutral grip, you’ll see two knuckles of your lead hand (left hand for right-handers, right hand for left-handers). Your hands are positioned more on top of the club rather than rotated to one side or the other.
The best way to practice using a neutral grip is with the GripIt Rite training aid. This device simply slips over the handle of your club and has specific gel moulds that positions your hands correctly on the club.
It’s cheap, but it’s the fastest way to master using a neutral grip. Just remember, you can only use it in practice; it’s illegal to use the training aid during a competition round.
A weak grip will show fewer than two knuckles of your lead hand. This indicates that your hands are rotated to the left on the club (for right-handers) or to the right (for left-handers).
These grips are not labelled ‘strong’ or ‘weak’ to imply one is superior to the other, but rather they refer to the potential rotation of the clubface at impact.
Now, let’s dig deeper into the implications of each grip, the pros and cons, and when each is most effectively employed.
Strong vs Weak grip in golf: Which is better?
The ‘better’ golf grip largely depends on the player’s style, the specific shot they’re playing, and what they’re comfortable with. Our grip should work in sync with the rest of your body movement, which is unique to the individual. For this reason, no grip is ‘better’ than the other, per se.
A strong grip tends to close the clubface, which can lead to shots that curve to the left (for right-handed players) or to the right (for left-handed players).
This grip might give you a bit more power in your shots because it encourages a fuller wrist hinge during the backswing. However, it can also lead to a lack of control if not managed properly.
A weak grip tends to open the clubface, resulting in shots that curve to the right (for right-handers) or to the left (for left-handers). It often promotes greater control and precision but may sacrifice some distance.
You can think of these grips like tools in a toolbox. You wouldn’t use a hammer to screw in a bolt, right? Similarly, the grip you choose should fit the situation at hand.
And remember, what’s most important is your comfort and ability to consistently hit good shots.
When to use a strong grip in golf
A strong grip can prove handy when you’re dealing with a slice or when you want to draw the ball intentionally. Draws are shots that curve gently to the left for right-handed golfers or to the right for left-handed golfers.
They tend to roll more once they hit the ground, which can be advantageous when you’re aiming for extra distance or trying to navigate around obstacles on the course.
To employ a strong grip, rotate your hands to the right (for right-handed players) so that you can see more than two knuckles on your lead hand.
Your lead thumb should point slightly to the right of the shaft.
Be mindful, though, because a strong grip can sometimes lead to an overly closed clubface, resulting in a hook.
Practice this grip to find the right balance that allows you to consistently produce the desired shot shape.
Remember, the purpose of adjusting your grip is not to fix swing flaws but to make subtle changes to your shot shape. It’s about control and finesse, not correction.
When to use a weak grip in golf
A weak grip is particularly beneficial when you’re dealing with excessive hooks or when you want to intentionally fade the ball. Fades are shots that gently curve to the right (for right-handed golfers) or to the left (for left-handed golfers).
They’re very useful when you want the ball to land softly on the green or when you’re aiming for a target that requires the ball to curve in that particular direction.
To implement a weak grip, ensure that fewer than two knuckles of your lead hand are visible when you address the ball.
Your lead thumb should point straight down the shaft.
Remember, a weak grip promotes an open clubface at impact, encouraging the ball to move from left to right in flight (for right-handers).
Which golf pros use a strong grip?
Several well-known golfers have successfully implemented a strong grip style. A prime example is the legendary Arnold Palmer. Known for his aggressive and powerful swing, Palmer used a strong grip to help generate the extra distance that became a hallmark of his game.
More recently, golf enthusiasts will note that Dustin Johnson, a Major winner and one of the longest drivers on tour, uses a very strong grip.
His style just goes to show that a strong grip can be used effectively at the highest levels of the game.
Which golf pros use a weak grip?
Many professional golfers have found great success with a weak grip. 18-time Major champion Jack Nicklaus was known for his weaker grip. It allowed him to have fantastic control over his ball flight, and he was especially famous for his ability to hit powerful and precise fades.
Jordan Spieth, a multiple Major winner, also uses a weak grip.
Despite some idiosyncrasies in his swing, his grip has served him well, providing control and precision, particularly under pressure.
What we can learn from these professionals is that there is no one-size-fits-all grip in golf.
Both strong and weak grips can be used effectively, and often, the best grip for you comes down to personal comfort and the specific demands of your golf swing.
How grip affects ball trajectory
When you swing a golf club, the ultimate goal is to hit the ball in a certain direction at a certain speed. Your grip plays a pivotal role in achieving this.
Depending on how you hold the club, you can affect the clubface’s orientation at the moment of impact, which in turn influences the ball’s trajectory.
A strong grip tends to close the clubface relative to the swing path at the point of contact, imparting a counter-clockwise spin (for right-handed golfers) on the ball. This makes the ball curve to the left, in a move called a draw or hook, depending on the severity.
A weak grip generally opens the clubface relative to the swing path, putting a clockwise spin (for right-handed players) on the ball and causing it to curve to the right, known as a fade or slice.
It’s crucial to remember that your grip isn’t the only factor affecting ball trajectory.
Your swing path, the club’s loft, the ball’s position at setup, and even environmental factors like wind and ground condition can also significantly impact it.
Does a strong grip cause a hook?
A strong golf grip can promote a hook because it tends to close the clubface at impact, which induces a counterclockwise spin (for right-handers) on the ball. However, other factors, such as your swing path, club choice, and ball position, can either reinforce or counteract this tendency.
In practice, if you find yourself hooking the ball excessively with a strong grip, it could indicate that you’re overdoing it.
A slight adjustment might be in order, either by weakening your grip slightly or by making other modifications to your swing to achieve a more desirable ball flight.
As always, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice if you’re struggling with hooks (or any other shot, for that matter).
A local golf professional can help diagnose and fix any issues in your swing.
Does a weak grip cause a slice?
A weak grip can indeed promote a slice. This is because a weak grip tends to open the clubface at impact, which imparts a clockwise spin on the ball (for right-handed players), causing it to curve to the right.
However, just like with the hook, this is not a hard-and-fast rule.
While a weak grip can contribute to a slice, other factors play a part too, such as the swing path, the angle of attack, and the alignment of your body at setup.
For example, an out-to-in swing path with an open clubface can cause a slice, regardless of whether you have a weak grip or not.
If you find yourself consistently slicing the ball with a weak grip, it might be worth experimenting with a slightly stronger grip or making adjustments to your swing path or setup.
Remember, the goal is to find a balance between grip, swing path, and clubface position that allows you to hit your desired shots consistently.
The world of golf is full of nuance and complexity, and the grip is no exception.
It’s an area where minor adjustments can yield significant results.
But here’s the real secret: the best grip is the one that helps you hit your best shots, whether that’s a strong grip, a weak grip, or something in between.
In the end, golf is a game of constant learning and adjustment. It’s about finding what works for you and continually refining your skills.
Your journey in golf is unique, and the right grip for you is part of that journey.
So, experiment with different grips, seek advice when needed, and most importantly, have fun along the way.