What do the best players in the world do first when they aren’t playing well?
They check posture, alignment, and grip – the fundamentals that are taught at the earliest stages of golf.
Only once they are happy that these are all correct will they investigate further what’s happening in their swings.
Solid foundations are the key to swinging consistently well, starting with the grip.
The first thing we are taught when learning golf is how to grip the club properly.
It’s our only physical contact with the golf club, so we must make a good grip.
One theory that does the rounds relates to having different grips for different clubs, especially driver grip vs iron grip.
So, in this article, we’ll explore this idea a little further by looking at the following:
- Driver Grip vs Iron Grip – Should There Be a Difference?
- How Should We Grip a Golf Club?
- Connecting The Grip
- Strong Grip v.s Weak Grip
- More Grip Tips
Driver grip vs Iron grip – should there be a difference?
To understand why we think there may be a difference between driver grip vs iron grip, we first need to examine the role the two clubs play.
This is undoubtedly the philosophy adopted on the PGA Tour for many years – “bomb and gouge” golf.
“Bomb and Gouge” simply means getting the ball as far down the hole as possible off the tee, and if the fairway is missed, it isn’t a big issue since it will be a shorter approach to the green anyway.
This might work for professionals who also work in the gym to get stronger, so playing out the rough might be easier.
But, for a lot of amateurs, it’s a different story.
There is still a considerable distance gap between how far amateurs hit their drive compared to professionals. As much as we covet more distance, it can also lead to less accurate shots.
This is backed up with stats – around 60% of amateurs slice the ball with the driver.
We want distance, accuracy, and consistency with our iron play.
Like the driver, one of the best ways to do all this is to bring the club face squarely back to the ball at impact.
We should adapt to each club’s objectives, meaning a driver grip vs iron grip.
But this thinking is wrong.
There is no need to think driver grip vs Iron grip.
Your grip should be the same for each club in the bag, except the putter.
How should we grip a golf club?
To this point, we have established two fundamental principles:
- There should be no difference in driver grip vs iron grip.
- The grip is an essential part of our fundamentals.
We are now going to focus on that second point and help you make a good grip on the golf club.
As mentioned in the introduction, getting the grip right is vital since it is our only physical contact with the golf club.
The following steps will help you ensure you are on the way to creating the proper connection with the golf club.
We’ll look at this from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. For the lefties, it will be opposite hands, but the principles are just the same.
Left Hand (Trail Hand)
Hold the club in the address position. With your right thumb and index finger, grip the club in the butt end of the grip. Place your left hand at the side of the grip with your fingers pointing down to the ground.
Grip the club with the feeling that the grip is nestled in the base of your fingers. Your left thumb should feel like it’s positioned on the right side of the grip.
When you look down at your left hand on the grip, you should see two knuckles showing and the “vee” formed between your left index finger and thumb pointing up towards your right shoulder.
Right Hand (Lead Hand)
Take your right hand and position on the right side of the grip with your fingers pointing down.
Make contact with the grip, feeling it rest at the base of your fingers.
Making a “vee” with the forefinger and thumb, make sure this also points up towards your right shoulder, copying the “vee” made with the left index finger and thumb.
Connecting the Grip
Your hands should work in unison on the club, and the final step to ensure this is the connection between the right pinky finger and the left index finger.
There are three different options:
- Interlocking Grip
- Overlap/Vardon Grip
- Baseball/10 Finger Grip
As the name suggests, the right pinky “interlocks” with the index finger of the left hand.
This grip has become more popular as it is how Tiger Woods grips the club.
Before Woods came on the scene, this grip was mainly coached to players with smaller fingers.
Here, the right pinky sits on top of the index finger of the left hand. The right pinky can also rest between the left index finger and the next finger.
Either option means there is a solid connection, allowing the hands to work in unison.
Here, there is no connection between the right pinky and any fingers of the left hand.
This is a good grip to teach juniors; it will feel the most comfortable grip and help them generate some power.
We can fall into bad habits with our grip, which can significantly impact the quality and direction of our shots.
These bad habits will lead us into one of two camps:
- Strong Grip
- Weak Grip
For a right-handed golfer, a strong grip means showing more than two knuckles of the left hand (trail hand) when placed on the grip.
The right hand (lead hand) is positioned more to the side or under the grip, with the “vee” formed by the right thumb and forefinger pointing beyond the right shoulder.
If the right hand is more under the grip, there might not even be a “vee” formed.
The problems created by having too strong a grip can be hooking the ball and poor trajectory on our shots.
Golfers will look to strengthen their grip if they suffer from slicing or, in the case of the driver, see it as a means to create more power in the shot.
Some players, such as current U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson and the most successful player on the Senior’s Tour, Bernhard Langer, have played very successfully throughout their careers using a strong grip.
Strengthening the grip is commonly where golfers feel there is a distinction between driver grip vs Iron grip.
A weak grip may show only one knuckle on the left hand, with the left thumb sitting more on top of the grip or even to the left side.
The right hand will be placed more on top of the grip, with the “vee” formed between the right thumb and forefinger pointing to the left side of our head or, at its most extreme, towards the left shoulder.
The weak grip is partly responsible for many slice shots as it promotes an open club face at impact.
More Grip Tips
We’ve highlighted issues with strong grips and weak grips, but there are a few other checkpoints to be wary of, which gives you a better connection to the golf club.
- Grip Pressure
- Playing Out The Rough
- Knockdown shots
Grip pressure should always remain light.
If we grip the club too tightly, we tighten the muscles in our hands, spreading through our arms, shoulders, and backs.
Tension is a real killer to swinging the club with any fluidity.
Gripping the club tighter is a bad habit that golfers can fall into from time to time.
If your grip pressure is good, ask a friend to try and pull the club out of your hands while you grip the club.
If your pressure is correct, your friend should be able to pull the club out of your hands with minimal fuss.
Playing Out The Rough
There is only one occasion that requires us to grip the club a little tighter, and that’s playing out the rough.
Let’s be clear: this does not mean you must virtually strangle the club, but applying more pressure can help with club face control.
When we find ourselves in the rough, the tendency is for the longer, thicker grass to close the club face through impact, meaning shots that can come out low and left.
Additional grip pressure can help eliminate the club face’s tendency to shut at impact, allowing the club’s loft to get the ball out of the rough with a straighter ball flight.
When we face shots into the wind, the danger we can face is the ball ballooning in flight and not reaching its target.
Selecting more club and hitting it softer keeps the spin off the ball and helps it penetrate through the wind better.
Moving your hands a couple of inches down the grip helps maintain club face control throughout the swing.
Should there be alterations between the driver grip vs iron grip?
The answer is no.
There is no need to have two different grips, as there is no discernible benefit to altering the grip from one club to another.
Being a successful golfer begins with solid fundamentals, and having a good grip is essential.
Take the time to make the correct grip, and you stand a bigger chance of hitting more consistent and accurate shots.
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