There is nothing more important in golf than a golfer’s grip – it is the fundamental start point to the golf swing.
Many swing flaws come from a bad golf grip. In fact, we’d go so far as to say most swing flaws stem from an incorrect or bad grip.
This is because the grip is the only connection a golfer has with the golf club, and therefore the golf ball. For this reason, it’s crucial to get it right.
There are three common ways to grip a club: neutral, strong, and weak golf grip. But which is best? Or is each as good as the other? Or does it depend on what you are trying to achieve in your next swing?
We’re here to answer these questions and help you make an informed decision about your golf grip.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- An Introduction to Golf Grip
- Strong Golf Grip: Uses, Pros and Cons
- Weak Golf Grip: Uses, Pros and Cons
- Strong vs Weak Golf Grip: Who Wins?
Ready? Let’s get into the swing of it!
An Introduction To Golf Grip
As mentioned, there are three common ways that a golfer will hold their club. These are known as neutral, strong, or weak golf grip.
Contrary to what the names suggest, this has nothing to do with the grip pressure on the club. Strong does not mean you hold the club tighter, conversely weak more loosely.
Whichever grip you are using, the actual pressure on the club should be light. If you were to hold the club up to the perpendicular, a friend should be able to pull the club out of your hands with no real effort.
So the terminology used to describe your grip is based on the hand’s position on the club, rather than the force applied.
The accepted ideal grip is neutral – but this does not work for every golfer, nor for every shot. It is not necessarily a positioning of the hands that comes naturally to everybody. Feeling comfortable with your grip is of paramount importance.
What the ‘strength’ of the golf grip will do is determine the characteristics of your golf swing and resulting ball flight patterns. Therefore, it is important to understand the cause and effect of your golf grip.
With this knowledge of cause and effect, you can make a more informed decision whether you need to alter your grip to improve your game.
Note: If you decide to alter your grip, start with a small adjustment, get comfortable with this, and if you still feel you need to go further, make another small adjustment. Breaking it down like this is a far easier process and likely to lead to better results.
The Strong And Weak Golf Grip – What’s The Difference?
Having opened with the basic principles of gripping a golf club, this article will now delve into the two ends of the spectrum of the golf grip – the strong and weak golf grips.
Firstly let us make it clear that not every player on the professional circuit has what is generally deemed to be the perfect grip – i.e. a neutral grip.
This clearly proves the point that you can be successful at golf with either of the other two options, a strong or weak golf grip.
Famous ‘Strong Grip’ Players
The strong camp is definitely larger and includes many of the World’s best, past and present. Here are a few of the more famous names with a strong grip. All Major winners so this must work… right?
- “The King” Arnold Palmer
Famous ‘Strong Grip’ Players
There are fewer pros that adopt a weak grip. Yet, they’re still all Major winners.
What is a Strong Grip?
A strong grip is when you look down at your hands and you can see most/all of the knuckles on your top hand.
Also with this grip, the imaginary V formed between the thumb and forefingers of both hands will point to the right shoulder for a right-handed golfer (obviously the opposite for a left-hander!).
5 Benefits of a Strong Grip
#1: Can Help Reduce Your Slice
If you are a serial slicer of the golf ball, then a stronger grip will help. It is much harder to take the club back on the outside with this grip, which is one of the fundamental reasons for slicing a golf shot.
#2: Helps Promoting a Draw
It naturally promotes an in-to-out swing which leads to your clubface closing at impact. This will promote a draw shape to your shots.
#3: Optimizes Power
A stronger grip makes the club feel lighter and easier to handle on your backswing. This then helps to optimize your clubhead speed that will result in an increase in the ball speed. The end result = more power.
The legendary golf coach Harvey Penick believed that all average golfers should use a strong grip.
His reasoning was that it is not just easier to adopt with a more naturally comfortable feel, but also because it optimizes swing mechanics and ball-striking abilities.
#5: Lower Ball Flight
A strong grip closing the clubface a little at impact will result in a more controlled trajectory. The last thing you want is your ball ballooning high into the skies, particularly when playing in windy conditions.
The Problems With Strong Grip
There is definitely a Yin-Yang situation as many of the benefits of a strong grip can also become the issues that cause problems.
If you are regularly facing any of these problems, then a good start for change will be to weaken your grip.
#1: Clubface Rotation
If you get the clubhead into the correct position, you can prompt a beautiful draw. However, if your rhythm is off, you can rotate the clubface too much and end up duck hooking your shot.
This is generally regarded as one of the most destructive shots in the game. We don’t want duck hooks!
While the lower trajectory that emanates from a closed clubface may be welcomed by superior golfers, it increases the difficulty of golf for the average golfer.
A closed clubface will reduce the loft and the lie angle of the face. This means you will need to generate extra ball speed to send your strike properly airborne. This will be challenging for those of you with slower swing speeds.
Related: 5 Tricks To Hit Perfect Bunker Shots: Escape From The Traps
What is a Weak Golf Grip?
A weak golf grip is when you look down at your hands and you cannot see the knuckles on your top hand.
Now the V’s formed between the thumb and the forefingers of both hands will be pointing to the left shoulder for the right-handed golfer and the right shoulder for the left-handed golfer.
3 Benefits of a Weak Golf Grip
The main benefit of the weak grip is that you will be able to take your hands out of play a bit. This results in using more of your larger muscles to control your shots as opposed to trying to get a bit too “wristy”.
Of course, this only becomes a genuine benefit when you know how to turn the club over and release the ball.
#1: Eliminates the Hook
Quite self-explanatory in this case. It is very hard, nigh on impossible to hook the golf ball with a weak grip.
#2: Confidence to Release the Club at Impact
This was the ethos of the most famous exponent of the weak grip, the legendary Ben Hogan. He felt he could really attack the ball on his downswing and fire his right hand through at impact with this grip without worrying about the ball going left.
#3: Eliminates the Left Side
I guess this is an extension of the first bulleted point. With a weak golf grip, it is hard to go left.
This makes it a lot easier to navigate your way around a golf course if you feel the ball can only go straight or to the right. The two-way miss (right and left) can be devastating, particularly off the tee.
The Problems with Weak Golf Grip
You could argue that there is only one real issue with a weak grip – but it’s a big one. This fundamental flaw can result in golf shots that golfer’s hate and can ruin the fun you have on the golf course.
A weak grip tends to make the face over rotate and open up the club at impact.
This open club face will generally result in shots going to the right of the target. It will also add extra loft creating unwanted height on shots. You then join these two outcomes together and we have weak, floaty shots heading off-line.
Strong or Weak Golf Grip – Who Wins?
Great question. Is there really a winner?
For myself, my research and general gut feel, the strong grip has more advantages for the average golfer and particularly somebody just getting started in playing this great game.
A stronger grip just feels more natural when taking up the game of golf. You will also feel that you have much more control of the club through your swing with a stronger grip. Personally, I would recommend starting with a stronger grip.
Also if you have aspirations in golf, the ability to hit a nice draw does become more important and it is so much easier to do this with a stronger grip. The downside is not getting so strong that you develop a snap hook.
Referring back to the list of elite players, there is no doubt that the ‘strong grip camp’ is, well…stronger! For many, this data alone suggests that the stronger grip has more merit.
But each to their own.
The over-riding factor is comfort when it comes to finding the golf grip for you. There are so many different ways that people hold a pen to write, yet everybody can put pen to paper.
There is no objective right or wrong, but just be mindful that if your golf game shows regular bad habits that may be attributable to your golf grip – then maybe it is time to make an adjustment.
To assist, if you are serious about making this change effective, grab a golf club every day and just grip it with your new set up maybe a dozen times.
This will take less than five minutes, but will assist with creating the necessary muscle memory to help ensure this grip change actually happens.
We have mentioned the dreaded duck hook as a consequence of too strong a grip. There is another great article to read on this terrible malaise: 6 Steps To Stop Snap Hooks in Golf: No More Duck Hooks
Related Articles To Help You Understand Your Grip:
One deals with the issues of a slice in golf that may attributable to a weak grip, the second about swing tempo. This is particularly important for players with a strong grip.
Golf Slice Prevention: How To Stop Slicing With Your Driver – 8 Tips