Getting to Grips With Golf: How to Hold the Golf Club

The golf club is basically a stick with a weighted end, similar in concept to a hammer or a hatchet. The common denominator concerning all these things is that they are used to apply force in order to drive an object into a given position. The way the driving object is held makes a difference to the resulting force and therefore the final position of the object is reliant on that all important thing we do with our hands – grip.

In golf, the club face is aligned with the back of the golf ball and used to apply force to drive it down the target line and that all important grip will make a crucial difference to the result.

If you look at the very best golfers you will see that they all have very good grip. Basically you cannot be good at golf unless you have a good grip, and a good grip – known as a neutral grip – is one that holds the club in both hands comfortably, not over-tightly, and applies force to the golf ball.

The Grip Lesson

Firstly hold the golf club so that it is pointing directly out from your middle. Now point the toe of the club directly at the sky. Take a look at the bottom groove of the club; ideally this should point directly up at twelve on the clock face.

If you were to let go of the club and relax you would find that the toe – the heavy part – would tend to swing down and point towards the ground. We are going to roll it back up and make sure it points directly at the sky, and that is a square club face.

Now to hold the golf club, we use both hands. Putting the left hand on the club first is essential. Grip towards the end of the club and allow the left thumb to sit just right of the top of the shaft.

Next, hold the club out in front of you and point the face to 12 o’clock. You should see the back of your left hand more or less level with the back of the club and therefore the palm of the left hand will also be equal to the club face.

Now it is time to place the right hand on the club. Lay the club across the palm of the right hand with the face lying squarely in the palm so that the palm is equal to the club face. Allow your hand to slide down and then marry together with your left hand which is already on the club. Grip nicely with your fingers so the palm and back of the right hand are equal to the club face.

Hand Position

There are many ways to position your hands on the club including the interlocking grip favoured by Jack Nicklaus and the standard Vardon grip courtesy of golf great Harry Vardon.

When we originally started playing golf our hands were split apart; they were used together but they did different jobs. However, as we have developed over the years we know that keeping our hands nice and close together as one unit makes it much easier to swing the club consistently through the ball.

I recommend starting with what I term the ‘eight finger grip’. All eight fingers are wrapped nicely around the club. The palms are facing each other and the backs of the hands are facing directly at the target or directly away. The toe of the club is pointing into the sky. This is the neutral position, ideal for applying direct force as the weight of the golf club swings through the ball and drives it down the target line.

A Common Mistake

An essential part of this lesson stems from something I see all the time when teaching golf and that is how hard people tend to grip the golf club thinking that the tighter the grip, the harder you will be able to hit the ball.

This is in fact a complete paradox because the fact is that your hands need to stay as relaxed as possible to allow the weighted end of the golf club to swing freely through the ball.

I will try to explain as best I can the optimum level at which you need to grip the club. I recommend holding the club firmly enough to feel pressure in the flesh of your hands but no where near firm enough that the bones of your fingers press against the grip. It should be purely the pads of your fingers and the fleshy parts of your hands that take the strain of the club and thus allow free swinging movement, with no chance of the club coming out of your hands.


1.      Eight fingers nicely around the grip

2.      Left thumb right of shaft centre line

3.      Right thumb left of shaft centre line

4.      Palms facing each other parallel to the grip and club face

5.     Hands equal club face.

Test it

Having attained the perfect ‘neutral’ grip, you should notice that any slight movement you make such as twisting and facing towards the ground will have the same effect on the club face. Any slight movement in the hands should be mirrored in the club face.

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About the Author

Paul Thornley is a PGA Professional and the director of Targetline Ltd. Targetline is an indoor golf practice aid that allows users to practice full swing shots safely in a confined space then see how they are doing through its unique feedback system; something that is rare amongst indoor golf swing practice aids. For more information visit

One Response to “Getting to Grips With Golf: How to Hold the Golf Club”

  1. This is the first site I read on my new Mac. I’ll be back.

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