Ask Robert: What is the best way to grip the golf club? Robert Burkett answers question about interlocking and overlap grip.
Editor’s Note: If you have any questions on how to play the game, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a recent comment on one of Robert’s Tips, Ted Oleski asked about different ways to grip the club:
“Robert, I really enjoy your column! Quick question on grip – some people say to interlock the index and pinky fingers other say to just overlay the pinky on top – which do you recommend?”
Thanks for the question, Ted.
Although the most common grip among professional golfers is the overlapping or “Vardon” grip, there are some notable golfers who have used the interlocking grip. The most famous of these are Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy. The best answer to your question is personal preference. Personally, I have always liked the interlocking method, because it felt like I had more control or grip on the golf club. The overlapping method always felt as though I was going to lose the club, or my hands may become separated at some point. So let’s talk about what an interlocking grip is and its advantages.
In the interlocking grip, for right-handed players, the pinky finger of the right hand hooks (or dovetails) between the forefinger and the middle finger of the left hand. This forms a physical connection that pulls the two hands tightly together. When hands using this grip wrap around a club’s cushioned grip, the result is an extremely strong “joint.” This physical strength is the big attraction of an interlocking grip, and its advantages manifest themselves in a variety of ways.
A common reason players choose one grip over another is their desire to create unity between their hands. When you swing your club, your wrists act as a hinge. However, if your hands become separated during the swing, each wrist can act separately and your hands can interfere with each other. This isn’t a problem with an interlocking grip, which pulls the hands together so
tightly that there are no gaps between any of the fingers. Nicklaus believed that the interlocking grip was “the best hand-’unitizer’ going,” as he put it in his book, Golf My Way, and he never hesitated to recommend it.
Small Hand Size
Nicklaus also said that he had relatively small hands, and that the interlocking grip allowed him to get a better grip with them. The more-common Vardon grip works better for players with large hands, since one of the fingers on the right hand has to overlap the fingers of the left hand. With the interlocking grip, all of the fingers are close to the actual cushioned grip. Even the two interlocked fingers don’t cause large gaps underneath.
Nicklaus also recommends the interlocking grip for players with weak hands. When your interlocked hands wrap around that cushioned grip, the club is locked in place with very little effort. It also allows players with stronger hands to keep a firm grip without a lot of tension in the hands and forearms. Since keeping those muscles relaxed during your swing is essential to creating club head speed – relaxed muscles can move more quickly – an interlocking grip may help you develop more club head speed without losing control of the club.
Thanks for the question, Ted. I hope this helps in making a decision on which grip is right for you, and please write back either with a response or any other questions you may have, I am here to help.
Keep it in the short grass,
Bio: Robert Burkett has been involved in the business of golf since 1999, and has been a teaching professional since 2003. Originally from Arizona, he played golf in high school and has played in a number of mini-tour events with a career low round of 63. Currently, he is the Head Pro at Bear Creek Golf Course in Medford, Oregon.