Golf Tips: Strong Grip vs Weak Grip

THE GOLF TERMS “STRONG” AND “WEAK” GRIP SOMETIMES CREATE CONFUSION.

In golf, these expressions aren’t used to describe how tightly you hold the club. The positions of your hands on the club determine whether your golf grip is strong or weak. When you grip the club, your thumbs and index fingers form a “V” shape.

For the average golfer, legendary golf instructor Harvey Penick believed that a strong grip (with the left hand more on top of the club so the V points toward a right-handed player’s right shoulder) works best. He explained, “A strong grip makes the club feel lighter and easier to handle on the backswing, while also making it easier to square the clubface at impact.” This grip promotes a more right-to-left draw or hook ball flight.

In a weak grip, the left hand is more to the side of the shaft and the V points almost directly up toward the golfer’s nose. Using this grip requires a golfer to use more hand action in the swing to ensure the clubface is square at impact. With this grip it’s easy to leave the clubface open at impact causing left-to-right fade or slice spin.

Ben Hogan advocated a more neutral grip, with the V pointing more toward the right ear. With this grip Hogan was able to reliably groove a controlled fade that was the key to his remarkable consistency.

Many believe a strong grip will eliminate a slice. Golf Instructor Chuck Evans calls that belief a myth. According to Evans, “No matter what grip you use, you must first learn to control the clubface to do that (correct a slice).” If you’re a slicer, try moving your hands to a stronger position to see if your ball flight straightens as a result before making wholesale swing changes.

A strong grip is often discouraged for the short game. Many of the best putters and chippers use neutral or weak grips. Short game guru Dave Pelz endorses this approach. Pelz recommends that players who use a strong grip for their normal swing should adopt a more neutral grip (what Pelz calls a “square” grip) in their putting and short game to improve feel and accuracy.

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