Golf Grip Size – How Crucial Is Grip Size to Your Golf Game?

Posted by on Jun 20, 2012 in Clubfitting | 12 comments

In a word?  Playing with the right grip size is HUGELY important.  If the grip is too small and the golfer has to wrap his hands too far around the grip, the muscles of the forearm tighten up.  When the forearm muscles get tighter, it becomes much more difficult to take the club away from the ball smoothly and then becomes more difficult to achieve a consistent swing tempo and swing rhythm.

If the grip is too large, this can impede a proper release of the wrist-cock angle on the downswing which also can prevent us from rotating the face back around to square on the downswing.

Over the years, there have been several guidelines created by various golf companies or by people who perform Clubfitting research for measuring the size of the hands and fingers, from which a proper grip size is recommended.

In addition, it has also been taught that the proper grip size is achieved when the golfer closes their hands around the grip and the finger tips come just short of touching the base of the hands.  As a starting point, such charts or overlays for the hand are fine.  But ultimately each golfer has to decide what their MOST COMFORTABLE grip size should be.

In short, if a hand and finger measurement chart says the grip should be one size and the golfer prefers a different size because it is more comfortable, you go with the decision for comfort – regardless what the golfer’s handicap or playing ability might be.  Give you a good example.  On average, my wife Mary-Ellen shoots between 95-100.  Via her hand and finger measurements, she comes up on the chart for a women’s +1/64 oversize grip.  Yet she much prefers and can keep her grip pressure most constant and comfortable with a men’s standard size grip.  That’s the grip she plays and that’s the grip I agree as a veteran Clubfitting research person that she should play.

Perhaps the best way for clubmakers to fit grip size for comfort is simply to keep a set of different grip size samples either on cut of shaft pieces or better yet, installed on actual golf clubs.  Gripping a cut off shaft section can fall a little short of giving the golfer a real sense of what a particular grip size will feel like when installed on a full length golf club.  Most people have enough old clubs laying around that it would be possible to use them as your grip size samples for grip size fitting.

Remember – grip size for COMFORT FIRST so the hands and arms can maintain a secure hold on the grip without excess grip pressure or muscle contraction in the forearms.

12 Comments

  1. Tom, enjoy a lot of your stuff, and especially your contributions to GolfWRX, where I was introduced to you and your work.

    I am a serial grip tinkerer. I have tried all sorts of shapes and sizes, but I have never really felt comfortable with any of them. One thing I have always been confused on, and was wondering if you could shed some light on is the finger vs palm discussion. How much do you think should be palm and how much fingers, and how does this affect grip fitting? I was just curious on your opinion.

    Also, as an aside, as a fitter, do you find people err on too small or too large? Thanks!

    Dan Reeves

    • DAN

      Distance from finger to palm is difficult to use with any consistency for grip size verification because some golfers hold the grip in the fingers, while others hold it more in the palm. So that’s not a good way to verify a proper grip size.

      And while we too have published charts that convert a hand measurement and middle finger measurement into a recommended grip size, this too can be difficult to use with consistency for grip size fitting because of the very most important thing about grip fitting to any golfer. . . . . . HOW DOES IT FEEL TO YOU?

      Bottom line? How it feels to the golfer, whether they are COMFORTABLE with the grip, whether they can hold securely to the grip with the least amount of hand and arm pressure – these are the key elements of grip fitting regardless what any chart or distance from fingers to palm might say. Yes, this becomes more of a trial and error process, but in the end, the sign of a proper grip fitting is that the golfer really feels it is comfortable, that they do not have to use any extra pressure to hold on to the club and that it just FEELS GOOD.

      For example, my wife shoots low 90s to high 90s, she measures from the chart for a ladies std grip and with a lady std grip her fingertips are close but not touching the palm. BUT SHE FEELS THAT GRIP IS TOO SMALL. So for COMFORT, she much prefers a men’s standard size grip, and with that men’s grip she can hold on to the club with less pressure. So that’s what she should play.

      Taking this approach might mean you go through a period where you install a few grips at various ranges in size before you find that one that FEELS the best. But in the end, this is a much better way to find that perfect grip size that then feels comfortable, and that you do not have to use any extra pressure to hold on to the club.

      TOM

  2. Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to send you an
    email. I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it develop over time.

    • Thanks for you kind comments and we are pleased to hear you enjoy the information. We spend and have spent a lot of time researching and digging into all areas of club performance and fitting technology because for one, we’re very interested to know that stuff. Second, it is important to find this stuff out because there has been so much misinformation about these things circulating around the game. If you have questions, we are happy to answer to the best of our knowledge and experience by contacting us a contact@wishongolf.com .

      Thanks much again,
      TOM

  3. Tom,

    I have large hands (palm a basketball) and I am playing with midsize grips. My fingers still somewhat dig into my palms.

    I have always struggled with an early release, and a lack of wrist cock when I clamp down on the grip.

    Do you think that going to an oversize will help reduce some of that release problem? I’ve heard some people say that too small of a grip will contribute to too much hand action.

    Thanks!

    • Aleksi

      I do think that it is definitely worth trying to use a much larger grip size to see if it can help you hold on to the wrist cock angle during the downswing. I think you can get some help from the much larger grip. But please do realize that while this might help a little, learning how to hold this angle for a longer time on the downswing is a separate movement of the golf swing that will require you to either take some lessons to learn the technique or to practice repeatedly on your own with a very slow downswing movement to try to re program this swing move.

      You might want to search on You Tube for videos that show techniques to practice to learn to hold the wrist cock angle longer. I’ve found that there are some golf swing teaching videos on You TUbe that are pretty good.

      TOM

  4. Tom,
    Selecting the actual model of grip, grip size, wraps of tape, etc. has always been my golfing kryptonite, I just can never seem to get it right, this may sound strange, but the biggest issue is that it’s not quite a performance issue, I’m not quite sure what sort of issue it is actually because my swing doesn’t really suffer, but I tend to have to grip harder at the very top of my swing, I only find it extremely noticeable when I’m on the range with a lot of swing thoughts, but it almost always happening.. I normally don’t do anything about it because I play well regardless, weather I notice it or not, weather I’m thinking about it or not, it doesn’t affect my swing plane, wrist cock, or release, I can move the ball in both directions, generate the shape and/or trajectory I want shot to shot, I have never been able to correlate it to any sort of decreased performance at all, but it would be nice to get the thought out of my head once and for all… As it stands I have been playing standard sized grips with an extra wrap of tape(2 total), would my tendency to grip tighter at the very top be helped by slightly larger or slightly smaller grips? Just as an aside, actual Oversize/Jumbo grips do affect my swing negatively… Let me know. Thanks.

    • Typically a golfer who notices that they struggle a little with maintaining consistent grip pressure on the club are candidates for trying a larger diameter grip. The way that usually can work is if the hands do not have to close around the grip as much because it is larger, they also can hold on to the grip with less pressure. Less grip pressure that still keeps the grip secure in the hands usually can mean more consistent swing tempo and rhythm because the muscles in the hands and arms are more relaxed through the swing.

      While there are hand and finger measurement guidelines that some use to fit grip size, in the end it is always going to be about each individual golfer’s sense of comfort and feel. That’s why it is not uncommon to see golfers with small hands use grips that are larger than what any measurement guideline might indicate is the proper fit. Since COMFORT rules all in grip size, this also means that grip size fitting becomes a matter of trial and experimentation. Thus it is best to take one club to start with and put grips of different size on it and then go hit shots over 2 or 3 different days so you can get a sense over time as to whether you really do like the size feel and from it, are able to really keep the hands comfortable but secure on the club.

      TOM

  5. SO , if I do change my grips , going from a mid size with 2 wraps to a jumbo with 0 wraps , will the overall weight of the new grip on the club effect the swing weight & moi of the golf club itself.
    Would you have to get the clubs swing weighted again to allow for the extra weight on the grip end ?

    Thanks John

    • JOHN
      Different size grips from different grip makers can all weigh different amounts, so it is simply not possible to offer a specific answer for how much your grip change would change the swingweight of the club unless you could tell us the exact weight of the old grip with its build up tape and the weight of the new grip. With that it is a simple math calculation to determine the effect of the grip change on the swingweight of your club(s).

      As to whether you would need to add weight to the head were the new grip to be heavier than the old and thus reduce that swingweight, that is very much an individual thing for all golfers. Some golfers would want to add weight to the head to establish a little more of a headweight feeling during the swing, while others would be fine leaving the headweight as it is. Golfers have different perceptions of how much they feel the presence of the head’s weight during the swing and how much they depend on that to achieve their most consistent swing tempo, timing and rhythm.

      So the best advice we can offer is to tell you to change grips on ONE CLUB only to start with. Go out and hit balls 2 to 3 separate times over the course of a week or two and then sit back and think – “do I feel the head enough during the swing and feel that my swing tempo is good, or do I not feel the head enough during the swing and feel like I need a little more weight feel out there on the end of the shaft?”

      All fitting for the weights of golf clubs do end up being trial and experimentation because of differences in golfers’ swing tempo, timing, rhythm brought about by differences among golfers in their downswing force, downswing tempo, strength and perception of the feel of the club during the swing.

      TOM

  6. Thanks for the very informative article on grip size and it’s overall importance in maintaining proper grip pressure. I’m 42 about an 8 or 9 handicap but carried around scratch in college. I’ve regripped my own clubs for years but this last year started developing tendonitis in my elbow as well as some fairly constant arthritis in my hands as well. I’ve come to realize I may have undersized my grips. I remember feeling like I had to “death” grip it and had a fellow player mention the same. I trimmed my shafts 3/8 or so and went with minimal tape before this last season. I was honestly pretty discouraged this year and began wondering how much gas was left in the tank. Thanks for the best description of the importance of proper grip size on the net and the timely reminder. Hopefully I can find some grips that take the extra tension out and help me get my game back.

    Best Regards

    • Jay
      You’ll know when you have the right grip size AND texture/feel from when you can maintain a good hold on the club with the LEAST amount of hand pressure. So I would strongly recommend you experiment with different grip models so you can get the feeling of different grips in terms of softness, sponginess, tackiness – then when you find one that feels good start with one club and experiment with bigger sizes until you sense you are at this point of being able to maintain a secure hold on the club with the least amount of hand pressure. That will make a big difference when you can do that.

      TOM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>