Nepali Times Asian Paints
Tee Break
Gripping stuff


Take up golf the right way and one of the first things you are taught is how to hold the club correctly. This is known as 'The Grip' and at all levels of golf, right up to the top, it is a vital element of performing well.

Neglecting this basic key technique will lead golfers into all sorts of trouble, almost always resulting in an improper swing to compensate for weaknesses in the grip. Unfortunately most amateurs and almost all beginners don't pay enough attention to this and just indulge themselves in whacking more and more golf balls on the range with an incorrect grip. Instead of practice sessions being constructive, they end up ingraining an incorrect swing that takes much harder work to undo.

To top it off, even after realising that it is detrimental to one's improvement, once an incorrect grip has started to feel comfortable, it's something that's not easy to change. Golf textbooks identify three basic different ways of gripping the golf club.

. The Vardon (or overlap) grip
. The interlocking grip
. The baseball grip

The Vardon or overlap grip: A vast majority of tournament professionals use the grip invented by Harry Vardon, known as the overlapping or 'Vardon Grip'. Here, the small finger of the right hand rests in the slot between the index and middle finger of left hand. Some find this awkward and prefer letting the little finger rest on the index finger itself. In both cases though, the ring finger of right hand should rest closely against the left index finger.

The interlocking grip: Many players prefer the interlocking grip as it offers a secure feeling of control over the club. This grip is formed by locking the left index finger and right small finger.

The baseball grip: Similar to gripping a baseball or cricket bat, here there is no linkage between the index and little fingers even though both hands should be very close to each other.

No matter which style you use, there are a few basics that need to be followed. First place your left hand on your club ensuring that without moving your head you can see two knuckles. This set up is for a normal grip as opposed to a strong or weak one. The V shape created by the left index finger and thumb should point to your chin.

Next, place your right hand on the grip ensuring the V created by the right index finger and thumb point to the right shoulder. To cross check, unfold your hands and see if they are parallel to each other. If they are, then you probably got the grip right.

Players usually adjust their grip in relation to their physical strength. Weaker people may opt for a stronger grip; one where you should see three or more knuckles of the left hand while holding the club. Conversely, for physically stronger people a weaker grip may be ideal, where only one knuckle is seen while holding the club.

The bottom line is that both hands should be parallel to each other when unfolded. The interlocking grip is recommended for players with small hands as it offers a secure feeling of control on the grip. The overlapping grip is best for stronger people and the baseball grip is sometimes for those who have long or uneven finger lengths.

At the end of it all, it's best to have your grip checked by your golf professional every two months or so. That is how easily and often a grip starts to go wrong and how important it is to stay 'in the groove'.

Deepak Acharya is a golf instructor and Head Golf Professional at Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu. [email protected]

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)