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Why golf grip size does and doesn't matter

Posted by Carol Suh on

 

Golf grip sizing is always a hotly debated topic. And now that more golfers are entering, or coming back to, the sport (SIP has been kind to golf, hasn't it?), we thought it would be helpful to set the record straight.

 

SETTING UP YOUR SHOT FOR SUCCESS

Before diving into grip sizing, it's important to note that many different factors come into play with your golf shots. The grip may seem insignificant especially next to the head and shaft. And understandably so.

 

First there’s the loft and lie of your clubs. Are you getting the right amount of lift and carry? Are your clubs the right length, suitable for your height and arm lengths?

 

Next, let’s look at the shaft. Brace yourself. There are so many factors of the shaft that can help or hurt your shots (flex, shaft weight, frequency, torque, launch, tip stiffness, to name a few).

 

Quick side note - we always recommend working with a professional club fitter when selecting your golf shafts. Because shafts can be such a black box, only a trained club fitter can analyze your swing and match it to the right specs you need. This can make a huge difference especially if you’re playing clubs that are mismatched for your height and tempo (I just realized why golf brings out the diy tinkering nature in us). 

 

Assuming you’re staying with the same club head, now we’re just down the grip. The grip is no small potatoes when it comes to the effect on your swing though. It's hard to quantify where grips are on the importance scale. We think it's one of those basic decisions that you'll want to dial down from the start (like playing with the right club length).

 

Changing your shaft or head is a big undertaking, and definitely requires a professional's consult. Changing your grip to the right size and model however is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to improve your shot. 

 

The grip is also the only part of the club that you’re touching. I like to think of it as the gateway to your swing. Without the right grip, you could be setting up your shot for disaster.

 

But if you already know this, then (kudos!) you're halfway there to setting up your game for success. 

 

 

IT'S LESS ABOUT SIZE, MORE ABOUT FEEL

 

Dialing into the right grip size means the energy transfer from your swing to the ball is at its highest efficiency. This means nothing gets wasted. And that's how you can achieve maximum ball speed, and perhaps more importantly, lossless energy transfer.

 

Traditionally, players would use glove size to determine grip size. While having this as a starting reference can help, recent studies have shown that most players play better with a different size grip than what their glove size would recommend.

And here's the reason why.

 

It's not so much about the size of the grip but the biodynamics of your hands and how you swing.

 

And no two sets are completely identical.

 

Two players with the same size hands and same exact grips will likely find they hit better with different grips. This is because everyone grips their club with a unique amount of pressure and form. This has to do with the shape of your hands, how much muscle you have, how your fingers wrap around the club, and most importantly how you swing. The path of your swing can determines how you guide the club. And this determines how tightly you grip the club. 

 

Different grips also have different durometers (the industry measurement for how hard a material feels).The higher the number, the more firm the grip is. The lower the number, the softer it feels and the more your hands could potentially squeeze the grip. 

 

One side note is that the tackiness or surface traction can alter how much strength you need to grip the club. Generally the tackier the grip the less force you'll need to hold onto the club. 

 

With all things considered, it makes sense that grip feel is much more important that actual grip size.

 

 

SO HOW DO YOU FIND THE RIGHT GRIP SIZE?

  

The best way to determine the right grip size is to take some test swings with different sized installed grips on your clubs, and watch your shot react to each one (like this guy did).

 

Before you commit to changing your whole set, definitely try it out on just one club to make sure it'll be a beneficial switch.

 

So much of golf is about feel, and grips are no different. If the shots are straight and you're able to gently hold the club, without straining your hands and wrists, and without digging your fingers into your palms through the swing, then you've probably found the right size.

 

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR GRIP IS TOO SMALL

 

With the focus being on feel, you might find your grip being too small if your hands, wrist, and/or forearms are experiencing tightness through the swing or you notice your fingers digging into your palms. Your hands should be relaxed and holding the club lightly, just enough so that the club doesn't slip away from you. 

 

Over gripping ironically also leads to energy loss and reduced clubhead speed. Instead of allowing the motion of your core to drive the swing, strain in the hands and wrist decrease some of that power. 

 

Other symptoms could be fades or slices. This happens when the club over rotates, crossing the square plane too soon. 

 

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR GRIP IS TOO BIG

 

Oversize grips have been touted to help relieve golfers from over-gripping. It's logical that if you wrists tend to move more than they should, that larger grips can help stabilize this. 

 

However, going with a grip that's too large can make it hard to keep the club stable resulting in mishits. 

 

Players with arthritis or joint pain can find relief with larger diameter grips. The key is to find a size where the grip allows for loose, comfortable contact with the club, to keep the focus of energy transfer from your bodies core rotation to the swing.