Using the right size golf grips for your hands, swing or playing style is more important than many golfers imagine or realise. We explain the fundamentals
Given that we all have different hand sizes and are aware that junior and ladies’ golf clubs have different grip sizes to men’s, it should be perhaps more obvious than it is that men with small hands are going to typically need a significantly smaller grip size than a six foot six giant with hands the size of dinner plates!
The wrong grip size stops the hands working properly
The main problem with the wrong-size golf grips is that they won’t allow the hands to work as they ideally should in the golf swing. If your grips are too small, there is a danger that your hands will become too active leading to inconsistency, greater shot dispersion, and typically too early a release of the club often manifesting itself in a hook or pull. If your grips are too thick, your hands won’t be able to release effectively at impact and the most likely result will be a block, push or slice.
The key measurements
So how do you determine the correct grip size for you? Some companies – for example Ping and Lamkin – base things around two key hand measurements. One is the length of your hand from the most prominent wrist crease to the tip of your longest finger, and the other is then the length of that longest finger alone.
Lamkin then has different grips available in perhaps three or four thicknesses, depending on which grip, from undersize to standard, midsize and oversize. Ping, famously, has a delightfully colourful grip chart ranging from blue, which is standard (white) minus 3/64ths of an inch, through to orange, which is standard +1/16th of an inch. This might sound like splitting hairs, but a seemingly small difference in grip diameter will translate to a big difference in feel and fit on the club.
Check things yourself
If you’re worried you may be playing with grips that are too small, the following process is a good rule of thumb to help you decide, and you may well find – though not necessarily due to other vagaries of each individual’s swing – that your typical miss is consistent with either your grips being too thin (pull, hook) or too thick (block, slice).
Take your normal grip with your upper hand (i.e. the left hand for a right-handed golfer) and see how close or otherwise your longest finger tips come to the pad at the base of the thumb. Ideally, they should just be touching it. If they dig in too much, your grips are too small; if they don’t come close to touching the thumb pad, they are too big.
The best grip brands, such as Golf Pride, make grips in a variety of sizes, but even then some golfers like to fine-tune things further to create a size not available as standard, and this is done by using extra layers of grip tape under the grip during the fitting process.
The reality is that a grip that allows you to hold the club properly is as integral to optimum performance any of the other custom-fitting options such as lie angle, loft and so on, and neglecting to get your grip size right can undo a lot of the good work done elsewhere in tailoring your clubs to you and your swing.