Correct Grip Pressure for Swinging the Club

How Tight Should You Hold Your Golf Clubs?

Closeup look at Michelle Wie's golf grip at address
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

The golf swing is a forceful movement: If you don't have a good hold on the club, it could go flying out of your hands. But a key in gripping the club is holding it just firm enough.

The famous golf instructor Jim Flick once wrote:

"Quiet hands respond on their own to the weight of the clubhead. Tight hands have to be told what to do."

But how tight is too tight when it comes to gripping the golf club? We asked Michael Lamanna, Director of Instruction at The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., that question.

On Scale of 1-10, Make Your Golf Grip Pressure a 4 or 5

This is the advice on golf grip pressure provided by Lamanna:

"In addition to the type of grip you use, another characteristic of a sound golf grip is using a light grip pressure.
"Gripping the club too tight can cause thin, weak shots that slice. A lighter grip pressure enhances wrist hinge — a vital power source in the swing. This light pressure also increases the amount of clubface rotation, thus improving your chance of squaring the club at impact.
"On a scale of one to 10, where one is light and 10 is tight, I recommend a pressure of four or five. This allows the club to be swung with power and control. At address, work on feeling relaxed and tension-free in your hands and forearms.

Lamanna reminds readers of Sam Snead's famous quote about grip pressure: "Hold the club as if you had a little baby bird in your hand," Snead said.

To keep a bird in your hands, you have to grasp it well enough that it doesn't fly away. But birds are delicate creatures, so you also have to hold one gently enough not to harm it.

Says Lamanna:

"This pressure, combined with the proper placement of the hands on the handle, will give you your greatest chance to produce longer, straighter shots."

More Ways to Visualize Correct Golf Grip Pressure

Lamanna quoted what is surely the most famous bromide about grip pressure — Snead's bird-in-the-hand quote. Many golf instructors today still say to their students about grip pressure, "Don't crush the baby bird!"

Gary McCord has written: "Too much tension in your hands makes you throw the club at the ball. ... You should grip it with the pressure of holding a spotted owl's egg."

OK. We're not really sure what a spotted owl's egg feels like, either, or how much pressure would be harmful to one.

So here's Tom Watson:

"Essentially, a golfer needs just enough grip pressure to control the club. You have to grip it firmly, but not so firmly that you create tension in your forearms. ... Reduce your grip pressure to just enough to keep it from sliding through your hands."

In addition to the baby-bird analogy, the other best-known way of visualizing the correct grip pressure is the toothpaste analogy. Hold the golf club with the pressure it takes to hold a tube of toothpaste firmly but without squeezing out any toothpaste.

So when it comes to grip pressure, remember: A four or five on a scale of 1-10. Or think, "Don't crush the bird" or "don't squeeze out any toothpaste."