Why is the grip so important when we play golf? The grip is your only physical contact with the golf club. Without the proper grip, making consistent golf shots is very difficult.

So often golfers hold the club incorrectly because it feels comfortable in their hands. However, comfortable is not always correct. A proper grip enables the hands to work together to deliver the clubhead square to the ball.

There are three acceptable ways of gripping a golf club described for the right-handed golfer:

Overlapping: The pinky finger of the right hand fits on top of the space between the index finger and the middle finger of the left hand.

Interlocking: This grip involves the intertwining or locking together of the left index finger and the pinky of the right hand.

Ten finger (baseball grip): All fingers are curled under the grip with thumbs on top.

With all the above grips, the left thumb fits inside the right palm. You should see two knuckles of your left hand. A very important aspect of your grip is the pad of your left hand, which needs to be on top of the grip. This helps control the hinging of your wrist during your swing. (Marking your glove at the “V” and at the pad will help you see the proper grip).

Grip pressure also affects clubhead speed. If you grip the club too tightly, you will build up tension in your forearms and shoulders. Hold the grip like you would a bird that you don’t want to let go. Lighten up your grip for a more free-flowing swing.

Grip placement affects ball flight. Moving the grip on the club can change the ball flight. For a neutral grip, you should see V’s formed by the index finger and thumb on each hand as well as two knuckles of your left hand.

Strong grip: Moving your grip to the right makes it easier to curve the ball from right to left (draw).

Weak grip: Moving the grip to the left makes it easier to curve the ball from left to right (fade).

Grip size is important when buying clubs. Women with small hands should get an undersized grip. There are also standard, mid-size and oversized grips for golfers with larger hands.

Go to your local golf shop and try out grips of all sizes. I recommend re-gripping your golf clubs once a year if you play and practice often.

There are special molded grip trainers that you can put on a practice club. I cut down a club and put the molded grip on it to practice swinging indoors.

Finally, the grip on your putter is different from your other clubs. I suggest a large grip with a flat top for your thumbs to sit. Your hand placement on a putter is different than your other clubs.

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. jean.golfdoctor.harris@gmail.com; golfdoctorjean.com