Golf Grip Sizing Procedures that can Drastically Affect Playing Performance

A couple members of one of the more popular golf forums of today, but a forum that substantially contributes to the continuing delinquency of the game of golf, whose full or partial member names are Josh and Phreddy, recently posted similar inquiries regarding the fitting of golf grip size. With a few partially valid, but uncounted horrific answers subsequently offered from so-called clubfitting experts, these two forum members will struggle for a lifetime with their clubfitting if following such advice, potentially persuading them to prematurely abandon the game like so many others have done in recent times. Thus, I shall address a few sound principles here for them to abide by if they are ever to achieve legitimate clubfitting success. Due primarily to the copyright terms of the noted forum site (as described in detail in Linking Today’s Golf Forums to the Game’s Ugly Deterioration: Part One), I (and anyone else with half a brain) would be a fool to post any original, valid, and protectable content such as this directly on the forum site, so I post it here instead.

Next to the balance of a golf club (which can turn even a superb underlying swing into an uncoordinated mess in a hurry if not fit correctly), the grip size at the other end of the club and shaft is the most important clubfitting parameter for a golfer. The size of your golf grip on any given club is largely responsible for whether you will physically be able to consistently achieve your best swing speed and control. No shaft characteristic for example (including but not limited to shaft weight when all clubfitting details are properly understood and integrated) can affect these swing attributes anywhere close to the extent that grip size can and does. (I am referring here to “direct” golf swing performance with no regard whatsoever to golf ball travel result, two elements that are distinctly separable and wisely separated within any competent clubfitting process).

Golfer characteristics that can affect your best grip size include but are hardly limited to hand size, whether you employ a stronger or weaker hand position when gripping a club, whether you have an overlapping, interlocking, or baseball-style grip, your grip pressure, swing speed, swing plane, and physical posture. Plus, it is extremely important to note here that there are also certain golf club characteristics that can affect your best grip size (best left for a different posting). So if you are accepting your golf grip size being chosen by the quick, cheap, mail-order-type, and easy-profit grip-on-a-stick method or an equivalent of measuring your hand size, you can very easily end up with a grip size that is nowhere even close to what is best for you regarding one of the most critical golf club specifications there is toward achieving your best possible direct golf swing performance.

How to specifically fit your grip size will be largely dependent upon your skill level (and/or that of your clubfitter). If competent at determining what your best swing performance is (at any given point of swing development), various grip sizes can be tried side by side. You should be able to distinguish differences in your swing performance with each grip size fairly easily and be able to determine which size helps you achieve your best swinging. Under certain conditions, this is “literally” fitting golf grip size to your swing, with no actual hitting of golf balls even required (where ball travel results could influence you when ideally they should not). This is far and away the best and most professional process of fitting golf grip size if sufficiently capable.

If not sufficiently skilled to perform that level of clubfitting, the next best option is one much more familiar with the masses, that of fitting grip size according to ball travel results. This rather broad process can encompass golf ball flight curvature, distance traveled, and club/ball contact results among other attributes. It is not as advanced and dependable as fitting to one’s direct swing performance, as ball travel result fitting can produce many more and more types of false and/or inconsistent results (largely due to other club specifications and specification values that can of course also affect ball travel results in many various manners and amounts). Even so, it is still immeasurably better than using the overly simplified and highly inept grip-on-a-stick method or an equivalent of measuring hand size. Fitting golf grip size according to one’s hand size is fitting golf grip size according to one’s hand size, no more and no less. It essentially equates to trying to fit shaft flex based upon one’s static height and/or weight. It is not fitting critically important grip size based on the way one actually swings and all of the many individual and influential elements associated with one’s swing.

In either case above, you will ideally need at least two otherwise identical clubs with different grip sizes on them and all other specifications set equally. Trying one grip size one day and another the next day after installing and drying on the same club will simply not work, as with that amount of time elapsing there is really no usable swing frame of reference to be had between trying different grip sizes. And trying to quickly put on and take off different grip sizes working with a single club using air pressure is just as bad if not worse. Added details are warranted in order to truly appreciate some of the causes and effects encountered regarding why these other procedures are inadequate, but this is also best left for a different posting. Fitting a crucial golf club specification like grip size, which can physically affect whether one’s best swing speed and control will be achieved, is not like fitting the loft of a clubhead or flex of shaft, specifications that primarily affect ball travel results. (Ball travel results are not unimportant, but they are less important relative to one’s direct swing performance). Fitting grip size is something that just needs to be done the right way, and there are really no shortcuts that I am aware of if accurate results are to be confidently obtained.

Many may call this a trial and error process and not “scientific” in their minds. But if the goal is to fit the best golf grip size for your swing, then the scientific process dictates that you must swing, and commonly swing a whole lot in order to obtain the best scientific solution. How consistent or inconsistent you feel your swing might be or how confident or unconfident you might feel about it is irrelevant with respect to the testing that simply must be done. You will just have to deal with any such feelings and swing if you want to try to figure out what the best golf grip size is for your current swing (or the best size for your current ball travel results as the case may be). Trial and error becomes increasingly and extremely scientific in nature as the conditions of testing become more tightly controlled from one test club to the next.

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, be sure to avoid the grip fitting concept of fitting by “comfort” at all costs (and the people recommending the concept), as this ridiculous method is about as bizarre as it gets for very sound and logical reasons. (This might be considered yet another subsection of effective golf grip size fitting theory and practice that I will perhaps soon expand upon in another posting). I mean good grief. If your express goal is to be really comfortable, skip the golf and maybe quit the game altogether like so many others have (with good reason) in recent years, buy yourself a drink, and go get a massage instead. But if you want to play your best golf, fit your golf grip size in fundamentally the same way that you fit every other golf club specification and specification value, which is by how well you perform, period. No matter how uncomfortable it might be at first, chances are you will become physically and mentally quite comfortable with the determined size relatively quickly when you perform better.

Illogical and downright poor clubfitting theories and practices developed by others in the past continue to plague the clubfitting trade as a whole (from major club manufacturers to small independent clubfitters to anybody in between). The way(s) this trade implements grip size fitting (one of the most critical and straightforward club specifications there is) is actually not even close to being the most absurd and incompetent practice commonly utilized, easily maintaining the clubfitting trade’s reputation as being the worst and most laughable in all of sports by far. There are legitimate explainable reasons why uncounted golfers still come away from so-called professional clubfittings playing worse than when they came in (notwithstanding modern launch monitors) and why the clubfitting industry (justifiably) has such a long and continuing history of poor performance. This addresses merely one of these reasons.