— August 10, 2015
While it’s a topic that doesn’t get a lot of coverage in the mainstream golf press, an avid golfer can talk your ear off about his or her grip size preferences. Midsize with an extra wrap under the right hand, standard stretched an extra inch, jumbo with five full wraps…the combinations and specifications are endless.
The question we set out to answer in this edition of Golf Myths Unplugged is: Does grip size matter? There are many bits of “common knowledge” about grip size, so with the help of Club Champion, we put them to the test.
Myth #1: The correct grip means more distance, accuracy, and consistency
Myth #2: Bigger grips prevent hooks
For this test, we brought together five golfers of varying abilities. Each player selected a driver and hit 20 shots with it – 5 with an undersized grip, 5 with a standard sized grip, 5 with a midsize grip, and 5 with a jumbo grip. We then had each player repeat the same process with a six iron.
All testing was done at, and with the help of, Club Champion.
After looking at the results of the 200 shots that were hit, we came to the surprising conclusion that grip size is not as important as we expected…at least not in a measurable way.
With few exceptions, every tester performed similarly with each grip. There were some differences, but bad shots were as likely to occur with a well-fit grip as with one that was too big or too small.
The reason that this myth is labeled “Inconclusive” instead of “Busted” is because of what the testers told us. Every tester expressed in no uncertain terms that they were very comfortable with their fitted grip and uncomfortable with others. The level of sensitivity varied from player to player – some hated everything but their preferred grip, others were only uncomfortable with extremely different grips – but each one noticed the differences. It’s my opinion that over a longer test the well-fit grips would have shown some measurable benefit due to the player’s comfort and confidence.
Also, anecdotally, it was easy to observe when a player was using his preferred grip. With the right grip, the players were relaxed and swung naturally. When forced to swing with larger grips, our testers seemed to labor over their swing. Smaller grips made some testers “hold back” as if they were afraid the club would fly from their hands.
This myth, a favorite among better players, is 100% busted. There was not one data set in our entire test that supported this theory. Whether we looked at the number of shots hit to the left or the size of the hook, there was no correlation with larger grip size.
This isn’t to say that some individuals may not benefit from larger grips, but we found nothing to support this being a rule of fitting.
One of my most important takeaways from this test is the importance of maintaining swing weight when changing grips. Among the grips that we used for this test, the weight ranged from 45 grams to 61 grams. This changed the swing weight and feel for the club head dramatically, and some of our testers were really bothered by it. In fact, one tester hit his six iron progressively worse as he moved up in grip size (despite being fit to a midsize grip) and stated during the test, “I’m losing the club head. I can’t feel it anymore.” Another reported that he had “no connection” with the club when he tested the jumbo grip.
When you change your grips, especially if you’re going to use a different size, make sure that you maintain the swing weight of your clubs. This is where working with a high-quality club builder like Club Champion pays off – this is standard practice for them, but it’s unheard of in big box repair shops.
Based on our testing, it seems that the grip is the one part of the club that every golfer is equipped to fit for themselves. Our testers showed the ability to adapt to play any size grip, but they were clearly the most comfortable and confident with a grip that fit their hand. Do keep in mind, however, that when changing your grips, you need to maintain your clubs’ swing weight so that you can preserve the clubs’ feel.
As always, please post any questions or suggestions for future Golf Myths Unplugged in the comments sections.
Matt Saternus. Co-founder, Director of Instruction at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker at the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.