Newsflash: If you buy irons or woods off the rack and stick with their standard-size grips, it could cost you strokes. Just as it helps to customize your irons for length and lie or your driver for shaft flex, playing grips suited to your hands can improve your hold on the club, leading to better shots. So feel free to try a different grip size.
"Most players don't realize that grips come in more than one size, or how big a difference the right grip can make," says Bruce Miller, retail product manager at Golf Pride. "We outfit about 80 percent of the PGA Tour players, and only a few of them use what we'd call a "standard-size" grip. If the best in the world take grip size seriously, it's probably a good thing for weekend players, too, since they need all the help they can get."
There are a couple of ways to determine your proper grip size. The simplest method? Place both hands on the grip and see where the fingertips on your right hand line up in relation to your left thumb. If the nails dig into your thumb, the grip is too small. If there's noticeable space between the two, then the grip is a bit too big. Ideally, the fingertips of your right hand should barely touch your left thumb.
To get even more precise, use a ruler to measure the distance from your left wrist to the tip of your longest finger. According to common guidelines, if the distance is less than 7 inches (for men), an undersize (that is, thinner) grip is the smart choice. If you measure between 7 and 7.5 inches, use a standard-size model. Go thicker for longer measurements. (Thicker grips are a good choice if you suffer from arthritis or hand pain).
Your glove size can also lead you to the right grip. If you wear large or extra-large gloves, you shouldn't go smaller than a mid-size grip.
Experiment with what feels good and what works. Grip size is an important yet often overlooked way to play better—without a swing change.