I am going to start this post with a small personal anecdote to illustrate how I have come full circle in my golfing life. Like many, when I first took up the game, I held the club in the 10 finger or “baseball” grip. Coming from 16 years of playing baseball, it felt like the most natural way to hold the club. Eventually, as I progressed and my skills and knowledge increased, curioisity and a desire to have a “real” golf grip led me to the overlap or “Vardon” grip, and then to the interlock.
At some point in my development, I encountered a video or article that encouraged me to revisit the 10 finger grip. Looking back at that period, I have never hit the ball better than I did during that time. I was still raw, but was hitting high and powerful shots with all clubs in the bag, and should have turned my attention to improving my short game.
I started weekly instruction, which led to grip changes prescribed for a more penetrating ballflight. We went away from the “baseball grip” and strengthened my grip as well. This took a long time to get used to but eventually I became proficient. My ballflight was down, my shot shape was right to left, and my misses were baby hooks. Hindsight being 20/20, I can say that my grip pressure increased due to a lack of confidence or trust as well. The problem I had was that it was a plateau for me, there was no more improvement – I was consistent, but not consistently good. I have come to understand that I had developed so many compensations that my practice was just maintenance.
As you may have guessed, I have reconnected with the 10 finger grip and would like to share how, why, and what benefits I have experienced in the transition back. As it is with this site, my hope with this post is that after years of toiling with different swing aids, swing thoughts, and gimmicks, I can add something of value and point you towards good sources of information to find what’s right for you.
While we are on the topic of baseball, our newest partner, Cutter & Buck, has a great array of MLB themed golf apparel worth checking out if you are a fan and want to support your team on the course. From the featured image, you can see that I am an unapologetic Yankee fan.
Origins of the 10 Finger Grip
The 10 finger or “baseball” grip can be traced back to the beginnings of golf itself in 15th century Scotland. As the game was spreading, players would naturally grab clubs with a basic grip using all 10 fingers out of instinct and comfort (sounds familiar). This primitive form of the modern 10 finger technique was thus the default method early on. Though new specialized grips like the overlapping and interlocking would emerge in the late 1800s, the traditional baseball grip persisted as a popular choice for decades. Major champions like Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, and Arnold Palmer all used the 10 finger at points in their careers.
In the modern era, most instructors moved away from advocating the baseball grip due to the belief it can lead to inconsistency and lack of club control. However, some top teachers in the last 30 years have repopularized it as a good option, particularly for beginners, juniors, older players, and those with hand injuries. Gurus like Hank Haney, Butch Harmon, and Stan Utley promote it as a way to develop feel and power. Utley in particular is a huge proponent, having taught stars like Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang the 10 finger early on.
While less common on professional tours currently, a handful of successful players have employed the baseball grip. Past champions like Bob Rosburg, Art Wall, and Bob Estes used it en route to wins. Today, players such as Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, Will Mackenzie, and Jhonattan Vegas continue to leverage the 10 finger effectively. Moe Norman, considered one of the best strikers of the golf ball ever, used a 10 finger grip as well. These golfers prove that, with practice and proper mechanics, the baseball grip can yield positive results even at golf’s top level.
Benefits and Application
The 10 finger grip can offer some key benefits for certain golfers. Firstly, it allows for increased grip stability and control over the club. With all 10 fingers wrapped around the club, you can achieve a very solid hold which leads to better consistency and accuracy. This grip also helps distribute pressure more evenly across both hands, enhancing comfort for those with hand or wrist issues, and reducing the need to grip as tightly.
The adjacent video details the proper application of the grip, with the final 2 minutes dedicated to the 10 finger grip. There are more detailed tutorials in the Videos section of the post as well.
Club Focused Instruction (CFI)
Club-focused golf instruction is an approach that focuses on the motion and path of the golf club rather than body motion. This method was pioneered by Hall of Fame instructors Ernest Jones and Manuel de la Torre, with its current flag bearer being former de la Torre student Edward LeBeau of Heartland Golf Schools. The key premise is that if the club is moving correctly through impact, the body will naturally make the correct movements to create an effective swing, removing the need for compensations and manipulation.
By focusing on the simpler mechanics of the golf club instead of numerous body parts, students can more easily groove an effective, repeating swing. Studies show club-focused instruction leads to better development of skilled motor programs versus traditional instruction focused on body mechanics. A study often referred to is out of UNLV by Gabriele Wulf and Jiang Su that details that having an “external” (non body) focus of attention creates better golf shots.
As far as the grip goes, de la Torre and LeBeau don’t believe in the interlocking grip, disliking the lack of connection and feeling that most people will struggle with proper application. What opened my eyes and sent me back to the 10 finger grip again, was LeBeau’s statement that he teaches the it exclusively at his golf school. His argument is simple – why grip the club with 8 or 9 fingers when you can secure it with 10 and promote less grip pressure. This really resonated with me as I consistently felt like the grip was slipping, twisting, and moving, which led to excessive grip pressure and inconsistent contact. It probably led to the blisters that annoyed me so much that I had to post about them.
After spending a few weeks absorbing as much information as I could through some of the books and videos linked here and in our posts on George Knudson, John Redman, and Manuel de la Torre, I was ready for an overhaul. What became clear to me is that I had overcomplicated the grip and consequently the swing. Falling prey to the “body focused approach,” I have been chasing compensations ever since. I was better off years ago, with my own “natural swing.”
This is not a shot at my instructors or their methods – it’s just validation that we are individuals, and as de la Torre stated, we all interpret words differently. My interpretation and implementation of what I had read, watched, and was taught, just wasn’t optimal for me. So in a desire to become not just consistent, but consistently good, I need to find a better and simpler way, starting with the basics.
It’s been 2 weeks since I switched back to the 10 finger grip and have embraced CFI. I have a training club in the house that I use for a few minutes at a time throughout the day to help with the feeling, and I have been practicing 1-2 hours a day at a minimum, hitting shots and working through drills. At first, I was skeptical that I could make this change and had a few setbacks.
I am very encouraged and excited about my golf game for the first time in a long time. Not that it was bad – I just felt like it should be better. A feeling most people probably share, especially if you have read this far. If you are willing to invest your time and money to improve your game, it’s nice to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
- I am now confident in my connection to the club – it does not slip or twist in my hands.
- I am gripping the club lightly, enough to feel the weight of the club and know that it’s swinging, not making a leverage based motion.
- I have stopped using a glove, feeling a nice connection between my hands and grips (JumboMax STR8 Tech).
- I found that I was delofting the club at address, making compensating motions that brought in the hook and lower ballflight. This change returned the club to its proper position at address. I have lost the hook and the ballflight is back up, letting the club do its job.
This grip change coupled with my only swing thought, “stay centered,” has improved my ball-striking significantly over a short period of time. Will this be the magic bullet or cure-all that I have been looking for? Time will tell, but it’s especially nice when something comes along that feels right. I have linked not only LeBeau’s book on the subject, but multiple interviews and seminars where he discusses his fundamentals and philosophy of the golf swing. If you decide to look into CFI or go back to a 10 finger grip, I would be very interested in your results.
Understanding the Golf Swing
by Manuel de la Torre
Summary: Manuel de la Torre was a leading teacher of Ernest Jones’s swing principles, emphasizing a simpler approach focused on developing a true swinging motion rather than complex body movements. The book covers the philosophy of the golf swing, analysis of ball flights, techniques for special shots like pitching and chipping, the mental side of golf, and understanding golf courses. It argues that if the club is swung properly, the body movements will take care of themselves, so golfers should focus on the motion of the club rather than their bodies. The book blends golf philosophy and practical advice for golfers of all levels, from beginners to professionals.
Club-Focused Golf Instruction
by Edward LeBeau
Summary: Club-focused golf instruction focuses on the golf club motion rather than body motion, an approach used by only 5% of instructors. This method, championed by Hall of Fame instructors Ernest Jones and Manuel de la Torre, allows faster learning and better play. LeBeau combines de la Torre’s expertise with educational principles into a powerful instruction manual bringing together decades of club-focused instruction experience. Scientific studies have verified club-focused instruction’s superiority for improving player performance over traditional body-focused methods.
Ernest Jones Swing the Clubhead Method
by Ernest Jones
Summary: Ernest Jones’ 1922 and 1930 golf instruction book focuses on coordinating the motion of the body to develop an efficient, compact golf swing. Jones emphasizes keeping the wrists firm, maintaining proper posture, and clearing the hips through impact. The book uses photographs and drills to teach ideal positions in the takeaway, backswing, downswing, and follow-through. Jones advocates swinging smoothly in rhythm, letting the clubhead accelerate naturally rather than using pure muscular power. This technical guide provides step-by-step lessons on building sound fundamentals into an effective, repeating golf swing.