Do You Need to Wear a Glove to Play Golf?

The role of the golf glove, including which hand it goes on

Ollie Schniederjans puts on his glove at the 2016 Utah Championship
Professional golfer Ollie Schniederjans pulls a glove onto his lead hand in preparation for a stroke. Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Wearing a golf glove is not a requirement to play the game, but it is recommended. Why is that? It's pretty simple: A golf glove helps the golfer maintain a secure hold on the golf club. The human hand simply isn't as tacky as the material used in golf gloves. This is especially true when the golfer is sweating, or when the grips of one's golf clubs are wet. A golf glove will provide a more secure grip on the club.

But does that mean you must wear a golf glove? No.

There are some pro players — Hall of Famer Fred Couples, for example — who do not wear a glove. They are rare, however, and teaching pros will always recommend the use of a glove.

Golf gloves help the golfer keep a good grip on the golf club without having to squeeze it too tightly (which produces tension in the hands, wrists and forearms — and tension is bad in golf).

Most golfers wear a glove on only one hand (see below); a small number don't wear gloves at all; a smaller number wear gloves on both hands. You want the glove to fit snugly (some manufacturers say like a second skin) while still being comfortable and not restricting your hand movements. A golf glove that is too large may slide around during the swing, defeating the purpose of wearing one in the first place.

Many manufacturers and online retailer websites offer advice for determining your proper golf glove size; for example, see Nike's sizing guide or Footjoy's sizing guide.

Which Hand Does the Golf Glove Go On?

The vast majority of golfers wear one glove. But on which hand?

The glove is worn on your lead hand — that is, the hand that leads the golf club through your swing. Which hand is that? Your lead hand is the hand you place highest on the golf club (closest to the butt end of the grip), the hand that is in front in your downswing into the golf ball.

Or, to be more specific:

  • the lead hand for a right-handed golfer is the left hand (because a righty places her left hand highest on the club);
  • the lead hand for a left-handed golfer is the right hand.

How Much Do Golf Gloves Cost?

Golf gloves are among the least-expensive pieces of golf equipment. Good, name-brand golf gloves can be purchased for $10 or $15, some for less, others for more depending on styles and materials.

Gloves come in different sizes to fit different-sized hands; they are most common in white or a white-and-black color scheme, but different solid colors and different color schemes are available.

If you are browsing golf gloves in a brick-and-mortar pro shop, you may be able to take the glove out and try it on for size, just as you would try on shoes for size before buying. (This isn't always the case, so if you're unsure check first with store personnel.)

Specialty gloves, such as those designed specifically for wet weather, cost a bit more.

Do You Wear the Golf Glove for All Shots?

If you decide to wear a glove (or even two, you rebel), should you wear it for all the strokes you play — for every shot during your round? Some golfers do that, but most golfers — the vast majority and virtually all pro golfers — wear the glove only on swings with woods, hybrids, irons and wedges.

Most of the time, when the golfer reaches the green, the glove comes off. Putting is such a feel stroke, a very, very slow swing compared to most other golf swings, that having that tactile sensation of skin-on-putter-grip provides more feedback on your putt. There's also no chance of the putter flying out of your hands during the much more gentle putting stroke (or if there is, you're doing something very wrong!).

To Sum Up ...

Some golfers, such as Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey, do wear gloves on both hands, or wear no glove at all; but one glove, placed on the lead hand, is the norm.

Gloves are worn on the shots from the tee, from the fairway and into the green. Most (but not all) golfers who wear a glove remove it for putting.

So here's the advice: Buy a glove and give it a try. See how it feels, and as long as you're comfortable wearing one while you golf, it's a good idea to do so.

If wearing a glove makes you uncomfortable, you can play golf without one. But if you do so, pay close attention to keeping your hands and the grips on your golf clubs dry before each shot.