More On Learning - The Grip
I’m a big believer that the golf swing is much easier to execute if you begin with the proper grip, and learn how to put your body in the starting position that promotes a sound golf swing.
Today, I only want to talk about the golf grip.
As you can imagine, I come into contact with hundreds of golfers of all skill levels. One of the universal truths of golf is that it is very rare to see a good player with a bad grip !
There are some, for sure, but they are very few and very far between . . . and they typically have beat so many balls with their poor grip that they’ve found a way to work around it.
But if you want to make the swing easier to learn and repeat, a sound and fundamental hold on the club is mandatory.
Whether you prefer an overlap, interlock or full finger (not baseball) grip on the club, the same fundamentals apply. A proper hold on the club allows it to function in the swing in a correct manner, and a bad grip will completely prevent improvement and consistency.
Here are the major grip faults I see most often, in the order of the frequency:
1) Too tight. Nearly all golfers hold the club too tightly, and it tenses up everything. You must feel that the club is controlled in the last three fingers of the left (upper) hand, and the middle two fingers of the right (lower). If you engage your thumbs and forefingers in "holding" the club, the result will almost be a grip that is too tight.
Try this for yourself. Hold the club in your left hand, and squeeze firmly with just the last three fingers, with the forefinger and thumb off the club entirely. You have good control, but your forearms are not tense. Then begin to squeeze down with your thumb and forefinger and observe the tensing of the entire forearm. This is the way we're made, so the key to preventing tenseness in the arms is to hold the club very lightly with the "pinchers" - the thumbs and forefingers.
2) Too much right hand on the club. Almost all golfers have the club too far into the palm of the right hand, probably because they are trying to control the path of the clubhead to the ball. But the golf swing is not a hit at the ball swing, it's a swing of the club, so the proper hold on the club has the grip underneath the pad at the base of the fingers. If you'll slide the grip down into your fingers, so that you feel "weak" with the right hand, you will experience increased clubhead speed immediately.
3) The position of the grip in the left hand. I observe many golfers who have the butt of the grip too far into the pad of the left hand. It's amazing how much easier it is to release the club through the ball if even 1/4-1/2" of the butt is beyond the left heel pad. Try this yourself to see what I mean. Swing the club freely with just your left hand and notice the difference in its release from when you hold it in each of the positions in the picture below this paragraph. Make that simple little change and you’ll get the club square through impact much easier.
4) Mis-aligned hands. By this I mean that the palms of the two hands are not parallel to each other. Too many golfers have a weak left hand and strong right, or vice versa. The easiest way to learn how to grip the club with your palms aligned properly is to grip a plain old wooden ruler or yardstick. It forces the hands to align together, and shows you how this feels. If you'll grip and re-grip a yardstick several times, then grip a club, you’ll see that the learning curve is almost immediate.
So, those are the four fundamentals of a good grip that anyone can learn in their home or office very quickly. And a good grip will help any golfer make immediate improvement in your swing.
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Great post - I've noticed that a lot of tour pros grip exactly as you describe. Anthony Kim is one who quickly comes to mind. I cannot wait to try this out, as it makes complete sense. Thanks
Another great check to make sure that the palms are facing each other is to look at the V's formed by the thumb and index finger. The V's on both hands should be pointing in the same direction.
Good stuff Terry.
I have to admit I'm not precisely sure what you mean by a grip with hands "not parallel." In Five Lessons, Hogan advocates a strong left (point V at right eye) and somewhat weaker right (point V at chin). This seems to be a pretty common approach. Is this an example of non-parallel hands?
Ottawa Golf Blog says:
Always a great reminder, `the grip` thanks. :)
Duffy, I think Hogan was a very special player, and I've always been a big fan and disciple, but I think you would find his hands parallel. Actually, he weakened his left hand grip to combat a hook, and developed his very famous "power fade". His book "Five Lessons - The Modern Fundamentals of Golf" remains my favorite instruction book of all time.
hey Terry , good stuff , another tip that showed quick results for me. I do have two questions though, I notice the pinky finger on my right hand has a tendency to squeeze my left index finger down onto the grip of the club , is this an issue or is this natural?
I also can feel my thumbs trying very hard ( as if they have a will of their own ) to apply pressure to the club during the downswing , should I lift the thumbs off of the club to counter this?
jim, that pressure of your little finger, and the fact that you can feel your thumb pressure, tells me that you are squeezing the grip with your entire hand, not just your middle fingers. Practice isolating those two middle fingers of the right hand in a mild squeeze, while you are watching TV or driving, talking on the phone, etc.
want to hit a slight fade, try adding more grip pressure and to draw it, loosen it up a bit more. you will be amazed at how grip pressure can effect your shot too.
Tim Horan says:
My usual grip is the Vardon overlap. I have recently developed a draw or more precisely a hook. I heard recently a drill splitting the hands on the grip on the practice swing and "feeling" what the hands need to do to square the club and then taking that feel to the actual shot would help. I also tried hitting a few shots with a "two hand" grip (all fingers on the club) which seemed to work on the hook but restricted the hinge and I lost a lot of power. It occured to me that this might be the right grip for pitching and chipping where my wrists are overactive. I will let you all know how this works out.
This article is fantastic! This has been the single most important thing I have learned. I just got back from the range and what a difference this has made. It forces me to grip the club lighter and as a result I think has relaxed my arms and shoulders. Thank you.
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