Get A Grip, Part 3
On Friday, I stressed the importance of a solid left/lead hand grip on the club, as that is the side that has to lead and control the golf swing. But with most golfers, it doesn’t. Because we are right-hand dominant, most golfers try to manage the golf club with their right hand. You can see it in their grip, their set-up and their posture that they are right-hand dominant and probably stuck in the mid- to high-handicap range because of it.
And it all begins with the way you hold onto the golf club with your right hand. The vast majority of golfers have the club too far into the palm of their right hand, because that’s a “power” position that allows them to muscle the club in an attempt to guide the clubhead to the ball. WRONG! It will never work, guys. You simply cannot consistently deliver the clubhead to the ball by manipulating it with your right hand. When speaking to groups, I often use this illustration of just how fruitless this can be:
Tape a marker pen to the hosel of your wedge, where the point sticks out beyond the sole. Then tape a piece of paper on the wall and try to sign your name, while only holding the wedge in your right hand. You’ll feel like a 3-year-old trying to write for the first time. If you can’t even sign your name, what are your chanced of delivering the clubhead to the ball consistently?
So, if you’ve practiced your new left hand grip since Friday, now let’s see how the right hand meshes to that on the club.
First of all, the grip has to be in the fingers of the right hand, not in the palm at all. Take that left hand grip on the club, and set it into address position. Then face your right palm down the target line and arch your wrist so that you can put the grip across the upper pad of the two middle fingers, BELOW the pad at the base of the fingers. Then gently curl the two middle fingers around the grip. This will feel very weak to you. In fact, if you let go of the club with your left hand, you will not be able to hold it up at all with this grip. CORRECT!
The little finger can overlap the forefinger of the left hand, or interlock – your choice. I personally believe the interlock grip causes the club to get too much into the right palm. The key is that the club has to be in the FINGERS! Not the palm.
The role of the forefinger and thumb is for them to gently lay on the grip for touch, not control. If you can feel any squeezing of the club with these two fingers, you’re holding it too tightly. In fact, a great drill is to actually hit shots with the right thumb off the club and the forefinger pointed downward, so that the tip is off the club, too.
So, I’ve discussed the way the club is controlled by the left hand, and gently cradled in the fingers of the right. Friday, I’ll wrap it all up for you. See you then.
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Just wanted to say that this left side leading theory has been the best piece of advice I have ever received about the golf swing. Well I guess that and keeping my head still. At first it felt very unnatural but I saw results immediately. The biggest difference was how high I was able to hit the ball and with spin. So thanks Terry, really owe you one here.
Terry - I think this series of articles is top notch. Years ago, I did some overhaul of my grip, very similar (if not identical) to what you're spelling out here. but it's nice to get a little reminder, because old habits can creep back.
@brian575: I agree he was talking about this (left side leads) last summer too and it changed my game and the way I approached my swing.
All the time I see people making practice swing moves with only their trailing (i.e. right) arm. It is a sort of tell. Good players never seem to do this.
Ben Hogan gets very specific about the issue of the right hand. He describes the right hand and shoulder as potential 'swing wreckers' and that an ideal right hand grip subdues or deactivates the "pinchers"--the thumb and forefinger. If these two fingers are given too much control of the grip they will in turn activate the right arm and shoulder.
I make swings sometimes to get the feel of what i want by taking my thumb and index finger of the club completely, just using my last 3 fingers on left hand and ring and middle finger of right hand.
Pictures or diagrams would be helpful when describing this kind of thing. :)
"Then face your right palm down the target line and arch your wrist so that you can put the grip across the upper pad of the two middle fingers, BELOW the pad at the base of the fingers. Then gently curl the two middle fingers around the grip."
This description makes no sense without diagrams to explain what you mean.
Tim Horan says:
You will find golfer who tend to hook as their bad shot practice with just the the right arm with the left hand on the right shoulder keeping the shoulder line back.
Felipe Rojas says:
Terry, THANKS VERY MUCH FOR THIS ARTICLE!! I have my club's tournament next week, and the way I had been hitting the ball, I was about to quit my participation. Yesterday afternoon at the range, I used the advise, focusing on a simple swing thought of a more gentle grip with my right hand, and the low-trajectory hooks went away almost immediately!
Kurt the Knife says:
funny. A while ago some cat I was paired with asked me whats up with my right hand thumb and index finger sticking out off the grip.
I didnt realize and put 'em back on the grip and I began slicing every tee shot into the trees/houses/hazards/oblivion rather than just into the right rough.
my setup has been close to what you've discribed for both hands but I worked on getting my right palm down the target line(stronger position) combined with a more consistant rhythm and hit 7 fairways, a record for me! I will continue working these two aspects and see if I can make the trend grow! Thanks Terry!
Rereading the description, I agree with ebkruger that it is confusing on how to place the middle 2 fingers. "grip across the upper pad of the 2 middle fingers" does that mean the finger tips or mid finger?
"BELOW the pad at the base of the fingers" it almost sounds like you mean the crease between the hand and the fingers themselves.
The way I held it yesterday was with the club diagonally across the middle pads of the middle 2 fingers, finger tips barely touching the club and the base pads not touching at all.
I have to say that one of the biggest issues I have with grip instruction are terms like first, bottom, top, etc. They are extremely confusing to me and pictures with corresponding pad and joint labeling would be immensely helpful. Love the articles but I agree that pictures are necessary to avoid confusion.
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