One of the things I like the best is when a friend or stranger asks me to take a look at their swing to see if I can help them. I never get into the "lesson" business, because that is the domain of our golf staff at the club. But I have spent a lifetime in this game, and have studied the golf swing pretty relentlessly. I also have been blessed with a pretty good eye.
So, the other day, I was out hitting some balls in the afternoon, and a good friend from the club (who's a huge fan of SCOR4161 and the other custom work we've done for him) asked if I'd take a look at where he is losing power. Darrell is a big guy and a good player, but not nearly as long as you would think he'd be. He plays with the "big dog" money game, which has a few really big hitters that can be quite intimidating.
I've played with Darrell enough to know exactly where his power leaks were, so when he came out to the range, I watched him hit a few and dropped the first one on him. "It's your grip!"
He, like so many amateur golfers, was holding the club too far out on the end, and much too high in his palms — not low in the fingers like you should. I've always been of the opinion that the grip is the most important fundamental in the entire golf swing. Without a solid and fundamentally sound hold on the golf club, the rest of the swing cannot function at its best. Hogan thought it was so important, he dedicated a whole chapter of "Five Lessons" to the subject.
You'll see the occasional pretty good scorer at the club with a funky grip, but you never see a bad grip on tour. The golfer who has mastered a great grip is the most teachable there is.
In my opinion, the grip is only 'personal' to a small degree. Whether you like to overlap, interlock or use the full finger grip (not baseball!!!!) ... whether you like to rotate your hands a little stronger or weaker ... the fundamentals are the same, and they aren't negotiable.
The club has to be in your fingers to allow the "lag" that builds power, and to allow or even force the optimum release of the club through impact. The last three fingers of the left hand have to control the club so that it can be pulled through the impact zone. The right hand hold is limited to the curling of the two middle fingers around the grip, and neither set of forefingers and thumbs should be engaged much at all. One of the best drills for any golfer is to hit balls with the right forefinger and thumb totally disengaged from the grip. Google "Hogan grip photos" and study them!!!!!!
So, with the changes in the grip I had Darrell make, he immediately began ripping drivers 15-20 yards further downrange than he had. The ball flight and even sound of the ball off the driver was more impressive. So we went out to play a few holes to see what happened.
Historically, Darrell is only 5-10 yards longer than me at best, and sometimes I outdrive him. But not anymore!! On those five holes we played late that afternoon, he consistently flew it out there 20-25 yards past my best drives.
And that made us both really happy!!!
Next Tuesday, I'll talk about the second in this series on Power Leaks.
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Great article and reminder. With a bad grip, even the prettiest swing will never be as good as it can be.
For all the changes I've tried to make to reduce my left to right ball flight, nothing cured my slice half as much as the year I spent focusing on my grip. Like Darrell, I had the club way to far up in my palm, and didn't use the natural leverage of the "meat" of your palm down near your wrist. Nowadays I no longer even worry about it, I can feel it instantly if the club isn't set properly.
Terry is dead on - if you aren't positive your grip is correct, look into it. It may feel weird at first when you switch, but in time your feel improves tremendously.
At WG's suggestion I read Hogans 5-Lessons. Studied the grip. It made all the difference in the world. Now I preach the importance of the correct grip to anyone who will listen.
Like man things in golf, there is an evolution. Aspects of your game improve leaving certain aspects behind.
You could be struggling with finding the time to play, or the money. It could be winter, or you may be coming off an injury. I find most amateur golfers are always playing around with some aspect of their swing: elbows, feet, head, posture, something with the wrist cock or chin. But isn't futile to make adjustments when you don't even know what you're adjusting from?
A so-so grip can get you a long way, even years. And changing a grip radically can leave you unable to swing at all. But then the day comes when you've become consistent enough, and self aware enough that you can tinker without screwing anything up. This is when golfers can really improve. I weakened my grip a few years back and it's done wonders. In this stage of golf, ball position, fine tuning equipment, and course management can yield dramatic improvement!
Torleif Sorenson says:
@jrbizzle is exactly right. I remember the first time I read Hogan's advice about the grip; for right-handers, it was basically to grip firmly with the last two fingers of the left hand, then push like hell with the index and middle fingers of the right-hand. The very first time I tried it, I smoked it. It's replicating that first great swing-grip that can be tricky.
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