Tee It Up with The Little Pro: Ch. 6

eddie-merrins-grip-examples

We’ve covered the Set Up elements that will put us in the proper position over the ball and deliver the greatest opportunity for a successful golf swing. We’ll now move on to discuss the all important and only physical connection we have with the golf club, The Grip.

You needn’t have been blessed with the talent of Harry Vardon, Ben Hogan, Tiger Woods, or Arnold Palmer to justify developing the correct grip. Players of all ability levels will perform more consistently and achieve greater success if we take the time to learn how to place our hands on the golf club. The grip creates the lever that effectively maintains control of the club from start to finish, ensuring that the face of the club is positioned precisely throughout the swing at all times. A good grip will actually help our swing path and plane.

Of course there have been a few incredibly talented professional golfers that have had success with their own unique manner of holding the club. Two that leap to mind are Bobby Jones and Vijay Singh. Grand Slam winner Bobby Jones actually loosened his hold on the club at the end of his backswing, re-gripping on the way down to the ball. Two time major champion, Vijay Singh (with Masters and PGA Championship trophies adorning his case), actually took his right hand off the club nearing contact with the ball as frightfully displayed in pictures! Unless we have countless hours to devote to practicing these unorthodox grips, I suggest we make every effort to hold the club in a way that provides for the greatest margin of error.

To put it rather bluntly, if your grip is not good, consistency and progress are all but stymied.

Let’s proceed with the makings of a good and effective grip. Please note that placing our hands on the club should be done while holding the club off the ground. If the club is grounded, we don’t sense the weight and balance. Rather the inanimate club is anchored causing us to re-grip and re-position our hands destroying the repetitive feel that leads to comfort and confidence. Think about this, if the club feels comfortable in our hands, then the trigger that starts the swing becomes effortless.

Step 1

For the right handed player, positioning the club in the left hand first will set the lead hand correctly. Place the grip into the left hand with only the forefinger wrapped around the grip, without gripping the thumb or last three fingers. Then raise the clubhead upward using only the left index finger. The feeling is the butt of the grip wants to sit under the pad located on the palm at a point about half the distance from the wrist to the pinky. We simply close our left hand and place the rest of our fingers on the golf club. The left thumb should be positioned at 1:00 or slightly to the right of center top of the grip.

Step 2

The right hand is placed on the club as if we were clapping our hands together while gripping the club with the left hand positioned as described above. The right hand dovetails with the left while the right pinky slides onto the crease located between the index and middle finger of the left hand. The right hand then closes with the thumb positioned exactly opposite the left thumb at 11:00.

Address the club, first, in the air.  Then lower or address the club to the ball before swinging.  This procedure allows us to measure to the ball and feel the weight of the club with the right amount of pressure. One of the most common mistakes I witness is a player gripping the club while it is resting on the ground. This is taboo!

The Essence of a Good Grip Can Be Felt by Performing THIS Simple Drill:

We take our perfectly balanced stance and grip with the shaft about halfway down from the clubhead. We feel that each hand is set to the side of the shaft not on the top or underneath. We also sense that the shaft feels secure between the four fingers and palm of each hand with the fingers maintaining an equal but opposite grip pressure. This pressure is equal in intensity (right vs. left), but opposite in that the fingers of the right hand enable us to turn the club to the right (clockwise) and the fingers of the left hand allow us to turn the club left (counterclockwise) so consequently this opposing pressure enables us to keep the club squarely positioned to the swing arc without flipping right or left.

With our hands stationed near the club head, note how beautifully the hands and clubhead are related. The back of the left hand, the palm of the right hand and the score lines (like lines on a football field) are perfectly aligned. A perfect grip eliminates the need to manipulate the club during the swing… THIS is true happiness!

Remember, the thumbs are on the club only to provide support and add structural integrity to the grip. Think of the pressure between the index finger and thumb when holding a pencil. This is the level of pressure that should be felt throughout the entire swing. Each thumb is positioned to provide opposite and equal support and help the hands work together as a unit throughout the swing.

The correct grip will encourage the elbows to work closer to our sides and send the correct message to the forearms. The elbows will move down and inward instead of up and outward and force the arms and legs to work together. Because both the right and left sides of the golf swing require equal participation, equal pressure in both hands is mandatory. One can only achieve equal pressure through a correct grip.

Harry Vardon, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Arnold Palmer had great grips that made their play come so much more easily. You can easily improve your grip as well and it is well worth the investment of time and study as it will deliver many happy returns. See you on the next tee!

Miss a lesson? Catch-up here.

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Posted in Eddie Merrins - The Little Pro

Cobra’s FLY-Z+ Line Is Making A Splash for 2015

Cobra’s Fly-Z+ line for 2015 has implemented several new, innovative technologies in both their metal woods and irons. These cutting-edge aspects are evident in the clubs’ adjustability, multi-material construction and groundbreaking clubface designs.

The new Speed Channel in their metal wood is an innovation exclusive to Cobra. Engineered directly into the clubface, the Speed Channel is a trench that surrounds the clubface (think of it outlining the entire clubface) and it helps minimize face thickness to promote faster ball speeds across the face. This means more distance on mis-hits and tremendous distance on square shots.

They’ve also improved the crown design by removing weight from the crown and re-positioning the weight low and back, for maximum moment of inertia (MOI) on mis-hits. Combine that with the T.O.P. (Thin. Optimized. Personalized.) crown, your great play will match your great look!

The metals woods in this line are offered in six different colors: Orange, Red, Blue, Black, White and Green (Green available in March). Let’s take a closer look at each club!

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Fly-Z+ Driver

In addition to the above technologies, Cobra has designed what they are calling Flipzone Weight Technology on the Fly-Z+ driver. This Flipzone is an adjustable weight that allows players to adjust the center of gravity (CG) of the driver. There are two adjustments that can be made; a low-forward position for lower launch angles and spin rates, or a low-back position for higher launch angles and more forgiveness. Combine this with the Myfly8 and Smartpad technologies (from previous generations), and the Fly-Z+ driver has all the options needed to optimize any players ball flight.

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Fly-Z+ Fairway

Penetrating trajectories deliver maximum distance from the tee or the fairway with control and accuracy with the Cobra Fly-Z+ fairway wood. What else needs to be said?

The body of the club is constructed from 17-4 stainless steel and the face is made with a high strength 455 stainless steel insert. The Speed Channel combined with a front CG zone promotes faster ball speeds across the entire face. This also allows for more workability from various lies.

Fly-Z+ Irons

A little known fact among golfers is that an iron head’s absolute CG (sweet spot) is closer to the heel of the club than the center of the clubface and grooves. The reason for this is that there is more material towards the heel of the golf club because of the hosel. To combat this, Cobra has added high MOI tungsten weights in both the heel and toe (more in the toe) in an effort to create a more responsive sweet spot that is located in the dead center of the clubhead. The result is improved consistency and accuracy throughout the entire set. Combine this with a forged 1020 carbon steel, and you have a club that has Tour performance and Game Improvement forgiveness!

Want to see exclusive photos of the Cobra Fly-Z+ line? Visit our instagram.

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Posted in Drivers, Fairway Woods & Hybrids, Equipment, Irons

Mind Mapping


Porphyry of Tyros was a noted thinker of the 3rd century. While studying Aristotle, he was the first person to use the graphically visual method to categorize concepts and thoughts now commonly called mind mapping. A mind map is created around a central concept or principle with spider veins of associated thoughts and beliefs expanding away from the core. All expansion is directly related to that core concept.

mind-mapping

In my last post, I mentioned a transformation experience of seeing and experiencing Ben Hogan. This experience lead me down a circuitous pathway of education and discovery until understanding was available. Mind mapping became an important method for me to help visualize and interrelate the relevant information. If an idea helped to expound and support the central idea, then it stayed. If it did not, then it was discarded.

While considering this type of organizational map, let’s look at one of my Circle of Fundamentals, the physical side of the game.

physical-fundamentals-the-absolute-best-grip-in-the-world

If I were to describe the golf swing motion in its most basic and simple manner, then that description would be:

The starting position connects to the finishing position within the parameters and protection of beat, balance and physics.

If you know nothing else, then know this. If you work on nothing else, then master this. All other beliefs, perceptions, thoughts and understandings must enhance and support that central idea. Nothing can violate your beat (rhythm) and balance. If your swing motion is to repeat optimally, then it must allow physics to win (more on this in another post). You work to create an immaculately balanced starting position and finishing position.

Because all of our concepts relate to each other, logically, let’s start with the starting position. Everything that you do in your swing motion is dictated by your starting position. Everything that you do in your starting position is dictated by your grip. The grip I teach, the Absolute Best Grip in the World, is the single most important fundamental that will determine your eventual long term improvement in the game. It is so important, it occupies its own space on my Circle of Fundamentals. In the video at the top of this post, I showed you exactly how to put on the Absolute Best Grip in the World. Most basically, the palms of the hands are parallel to each other and parallel to the leading edge of the clubface. The hands literally become the clubface. There is equal pressure on all sides of the shaft. The grip manages the squareness, loft and lie of the club during the swing.

Please take full advantage of this grip. It is the greatest gift that I can give you as a golfer.

golf-grip

The grip is the most basic component of the starting position. All other aspects are directly related and dictated by it. Every great player, male or female, who has won 7 majors or more has utilized a grip that is 99% of what I teach. A great grip takes no talent…anyone can do it. However, it does take time, knowledge, persistence and determination. Learn it, you will be forever grateful that you did!

In my book, The Absolute Best Grip in the World, I offer the most detailed explanation, description and learning tool about how to put a proper golf grip on the club. It is a great book for every studious golfer’s library and a terrific reference material to go back to as you improve.

In part two of my book I move into the swing motion. Below is an excerpt of the book regarding the starting position.

The Starting Position

The starting position, for instructional purposes, is a true position – a static beginning, stationing us to the ball and target. However, in reality it is not static at all, but an alive and active intermediary step between you and your desired result. It must express and exude the intent and energy that will flow out of it – the desired result. The form of it follows its function -to control the line, trajectory, distance, curvature and spin of the ball. In the end, the starting position is simply setting up the conditions for the best chance to achieve your goal, and thus the swing flows out of this position – they are not separate at all. However, to learn it, it is best to separate it into its own compartment.

Proper Physical Posture

proper-physical-position

The physical posture is built around and relative to the grip, the ground (let’s talk level here) and the desired result. Let balance be the key!

Relative to the grip

The arms and shoulders take on the relationship of the hands, i.e. because the left hand is above and inside of the right hand, then the left arm is above and inside of the right arm and thus the left shoulder is above and inside of the right shoulder. The shoulders are not perfectly parallel to the target line but are very slightly open to be square and balanced to the grip. Since the left shoulder is above the right shoulder, the spine will be tilted away from the target slightly and thus the head is to the right of center of the body. All of the clubs are designed to have the butt end of the club the same height off the ground. However, the shafts lay at different angles depending on the length of the club. Therefore, the wrists must accommodate the lie of the club. The wrists are the most arched with the shortest club and get progressively less arched with the longer clubs. The club has its own balance, it is set in its design at address.

Relative to the ground

As the parts of the body get closer to the ground they get progressively more level. The shoulders are slightly tilted as described above while the hips are pretty level or just very slightly tilted with the left hip a bit higher than the right hip. The knees are basically level with the feet balanced and flat on the ground. The right foot is perpendicular to the target. The left foot is somewhat open from perpendicular. Ideally, the left foot should be positioned slightly outside of the left shoulder at address. The stance is the widest with the driver and gets progressively narrower with the shorter clubs. You stand the farthest from the ball with the driver and progressively closer to the ball with the shorter clubs.

Relative to the target and the desired result

To hit a basically straight shot the clubface faces towards the target. To hit with power and control, the body must take on a natural athletic posture from the vertical. This is done simply by flexing the knees naturally down and slightly forward, while maintaining the natural integrity of the spine, now bend forward from the hips slightly. Let the arms hang down naturally from the shoulder sockets while allowing the head to bend forward and down comfortably. The physical posture is proud and full of intent. We are setting up the conditions to create a natural maximum arc and allow the club to move through a 3-dimensional roadmap of the plane. To hit the ball straight, the body is basically parallel left with slight, natural adjustments of openness, as described above, relative to the grip. The ball position, for most shots, should be constant relative to the left foot. Most golfers find that four to six inches inside the left foot will do for all shots with the ball on the ground or lowly teed. With a driver the ball may be moved a bit more forward, but always inside the left heel.

The grip and the starting position each have their own spider vein connected to the central concept on our mind map. Each fundamental can be explained more specifically as our mind map expands away from the center. We expand our thinking and understanding by organizing our thoughts in this manner and digging deeper and deeper into the detail. If we get confused, then we compress the data to the most basic and restart the process of expansion. This method of visualizing and organizing information and the ability to expand and contract the knowledge base keeps things clear as we come to know and understand more.

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Posted in Instruction
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