Tee It Up with The Little Pro: Ch. 6
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.
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.
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!
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