We come to the end of our pre-shot golf tips with a lesson on how we should be holding the club. In reality, we should have started with the grip, but it’s so boring to talk about that I didn’t want to lose readers halfway through the first lesson. By now hopefully you’re seeing some value in the pre-shot fundamentals that we’ve already discussed and are starting to see how important each one is as you build a consistent set-up routine. So even if this lesson seems to drone on and on and on about the simple act of holding the club, stick with it and by the end you’ll understand the power and importance of the grip.
There are two important topics when discussing the grip–The position of your hands and your grip pressure. We’ll start with hand positions.
For right handers, the left hand is the hand closest to the end of the grip, or top hand. The right hand is the lower hand on the grip or bottom hand. Starting with the left hand, place it on the club so that the ‘V’ made by your thumb and first finger is pointing at your right shoulder or right cheek. Take a look at the images below and refer back to them often as we continue to discuss hand positions below.
From a top view (Picture 1), looking down at your left hand, you should be able to see two knuckles on your left hand. If you can’t see any knuckles, your left hand is rotated too far under the club. If you can see three or four knuckles, your left hand is rotated too far on top of the club. How your left hand is positioned will have a tremendous effect on where your clubface is pointing at impact and obviously, where your shot will go. I love to start a lesson series with a simple demonstration of three different grips–one correct, one too far rotated to the right and one too far rotated to the left. Without changing swings or set-up positions, I can make the two incorrect grip swings land 100 yards apart side-to-side, with the correct grip swing landing right in the middle. It’s a great way to emphasize the power of the grip. If you’re not sure if your grip is correct, I would recommend doing something similar and exaggerating your grip in both directions. Take note of your hand positions and the resulting shot shape. After exaggerating the hand positions, dial them back to normal where you can repeat a straight shot.
Another checkpoint for your left hand involves the two pads on your palm,close to your wrist. Notice in the second picture from the top that both pads are on top of the club. Don’t let the club slip between the two pads or your hand position is off and you’ll lose control of the club. You’ll also notice that when both pads are on top of the club, the grip will be more in your fingers than if it slides between the pads.
The grip for your right hand should have the club resting in your fingers even more than the left hand. The ‘V’ made by the thumb and forefinger should be parallel to your left hand ‘V’, pointing up at your right shoulder or right cheek area. The grip needs to be out in your fingers enough that your right hand completely covers your left thumb resting on the grip. Your left thumb should be slightly to the right of center and your right thumb should be slightly left of center.
I warned you this would get boring. Very important, but very boring.
Looking at the picture on the right, you’ll notice a couple of things. First, there should be no gaps in your fingers. They should be snug together and working as one unit. And second, speaking of working as one unit, you should find the most comfortable way to connect your two hands. I use the interlocking grip which has the right pinky and left forefinger locked together. Another good option is the overlapping grip where the right pinky rests on top of the space between the left forefinger and left middle finger. I would recommend against the ten-finger (baseball) grip because it has a tendency to let your hands work independently, which can cause some problems. With that said, comfort rules the day, and if you like the results you get from a ten-finger grip, or you have a child with small hands wanting to use it, then use it.
This part of the lesson is a lot shorter, but no less important. There are plenty of mental images that have been used to encourage proper grip pressure. ”It’s like holding a little bird. Grip it tight enough that it doesn’t fly away, but not so tight that you’re crushing it.” Or the junior league favorite, “Hold it like a piece of dog poo, so you’re not squishing it all over your hands.” Whatever image works for you, the main idea is that virtually everyone is holding the club too tightly. A loose grip pressure will allow the hands and wrists and forearms to set and release in the proper way and at the proper time. It’s so simple and yet so difficult to do when you’re staring down a water hazard, or as the pressure mounts during a tournament. The more you practice with a loose grip pressure, the easier it will be to remember it during the most stressful circumstances.
There are also times I like to favor a firmer grip pressure in one hand vs. the other. Squeezing or relaxing the right hand vs. the left hand can make a big difference in how the club attacks the ball, especially in short game shots when you’re trying to control the trajectory and release point. But that’s for another lesson.
Get your hands on the club in the proper positions, and then keep them there with the lightest grip pressure possible. Experiment with different hand positions and you’ll see the power of the grip in dictating where your shots end up.
As always, if you have questions on the grip or any of the other lessons found here, please talk to your local PGA Professional, or give us a call at Fox Hollow Golf Club. And stay tuned as we move on from our pre-shot series into a run of lessons on the full swing.
Eric Larson, PGA
GM/Head Golf Professional
Fox Hollow Golf Club
Mike Seiffert, PGA
Fox Hollow Golf Club