As a teaching pro, it is always surprising to me to see how many people play the game with a “weak” grip. A weak grip is one in which the hands are turned, relatively speaking, toward the target on the club. The “V” of the left hand (right-handed golfer assumed) points toward the chin. The thumb of that hand is, more or less, on top of the club.
I find this surprising due to the problems this grip presents. First, it is more difficult to square up the clubface. The hands seldom rotate back to address position, so the clubface remains open as it comes through the ball. This causes weak shots because the clubface is facing to the right of the direction the clubhead is traveling. The net result is a mis-hit where the ball fades to the right.
The second problem is more telling. The golfer puts himself/herself in a position where he/she has a lot to recover from. When the clubface is open at the top, the golfer has to release the hands early to square the face. The hands are very active. This is the death knell for consistent ball striking. When the hands have to be on their own agenda during the downswing, the chances that they are going to maneuver the clubface correctly in so short a time frame are negligible.
In the golf swing, we want the hands to be as quiet as possible. We want whatever movement they make to be a result of the arm swing, not independent from it. When the hand action comes from the movement of the arms and the weight of the club, the movement is dependable and predictable. Consistent ball striking is the result.
The solution to this dilemma is to “strengthen” the grip on the club. Turn the left hand so that the “V” formed by the thumb and index finger of that hand points toward the right shoulder. The “V” formed by the thumb and index finger of the right hand should point toward the same shoulder. Now the clubface will be square or even a little closed at the top. The golfer doesn’t have to manipulate the clubface to square it during the downswing. The clubface is squared by the grip before the swing even takes place.
This solution will get the clubface square at impact. This will give more distance because the clubface is facing in the direction the clubhead is traveling. The ball will also fly straight (what a concept!).
The more important result of this grip, however, is that the golfer’s consistency will improve. This will happen because the golfer does not have to manipulate the clubface during the downswing. When the hands are quieter, the chances of solid contact go way up.
Don’t make a mistake before you swing. Turn your grip to the right if you are not doing it already. You will see longer, straighter and more consistent shots as a result.
Tom Drisler is teaching at Union Hills Country Club. Individual lessons, group lessons and video lessons with take-home CDs are available. An email summary follows each lesson. Call 602-316-0419 to schedule an appointment.