Of all the fundamentals in Golf, the one that carries the most significance is how to hold the club. This is our only contact point with the golf club itself and the way we put our hands on the golf grip has such a huge impact on the direction and quality of the ball flight.
This is a fact that I became only too reminded of recently, yet unless we are a beginner or have such a visible deviation from the accepted norm, why is it that whenever we go for a golf lesson, this is rarely mention by our coaches who want to get straight into swing mechanics and movements?
Why is this an issue?
OK it’s not my intention to teach experienced players to suck eggs here, but after my best competitive round of the year this weekend, my ball striking improved dramatically as I became aware of my hold on the handle again. That’s because of the 4 stages of learning.
- Unconscious Incompetence (We don’t know that we don’t know how to do something)
- Conscious Incompetence (Now we want to learn so we realize that we don’t know how)
- Conscious Competence (We know how to do something now but we have to think about it)
- Unconscious Competence (We do it on autopilot, it’s well practiced we don’t have to think about it)
The problem is that when we hit 4, we stop reviewing, even worse we take shortcuts the more experienced we become, but suddenly we are not effective anymore and that’s because we have taken one too many. Without realizing it we have slipped from number 4 back into number 1!
Why is it then that our coaches also never review this. They will tell us when our posture has changed or got lazy.
The only explanation I have is that a grip change feels awful. It’s so alien it’s like holding a club for the first time again. It throws out our timing and takes some discipline to get used to.
An instructor you get 30 minutes or 1 hour with a pupil and understand this so tend not to touch someones grip. You also want the student to leave your lesson confident, upbeat and optimistic. You also want to feel that you have provided value for money which is through imparting knowledge, not watching someone struggle for the rest of the lesson to get used to feeling how to golf grip again.
This is why I have written this reminder so that we can all check ourselves, especially if we can’t depend on our instructors to pull us up on this most important fundamental.
I love the way the that the modern teaching has evolved away from finding the perfect positions of the golf swing and everyone trying to find their own variation of these positions based on their height / build. There’s more individuality coming back into the golf swing, based on lots of leg power, using the ground, speed of rotation and the impact position. Another common theme is the shallowing of the shaft plane on the downswing.
One think I don’t agree with is that a strong left-hand grip is good, and this seems to be the accepted norm. Because Dustin Johnson, John Rahm and Brooks Koepka are all examples of great players with closed clubfaces at the top of their backswing, there seems to be thinking that this encourages players to hold onto the lag and shaft angle through impact squaring the face and providing that left-hand bowed compression at impact.
These three mean are immensely strong and I for one can’t replicate what they are doing in fighting some natural forces.
Golf Grip – How?
So how to golf grip?
I’m going to describe for a right-handed player (the opposite is true for a lefty).
Left-hand goes on first. The handle runs across the base of the fingers, then we close our left-hand onto the grip. Thumb running down the center (or just right of center) of the handle. The pressure should be in the last three fingers and the pad of our palm.
When you put the club down you should see the first two knuckles of your left-hand and the v formed by the thumb and index finger should point between your chin and your right ear.
Bring the right hand to the handle.
I have no preference on how you choose to interlock the hands in terms of style;
What I am very precious of is that when you close your right hand onto the handle your right thumb pad covers your left thumb, you can only see two knuckles of your right hand, and the v formed between right thumb and index finger points between your chin and right ear (not right shoulder!)
This is a neutral grip and is certainly weaker than many coaches accept of even advocate these days.
Why not strong?
This is my opinion, but I have wasted a competitive season by allowing my right hand to get too strong on the club. As I wrote elsewhere I’ve been fighting the hooks since returning to golf just over 12 months ago.
I’ve had tuition and spent many hours working on more body rotation, bowed left wrist at impact (not flipping), but still wondering why I can’t fade the ball.
This weekend I realized that the clubface is not just shut at impact, it must be closed somewhere else in my swing. I saw on camera my clubface is shut at the top of my backswing and therefore it doesn’t matter how much I try, I don’t have the physical strength the hold the clubface square at impact on every shot.
I weakened my right hand, the clubface is square at the top of my backswing and guess what? It’s also now square at impact which has straightened my ball flight enabling me to shot 69, my low round of the year.
I’ve had a timely reminder of just how important the fundamentals of technique are and that one above all has the most significant impact on our game.
I’m diligently going to keep checking my grip now and I encourage you to do the same. If, you have had similar experiences or feel strongly about the golf grip then please comment below.