Ben Hogan, in his book, Five Lessons, called the right thumb and forefinger “potential swing-wreckers.” He even recommended the average golfer practice swinging the club with these two fingers entirely off the handle.
For the advanced golfer, however, he said those fingers were “finesse fingers,” used “for touch in striking the ball.”
Unfortunately, Hogan did not tell us how these fingers could be used in the way advanced golfers use them. I guess he left that to me. So here goes.
The human brain devotes a lot of space to the use of the hands. A great deal of that space is devoted in turn to the thumb and forefinger of the dominant hand, which are used for fine manipulation of objects they hold. The brain can be taught to do amazing things with these fingers.
One of the things they can be taught to do is control the clubface during the golf swing. It works this way.
Press the thumb tip of your dominant hand lightly into the middle of the adjoining forefinger (photo). This is where the handle of the golf club fits into your grip.
Now pick up a golf club, and assume your grip, reproducing the light pressure of the thumb against the finger, but now with the handle in between. It feels to me like I am holding the club with only these two fingers, the rest of the grip being there just for support.
The trick now is to swing the club in such a way that when you return to impact, these two fingers are in the same orientation that they had at address.
You monitor this by feel. Rotate these two fingers slightly to the left. This is a different feeling in those fingers, of the clubface closing. If instead you turn these fingers lightly to the right, this is the feeling of an open clubface.
To make this concept a dynamic reality, make half swings over and over, concentrating on the feeling in the thumb and forefinger not changing at any time. Stop the club at impact periodically to make sure the clubface is staying square. Make longer swings only after you have a firm idea of what you are to do.
Very important point. All these fingers do is preserve the orientation of the clubface. If you try to do anything else with them, such as guide the club, or hit the ball, it’s curtains for that shot. You’ve fulfilled the Hogan prophecy.
There is more to hitting a straight shot than just this, such as swing plane and pivot, but this is one part that is easy to master. Practice this feeling until it becomes automatic and you don’t even notice that you’re doing it.