Whether you have a weak grip, a neutral grip, or a strong grip cannot be determined by reading a book. The choice is based on you musculature and body confirmation, and is individual to you. The exercise shown in this video lets you find out exactly where your hands should lie on the handle.
In last week’s post, I wrote, “It is one thing for your grip to be identical for every shot. That takes lot of practice, and is a good subject for another post.”
I use the phrase, “a good subject for another post” without following through more often than I should, but this week I’m following through.
My topic is what your hands are supposed to feel like as you take your grip — again, something you read very little about in discussions of the grip.
Most of what is written describes what the grip is supposed to look like. What it feels like is just as important in having your grip be identical every time you pick up a club. Your grip can look right, but still be off. It has to feel right, too.
Let’s begin without a club in our hand. We’ll take an air grip, so the feel of the club in our hands does not distract us from the main points of how the hands should feel when they come together.
The key feeling of the hands working as one lies where the side of the left thumb rests in the pocket of the right palm. It is not enough for the left thumb just to be placed there.
There needs to be a feeling that the thumb is locked into that place, and there is only one placement that will give you that feeling. A shift of even a quarter-inch either way, by sliding the thumb in the pocket, is enough to destroy that connection.
I have written that there needs to be a slight bit of pressure in this spot so the hands stay together, but that is not what I’m talking about now.
I mean a feeling that the left thumb and right palm touch each other, fitting so neatly together, that you feel as if someone who tried to pull your hands apart couldn’t do it.
The second feel is of the right little finger interacting with the back of the left forefinger and middle finger.
There are lots of places this little finger can go. Wherever that is for you, it needs to have the same feeling as the left thumb does — it’s comfortably in place, but fitting in with the other hand, in this case, the left, in an inseparable way.
Those two fingers, the left thumb and the right little finger, are what lock the hands together — not because they are fixed in place by pressure, but because they are in the right place.
Now we can pick up a club and work with the fingers that actually hold it. They are the last three fingers of the left hand and the first three fingers of the right hand.
The feeling in the last three fingers of the left hand is that they, and no others, are holding the club. That doesn’t mean to squeeze those fingers, just hold on with them.
The feeling in the first three fingers of the right hand is of stability. They support the action of the last three fingers of the left hand, but do not take over their function.
The segment of the right forefinger closest to the palm presses gently against the handle of the club. That pressing action keeps the right hand rotated inward a bit, in support of the left thumb resting against the right palm, to keep the hands from coming apart.
In all, none of these feelings should be pronounced. There should be firmness, but light firmness and not heavy or tense firmness.
Finally, regarding grip pressure, you know how Sam Snead said you should hold the club as if it were a little bird? Sam Snead had large hands and very strong hands. You might not be able to get away with holding a club that lightly.
If you feel the handle pressing against, but not compressing, the soft pads of your palm and the underside of your fingers, that is about right.
Ben Hogan, in his book, Five Lessons, talked about supinating the left hand at impact. This is seen when the left wrist is bowed out, and not arched inward.
A supinated left wrist keeps the club accelerating, keeps the clubface traveling directly at the ball, and ensures a clean hit. All the good things that can happen at impact are encouraged.
The trouble is, this is fairly difficult for amateurs to learn how to do. What is simpler is to concentrate on a feeling that gets the job done without you being concerned with pronating or supinating.
It’s all in how you take your grip.
The base of your left thumb fits into a pocket formed by the pads at the bottom of the right hand when that hand folds over the left. The trick is to press your hands together at this spot, very lightly, but by enough to keep them from separating during the swing.
This is done by taking your grip and then and turning your hands about just a bit toward each other. If you do, you will feel increased pressure of the base of the left thumb against the pocket of your right hand.
Don’t push your hands together too hard. There should be no tension radiating into your forearms. Sitting firmly next to each other might be a better image for what your hands are doing than pressing together.
When you don’t have solid contact here, your hands can separate and start acting independently. This has the immediate effect of turning the club, which moves the clubhead out of square.
It also encourages you to hit with your right hand, which leads directly to flipping the club through impact, a well-known cardinal sin of the golf swing.
Now you can still flip, but you have to do it with both hands at the same time, and that’s pretty tough to do. If, however, your hands are leading the clubhead through impact, like I tell you gals and guys over and over and over, you can’t flip. You just can’t do it.
So try this out. At first you will likely push your hands together too much, and you will feel all locked up when you swing. Ease off until you find the pressure at which your hands stay firmly together, yet you are still able to swing the club freely.
There is an ancient exercise that teaches this same point. Get a long blade of grass and put it between your left thumb and the right hand pocket. You should be able to swing the club without the grass falling out.
Be aware that this post is not about grip pressure. That refers to how firmly your fingers hold the handle when you wrap them around it, and that’s another post.
I was at the range a while ago fooling around on the putting green. I like to try different things out there to see what happens.
Remember in the British Open a few weeks ago, the amateur Paul Dunne had this putting grip where both hands were side-by-side?
I thought I’d try that, but I couldn’t make it work. There wasn‘t enough of the putter grip in my fingers to control the club when I swung it. But I didn’t want to give up, so I tried an interlocking grip with my left forefinger between my right middle and ring fingers.
That didn’t work. I still didn’t have control of the grip. There’s one more finger to go, I thought, so I put my left index finger between my right index and middle fingers. Bingo.
That brought my hands neatly together and put the grip in my fingers the way I was looking for. I call it the Forefinger Interlock grip. (You heard it here first.)
Notice in the second photo how close together my thumbs are. The left thumb nestles into the pocket of my right palm, and the pad under my right thumb fits right on top of my left thumb. The effect is that you hold the putter entirely in your left hand. The right hand provides stability.
Both thumbs point directly down the shaft.
Notice also how square my hands are. I don’t try to do this, it’s just what happens when I take this grip. That’s where my hands end up.
One of the problems with a standard putting grip, where one hand is lower on the shaft than the other, is that you have two hands that you have to keep working together so one hand, usually the right, doesn’t run off and do its own thing.
That problem disappears with the Forefinger Interlock, because all you have down there is one clump of hands — one thing moving the club, not two. In this way the putter face does not twist out of square. You get a swinging stroke, not a hitting stroke. Your hands are taken out of the stroke entirely.
Results? I’m putting just as well on average days as I did on good days. Because my hands are not involved in the stroke, I’m more relaxed mentally. That gives me more confidence, which leads to better putting.
So. Is the Forefinger Interlock the grip of the future? The grip that will take five strokes off your score? The grip that will take the Tour by storm? Maybe.
But it is definitely something for you to try. Can’t hurt, and it might help. A lot.
“That’s everything,” Sam Snead said, when Jim McLean asked him, “How important do you feel the grip is in the golf swing?” So many problems are caused by a bad grip, and so many are solved by a good one.
Here is one aspect of a good grip that you don’t read about too much, but is nonetheless a vital feature.
In Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons, he said the the V in the left hand should point to the right eye, and the V in the right hand should point to the chin. That’s a pretty weak grip, which most recreational golfers could not use successfully.
What this alignment does, however, is get your hands working together as a unit, something your grip does not likely do for you now.
Try this: Put a tee between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand, all the way up in the V. Put another one in the same place of your right hand. Now take your grip.
The tees should be lined up and pointing in the same direction, as in the pictures below.
If they point off to different places, the means your hands are not lined up, and thus not working together. Everything good in your swing is working under a great handicap. Controlling the ball could be a problem.
The good news is that it is not necessary for the Vs to be pointing in the exact direction that the Hogan grip describes. You might want to rotate both hands to the right, but in doing so, making sure the tees end up pointing in the same direction.
There is, on the other hand, Sam Snead’s method. He tells you to have both Vs pointing to the right shoulder. That’s a stronger grip, good for most recreational golfers, but it gets the hands out of alignment. The tees will be pointing in different directions.
It worked for Snead, and it might work for you. But if it doesn’t, the Hogan method is something you can try.
It could be the only adjustment you need to make to bring every shot around to the center. That’s what it did for me.
I was able to upload the video of the Two Grip Tips from my August 22 post. See the video here:
The grip is the first fundamental of golf. Get a good grip and building a good swing is much easier. Read about it, or see the video.
1. Every golf book talks about how to take your grip by showing you how the club lays across the palms of your hands. Try building your grip by looking at the back of your hands.
Your fingers have three rows of bones in them, called phalanges. In the left hand, the relevant section is the proximal phalanges just above the back of the hand, where the fingers attach to the hand. For the right hand, the relevant section is the medial phalanges, the middle section. The third section, distal phalanges, where the fingertips are, is not relevant to the grip.
Set your hands on the club so the proximal phalanges of the left hand line up with the medial phalanges of the right hand. That is, there is a neat row of bones all in a line. (photo)
Now slip your left thumb into the pocket formed in the palm of the right hand. Finally, lift up your right little finger and slide your right hand down, placing the little finger on top of the left index finger, or between the left index and middle finger. There’s your Vardon grip.
Lining up the bones locks your two hands together without having to press them together. If you hands come apart even a bit during the swing, the clubhead turns and accurate contact is lost. This is the way to prevent that from happening.
2. Hold the club at its balance point. If you feel around about an inch from the top of the handle, you will find a place where the clubhead feels like it is an extension of your right hand. Above this point the club feels whippy. Below this point, the club feels stiff. In neither case do you feel connected to the clubhead.
Be sensitive in finding this balance point. Sometimes moving your hands just a quarter of an inch up or down the shaft makes the difference. By holding the club here, it will feel like a tool in your hands ready to do your bidding.
In review: Line up your knuckles, and find the balance point. This is how to make your grip work for you.
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