Get A Grip
12/31/2008 04:00PM, Published by Super Admin, Categories: In Print
Solid, consistent ball striking begins with a firm, functional grip. A common mistake is holding the club too weakly, or more in the palm of the left hand. This is generally followed by a right hand position that is also weak or on top of the club. Most right-handed golfers have too much tension in their right arm, extending their right arm at the address position. The shoulders and forearms are now open or aligned to the left of their target. The path of the club head on the down swing and at impact will naturally want to follow the alignment of the upper body. The club head crossing the target line in this fashion will impart clockwise rotation on the ball, creating a slice or left to right spin.
I was taught “old school” in my youth. My mentor was a gentleman by the name of Art Bell. Mr. Bell was the Pro Emeritus at the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Links back in the 1970s. He was a firm believer that the target side of the body is the workhorse in the golf swing. For right-handed players your target side (or the side of your body closest to the target) is your left side, left arm, and left hand. I spent two years trying to do everything I could to increase strength and coordination in my left hand. Every practice session with my mentor began the same way – me hitting balls with my left hand only. This drill would show whether or not my left side was getting stronger, and how much more I needed to improve or practice.
The proper golf grip begins with a strong left hand position. This means that with a square club face, the grip end of the club should rest under the heel or pad of the left hand. You should feel that you are carrying the club more in your fingers, and not in the palm of your left hand. Your left thumb is positioned slightly right or clockwise on the club at 1:00. Looking down on your left hand you want to see two knuckles. The “V” you form on your left hand between your forefinger and thumb is pointed between your chin and right shoulder. Your right hand should also hold the club more in the fingers, rather than in the palm. The “V” of your right hand should be pointed to your right shoulder. Personal preference will dictate how you connect your hands, either interlocking or overlapping the little finger of your right hand with your left hand.
Remember that a strong grip (the hands rotated slightly clockwise or away from your target) will also square up your shoulders and forearms to your intended target, allowing you to release the hands and the club head more efficiently, and down the target line longer. This practice will lead to more solid and straighter golf shots.
Eric Pohl is a PGA Life Member and Head Golf Professional and General Manager at Bass Lake Golf Course. To reach him, call 530-677-4653 or visit basslakegolfcourse.com.