Some years ago I was watching the great Spanish professional Jose Maria Olazabal hitting balls on the range at Bay Hill. I was struck, not only by the quality of his shots, but also by his grip — particularly how far he had his left hand turned to the left on the club. The guy next to me, another teaching professional said, “That’s the weakest left hand I’ve ever seen on a great player.”
The spot next to Olazabal on the range was vacant for maybe 45 minutes until David Duval stepped in and started his warm up routine. This was when Duval was on top of the Tour’s money list. I could not believe how far to the right he had his left hand — it was in a super strong position. The contrast with Olazabal was shocking. Here were two of the best golfers in the world, with grips as far removed from each other as you can imagine. And here’s the best part: Duval was fading it with a strong grip and Jose Maria was drawing it with a weaker one! That’s when it occurred to me that there is no such thing as THE grip! How could these guys have developed such dissimilar methods of holding the golf club? If you read on, I’ll explain why, and try to help you discover the best grip for you.
The purpose of the grip is simple: to square the club face and allow you the freedom and flexibility to swing the golf club so that you can square the club face. There are three motions of the hands and arms involved in swing the golf club: flexion (Palmar and Dorsi), deviation (Ulnar and Radial) and rotation (pronation and supination). In layman’s terms, flexion means bending your wrists, deviation mens cocking your wrists and rotation means rolling your forearms. So depending on your anatomy and preference (within certain parameters) you need to find a way to hold the golf club that gets the job done for you.
Every one of us has anatomical differences in these areas, including the size and strength of our hands and arms. Some golfers can rotate their forearms easily and quickly. Some have big hands, some have small hands and others have more flexibility. A select amount of golfers are even “double-jointed.” You can do a lot of self discovery with your grip, and some trial and error experiments to see what works or and what does not. If it doesn’t work, simply discard it. It’s just another range ball. There are any number of books, website articles and videos showing you a neutral starting position, but that “classic” grip can be customized to you.
To help you find out what grip works best for you, try these experiments:
If you slice, or hit the ball shorter distances than you think you should, try a stronger grip. I would experiment with a very strong left hand grip, turned all the way to a “3-knuckle” position. Keep the right hand fairly neutral with the “V” formed between the thumb and index pointed to your right shoulder. The left hand is your anti-slice hand. Feel the golf club more in the fingers than in the palms, and keep the pressure very light. Warning: You might hook the ball or hit it lower, but I guarantee two things: the golf ball will not slice and it will go further. As you start to hook, you can increasingly weaken the hand until you find the position that gets the job done.
Conversely, if you hook or hit very low shots, place your left thumb a little more on top of the club, and be sure your right hand “V” is pointed at your nose or even a little left of that. Try lengthening your left thumb a little, and feel the club a little higher in your hands, more toward the palms. The right hand is the anti-hook hand. This grip will get the flight up and reduce the hook. Interlock, overlap or ten finger? Your call. Here is a short list of poor grips and the shots they might cause:
Weak left hand: Slices, high short shots, difficulty hinging at top, casting, some shanks.
Strong right hand: Hooks, low ball flight, long pulls, flat backswing, topping, drop kicks.
Weak right hand: Over the top, getting in front of the ball, pulls and slices.
Strong left hand: Generally solid shots that might fly low and long, occasional hooks.
Pressure too tight: Slicing, some topping.
Finally, always, always let ball flight be your guide. Don’t ever make a grip change because you heard it on TV or one of your buddies thought it was a good idea. The ideas above are from my experience, they don’t have to be yours. I had seven (7) lessons today. Three grips I strengthened a bit, one I weakened, and three had no change at all. You can hold the golf club one of a few ways, but it has to complement your action, your personal swing pattern. It is easier to change a grip to something that works for you than to change an entire swing you have had all your life!
Good luck. DC
As always, feel free to send a swing video to my Facebook page and I will do my best to give you my feedback.