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.
Kelley: How to easily find your ideal impact position
If you look at any sport, the greats seem to do more with less. Whether it be a swimmer gliding through the water or a quarterback throwing a pass, they make it look it easy and effortless.
In golf, there are a variety of distinct swing patterns to get into a dynamic impact position. I believe in efficiency to find that impact position for effortless power and center contact. Efficiency is defined as “the ability to produce something with a minimum amount of effort.” This can easily apply to the golf swing.
It all starts with the address position. The closer we can set up to an impact position, the less we have to do to get back there. Think of it like throwing a ball. If your body is already in a throwing position, you can simply make the throw without repositioning your body for accuracy. This throwing motion is also similar to an efficient direction of turn in the golf swing.
Once you set up to the ball with your impact angles, if you retain your angles in the backswing, the downswing is just a more leveraged or dynamic version of your backswing. If you can take the club back correctly, the takeaway at hip-high level will mirror that position in the downswing (the desired pre-impact position). In the picture below, the body has become slightly more dynamic in the downswing due to speed, but the body levels have not changed from the takeaway position.
This stays true for halfway back in the backswing and halfway down in the downswing. Note how the body has never had to reposition or “recover” to find impact.
At the top of the swing, you will notice how the body has coiled around its original spine angle. There was no left-side bend or “titling” of the body. All the original address position angles were retained. From this position, the arms can simply return back down with speed, pulling the body through.
The key to an efficient swing lies in the setup. Luckily for players working on their swing, this is the easiest part to work on and control. If you can learn to start in an efficient position, all you need to do is hold the angles you started with. This is a simple and effective way to swing the golf club.
Wedge Guy: Short iron challenges — and a little insight (hopefully!)
In my experience, almost all golfers could benefit from better short iron play. The ability to hit it closer to where you are looking with your 8-, 9- and P-irons will do more for your scoring than most anything else you can do. So, why is it that so many golfers just don’t hit the quality shots with these clubs that they do and should expect?
I chose this topic in response to an email from Phillip S., who wrote:
“I’m hitting straight and consistent most of the time but I’ve got a big problem between my 8-iron and everything else below. I can hit my 8-iron 140-145 fairly consistently every time. I hit my 9-iron somewhere between 110-135. My pitching wedge is a mystery….it varies between 85 -125 yards. No matter how “hard” I swing, I can’t seem to hit my short irons consistent distances. It’s maddening to hit a great drive followed by a pitching wedge short of the green from 110 yards away. What am I doing wrong?
Well, Phillip, don’t feel alone, because this is one of the most common golf issues I observe. It seems that the lion’s share of technology applied to golf clubs is focused on the long stuff, with drivers and hybrids getting the press. But I firmly believe that the short irons in nearly all “game improvement” designs are ill-suited for precise distance control, hitting shots on the optimum trajectory or knocking flags down. I’ve written about this a number of times, so a little trip back in Wedge Guy history should be enlightening. But here are some facts of golf club performance as applied to short iron play:
Fact #1. Short irons are much more similar to wedges than your middle irons. But almost all iron sets feature a consistent back design for cosmetic appeal on the store racks. And while that deep cavity and perimeter weight distribution certainly help you hit higher and more consistent shots with your 3- or 4- through 7-iron, as the loft gets in the 40-degree range and higher, that weight distribution is not your friend. Regardless of your skill level, short irons should be designed much more similar to wedges than to your middle irons.
Fact #2. As loft increases, perimeter weighting is less effective. Missed shots off of higher lofted clubs have less directional deviation than off of lower-lofted clubs. This is proven time and again on “Iron Byron” robotic testers.
Fact #3. It takes mass behind the ball to deliver consistent distances. Even on dead center hits, cavity back, thin-face irons do not deliver tack-driver distance control like a blade design. In my post of a couple of years ago, “The Round Club Mindset,” I urged readers to borrow blade-style short irons from a friend or assistant pro and watch the difference in trajectories and shotmaking. Do it! You will be surprised, enlightened, and most likely pleased with the results.
Fact #4. The 4.5-degree difference between irons is part of the problem. The industry has built irons around this formula forever, but every golfer who knows his distances can tell you that the full swing distance gap gets larger as the iron number increases, i.e. your gap between your 8- and 9-iron is probably larger than that between your 4- and 5-iron. Could there be some club tweaking called for here?
Fact #5. Your irons do not have to “match.” If you find through experimentation that you get better results with the blade style short irons, get some and have your whole set re-shafted to match, along with lengths and lie angles. These are the keys to true “matching” anyway.
So, Phillip, without knowing your swing or what brand of irons you play, I’m betting that the solution to your problems lies in these facts. Oh, and one more thing – regardless of short iron design, the harder you swing, the higher and shorter the shot will tend to go. That’s because it becomes harder and harder to stay ahead of the club through impact. Keep short iron shots at 80-85 percent power, lead with your left side and watch everything improve.
Clement: Easily find your perfect backswing plane with this drill
When you get on one of these, magic will happen! You can’t come too far inside or outside in the backswing, and you can’t have arms too deep or shallow at the top of the backswing nor can you be too laid off or across the line either! SEAMLESS!!
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