Check Points of a Solid GripMay 11, 2022
How you hold the golf club has an enormous influence on how you can move in the swing.
Firstly, a functional grip allows for a full range of motion around the wrist hinge and arm rotation necessary for speed and fluidity. Moreover, the relationship between your hands and the clubface will afford you certain patterns of movement through the ball (I say afford because a solid hold on the club will give you the option of athletic movement, a good grip clearly won't lead to an athletic movement on its own).
This blog article outlines the perfect place to start, which is the neutral orthodox grip described in the video above, and then we'll expand on how you may want to make a slight adaption to better suit your swing pattern and ball flights.
When assessing a golfer's grip, an experienced coach will take a 'player-centred approach'. This means taking into account the players' preferences, learning history and ball flights.
To be able to do this one needs to be aware of the aspects of the grip that are open to interpretation and the points that you wouldn't want to mess with.
Golf Grip Checkpoints
Everyone's grip gets sloppy over time so we all need a few checkpoints to keep us returning to 'normal'.
- Top wrist position (3:20)
- Club trapped under the heel pad of the top hand (3:56)
- The v's (4:15)
- Grip pressure
The Anatomical Snuff Box
This is the convex dent on the top of our wrist joint that proves a great reference for the positioning of the top hand.
The anatomical snuffbox
The video presents the snuff box as being in line with the handle so that you can imagine being pinned to the handle through the snuff box, out via the bottom of the wrist and through the centre of the handle.
The hand doesn't fit naturally this way which is why 80% of my students need constant correction from the wrist being too rotated to the left of the handle (from the right-handed players view).
For a stronger, more modern grip, the snuff box will be just to the right of the handle and set across it at a slight angle (see below).
The Heelpad Sits on Top of the Club
This is a key aspect that helps us to connect with the club in a way that encourages a healthy wrist hinge and clubface control. Using this 'Hogan' grip check will really help you establish the right feel for how the club tucks under the heel pad.
Both V's of thumb and index finger should point toward your right shoulder.
V's pointing at right shoulder
Grip Pressure and Over Control
In the video, I use a scale of 1- 10 with 4 being the optimal grip strength. Remember that we need to get fluid speed into the clubhead and that won't happen with a grip that is too tight.
Equally, we need the hold to be tight at impact to resist the torquing that occurs with off-centre hits. The reality is that we don't maintain the same grip pressure throughout the whole movement.
By far and away, the most common direction I see with club golfers is to hold too tightly at address and through the transition into the downswing. This gives the golfer a false feeling of having control of the club. Paradoxically, that level of 'over control' greatly reduces one's ability to create speed and create a fluid action. Back to the saying, 'to gain control, give up control.'
It feels all wrong
Your whole experience of the weight, motion and clubface angle is picked up through your hands so it's not surprising that any change in the way we hold the club will feel very odd indeed.
Don't confuse this discomfort with being incorrect. I can't tell you the amount of complaining that goes on when a coach suggests a grip change. The better players just accept it as odd and know that the discomfort is only temporary. You will soon feel comfortable with an orthodox grip and reap all the benefits. So I suppose, what we need to ask ourselves is, are we willing to go through the short term discomfort for the long term gain? The bigger you make these things in your mind then the longer the process tends to be.
The Modern Grip
A more modern golf grip favoured by the majority of tour professionals is a little stronger (top hand around to the right (right handers) of the handle. I am pretty sure that this strong trend that we see with tour players is not born out of conscious thought and planning but an intuition of how this way of holding the club allows the swing to function.
The stronger top hand allows for a heavier body rotation and supports the shaft more through impact. That in turn, gives the player more freedom to rotate their body through impact.
Power Instincts and Matching up Your Swing
When I whack my impact bag I automatically turn my hands around to the right of the handle to enable a powerful movement that delivers a square face with shaft lean. However, when I adopt this grip in the swing, I hit it left; So my swing characteristics don't currently 'match up' with that movement.
Do I stick with the grip and develop a 'better' movement pre and post-impact or do I stick with the same grip and hit the ball straighter in the short term?
Given that I am a coach and don't have to play for my living anytime soon, I will be taking the first option and see where it takes me; metaphorically speaking. I know I'm going to see a lot of the left side of the range for a while.
Tour professional's grip
Something that all golfers will attest to is that the golf grip is not in any way natural and has a way of changing out of our awareness. The key checkpoints above may seem like a lot but they soon become a habit and will keep your hands in a consistent place on the handle. The last thing you want is for your swing to have to adapt to a different grip from week to week.
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