By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy
Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at email@example.com.
It is my opinion that inconsistent, or too much, grip pressure is the early cause of a great number of bad golf shots. The golf swing requires a secure but light grip on the club in order for the hands to operate as they should. Today’s question was posed by Phil H. of Florida:
"I have read so many tips and thoughts on how to judge the proper pressure of the grip. But how do I process this and incorporate the right and consistent grip pressure in my own game."Well, Phil, as I said, this is probably one of the most far-reaching and under-diagnosed errors made in golf. No one has ever devised a true grip pressure monitor, but I would think it could be a boon for teaching. Imagine if we could get past the clichés about grip pressure, and actually quantify it . . . hmm, gives me a few ideas to pursue. But back to the subject at hand (pun fully intended.)
As for those clichés, there are a bunch of them, maybe the most common being “hold it like it was a little bird in your hand”. Really? How many of us have actually held a little bird in our hand? Pretty hard to relate. One of my favorites is to hold the golf club with the same pressure you would hold your small child’s hand if you were walking along with them, firm enough to keep them from getting away, but light enough to not hurt them. That’s something more of us can relate to, but how to I translate that into holding a golf club during a swing?
I was working with a young player a while back, whom I could see was just putting a death grip on the golf club. He was a strong kid, and I tried every way possible to get him to understand that you simply cannot hold a golf club too lightly. Finally, I told him to get a tube of toothpaste, take the top off and make golf swings in his living room. Not just short chips and pitches, but full-bore driver swings. And then I explained that when he no longer had to clean the walls, ceilings and floor, he would understand proper grip pressure!
But let’s get into the details of grip pressure. It goes beyond just “gripping it lightly”, as what’s really important is which fingers are exerting the pressure. Here’s an illustration of this. Clench your last three fingers of your left hand like you were holding a club, leaving the thumb and forefinger in the air. Reasonably tight is OK. Then move your wrist around – see how it remains pretty flexible, even with the tight squeeze? But the tighter you squeeze those last three fingers, you’ll see how your motion becomes more difficult. Then close your thumb and forefinger tightly into the grip and notice how your entire forearm tenses up and your motion is restricted much more . . . at any pressure. Aha, Lesson #1 – control the club with the last three fingers of your left/upper hand.
Now, do the same experiment with the fingers of your right hand. Begin by clenching your two middle fingers, where the fingertips just touch the pads at the base of the fingers – this is how you hold a golf club. Again, notice the range of motion you have in your wrist with a lighter grip with just these two fingers. Then, again, clench your thumb and forefinger together into the grip and see how the entire forearm is tensed and the range of motion restricted once again.
This winter, keep a golf club around the desk and/or sofa, and practice gripping the club with the last three fingers of the left/upper hand, and just those two middle fingers of the right/lower hand. If you spend time getting comfortable controlling the club with the lightest grip possible, it will pay off huge dividends on the course.
Good topic, Phil, and I’m going to follow up with more on the importance and function of proper grip pressure, as there probably aren’t 10% of us that aren’t holding the club too tightly, at least some of the time.
(PART 2 HERE)
* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.
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