Recently picked up the game? Enjoying it immensely, driven to get better as fast as you can? I’ve seen it, I’ve lived it, and I hate to have to tell you, it’s time to get uncomfortable. The golf grip is the most important facet of the golf swing. To the point, non negotiable, it’s the unavoidable truth that just about every golfer I’ve met has trouble accepting…at least at first. For some absurd reason we fight the absolute. We want to be comfortable and hit glorious shots like we see on television. Starting out we want to grip that club choking the life blood from our extremities in the process. Going to hit that little ball a mile. Making sure that we control it like a Samurai sword wielded by the deft Ninja. Please, please don’t do that. It’s painful to watch and worse yet, painful to play that way. Relax, let it go a bit. Set the tension somewhere between cradling a small bird and holding the remote control to your tv. Maybe that’s a bad example, I mean really, who cradles a small bird these days. The remote control is far more relevant these days, unless the View is on and you automatically tense up trying to change the channel.
Master of your Domain
Grip it and rip it is what they say. If you want reality when it comes to the grip you will need to get schooled on the fundamentals. There are numerous resources ranging from the your local pro, the internet, or even a friend who is an accomplished player. A great resource is Ben Hogan’s book Five Lessons: Modern Fundamentals of Golf….not even kidding, if you don’t read this book, quit now. It’s that simple. No need wasting your time on the links, frustrated by ineptitude. Oh, and don’t just read it once. It’s like eating a huge meal, sometimes digestion may take awhile. Like all that bubblegum stuck in the bottom of your gullet, your mom warned you and you didn’t listen. Obviously, I think highly of the work. To be honest, I may reference the book 10-20 times a year just to check my golf sanity. The grip was an ever present pain point for me personally. My play would falter for no apparent reason. I’d start pushing shots or worse pulling them (I hate the hooks). My ball striking as inconsistent as a member of Congress. Immediately, I’d rehearse my swing path trying to figure it out. Am I taking the club too far to the inside making my swing too shallow? I must be too steep, hooding the blade as I drag it down from the outside? During a round, that may be the worst place to be in golf. All I can do is fight through it, limping in, hoping my short game can piece together the carnage. Tinkering obsessively in my next range session trying to find that lost mojo…where did my swing go? It’s usually at this point, I’ll pick up Mr. Hogan’s book and the answers are right there beginning in chapter 2. Typically, my right hand (the low hand for a righty) will drift strong getting under the club. It’s more comfortable that way. Ugh….this stupid game. What’s worked for me is adhering to my fundamentals with my grip. Everything else seems to fall in line.
Why can’t I do it my way?
Still not convinced? Breaking 80 from time to time with your homemade grip. Your scores are respectable, why change the mediocre. Strong top hand and an even stronger low hand. Getting all that extra distance from that subtle draw that you are free wheeling and dealing around the course. You are playing it! Fundamentals be stricken from your consciousness, you’ve found what works for you. Standing on the 16th tee, career round on the line. Water to your left, green nestled to the right, your mind is racing, thinking, “don’t hit it left, just don’t hit it left”. Rearing back, that last image of the water flashes in your minds eye throwing your timing just a tick off. Blam! That subtle draw is now a bastard hook and diving like Sean Connery in The Hunt for the Red October. Not the case? How about, you successfully hold that hook finish off impacting that tee ball with an open club face, chicken winged, push city, irrevocably dead on arrival. Whatever the case, you are dropping and hitting your 3rd shot. I know, sometimes you fight through and hit it perfect, it’s okay to give me the internet finger, I wouldn’t dare begrudge your success. The point, a flawed start invites disaster when it counts the most. Will a perfect grip guarantee those things won’t happen? Of course not, we are human which means it could very well happen. The likelihood of disaster is reduced with a proper start.. Often all that stuff that is supposed to be happening behind you when you swing a club is directly influenced by the way you hold the club.
There is room for some forms of individuality with the grip. I know, all that stuff above…didn’t I just say you had to conform or be cast into the dimmest section of golf hell? What I mean is, you need to accept a school of thought when selecting a golf grip. Former baseball player? I’ve yet to meet one that didn’t try to hold it like a baseball bat when starting out. It just feels right when that’s what you know. Guess what, there is a pretty scary precedent for that being an uber successful way to hold the golf club. Though less than elegant, the 10 finger grip is legit and it works for those willing to embrace it. My suggestion would be to study up on Moe Norman. Arguably, second to none when it comes to ball striking in the history of Golf.. Like it traditional? Can’t go wrong with the teachings of Ben Hogan. I will say, he was a big proponent of the pinky of the low hand riding atop the first knuckle of the top hand….me, not so much. You can safely interlock that pinky if you like…though he advises against doing so. I will defer to Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods for proof that it works exceedingly well. Whichever theory you end up subscribing to, just know it’s the foundation for the kind of swing you will have. I don’t really care what’s going on in the backswing much any more. I know, the odds are decidedly in my favor when I start the process with the correct grip. The club will find a path pretty close to what’s considered ideal if I just let it happen. Don’t be afraid to experiment if you are starting out. Just know, you need to get comfortable with one of the established methodologies if you plan on improving. Can’t just grip the club any old way because it’s comfortable. That new fundamentally sound grip will become a good habit before you know it.