Grip & Release

Labels: InstructionGrips
This Article Features Photo Zoom


The golf swing is a series of connected events. The little things that you do, which to many may seem like not that big a deal, can, and in most cases will, greatly affect your ability to swing the club properly.

This is especially true when it comes to the positioning of your hands on the grip. The most common grip position is a grip where both Vs, formed by the index finger and thumb of both hands, point at the right shoulder. This is what I'd consider to be a neutral grip position. And for some, it works just fine in helping the clubhead move through the impact zone, squaring up the clubface at impact and closing the clubhead through the release. But, what if that's not right for you? What if you have trouble hitting straight shots using a standard grip?

The solution is to first consider the right grip for what you want to achieve. If you struggle with excessively hooking the ball, or if you're an advanced player and you purposefully want to hit a fade, consider a grip position that lessens the speed of the hands through the impact zone. In the left photo on the opposite page, that means using a grip where the left-hand V points at your center and the right-hand V points vertically. This is what's known as a "weak" grip position, but I don't really like to call it that. Sometimes when you say "weak," it implies you have too little grip pressure and you're not holding the club firmly enough. Think of this position not as weak, but as a slower grip that has less torque and rotation through impact. (You can see my "weak" left-hand position by looking at how my watch face is oriented.)

The result of the slower grip is less release and rotation of the hands, as you can see in the top photo. This is an anti-hook, slice-friendly position if there ever was one. The heel leads through the impact zone, creating left-to-right spin.

Now, let's say you want to hit a draw, or counteract your natural tendencies to hit a slice. Try gripping the club with your left-hand V pointing right of your right shoulder, and your right-hand V pointing vertically. The goal is to not have an exceedingly right-hand-powered grip, since the left hand will do the work here. This is what's known as a "strong" grip, but like the weak grip, I don't care for that name. I'd like to call it a "faster" grip, since the left hand is likely to engage more in the rotation of the hands through the impact zone, helping to speed up the squaring of the clubface and the closing of the clubhead through the release. Fred Couples grips it like this.

As you can see in the lower photo, the result of this grip is more rotation of the hands. The toe has passed the heel more aggressively through the impact zone, producing a greater right-to-left spin on the ball.

The end goal is this: If you're struggling with accuracy, either hitting too many hooks, slices or both, consider a grip position that counteracts your shot tendencies. The solution is not to try to maneuver the club through the hit or artificially control how your hands release. Instead, use the correct grip style, and let the hands work in response to your grip.

Top-25 Instructor Tom Stickney, PGA, can be reached at tomstickneygolf.com.



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