The first fundamental I teach every new student is how to properly hold the club because good golf swings start with good grips. Your hands are your only connection to the club, thus making them the primary mover of the shaft and controller of the clubface. If you hold the club incorrectly, you’re immediately at a disadvantage and more likely to make compensations in your swing.
While I reinforce proper grips to my students, I can’t always be there to check up on them, so I teach them how to monitor their progress. One simple way is to analyze how their glove wears out. Take this battered glove, for example. It took only 10 rounds for this to happen! As you can see, sometimes the root of a swing fault lies in the palm of your hand.
Worn-Out Palm The most common glove-wear pattern, a worn-out palm is caused by holding the club in the palm instead of correctly holding it beneath the heel pad of the hand and fingers. Gripping the club this way leads to a lack of distance and a tendency to slice. What’s really amazing about grips like this is that they can wear down a glove after only a few holes! So if this has ever happened to you, and you thought that new glove of yours was defective, think again.
The Fix: Hold a ruler vertically in your glove hand. Cradle it in your fingers and feel the heel pad of your glove hand resting on top. This home remedy is a great way to exaggerate the feeling of a proper grip.
Thumb Tear Look at the massive tear in the thumb! It resulted from a two-fold problem: poor thumb placement and incorrect grip pressure (too much or too little) applied between the thumb and the handle. This grip usually results in a lack of control.
The Fix: Adopt a “short thumb,” where the thumb is cinched up and pinched against the top of the forefinger. Hold a business card between your thumb and forefinger with a grip pressure of “3” (out of 10) to learn the appropriate feel.
Index-Finger Wear A tear or wear pattern here indicates a poor connection between a player’s hands and is usually caused by an overlapping grip, where the dominant hand’s pinkie digs into the glove hand’s knuckle. You may even notice a callus forming on your dominant hand’s ring finger. What results isn’t just a torn glove but discomfort as well.
The Fix: Extend your pinkie farther into the gap that separates the knuckles on your glove hand. Another option is to adopt an interlocking grip, where your dominant hand’s pinkie and glove hand’s index finger “wrap” around each other.
PGA Professional Jeff Ritter is director of instruction at the ASU Karsten Golf Academy.