One of the most common causes of bad pitches and chips is the dominant hand (right for righties) taking over the swing. The result is typically scooped or thin contact that produces fat or sculled shots. To alleviate this tendency, learn to make your hands work together by experimenting with the triple-overlap grip. This technique effectively takes the dominant hand out of the swing, and promotes a descending blow, which is absolutely critical to creating crisp contact and consistent results.
When the hands aren’t working together properly in the golf swing, it’s usually the lower hand (right hand for right-handers) that attempts to make up for it by trying to lift the ball into the air. Rarely, if ever, does the lower hand produce a good result, especially when it comes to delicate chips and pitches around the green. Instead, the lower hand forces the clubhead too far ahead of the arms, en route to producing a skulled or flubbed shot. The key to hitting chips and pitches while completely avoiding the dreaded right hand-dominated flub or skulled shot is to grip the club in a way that limits the right hand’s involvement as much as possible. To do just that, I like to prescribe to my students what I call the triple-overlap grip.
To use this grip, first make sure you set up to the ball correctly. With a slightly narrow stance, position the ball two inches inside your front heel. Your top hand and club should form a straight line from your shoulder to the ball. Lean your upper body toward the target so you have at least 60 to 70 percent of your weight over your front leg. From this position, you’re ready to work in the triple overlap.
Take your normal full-swing grip. Then take your bottom hand (right for righties, left for lefties) and reposition it over your upper hand so that you overlap your pinkie, ring and middle fingers on your top hand. Back away from the ball and try some practice swings, making no more than knee-high backswings and knee-high followthroughs. Remember, this grip is intended for shots within 40 yards. Any farther away will require a standard grip.
Pay attention to how your hands (specifically your upper hand) lead the clubhead while using the triple-overlap grip. With your weight on your forward foot, you’ll be inclined to strike the ball with a downward blow, just as you should with all chips and pitches, and the triple overlap will help guard against the right hand dominating the downswing and flipping the club over too soon. After a few practice strokes, give it a shot. You’ll instantly notice how much more effectively both hands work together as a unit.
Plain and simple, the triple-overlap grip works great around the green and is equally effective when it’s time to make a few putts as well!
PGA professional John O’Leary III is the director of instruction at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge (www.bayhill.com) in Orlando, Fla.