As well known, how golfer holds the club in his or her hands greatly influences the swing. But beyond that, we would like to point out some subtle, yet important ways the golfer can help his or her swing action – and control the clubface properly – by applying varying amounts of pressure with particular fingers, and to some extent, one of the palms.
Let’s start with the left hand. At the Leadbetter Golf Academy Bangkok, we typically tell our students to hold the club more firmly with the last three fingers of that hand. This provides more stability at the top of the swing. It also gives the golfer the sensation of more control as the clubface slashes through the ball, and the ability to keep the clubface square to the swing arc for as long as possible.
A little extra grip pressure also helps when the golfer hits the ball offline, and it lands in the rough. Getting out of jail is the goal here, and gripping the club a bit firmer with those last three fingers helps control the clubhead better, and keep it square against the resistance of the longer grass.
Now let’s look at the right hand. We like to see our golfers exert a bit more pressure with the middle of their right palm, and the middle and ring fingers of their right hand. If a golfer does this, he or she will feel a corresponding pressure on the left thumb. This allows a golfer to maintain some width at the top of the backswing, but also keep the arm swing short, as the right hand is pushing against the left.
Once we give golfers these subtle triggers, we emphasize that they are meant to provide stability in the swing, but certainly not to create tension. Think of the old analogies about grip pressure: you want to hold a tube of toothpaste in your hand, but not squeeze any out; you want to cradle a baby bird there, but not smother it.
The modern version is more to the point, and certainly more precise: today, we tell our students that if their grip pressure – or the degree of force with which they hold the club – could be quantified as a number , it would be a four to six, on an imaginary scale one to 10. That’s the sense we want them to develop for the perfect way to firmly hold the club.
It might surprise you, however, to learn that PGA Tour players hold the club much tighter than the average golfer. Simply put, they are much stronger than most people – especially in the hands – and therefore exert more more grip pressure.
But the difference is they can still keep their arms relaxed. That’s the key. Tension is the enemy of every swing. But some pressure, properly applied in the grip, allows any golfer to have a free and powerful action.