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How to Grip the Golf Club

Nov 25, 2007
Good iron play requires a good grip. Without such a grip it is virtually impossible to control your shots to the green and score with any degree of consistency. Most golfers, particularly beginners, fail to appreciate the importance of the grip and its influence on the over-all swing.

After some 20 years of playing golf, both for fun and as a profession, spending countless hours of thinking about the swing and how it should function, and hundreds of other hours on the practice tee, I have reached one emphatic conclusion: No one who aspires to become a good golfer can do so without a correct grip. It is as simple as that.

I experienced trouble with my grip for years before I finally made a major change in 1958. Prior to that time, I had been fortunate enough to win a number of tournaments, but I always had a tendency to hook the ball. The reason was that I had carried my right hand under the shaft too much, invariably resulting in a closed face at the top of the swing.

In the fall of 1958, Paul Runyan, La Jolla Country Club professional, advised me to change my grip. He suggested that I move my right hand slightly counterclockwise, or more on top of the shaft, to have the clubface more open at the top of the swing. These changes were related, and it took me a month or more to become accustomed to this new right-hand position.

By moving my right hand more on top of the shaft, there were fewer tendencies to have the right hand exert initial control during the backswing. The right hand merely rides on the shaft, thus allowing the clubface to remain square, or slightly open, as the body is turned away from the ball. Also, this new grip prevented my right hand from taking over too soon at the start of the downswing.

In the golf swing, the body movements generate the power and the hands apply it through the shaft and clubhead with a terrific lashing action of the right forearm and right hand. This movement can be likened to cracking a whip underhanded. A tremendous amount of clubhead speed can be generated this way, provided you have a proper grip on the club and are on the proper swing plane coming into the ball.

On the other hand, if the club is not gripped properly, you lose control at some critical juncture in the swing and the clubhead cannot be accelerated to its maximum speed.

The Overlapping Grip. Although there are many ways to grip the club, the most effective and widely accepted one is the overlapping grip. This grip promotes excellent unity of the hands, allowing them to function as a one-piece unit throughout the swing. The overlapping grip places initial control in the left hand and keeps it there throughout the backswing and early in the downswing. The right hand then takes over and applies the power through the clubshaft and clubhead.

Positioning your left hand on the club correctly is the first step toward building a good grip. To obtain this position, place the open palm against the left side of the shaft and then close the palm and fingers around the shaft This puts the shaft under the muscular pad and slightly above the roots of the last three fingers of the left hand.

It is a little more difficult to position your right hand on the club, because it is the overlapping hand. With your left hand affixed on the shaft in the correct manner, extend your right hand down to meet the left hand. The palm faces toward the target, and the center of the palm fits snugly against, and over, the thumb of the left hand. Now close the fingers around the shaft allowing the little finger to overlap between the forefinger and middle finger. Actually, the little finger sort of hooks around the middle knuckle of the forefinger, creating a firm yet flexible union of the hands.

Now it is just necessary for you to go out and practice.
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