Getting a Grip on the Game of Golf
Do you have a name for every callus on your hands? Often, golfers think the location of the calluses on their hands indicate whether their grip is correct. Calluses however, come from a player placing their hands on the club then twisting them into what looks like a good grip.
Think of holding your golf club like it’s a fine tuned instrument, and once you place your hands on it, leave them alone. Or think of Sam Snead’s classic analogy and hold your club “as if it is a live bird, with just enough pressure so it won’t fly away but not so tightly the bird can’t breathe.”
A good grip is the key element for initiating a good swing. Our grip is the only part of us directly connected to the golf club. No matter which grip a golfer chooses, it is critical to keep the hands in constant touch with one another. Try to imagine YOUR HANDS ARE GLUED TOGETHER so they can move as one unit throughout the golf swing. Feel like your hands are melted to the golf club.
When I am learning a new technique or making a change in my swing, I always start with making sure my grip is correct. Grip is so important. As golfers, we spend a lot of time doing our pre-shot routine, checking our alignment, checking the wind direction but above all, remember to check your grip, it is the foundation for a good swing. Gripping incorrectly can lead to multiple swing problems.
THERE ARE 3 COMMON GRIPS
PICK ONE YOU LIKE AND STICK WITH IT! I’ve experienced using all three grips over years of playing the game, but once I figured out what works for me, I’ve left it alone. Because one grip does not fit everyone, what works for your golf buddy who shoots Par, may not be the right grip for you. Experiment with it and stick with it. Choose a grip that allows you to maintain about a 4 grip pressure on a scale of 1-10 for the entire swing.
INTERLOCK GRIP: Forefinger of top hand is placed between the little finger and ring finger of the bottom hand. Gene Sarazen and Jack Nicklaus two of the greatest examples of golfers to use this grip.
OVERLAPPING GRIP: The little finger of bottom hand is placed into the knuckle space of the forefinger and middle finger of the top hand, or just on top of the forefinger. Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, and Sam Snead are examples of overlappers.
TEN FINGER GRIP: Also known as the Baseball Grip. All fingers are on the golf club similarly to how you grip a baseball bat. Alice Ritzman adopted a ten finger grip and went on to become one of the longest hitters on tour.
Now that we understand a proper grip, how does it correlate to power? Next time you are on the tee and want to hit farther than your friends, keep this in mind.
It is necessary to understand that there IS a difference between a STRONG GRIP –VS- GRIP STRENGTH.
A strong grip is when we place our top hand on the club with at least 2, 3 and sometimes even 4 knuckles visible, with our left thumb just off to the right of the shaft, as opposed to down the shaft.
Grip Strength is the strength you have from your fingers to your forearms. Dr. Greg Rose at Titleist Performance Institute explains, “…amateur players generally have less grip strength than tour players…most amateurs place a death grip on the club because they simply don’t have the hand, wrist, and forearm strength to hold the club in a relaxed fashion.” www.pikeathletics.com
Strong wrists and forearms allow us to control the golf club better, square up the club at impact better and ultimately create more power in our swing. If you can learn to swing with a strong grip but maintain a light (4 out of 10) grip pressure then you are off to a great start and have a solid foundation to build a beautiful, powerful swing.
It is reported that one of the most common injuries in golf are back injuries, however it is no surprise that 1 out of 4 PGA and LPGA players have prominent left wrist injuries and is more common in female golfers than male golfers.
Jedd Johnson, C.S.C.S. and Grip Strength Champion www.dieselcrew.com has some great wrist strengthening drills and exercises. Do these for a while and you will definitely have more power in your swing.
WARM UP THOSE WRISTS
It’s not so uncommon to do a little exercise before playing a round of golf or a light workout to get everything warm and ready to play however don’t ignore the wrists! Try these wrist exercises that I like to do before your next practice or round of golf.
1. WRIST EXTENSION AND FLEXION STRETCHES- warms up the wrist joint and gives a nice stretch to the whole wrist area. Hold hand out straight, palm to ground and extend wrist downward until fingers point to the ground, then bring wrist up toward you just until you feel a light stretch. Repeat for 15 repetitions.
2. WRIST CURLS – rest your arm on a table and make a light fist. With back of hand to the table, curl your wrist up and hold for 2 seconds then relax. Do not move your arm while doing this exercise, just stretch the wrist. Repeat for 15 repetitions.
3. WRIST SUPINATION AND PRONATION STRETCHES – Supination-stabilize your elbow and rotate your forearm from a thumbs up position. Rotate 90 degrees so your thumb rotates to the outside. Return back to thumbs up position . Repeat for 15 repetitions. Pronation- stabilize your elbow and rotate your forearm from a thumbs up position. Rotate 90 degrees so your thumb rotates to the inside. Repeat for 15 repetitions.
Good grip strength allows us to square up the club more powerfully giving us a better opportunity to gain distance. For Amateurs and Professionals alike, getting a grip on golf truly does start with having a good grip. Keep it strong and keep it light! Arnold Palmer is one exception, he likes to grip the club tightly, but we are all not Arnold Palmer!
Next time your golf buddy asks you how you hit so far, tell them you GOT A GRIP!
Michelle Sheptak is a contributing writer for Golf Belles Central and is a Long Drive Competitor ,Surfer and Nurse. She will be sharing her knowledge on golf, surf and fitness here on www.golfbellescentral.com