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How Important Is a Grip in Golf?

by Brian Hill
    Your clubs are an extension of you, and your relationship with them begins at the grip.

    Your clubs are an extension of you, and your relationship with them begins at the grip.

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    The grip is one of the primary fundamentals a golfer is taught. In fact, the first step in learning the swing is learning how to hold the club. Without the proper grip, making consistent golf shots is much more difficult. Many golfers don’t understand how important the grip is, and they continue to use a defective grip because they have always done it that way and it feels comfortable.

    Controlling the Club

    The grip allows you to maintain control of the golf club. The hands should not slip down the grip during the course of the swing, and you should not let go of the club with either hand. Primary grip pressure should be supplied by the left hand’s last three fingers and the ring and middle fingers of the right hand.

    Hands Working Together

    A sound grip enables the hands to work together to build swing speed and deliver the clubhead to the ball at a square angle, resulting in accurate shots. Two grips are predominantly used by both professional and amateur golfers: overlapping and interlocking. With the overlapping grip, the little finger of the right hand (right-handed players) is fitted securely into the space between the index finger and middle finger of the left. The interlocking grip involves intertwining or locking together the left index finger and right little finger. In his book "My Golden Lessons," Jack Nicklaus recommends that you keep your hands, and the fingers of both hands, as close together as you can while still keeping your grip comfortable.

    Clubhead Speed

    Golfers often make the mistake of gripping the club too tightly. This builds tension all the way up the forearms and into the shoulders, which prevents having a free-flowing, full swing. Lightening your grip pressure while still keeping a secure hold on the club can help promote a full release of the hands through the ball for maximum clubhead speed and power.

    Controlling Ball Flight

    The grip affects the flight of the ball. Both right-to-left and left-to-right ball flights can be encouraged by the position of your hands on the club. Knowing how to curve the ball is a good skill to have to deal with holes that bend one direction or the other--such as doglegs--or to avoid hazards on one side of a fairway or green. Looking down at your hands after you grip the club, you see two “Vs” formed by the index finger and thumb on each hand. Turning the Vs to the right is referred to as having a strong grip position. This makes it easier to curve the ball from right to left. With the Vs turned to the left, a left-to-right ball flight is encouraged.

    Addressing Swing Flaws

    A golfer may be prone to hooking the ball--a right-to-left curving shot--or tend to slice the ball from left to right. Adjusting the Vs on the grip can help relieve these chronic problems or at least help get shots more under control. A golfer troubled by slicing would try the strong grip; the golfer who is hooking the ball too much would employ a weaker grip in an effort to straighten out the ball flight.

    References

    • "My Golden Lessons"; Jack Nicklaus; 2002

    About the Author

    Brian Hill is the author of four popular business and finance books: "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital," "Attracting Capital from Angels" and his latest book, published in 2013, "The Pocket Small Business Owner's Guide to Business Plans."

    Photo Credits

    • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images