Friday, May 21, 2010

Hold on to the Club.

Sometimes the easiest solutions to our golf problems are the fundamental things we overlook. One of those is grip pressure. Imagine this for a moment. We have a robot that makes a perfect swing every time. If the ball is in the correct location, the robot makes the swing and the ball flies high and true. Now for the next shot we loosen the set screws that connect the club to the robot and hit another shot. You can imagine the results.

Ball striking is much simpler if you have a secure grip on the club all the way through the swing. Sam Snead advised to hold the club as if you were holding a bird, light enough to not hurt the bird but with enough pressure to not let the bird escape. I think that advice is sound but I prefer the advice of Jackie Burke Jr. who says to pretend the bird is a hawk. The vast majority of players we observe at the United States Golf Academy quite simply do not hold with enough pressure to maintain control through the swing. You can tell when a player has grip pressure issues by simply watching their swing. Instead of a smooth motion building speed until impact, the club goes moves in an irregular pattern of slow and fast. You will also see unusually long backswings, as the player relaxes their hands at the top of the swing and the club head drops or dips.

Check your glove. Are there wear marks in the palm of the glove? Do you have large calluses on your non- glove hand? Do your hands sting? Is there a tendency to hit the ball fat or top one occasionally? All of these are often the result from not having a solid connection to the club. The solution is simple to say, “hold on to the club,” but hard to implement. Next time out, try this: Start with very small swings and focus on your hands. Hold the club securely but not so firm that your wrists lose flexibility. Relax your shoulders and your arms. Now extend your swing. As you swing back farther, are you able to maintain control of the club? Keep your arms and shoulders relaxed and try to maintain your grip. If you focus on control rather than speed you will find the quality of the shots improve. If this little drill is difficult, it is probably worth a trip to your local professional to talk about a change in grip size or grip profile. There are a number of new grips on the market that are larger under the right hand. It might just be the solution to the problem.

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