This is the first part in golf instructor Karen Palacios-Jansen's "Swing Essentials" series on building a fundamental golf swing. Here, Palacios-Jansen focuses on finding the right golf grip for your game.
My teaching philosophy is to instill the importance of the basic fundamentals, or "swing essentials" as I call them, to my students.
Once people have mastered the "essentials" of a good full swing and are confident with their ball striking, I like to work on other parts of the game: Teaching the short game, specialty shots, mental toughness and good course management. These all help people lower their scores and increase their level of enjoyment on the golf course.
So let's get started with one of the most important aspects of the golf swing.
Your hands are the only part of your body that touch the golf club. Your hands influence how you set up to the ball, the path that the club takes on the backswing, the angle clubface at impact and how fast you can swing the club. Take the time to learn the correct grip and you will be on your way to a better swing in no time.
To be a consistent ball striker, you should strive to find a grip that helps you return the clubhead square to the ball at impact with effortless power. A neutral grip for me and a neutral grip for you may not be the same, so don't think that you have to put your hands on the club the same exact way as everyone else. In fact, forming a good grip is like art. You shape and mold your hands to the club until you find the most pleasing grip.
Here is an easy way to find your grip:
1. Stand straight with arms relaxed and hanging at your side. Notice how the thumb of your left hand hangs down (your right hand thumb if you are a left-handed golfer). If your thumb hangs to the right, then your thumb should be placed on the right side of the shaft. If it hangs to the middle, then it should be placed in the middle of the shaft.
2. Adjust your thumb with your left hand until you find what works best for your hand. Be cautious not to let the thumb of the left hand go straight down the shaft it should never be placed on the left side of the shaft. If you thumb is placed on the left side of the shaft, then you will have a weak grip that will inhibit the hinging of the wrists. It may feel comfortable, but it won't be effective.
3. Now for the right hand. Think of the palm of your right hand as being the clubface. Make sure your right palm is perfectly square to the clubface, just as it would be at impact. With your right fingers spread, place the lifeline of your right hand snuggly on top of the left thumb and wrap the rest of your fingers around the shaft. Hook your right forefinger around the shaft and spread it a little longer than the rest of your fingers, as if on a gun's trigger. I gently press the lifeline of my right hand on top of my left thumb to make sure my hands are joined as one.
Experiment with your grip positions to find the one that suits you best.
Now, let's see what is happening to your clubface at impact. Simply grip the club like you would normally with just your left-hand and raise the club up until the club is parallel to the ground.
Stretch your arm out. The leading edge of the clubface should be perpendicular to the ground or what we teachers call the "square" position. If your clubface stays "square," then you are in good shape. If your clubface twists to the right or "open" then you have a "weak" grip. If clubface "closes" or twists to the left, you have a "strong" grip.
There three basic ways to join your hands together to finalize your golf grip.
• The Vardon Grip: The most widely used grip by golf professionals is called the Vardon grip, named after the grip's inventor, Harry Vardon. This is where you piggyback the pinkie finger of your right hand on top of the forefinger of your left hand.
• The Interlocking Grip: The interlocking grip is where you interlace the pinkie finger on your right hand with the forefinger of the left hand.
• Baseball or 10 Finger Grip: This is where all 10 fingers are securely on the shaft, as if you were holding a baseball bat.
How you join your hands together is up to you. Use whatever grip feels comfortable to you. Most importantly, use the grip that helps you square the clubface at impact with the least effort. Experiment with your grip by hitting balls with the different grips to see what works best.
December 4, 2007
While live lessons from a good golf professional are always better, if you're going to learn to play or improve your game on your own, the "Butch Harmon About Golf presented by Titleist" series is about as good as it gets. The two-DVD set, which costs $79.95, is broken down into six sections and is very well organized, Mike Bailey writes.
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