Clint Wallman, the head professional at Birdies Golf Center and last year’s Teacher of the Year for the Inland Empire Chapter of the PGA, has watched golfers of all ability levels make every kind of setup and swing mistake imaginable.
But the most common error he sees, especially with beginning golfers, occurs in the grip.
“Placing your hands on the club correctly cannot be emphasized enough,” Wallman insists. “In theory, gripping the golf club prior to a shot should be a fundamental that is properly executed every time. However, in the real world, holding the club is one of the most overlooked fundamentals in the game.”
According to Wallman, a proper grip can set up a “chain reaction of flowing movements” that lead to a straight, solid golf shot. But a faulty grip, he adds, can result in “inconsistent club positions” from takeaway to impact, and into the follow-through.
“The most common problems that we witness in our golf schools are grips that run up the lifeline of the lead hand, and clubs that are gripped in the palm,” explains Wallman.
The accompanying photographs show two of the most common grip problems and what can be done to correct them. Wallman suggests, however, that golfers wanting to experiment with a grip change should consult a PGA professional who can guide them through the process and help make the adjustment as painless as possible.
Figure 1: In this photo, the club is being held in the palms of the hands. When the club is gripped in this fashion, the player’s tendency is to swing the club around the body too much. This movement results in the clubhead getting too far behind the hands, forcing the player to make a compensating move to return the club back to the ball squarely. Ball flight characteristics of this grip are slices, pull slices and pull hooks.
Figure 2: This photo shows a grip running up the lifeline of the lead hand (the left hand for a right-handed player and the right hand for a left-handed player). Holding the club in the lifeline usually results in the lead hand being turned too much toward the target.
(A good way to check is to grip the club normally with both hands, place the clubhead behind the ball and leave your lead hand on the club while removing the other. If you see fingernails, your lead hand is turned too far toward the target.)
Gripping the club in this manner usually prevents the proper hinging or cocking of the wrists during the backswing. When the wrists don’t cock properly, the player usually compensates by bending at the elbow, and the club gets out of position during the swing (Figure 3). Ball flight characteristics of this grip are high, weak shots, lack of distance, slices, pull slices and topped shots.
Figure 4: This photo illustrates the proper positioning of the club in the lead hand. The butt end of the club is placed under the meaty pad of the hand, with the shaft running along the hand and resting in the middle joint of the forefinger. The thumb of the lead hand is placed on top of the club, forming a “V,” which should point somewhere between the right ear and right shoulder for a right-handed player, or the left ear and left shoulder for a left-handed player.
The trailing hand is then placed on the club so the shaft runs along the middle joint of the forefinger of that hand and the hand covers the thumb of the lead hand (Figure 5).
From here, the golfer has a much better opportunity to correctly hinge the wrists during the backswing and properly position the club throughout the rest of the swing.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 5 Color photos
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