Golf is hard. Golf can be frustrating and it can be addictive. Without a doubt, golf becomes more enjoyable as you hone your skills and master your swing. It’s all in the details: the slight upward curve in your back, the overlapping or interlocking grip, and the speed of the backswing as you move into the follow-through. Most important of all details is the grip, where the hand meets the club. Master your golf grip and improve your game overall. Follow these tips to play more consistently and lower your scores.
Perfecting your grip: 3 steps to improve your golf game
Improve your game, and you may find other areas in your life improving as well. Becoming a better player may lead you to better business opportunities, allowing time to schmooze with colleagues and clients on the course. It may become a source of stress release after a busy week, allowing mind and body to recuperate for the next busy week. Simply walking the course and enjoying the game offers its own benefits.
Notwithstanding, before you go out purchasing pricey golf lessons or special training aids, there’s one thing that can greatly improve your game, and immediately.
The magic is in the grip. The grip alone is where your body meets your club and sets the fate of the ball, and ultimately your score in the game. Perfect your golf grip, and you’re much closer to perfecting your swing and controlling the destiny of that ball, whether it lands in the hole or in the lake. Improper grip is the single most common fault among amateur golfers. Whether slicing or hooking the ball, the cause is usually this faulty grip.
A proper golf swing must be comprised of the three initial fundamentals of any golf swing: proper setup, proper alignment, and most importantly, proper grip.
Here’s how to get the most out of your golf swing from setup to follow-through.
1. Mastering the Stance
Have you ever heard… that nothing good comes out of a bad foundation? Same thing in golf. To achieve the proper swing you must make a habit of proper stance. Proper setup is the first step in achieving the perfect swing.
As you position yourself over the ball, your feet should be parallel to one another, like a number eleven, and spaced slightly wider than the width of your hips. Look down past your knees and the entire foot should be visible, not partially hidden behind and overly-bent knee. There should be a slight bend to the knees, buttocks sticking out backward, and vertebra in a straight line from hips to neck. This will cause the back to remain flat, not hunched over, while maintaining a stance which is relaxed, not rigid. With the upper body slightly bent toward ball, and torso bent slightly away from the target (though not dramatically so) your body should feel at ease.
You’ll want to stand close enough that the middle of the club face reaches ball, with your arms out straight but still relaxed. You don’t want to stand so close to the ball that the elbows must bend.
You’ll find that as you lean ever so slightly away from the target, the shoulders will be angled, with the right falling slightly lower than the left. Make sure your chin is neither too high over the horizon, nor too far down into your chest. Practice maintaining a right-angle from chin bone to neck to chest. This will allow enough space for the left shoulder to come under and around the chin on your backswing.
2. Mastering the Grip
Without a proper grip, a good golf swing is much more challenging. Think about it, the grip is the only piece of the swing where a part of your body meets the club and controls the direction and speed of the ball. Therefore proper grip is paramount.
A good golf grip means appropriate grip pressure – grip too firm and you kill your speed, because speed can only happen when there’s little tension. On a scale of one to ten, the grip should feel like a “three” in your hand. In gathering information for this article, one golfer admits to me, “my worst shots come when I’m tense and pissed off”.
A proper golf grip might vary with differing hand shapes and sizes so ultimately you’ll want to find what feels best for you. Some things remain the same though no matter what.
The grip should feel comfortable and natural, and it’s best to start with good habits from the beginning. A relaxed grip will lead to better accuracy and usually better distance.
The grip never takes place in the palm directly but rather it’s held mostly with the fingers. The left hand should remain the same no matter the grip variation that you choose. Ideally the left hand will show two to three knuckles as the right hand either overlaps or interlocks with the left. The baseball-style grip, or the overlapping grip, offers somewhat more stability than no overlap at all. An interlocking grip will invariably offer the most stability. Either way, the left hand will remain in the same position in relation to the club. It’s up to you to choose which variation feels most comfortable as each has its advantages and disadvantages.
If you find that you’re repeatedly hitting a slice, your grip may be too weak. On the other hand if you’re consistently hitting a hook, your grip may be too strong. Again, the grip is the only connection between body and club and therefore has to be perfect.
3. Mastering the Swing
Golf is only sport where a motionless ball is struck. Therefore the only way to strike it is for the body to be in same exact position from the time of setup, through the downswing and into the follow-through.
The anatomy of the golf swing begins with the slow and controlled backswing. There should be little tension in the body, which allows for a more complete shoulder turn. The same goes for the arms, elbows and hands – the right amount of effort and ease here will allow the shoulders flexibility to spin back enough. tension creates the wrong speed on the backswing (too fast – causing shoulder turn to be shorter rather than full)
At this point it is crucial that your midsection remain over the ball, neck and back still sin one line, as in the initial setup. Many amateur golfers have the tendency during the backswing to sway the torso back away from the ball, making the downswing more challenging. Maintaining the position of the torso through a light, fluid and tension-free backswing allows for proper speed on the downswing.
The downswing is where essential speed is generated as a direct result of a light grip and a tension-free backswing. Once again, you do not want to lift your midsection during the downswing before striking the ball.
The speed of the club increases through the downswing, as it strikes the ball. Follow through completely as the club swings over your left shoulder and your belt buckle turns in the direction of the target. Your weight will now shift from the ball of the back foot to ball of the front foot, as the right foot pivots. Comfortably remain balanced on your lead foot and back toes as you watch the ball fly into the distance. Your eyes remain on the ball the entire time.
Good form trumps strength: master the perfect grip every time
Good form trumps smashing the ball with all your strength. As with any sport, keep your eyes on the ball! This will help you stay focused during the backswing, downswing, and follow-through.
Master these tips and improve your golf game drastically. You’ll enjoy your game more, play more consistently and consequently lower your scores and impress your friends and colleagues.