Before any discussion of the golf swing, it is important to recognize that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to swing a golf club. From the weekend golfer to the tour pro, each of us has swing characteristics that are unto ourselves.
Nevertheless, the ultimate objective of any of swing remains the same: to consistently produce proper or “square” impact on the ball. Achieving this goal requires every golfer regardless of skill level to pay constant attention to the basic fundamentals of the golf swing.
The grip is universally considered the single most important fundamental in golf. A correct grip is the foundation on which a successful golf swing is built.
There are three types of grips: the overlap grip (sometimes called the Vardon Grip), the interlock grip, and the ten finger grip.
The overlap grip is by the far the most popular of the three types of grips. The key feature of the overlap grip is that the little finger of the right hand overlaps the left index finger, sometimes hooking around the knuckle. When this grip is taken properly, pressure will be on the last three fingers of the left hand and the two middle fingers of the right hand.
In the interlocking grip, the little finger of the right hand hooks into and locks with the index finger of the left hand.
Ten Finger Grip
It’s easy to see why the ten finger grip o]is often referred to as the “baseball grip”. All the fingers are directly on the shaft of the club. There is no overlapping or interlocking of fingers.
Regardless of which grip feels most comfortable, the grip begins by placing the club in the fingers of the left hand.
Next, close the hand around the club with the thumb slightly on the right side of the shaft of the club. The shaft should run diagonally from the palm across the bottom joint of the forefinger. Two knuckles on the left hand should be visible looking down at the top portion of the grip.
The right hand is placed on the club by positioning the fingers under the club and closing the thumb over the left hand. In the correct position, the right thumb should be on the left side of the shaft of the club. As mentioned, with the overlap grip, the small finger of the right hand overlaps the index finger of the left hand. In the interlock grip, the little and index fingers interlock. With the ten finger grip, the little and index fingers fit snugly side by side.
If your shots are flying off-line don’t necessarily look to your swing for cure. Your grip influences your impact position, so go straight to the root cause and look at the position of your hands. Ideally, both hands should be in a neutral position. Here is a simple way to check that this is indeed the case.
Stand in front of a mirror and slowly place each hand on the grip. First the left hand. As you look at it, the “V” formed by the index finger and thumb should point up somewhere between your eye and right shoulder.
Similarly, with the right hand, the “V” should point to the same area between your right eye and right shoulder. If there’s any deviation from this, your hands are in the wrong position.
To intentionally hook the ball or correct a slice, move both hands slightly to the right. Moving the hands to the left will correct a hook or cause the ball to slice.
In gripping the club, think of the hands as working together as a single unit. And never forget: the grip is considered to be the most important fundamental in golf.
Key Points to Remember about the Grip:
- Keep the hands relaxed. Provide only enough pressure to keep the grip firm during the swing.
- Keep the hands close together so that they work as a single unit.
- The main pressure points in the grip are the bottom three fingers of the left hand and the middle two fingers of the right hand.
- Maintain constant grip pressure throughout the swing especially at the top of the swing.
- To correct a slice, use a lighter grip to help straighten the clubhead. To correct a hook, try a tighter grip.
Stance and Address
Addressing the ball covers everything done before initiating the swing. This includes: approaching the ball, taking the proper stance, positioning the ball within the stance, and establishing proper alignment and balance.
There are three basic stances: square, open, and closed. Each stance has a direct effect on the path of the clubhead at impact, and ultimately, both the direction and distance of the flight of the ball.
For straight shots, the square stance is the most desirable. In a square stance of the feet, hips and shoulders are aligned parallel to the target line.
To check your alignment place your club across your chest, club across shoulders and club across hips.
A square stance will create a straight shot.
An open stance is created by moving the front foot farther away from the ball. On the downswing, the clubhead path will go from the outside to the inside of the target line, thus creating a fade or a slice.
In a closed stance, the front foot is closer to the ball. The clubhead now travels from the inside to the outside of the target line creating a draw or hook.
Positioning the Feet
The feet should be positioned shoulder width apart. Positioning the feet outside the width of the shoulders makes it difficult to effectively transfer weight on the follow through. By the same token, a stance which too narrow makes it difficult to maintain the balance necessary for a strong swing.
The back right foot should be aligned perpendicular to the target line while the front foot points slightly towards the target at about a 30 degree angle. Maintaining this position provides a strong base for a proper hip and shoulder turn, prevents swaying back away from the ball on the backswing. Turning the back right foot to the right of the target line impairs the ability to transfer weight from the right side as well as make a proper follow through.