From the time a golfer picks up his first club, he is taught that having the proper grip is important to consistent ball-striking--creating both power and accuracy. The emphasis is often placed on the correct positioning of the right and left hands on the club so that the hands work together as a unit. While that is important, grip pressure is also a key, but sometimes overlooked, consideration.
Effect on Ball Flight
In his book “My Golden Lessons” Jack Nicklaus suggests that golfers who suffer from a chronic slice--a ball flight that goes from left to right rather than straight--may be holding the club too tightly with the right hand. As the club head nears the ball, this tight grip pressure prevents the proper release or rotation of the hands. At impact, the club face remains open, aimed to the right, and the shot is likely to bend from left to right more than the golfer would want. Even reducing grip pressure slightly can allow the golfer to have the proper release required to straighten out his shots.
Effect on Length
Gripping the club too tightly can prevent a golfer from generating maximum club head speed, resulting in lost power and reduced shot distance. Overly tight grip pressure causes tension to build in the forearms and shoulders, which can restrict the golfer’s swing arc. Make sure your grip pressure is firm but not too tight, and that your shoulders are relaxed prior to beginning your swing.
Where to Apply Pressure
On the left hand, grip pressure is primarily applied through the last three fingers. With the right hand, apply most of the pressure through the ring and middle finger. Golf legend Arnold Palmer, in his Golf Digest article “Try My Timeless Tips,” recommends a drill to strengthen the last three fingers of the left hand using a piece of equipment most people come in contact with every day--their car steering wheel. Palmer suggests squeezing the steering wheel with these fingers very tightly for 10 seconds each time you are in the car.
Finding the Right Pressure
A golfer needs to experiment to find the right grip pressure, allowing her to maintain full control of the club without causing too much tension at address or preventing the full release of the hands through the shot. Major championship winner Fred Couples learned to grip the club so lightly that he sometimes lets his right hand come slightly off the club after he has hit the ball. This light grip pressure contributes to his fluid, powerful golf swing. For most golfers, it is recommended that they do not let go of the club at any point during the swing or follow-through. Your hands shouldn’t slip down the grip as you swing.
Mistakes to Avoid
Don’t hold the club in your palms. A grip with pressure applied from the palms can restrict the mobility of your wrists--cutting down on the power potential of your swing. Avoid letting the right thumb and index finger of your right hand dominate the grip.