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Coming to grips: How to properly hold a club

By: Shawn Kelly, Journal Golf Columnist
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It’s time to get back to basics. For the next few weeks I’ll be covering basic fundamentals that will help you strike the ball more consistently. The preeminent fundamental in the game is how to properly grip the club. The grip is your only link between you and the club, and it needs to be balanced to work properly. What I mean by “balanced” is that when you grip the club you should be able to hinge your wrist freely above your shoulders and not have the grip turn in your hands. I preach three styles of grip: 1. The ten-finger baseball grip, where all the fingers are aligned on the club. This is usually a good style for kids or people with smaller hands. 2. The overlap grip, where your pinky overlaps the index finger. This is the grip used by most tour professionals. 3. The interlock grip, which is configured with the pinky and index fingers interlocking with each other. I use this grip, as does Jack Nicklaus. The best way to achieve a balanced grip is to lay the club shaft on your shoulder, letting the club head rotate downward to its balanced position. Then grasp the grip in your fingers with the thumbs aligned down the shaft and unhinge your wrists so the club is now in front of you with the toe of the club pointing to the sky. You may have to adjust the club slightly to achieve complete balance and comfort. Now swing the club or waggle it around. You shouldn’t feel any twisting of the shaft. If you do, you’ll need to re-grip and feel a new balance position. I hear a lot of well-intentioned advice about the grip, such as “You should see two knuckles,” “The Vs formed by your thumb and forefinger should be toward your back shoulder” or “Just keep your thumbs on top of the shaft.” I don’t care which theory you subscribe to — your grip should allow you to square the club at impact without losing control of the club. When you get to the top of your backswing and when you finish the swing, your hands should be in control of the club. Excessive grip pressure at the start of the swing is the No. 1 cause for poor golf shots. You must have a firm but not squeezing grip pressure to start every stroke. Imagine that you are grasping a tube of toothpaste while trying not to squeeze any out of the tube. That would be firm but not squeezing. At the top of your backswing you will unconsciously squeeze the grip naturally depending on the shot and then swing the club to the target. Using a right-handed golfer as an example, some like to pull the club through impact with their left hand and others like to push the club with their right hand. I feel that my left hand controls the club to square it at impact and my right hand is my power. But I don’t try to pull or push the club through impact — both hands are needed to work together to swing the club and hold on to the centrifugal force swing. I have seen many different grips that are effective in squaring the club at impact, and there doesn’t seem to be any single one that is the best. The best grip for you is the grip that is most comfortable and allows you to square the clubface. Try them all until you find the grip that suits you and provides control and consistent results.