by Tony Simpson/PGA
Lady Lake, FL
"Get a Grip"
The way a person swings the club many times is determined by the
way the club is gripped, or more appropriately, placed in the
hands. A quick analogy is when a hammer is used and the similarity
in the way the hand grips the handle to create leverage and power
in that hammering stroke.
If you think about it, the hammer is usually placed across the
hand in a position that allows the hand to hinge. The same thing
should happen in the leading lever, or arm, of the swing. This is
not to say that the arms work separately, because if the club is
placed in the hands properly the arms and hands work as a unit. It
is to say that the control a golfer will have of the club will be
highly determined by the support that is offered by the hands
during different stages of the swing.
When a club is placed into the hands of a golfer there is a
certain amount of instinct that controls what is going to happen.
That instinct is to create power. The swing is really a result of
how the player grips the club and stands to the ball. For example,
a golfer beginning with their back and shoulders bent over in
excess is most likely going to stand up during the swing. It is
the point of least resistance.
There is a way to make improvement to a swing just by working on
the grip at home without a golf ball waiting to be hit. Again, the
instincts of wanting to hit that ball are going to override the
task at hand. The point is to work on the grip in a way that you
can become comfortable with the feeling of doing something
differently. Try to become comfortable with how it feels to hold
the club in a way that allows the arms and hands to create most of
the club head speed, which could be different than it was gripped
in the past.
It is advisable also to get in the habit of taking the grip one
hand at a time when on the course to insure that the club is being
placed in the hands properly. Then trust it. It is important to
experiment without any expectation on result with a proper grip to
then see and feel how the body reacts to having the different
When we were created there were lines put on our hands for the
specific use of gripping a club. Using these as reference, here is
a simple three step process for placing the hands on your club the
same every time.
1. With the leading arm, place the grip across the hand and close
the hand in a way that allows it to hinge up and down. This, for
most, means using the line in the palm that begins above the small
finger and points toward the forefinger as a guide. The thumb
would lay just to the right of center on top and down the shaft.
2. Place the club in the two middle fingers of the trailing hand,
after forming a “hook” with those fingers. This could be possible
with any variation of the grip, such as Vardon or interlocking.
Once the club is placed in this position, the life line of the
trailing hand should fit nicely on top of the thumb of the leading
3. The final step is to place the inside edge of the thumb on your
trailing hand on the side of the grip where it would appear to lay
naturally. It may even slightly touch the forefinger of that hand
as well. Placing this thumb on top or on back of the grip can only
cause problems with pressure on a point that would work against
creating the proper leverage needed in a golf swing.
If hitting a golf shot feels more like work than play it is always
a good idea to check the 3 pre-swing fundamentals: Grip, Stance
and Aim. There have been more good swings from good preparation
than there have from not.
"How to pole
This is a story of a
man named Sam who had the desire to learn how to pole
vault. At this point you may be wondering what this has to do with
tip. Please read on.
After a quick search, he found there were three pole vault
town. The first instructor was a nice person who greeted Sam with
They proceeded to the practice area where the instructor began to
how to grip the pole, run and place the pole in the ground in
propel himself over the bar. Then Sam was turned loose to
try again and again to do just what the instructor had very
Unhappy with his results, but still wanting to learn to pole
decided to go and try the next pole vault school in the book.
At this appointment he was greeted by a hot-shot instructor who
of the confidence Sam would love to have, the perfect model for a
expert. Sam became excited as they proceeded to the instruction
thinking he would learn this time for sure.
The larger-than-life instructor sat Sam down in a chair and
show, on a video tape, a slow motion review of tapes from the
own medal-winning performance in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
viewing the gold performance at least 10 times, breaking down each
point, the instructor took Sam out for his next miserable and
trying to do exactly what he had been told and shown to do. No
had understood what they had told and shown him. It just wasn't
through. He started to doubt his own athletic ability, not to
mention his hope for learning to pole vault. Sam, starting to lose
all hope of soaring over that bar, resolved to try
the third and final choice of instructors. The price for
instruction was a
little higher than the others, but this was going to be his last
Right from their first meeting did Sam have a different feeling
new instructor. After being asked about his past attempts to pole
and whether he felt there were any physical limitations, he knew
that this his best interest was a concern. The instructor also
explained that this would
be an investment of time and effort. There would be no short cuts.
more than ever to learn to pole vault, Sam readily signed the
The instruction began by asking Sam what his interpretation of
vaulting was. Did he understand the concepts that had been previously
wasn't until there was a clear picture did they proceed. Then
given a shorter pole and asked to assume his position for beginning.
how he was holding the pole and even the foot he began the first
was important. These were the fundamentals, according to the
The next week they would actually begin to put these into action.
encouraged to repeat these new ideas in front of a mirror every
practice. Only after working with the way it felt for Sam to hold the pole
and run to the jump with proper timing was he able to see
it. And not until he learned how it felt to propel his body in the
air did he
challenge himself with reaching even a silver medal height. Sam
finally on the way to his dream of really pole vaulting.
Sam's experience is probably not unlike many of those who are
learn or improve their game of golf today. To learn from Sam's
identifying and understanding what needs to happen before
actually do it comes first. Then doing the skill at a level that
be successful and rewarded was an important point. The point
be made most clear, however, is that not until the proper movement
experienced did Sam begin to put all of the pieces together. The
instructor told Sam how to do it. The second instructor showed
Sam how to
do it. Finally, the successful instructor coached Sam to feel how
be done through related drills and exercises in addition to the
Learning golf, or any other physical activity, is no
effective instructors will include the following in their
1. Begin with sound fundamentals;
2. Take the activity in less challenging doses, making the
success a motivator;
3. Incorporate kinesthetic drills or movements that support the
activity to promote the movements required;
Analyze your current golf improvement program to determine if
satisfied with your progress. If not, maybe Sam's story can help
understand why and get on the track to your greater enjoyment of