By John Marshall
As a golf instructor and former long drive competitor at the national level I have always been a fanatic about the importance of pre-swing fundamentals. By that I mean grip, posture, alignment and ball position. I never see a good player with a bad set-up or a bad player with a good one. Perhaps the most important of them all is the grip in that it’s the player’s only connection to the club. I often say to my students that the golf club face tells the ball where to go and the hands direct the club face.
To place your hands on the golf club properly, hold the club in front of you at an upward 45 degree angle with your right hand (left for left-handed players) on the shaft slightly below the grip. Place the left hand on the grip with the heel pad at the base of the little finger on top of the shaft. My preference with the left-hand grip is to see the knuckles of the forefinger and middle finger. For most people this would be a neutral grip. My left thumb is on top of the shaft but to the right of center. When I look at the hand I can’t see the finger tips.
From there, I slide my right hand down so that the left thumb fits into the lifeline pocket of the right hand. There is slight separation between the right forefinger and the middle finger with the grip resting in the middle knuckle of the forefinger. The right thumb rests on top of the shaft but slightly to the left of center.
The “Vs” formed by the thumbs and forefingers of each hand should be parallel to each other and pointing somewhere between the chin and the right shoulder. Obviously everyone is built differently. The player should experiment with this “V” alignment to determine which position enables him or her to return the club face to impact with the with the face perpendicular to the target line. As long as a golfer stays within the framework of the fundamentals, some experimentation is always encouraged.
Last but not least is the issue of grip pressure. To determine the proper pressure, hold the golf club in front of you with the shaft parallel to the ground. That’s too much pressure. Then hold the club in front of you with the shaft pointed straight up. That’s too little pressure. When the club is held at a 45 degree angle, the pressure should be proper. Please keep in mind that it’s very easy to have proper grip pressure when we’re in our set-up. The most important part is during the transition phase of the swing where we are most likely to squeeze.
Remember, we can’t hit perfect shots every time but we can always place our hands on the club properly. And if we do there’s a very good chance that the club face will be aimed at the target at impact.