By: Todd Graves
In Search of the Perfect Grip
Searching for perfection and for the truth can be an adventure and eye opening. Sometimes it can make you do things that most people wouldn’t think of – like crawling between someone’s legs and snapping a picture.
As you can see in this picture of Moe’s right hand – discovering exactly where he placed his right hand position on the club. I wanted to see his knuckle position so I crawled between his legs and took a pic. I also took dozens of other pictures from different angles of his hands on the golf club.
What I do know, after watching and learning from Moe over ten years is that Moe had the best hand action in golf because he had a perfect grip. I also learned that hand position or the grip is a vital part of the golf swing and I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that it could be the most important variable. Not because it is the only thing that is important but because the entire swing will often reflect and compensate for where you hands are placed on the club.
So why exactly is hand position so important?
Your hands hold the club so that you can move the club, produce speed and square the clubface at impact. I call this hand action within the golf swing and your hand action is a direct reflection of the position of your hand placement on the grip. As a matter of fact, I often check a persons grip at the top of the backswing because you simply cannot hit a golf ball correctly if the clubface is not square during the swing movement. And the only way to have a square clubface is by having a correct hold and hand action.
I discussed the importance of the hands position with Moe as well as how a correct hand position allows for a great address position which leads to a great hand action and swing action that Moe called – “The Feeling of Greatness”. This feeling that Moe described, started in his hands where the lead hand worked together with the trail hand to produce perfect club and club-face movement during the swing. Here are a few details to describe the Hand Position and Hand Action:
Hand Position Basics:
- The back of the lead hand faces the target / square with the clubface
- The club is held in the fingers of the lead hand (pressure points) (The Lead hand is the left hand for a right handed player).
- The club is held so that it aligns with the lead arm (from face on view)
- The Trail Hand pinky overlaps the lead hand index finger to unify the hands. (The trail hand is the right hand for a right handed player)
- The Trail Hand is under or aligned with the club into a “non-rotational” position where it does not rotate during the backswing or downswing allowing for a direct, straight, non-rotational movement into impact.
- The club also aligns with the trail arm (down-the-line view)
Below you can see Moe’s hand position from another angle:
This angle shows Moe’s Lead hand and how it aligns with the club face. You can also see how the trail arm is below the lead arm showing that the club is placed through the lead hand under the heel pad. Notice the squareness of the club-face.
The Grip (Hands) position the wrists
With the hands placed on the club correctly, there is another key factor to the hand position – the wrists. If there were one concept that I would want you to fully understand about the grip is that when I talk about your grip, what I am really talking about is your wrists. What I mean by this statement is that your hands are like clamps and your wrists are like hinges. The clamps simply hold the club, the hinges are the things that actually move. To have a proper grip, you must hold the club so that the wrists can move together – hinging and unhinging to maximize both the range of motion and the direction of movement.
There has been much debate between a 10 finger, Overlapping and even Interlocking grip. And my position on all of these different hand positions is still the same, they all work. The problem is that none of them work if they do not place the wrists in the correct position. What needs to be discussed here is which grip promotes the ideal wrist movement – which I believe to be the Overlapping Grip.
Why do I believe the Overlapping Grip provides the best possible wrist movement – the answer is simple. Because it moves the wrists closer together unifying them. By bringing the lower hand up by overlapping the pinky over the index finger, the lower hand wrist is moved closer to the lead hand wrist. Think about breaking a stick between your hands, the more you separate your hands apart, the easier it is to break the stick in between. When you bring the hands closer together, it becomes more difficult to produce pressure between your hands.
This is an important part of understanding the pressure in the hands when you hold a golf club. You want pressure on the ends of the hands, not in between the hands. This allows for you to “use” the shaft to produce speed as opposed to placing stress on the hands.
With the proper pressure points and the hands unified, the hands work together, unifed. With unified hands, you can freely move the wrists to their ideal range of motion as well as produce speed on the clubshaft propelling the club head quickly to through the golf ball.
Improperly holding the club where the hands are not unified, is the main reason I see golfers lose speed. They simply don’t have the hands working. And since the hands are such one of the main speed producers in the golf swing, without proper hand movement, the club can’t move either. Here are a few samples of improper hand positions that completely inhibit hand unification and speed:
1) Hands in opposite rotations
2) Hands Split or 10 finger (not unified)
3) Lead Thumb too Short
4) Lead Thumb too Long
5) Club in Palm of Lead hand
6) Club in Lifeline of Trail Hand
These are just a few of the improper hand positions that we commonly see. The main issue of course is that these hand positions inhibit wrist movement thus the entire golf swing is negatively affected – mainly club speed and angles of club approach into the ball at impact.
If you want to understand club approach into the ball – ask yourself if you take a divot or not. If you don’t take a proper divot with your irons, most likely you have issues with your hand position causing you to improperly use your wrists. In other words, you do not have angle into the ball because your wrists aren’t working.
Here are the hand action basics:
The hands work together during the backswing where:
- The lead hand cocks
- The trail Hand Hinges (non rotationally)
- The lead arm stays straight in the backswing
- The trail arm folds in the backswing
- The movement of the hands and arms (hand action) planes the club shaft
- The movement of the hands and arms also planes the club face
- The uncocking and unhinging of the hands produces speed into impact
- The uncocking and unhinging of the hands squares the clubface at impact
As you can see, the proper grip allows for the ideal hand action throughout the golf swing including the proper angles of club approach into the ball at impact.
The proper angles of approach result in the golf ball flying straight due to the ideal hand position as the unhinge into impact. And in my opinion playing golf with an improper grip is a waste of time because you are fighting poor fundamentals, improper face aim and angles.
Moe would call this “fighting yourself” because if you hands are on the club incorrectly, you simply cannot swing the club well. You’ve lost the battle before it has begun.
Spend some time perfecting your grip and train your hand action. You will be amazed at how much you can improve from this simple yet critically important fundamental.