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Golf teaching and playing articles > Common gripping errors

2 Sep 2004

Common gripping errors


As a golf instructor, I am forever working on the way golfers grip the club. This is such an important issue because the grip controls the clubface and the clubface controls the golf ball.


At the start of this year, I spent several weeks covering the ball flight laws in an attempt to help you understand what controls the flight of the ball.  As you recall, there are five ball flight laws: speed, centeredness of contact, path, face, and angle of approach.


The laws are controlled by what we call principles.  There are fourteen principles in the golf swing and they have a direct bearing on the laws.


The principle I am going to write about today is the grip (controls face) and the most common mistakes I see in how golfers hold the club.


The first is how the left hand is placed on the club (for a right handed golfer).  The biggest error I see is holding the club too much up into the palm of the hand, along the lifeline and between the palm pad and the heel pad.  Usually, it is desirable to hold the club so that it angles from the second knuckle of the index finger across to where the little finger meets the palm. This places the heel pad on top of the club shaft and creates leverage, making it easier to control the clubface at impact.


Another reason for this error is the mistaken belief that the left arm and the club shaft should be in a straight line from shoulder to ground, creating an arch in the wrist.  There should be a little cup in the wrists (see a wrinkle above the thumb) which creates a break in the line between the arms and the club shaft.  Creating this unnatural wrist angle will pull the handle up into the palm of the hand.


The second error I see is the left hand and arm not being rotated inward enough.  Frequently, the desired position is for two knuckles to be showing in the address position and for the V between the thumb and index finger to be turned towards the right armpit.  The reason for this error is rotating the palm skyward in an effort to see where the club is being held, causing the hand and arm to be rotated outward.  This would line the v up to the chin or the front shoulder, and only one or no knuckles would be visible in the address position.


The next error involves the right hand.  Again, the club is held too much in the palm and the palm is rotated skyward. This contributes to a scooping action at impact, which we definitely want to avoid in golf.


Place this hand on the club so that the second knuckles of the two middle fingers hold the club, then mold the thumb and heel pad over the heel pad of the target hand, so that the v’s of both hands are pointing near the right armpit. 


The palm gripping errors sometimes happen because in other sports such as tennis or baseball, you hold the handle in the palm and therefore, this feels familiar to you.