Director of Instruction
John Jacobs’ Golf School and Academy Orange Tree Golf Resort
Obvious as the title may seem, if you would teach as many students as I teach at our Golf Schools and Academies, it is apparent this variable is greatly overlooked and under emphasized. Four out of five students are gripping the club in a way they will never reach their maximum clubhead speed. This percentage still represents a lack of knowledge to the effect how vital the grip is to meeting their objectives for more distance.
I remember in my training from British teaching legend John Jacobs how detailed he was with his students in placing their hands on the golf club in the correct position thus enabling them to develop proper swing mechanics through his advise on good technique. Always emphasizing to us as instructors not to ask your students to execute your suggestions on their swing mechanics they are unable to produce due to an incorrect grip. This is the one variable that restricts students from developing proper swing mechanics and reaching maximum clubhead speed. He would frequently say in his clinics the main difference in skill levels between golfers is the ability to freely swing the arms and club down and through which is controlled by the grip.
To develop a proper grip, first start by placing your grip on a club and stand and face a mirror or a reflection. Note the V’s that form on both hands between the thumb and index finger. The crease or fold of skin that forms between them will be pointing a direction relative to your center. The important thing to note here is are they pointing the same direction or are they parallel to each other? If they are not lined up correctly, most golfers will never reach their potential for maximum clubhead speed. Not to mention inconsistency in proper clubface alignment at impact, too open or closed.
The physical impact will be one hand being more dominant than the other or a feeling of the hands opposing each other as one swings the club down and through, often causing discomfort or a changing of the hand position (regrip). This will produce poor arm mechanics, resulting in swing faults like the “ chicken wing follow-through” or the “scoop’ sensation at the bottom of the swing arc. Correct arm extension and rotation will also be compromised.
Create a strategy for your grip that will be consistent and easy to remember in matching the V’s with more detail. You may have to try to place one hand at a time to make it correct. Place the top hand on first then the bottom to get it right. Raising the club up to eye level works good as well to make sure it is correct. Try gripping the top hand by letting that arm hang to the side of your body in a more relaxed position, this almost always drops the club more into the fingers for that looser feeling. When done properly, a golfer at first may experience a degree of anxiety due to the grip feeling too loose or out of control, but that will soon be replaced with confidence once the shots start going longer with more speed.
I have showed this to many low handicap golfers as well and documented an increase in distance to their great satisfaction.
Remember your grip is your only connection to the golf club, the development of consistent skill starts here.
Mike La Fond is Director of Instruction at John Jacobs Golf Schools and Academy at Orange Tree Golf Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. If you have questions about this article or wish to reserve a golf lesson, call 602.799.0995 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: This is the eighth of a series of instructional columns that will be presented each month by a different John Jacobs’ Golf Schools and Academies’ Instructor.