Thursday, February 23, 2012

Unified Grip On All Shots

Invariably, one always comes back to the TOP golf fundamental: the grip.

I just returned from a business trip and went golfing with my old boss. He gave me a putting tip that I think might be applicable to all shots in golf. (His tip had me making a lot more putts right away!) And ironically, this is something about which I once thought often, but it went by the wayside in favor of other swing tweaks and experiments.

Golfers learn early that the grip is very important in putting, because if one hand dominates the other, all sorts of misses can occur (the yips). We're taught to place the hands on the club with palms facing one another, with a reverse overlap grip and the club in the lifeline of the left hand. But when one closes the fingers, it's nearly impossible to keep the palms perfectly square; as a result (without continued attention to this fundamental), the hands can "wander away" from each other ever so slightly, and this distance is enough to introduce the yips: in my case, a right hand that tries to take over.

Golfers, including professionals, fight this tendency to drift away from the fundamentals. You can even see pros adopting all sorts of new grips and long putters to fight off the yips. I'm not so sure any of that is necessary; Phil Mickelson recently threw away the belly putter and returned to his traditional putter, and his putting improved! Maybe one simply needs to refocus on the fundamentals.

In putting, I have a tendency for the left hand grip to drift back to a stronger position like I use on full shots (i.e., the club gets out of my lifeline…out of my palm). And for the right hand, the grip becomes less overlapped (slightly drifts away from the left towards the club head), and this keeps my hands from acting in a more unified manner (really, really critical in putting). Done correctly, the grip feels like both hands have been melted together!

So, I'm starting to wonder if a more unified feel would help ALL SHOTS. I'm now trying to ensure that I pull my right hand up firmly into my left to prevent any gaps from forming with my Vardon grip. Clearly, forms of the overlapped grip (like Tiger and Jack use) are designed to keep the hands from becoming disassociated. I have a tendency to become to right-hand dominant in my golf shots, which occasionally causes my left wrist to cup and open the club face (it's obvious what can happen with putting and chipping). I think one can still have a united feel on all shots using a Vardon (or maybe even 10-finger) grip by ensuring the hands have an overlapped or unified feeling (i.e., feel melted together). Some of this involves equalization of grip pressure between both hands so that there's one pressure. This way, the hands form a single pivot point for the club and the arms.

Any feel of the hands acting separately in the golf swing is not a good thing.

There are no gaps ... everything fits nicely together. The hands are compact and unified. The grip pressure is created by the form of the grip. [From The Right Grip Produces a Solid Swing |]

The Vardon Grip, which Vardon said best unified the hands for a more consistent swing, is to this day used by the majority of the world's golfers. Vardon was also known for his accuracy, which he allied with considerable power, but it was the latter that his first American audiences admired most.

[From HowStuffWorks "Harry Vardon"]


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