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Grip Pressure

It is not often talked about in golf books, but it's a critical factor in the execution of a successful golf swing. For it is here, and only here, that the golfer comes into contact with the club during the swing. And it is the pressure your fingers exert on the club that determines your pace, coordination, motor skills, everything. Let's take a look at some ideas about grip pressure.

  REMEMBER THAT GOLF IS MORE OF A FINESSE GAME THAN A POWER GAME. You have to understand that the most effective way to strike a golf ball is to swing through the the ball, as opposed to "hitting at it." And that the grip on the club is the means to achieving that end. And that the best grip is one where you the golfer are in control of it from the beginning of the swing to the end of that swing.

  THE GRIP PRESSURE SHOULD BE AS LIGHT ON THE CLUB AS IS POSSIBLE AND YET STILL BE IN CONTROL. Because of centrifugal force, the clubhead, which, at rest, begins at zero miles an hour, actually gets up to speeds upwards of 100 MPH at impact. You have to have a firm enough grip to handle a clubhead travelling that fast, and yet, have a smooth enough grip pressure to deliver the clubhead accurately and squarely into the ball. You have to grip it light enough to be able to control a swing that is causing a clubhead to travel tremendously fast.

  KEEP THE GRIP PRESSURE AT A CONSTANT (LIGHT, BUT IN CONTROL) THROUGHOUT THE SWING. The centrifugal force of a fast moving clubhead will automatically force you to have to have a firm grip. And too fast of a swing will cause you to have to increase the grip pressure to control that club even more. This is why a smooth, evenly paced backswing is considered so important. But a smooth, even grip on the club throughout the swing -- with a pressure that tries to remain constant throughout -- translates into a swing that can remain in control, and yet builds up enough power to hit the ball the distance you require. The same tip you've heard before about swinging the same pace on both the backswing and the downswing also applies to grip pressure. Grip it the same through the entire swing back and through.

  GRIP PRESSURE FROM THE LAST THREE FINGERS OF THE LEFT HAND CONTROLS THE GOLF SWING DURING THE TRANSITION FROM BACKSWING TO DOWNSWING. It's the primary controlling part of the grip for pretty much the entire swing, and these three fingers are gripping the club slightly more firmly than the rest of the fingers. There is a natural tendency for the right side to try to hit the ball harder than the left side is capable of controlling. That's why you can't let the right overpower those three fingers on the left hand. If you control the swing properly with the correct pace, and keep control with the correct three fingers, you will probably strike the ball pretty well.

  WHEN IN A CRISIS SITUATION, GRIP IT AS LIGHTLY AS POSSIBLE. Forget the possibility your swing won't have enough grip behind it. The natural tendency is to grip it too tight. Concentrating on gripping it extra lightly will allow you to strike the ball more cleanly and efficiently. It will serve to discourage you from gripping the club too tightly, which is thge cause of many of the golfer's mis-hits. Watch pro golfers like Ernie Els, David Duval and Mark O'Meara during a critical point in a round some time. They grip it as lightly as possible, swing as smoothly as imaginable, and hit the ball a long, long way. The bottom line about grip pressure is to grip it as lightly as you can, while maintaining control of the swing. I've heard the term "grip it like you are gripping a bird by the neck," or "grip it like you're gripping an egg." No matter how smoothly you grip the club, the natural forces of the unfolding swing will provide all the clubhead speed you need. Your goal, as always, is to strike the ball as squarely and efficiently as possible. Your grip pressure should be as light on the club as you can get away with, and should be ONLY AS FIRMLY ON THE CLUB AS IT NEEDS TO BE.

Jim Miller Golf
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