Someone once said, “If you have a bad grip, you’ll have a bad swing.” That couldn’t be more true. No matter how hard you work on your golf swing, without the right grip you’ll never get the power or accuracy that you need.
The hands, through the medium of the golf club, are the only connection the player has to the ball. To make proper contact and to have the clubface aligned at impact, it’s crucial that the hands be placed correctly on the grip. In effect, the hands must line up in perfect alliance with the clubface. This allows the hands and club to work together as one unit throughout the swing.
“The grip is the heartbeat of the golf swing.”
Many players grip the club as they would a baseball bat. This feels natural, but it doesn’t work, because the strike pattern of the two swings are so dissimilar. In baseball we grip the bat in our palms and swing at an object above waist level. But when we take that grip to a golf club, it opens the face at impact, sending the ball slicing off to the right. Players with this type of palm grip typically dip down to strike the ball, causing them to lose solid contact.
In golf the grip of the club needs to be placed and held in the fingers of both hands. It’s not a natural feel, but it’s an important element to the proper grip. It allows the club to rotate just right under the centrifugal force of the downswing, giving it a much better chance of squaring at impact (assuming the proper swing plane, of course).
Poor hand placement usually starts when a player places the clubhead on the ground and then wraps his or her hands around the grip. This almost always moves the shaft into the palms, rather than the fingers.
The quickest remedy for this is to always start your grip with the clubhead above the hands, about eye level, and then place the grip gently into your fingers. Use the markings on your grip to make sure you’ve got your hands properly placed. When your grip feels sure, firm it a bit and then take the club to the ground behind the ball. Sam Snead used to say that the correct grip pressure should feel like you’re holding a small bird in your hands—tight enough to keep him from flying away but not so strong as to crush him.
If you’ll make this ritual part of your pre-shot routine, I guarantee that your grip—and your game—will improve.
Another important grip fundamental to keep in mind is that the palms of each hand must be facing each other. If they aren’t, the hands will work against each other as the club is swung, twisting the face of the club and making solid contact with the ball virtually impossible. This unbalanced hand position keeps the wrists from making the correct setting motion on the way back and through the ball.
“The basic factor in all good golf is the grip. Get it right, and all other progress follows.”
One good way to test the balance of your hands is to take a book and place it between your hands in mirror position, with your fingers spread slightly apart on each side. Hold the book toward the ground as if it were a golf club and then swing your arms around as if swinging a club. Your thumbs should be pointing upward at waist level. Now complete your swing to the top and then make a swing through an imaginary ball, watching your hands rotate on the downswing, squaring the book at impact, and then again bringing your thumbs to point upward in front of you and on through to the finish.
Try this drill several times at home to get the feel of how the clubface rotation should work during a swing and how the hands work together to make this happen.
Staying in God’s Grip
In golf, a proper grip aligns our hands with the clubface in a way that allows for the greatest power and control over the ball. Without a proper grip, there is no course on earth that we can master.
In life, it is prayer and communion with God that give us that same sense of authority, control, and direction. It is the one thing we need most to master the course of our life.
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”
Prayer is our connection to God. It is the median that allows him to align our lives with his will and purpose. It is the one true link between God’s heart and ours. Through prayer we acknowledge our need for God’s forgiveness and presence in our lives. By laying before him our deepest yearnings, longings, and sins, we are allowing him full access to our lives, surrendering ourselves and our desires to his perfect will and direction.
The natural inclination of most followers is to try to live for Christ, rather than in Christ. We want to be doing something—moving, working, accomplishing. But through times of quiet prayer and reflection, we learn the importance of simply being, of lingering in his presence, of allowing him to be in control.
A golfer may know all the principles of the golf swing—backswing, downswing, hip turn—and he may read all kinds of books and articles about golf, but if his grip is not balanced and true, all of his efforts and knowledge about the game will be wasted.
In the same way, as followers of Christ, we may know the Bible backward and forward and may be living for God to the best of our ability, but without the deep and personal communication of prayer, our lives will lack power and direction.
In golf, our hands must be alive to the clubhead. In life, our hearts should be alive to God’s hands.