When you first start to play the game of golf it’s easy to believe that the long drive is a result of strength and power. Increased strength equals increased distance. But you’d be wrong. Not that there is anything wrong with strength. It just isn’t that critical to making long drives. In fact, strength can get you into a lot of trouble. Gripping the golf club with strong hands, as if it were in danger of being grabbed away from you, is the wrong approach.
It’s counter intuitive but the truth is that the softer your grip on the golf club, the more likely it is that you will let the club do the work it was designed for, and send that golf ball flying far down the fairway. A tight grip leads to loss of control and that leads to hooks and slices, and higher golf scores.
Putting it simply: less is more. The lighter you hold the club, the more it is allowed to do its job. Grip the club too tightly and you lose control.
Here is what happens to me and to a lot of players: I start off fine. I set up correctly, club face square to the ball, my shoulders, hips and feet are all aligned to the target. Everything is in perfect alignment. I make a deliberate attempt to hold the club lightly, fingers not palms holding the shaft. Then I begin my back-swing. And somehow my brain kicks in and tells my fingers that if I don’t grab hold of the club as it gets to the top of my swing, it’s going to go flying off into the air, so I tighten up, my fingers grab at the shaft and throw the entire club off line. When the head of the club comes back through the ball, it is “off square” just enough to send my ball flying off to the right, or left — anywhere but straight at my target.
As you can imagine, this does nothing for my game. I end up under bushes, in the woods, in the water—essentially in deep trouble.
So what is the secret to the soft golf grip? How can I turn off that signal my mind sends to my hands to grab tight just when I need them to remain soft?
The secret is to focus on the club head, and stay focused on it throughout the swing. How? You need to feel the weight of the club head at the end of the shaft before you ever put the club head square to the ball.
- Set up at your ball as you usually do but before swinging
- Lift the club to your shoulder height,
- Move it up and down just a bit to recognize it’s weight.
- Let your hands softly hold the shaft of the club and recognize that you have the club under control. It is not going to fly away.
- Begin your swing, all the while focus on the weight of the club head.
- At the top of your swing, continue to focus on the weight
- In your downswing, let the weight of the club fall of its own, your hands guiding it, not yanking or pulling,
- Let the club head do its work, swinging through the ball and up into your follow through
- Hold your follow through to the count of 3
Try this technique the next time you are at the practice range. I think you will find that soft hands, less tension in your grip will lead to a better and longer drive.
If you try this and it works for you, let us know. Let us know if you have a better way. We’re always interested.