Justifying the Journey to Golf Grip Development
In looking back and considering all things within my variety of experiences to this point, developing a decent golf grip was one of the hardest things I struggled with overall when learning to golf. I am referring here to both the physical unnaturalness of and the mental lack of legitimate reasoning given by others for overlapping or interlocking one’s fingers when gripping a golf club. I admit here that my golf swing was quite poor when I started playing golf, and this was even after I was already a fairly accomplished baseball player. I initially golfed for several years with a baseball style grip, a fairly strong hand position (hands turned more to the right on a club), and a golf swing that was very undeveloped, with a slice so bad that sometimes the ball seemed to be headed back toward me before it hit the ground. As the years passed and the practices and swings mounted, I afterward developed a hooking problem so bad that I wished I had my slice back. At some point I (begrudgingly) changed to an interlocking grip because Jack Nicklaus used it, without having or knowing any other convincing reason why I should do such a thing, and I eventually switched to a pretty standard overlapping (Vardon) grip, which I still use today. At the time of that last change, I again felt I was going against my own better judgment and that it was a pretty foolish idea without real foundation. I cannot say now how much knowledge of golf I had accumulated by that time in my life, but certainly any reasoning I was aware of at the time for pursuing a golf gripping style of securing the hands together better when gripping a golf club was not very convincing to me.
Nothing I had read, heard, or saw up to that point within the golf industry seemed to be a really good reason for doing something I was quite uncomfortable with, both physically and psychologically. Now my transition from baseball to golf was not an abrupt one, and there was a period of time when I was playing both games simultaneously. Since no one could give me any justifiable reasons for using traditional golf club gripping procedures and I had always been a curious one to begin with anyway regarding how and why things work the way they do, I performed some experiments of my own. Multiple times during baseball batting practice I intentionally put my hands into positions on a bat so they were joined together by overlapping or interlocking my fingers, and I obtained plenty of results compared with my “normal and natural” grip on the bat and my swing. I was hardly a superstar power hitter, though I do recall leading our league in home runs at least one year. After observing a sufficient number of “regular” hits and then joining my hands even closer together and noting the results, it seemed that I could barely hit the ball out of the infield anymore. While the difference was probably not as dramatic as it appeared to me back then, the power loss was of a magnitude that was very noticeable. Additionally, I found no evidence whatsoever that I hit the baseball any more solidly or consistently with my hands locked together more, even after performing the test over and over again. Even if I had experienced “easier hitting” to some degree, the encountered loss of power was so much that I could never give serious consideration to making such a grip change on a permanent basis when batting in baseball.
Golf is no different in this respect despite what many people might think. The facts are that with any given golf club in hand, one can take a most common grip with one hand just abutting the other and no overlapping or interlocking of any of the fingers, greatly improve the chances of a noticeable increase in distance when hitting a golf ball, and yet lose virtually no consistency in ball contact and travel over that which is achievable by initially having to force an unusual and awkward hold to be taken on the club. On the surface this seems like an absolutely ideal situation: maximum distance, consistency at least equal to any other activity (where an object is commonly moving when trying to hit it), and an easier, more natural gripping style also. What more can one possibly ask for?
But before running out and getting into the habit of holding your clubs with more of a baseball style grip (this is always still an alternative), I will inform you here that there are a couple of extremely important reasons for striving to grip a golf club in a manner that has been developed through the years by the majority of golfers who eventually learned to play the game well. I can also tell you through first-hand experience that the common reasons given for developing such a gripping style are generally not sufficient to motivate one to continue to develop what can seem like a worthless practice, especially early on. And the common reasons given for developing such a gripping style are certainly not the right reasons for doing so. Now honestly, who besides golfers (or swing instructors, clubfitters, etc.) could possibly believe the often-made statement that a golf swing is more difficult because of the way a golf club needs to be “swung around the body?” Perhaps it is truly not known by many within golf that almost every activity requires something or other to be “swung around the body” to some extent during performing, including swinging baseball bats and tennis rackets right from the start. Now if you are looking for some genuine reasoning for pursuing the accomplishment of gripping a golf club in a traditional, “formal” manner and you would like to really become golf educated, you might only be able to do so by coming back for Waggle Weight Wisdom’s next post.