The Wrong Reason for the Right Golf Grip
It has been said over and over again that the foundation of one’s golf swing lies in the way one grips a golf club, and such words are basically true. Now a good golf grip can be mastered with practice and without ever swinging a golf club, so one can still have a good golf grip and yet a very undeveloped swing. But over time, one’s hold on a golf club is perhaps the most powerful factor in determining how the overall swing develops. One’s golf grip can influence address position, every inch of swinging motion during both the backswing and forward swing, whether one’s upper body or lower body will be more predominantly active while swinging, and much, much more. Whatever one’s golf swing looks like or feels like, the root of how that swing developed can in large measure usually be traced back to the way a golf club is gripped. Altering one’s hold on a club may change a swing over time to a much greater extent than any other single golf swing determinant. In this respect, whatever one’s definition of a good golf swing may be, it can in essence be said that a good golf grip is ultimately the foundation of, responsible for, and/or at least a major contributing element to a good golf swing.
If not accustomed to it, however, holding onto a golf club in accordance with “established standards” might be one of the most awkward feelings and experiences ever encountered. In addition to being physically challenging at the outset, it can be mentally frustrating as well because most if not all other athletic and non-athletic activities get to hold onto their equipment in a more “normal” and discernibly natural way. I am not talking here about turning one’s hands more clockwise or counterclockwise on a golf grip, but much more specifically I am referring to the process of learning to partially overlap or interlock one’s hands together when gripping and swinging a golf club. Why oh why would such a thing need to be done? Traditional golf folklore states that the reason is because a golf swing is a more difficult activity to master than most other pursuits, and that more closely mating one’s hands together when gripping and swinging a club can help make it a little easier to perform a golf swing by inducing the hands to work together more as a “single unit.”
Let me analyze this folklore more scientifically to determine whether there is any basis to consider it to be reality. To do so, it is extremely important to isolate details and examine various performance facets separately so as to not inadvertently combine them initially. This also allows specific comparisons against other activities to be more accurate rather than settling for broader generalizations. As one example, if I were to take the already smallish golf ball and reduce its size further, rationally making it harder to see and hit than a regulation ball, would you then conclude that a golf swing has become harder just like that? I suppose if one is struggling with confidence in his swing it can seem that way psychologically, but in using pure logic there is of course no change in the difficulty of a golf swing brought about by such circumstance. Alternately, if I were to increase the size of the golf ball to that of a tennis ball or baseball and as a result your next few rounds were played hitting the ball better than you ever have before, could you be persuaded to believe that a golf swing is not that difficult?
These are just a couple examples of how I could dramatically affect the overall difficulty or ease of playing golf in a way that is totally unrelated to and unaffected by how difficult a golf swing is determined to be. Such issues need to be analyzed independently in order to help gain a comprehensive working knowledge of why things are the way they are in the end. If nothing else about the game changed other than the single element of a golf ball being made larger into the size of a baseball, each one of you could reflect on how many swing teachers, swing teaching schools and organizations, swing training aids, etc., might still be around compared to how many there currently are and how difficult a golf swing might still be considered to be.
Bear in mind that I am still talking about hitting an object in golf that is just sitting still while swinging at it as opposed to an object that can be moving, curving, and changing speeds while trying to hit it. Given this fact alone, what possible grounds can one stand on to back up one’s belief that a golf swing is more difficult to perform than most other activities and as a result one’s hands must be melded together when gripping and swinging a golf club so that they can perform more as a single unit? The truth is, there are no reasonable grounds to support such an assertion of belief. Simple common sense should prevail in realizing that a great deal of illusion is present when one is convinced that a golf swing is so hard, one of many illusions that happens to be quite effective on golfers (and clubfitters, and swing teachers, etc). Since this particular illusion obviously cannot be the real reason for training to grip a golf club in the prescribed manner, at least one justifiable reason must be found in order to motivate one to continue on with something that might seem overwhelming at times, especially in the early going. In the end, the real reasoning for such a gripping process includes one of the most fundamentally important pieces of knowledge with respect to understanding and learning a golf swing (and related equipment fitting). Next time, I will introduce some additional real-world experience and practical evidence to further support some of the principles presented today.