Archive: April, 2011

Get a Grip

The Problem – Top Hand Placement on the Grip 

Our topic today is probably the most common problem I see; the incorrect placement of the top hand on the golf club.  Almost everyone who starts the game begins by holding the golf club too much in the palm of his or her top-hand (the left hand for right-handed golfers).  This grip fault is often referred to as a “weak grip”. In most cases the club feels more secure in this position (see photos 1 and 2) but it is actually less stable and also leads to many other problems.  The correct hand placement will put the handle of the club more into the fingers of the top hand and will position the heel pad on top of the handle rather than along side. 

Grip Left Hand Too Weak
Grip Left Hand Too Weak

Grip Right Hand too Weak
Grip Right Hand too Weak

 

The Potential Effects

Placing the club too far into the palm can result in several less than desirable outcomes.  First, because the club is resting in the palm, you will need to squeeze the club quite tightly to maintain control, creating tension in the forearms. This tension can inhibit the wrists from hinging correctly during the swing and cause a loss of power and control.  This lack of wrist hinge can also result in the golfer hinging their elbow in an attempt to finish their back swing (NOT GOOD)!  The incorrect hand placement causes the wrist joint of the top hand to be positioned to the side of the handle rather than the correct positioning over top of the handle.  This inhibits the wrist’s ability to hinge correctly as opposed to the more desirable wrist action and also leads to a breakdown of the arm and/or miss-alignment of the clubface. There are several other potential problems associated with a poor top-hand grip but I won’t bore you with the nasty details!

The Fix

The cure for this very common ailment is to place the club more into the fingers of the top hand.  By doing so, the club will fit under the heel pad and will also allow the wrist to position itself correctly; directly over top of the handle of the club (see photos below).  This will allow you to control the golf club without needing a “Death Grip”, allow the wrist to hinge correctly and will promote a square clubface at impact (REALLY GOOD).  The easiest way to check how you have placed your hands on the club is to lift the club to vertical by simply hinging your wrists.  This should be quite easy and you should not feel any need to bend your elbows.

Good Top Hand Grip for Righty
Good Top Hand Grip for Righty
Good Top Hand Grip for a Lefty
Good Top Hand Grip for a Lefty

Let me know if this article is helpful and if you would like to see a specific topic in future posts.  Good luck with your golf!

Putting Drills

This Post’s focus is helping you putt better.  Almost everyone who plays golf has gone through a stretch when they miss a lot of 3 or 4 footers or struggle to control the speed on their putts.  It’s no accident that I have about 20 putters in my workshop just waiting for their next chance to get back into the line-up!  If you want to be a better putter, you will have to practice. The following are a few of my favourite drills.

Aim the Putter Face Correctly for Direction Control

The single biggest factor, which controls direction, is the aim of the putter face.  You must learn how to aim the putter face correctly if you want to putt effectively.  The putter face must sit perpendicular to the line you want to start your ball on.  The easiest way to check you putter aim is to have someone stand behind you and tell you where your putter is aiming.  If you are aiming incorrectly, have them adjust your putter until it sits correctly.  Do this a few times so you can begin to recognize a correctly aimed putter.  There are also many training aids on the market, which can help you learn to aim in the right direction.

An easy way to check your aim on your own is to put two clubs down to form a track towards the hole (as in the drawing).  You will be able to easily see if your putter is perpendicular to the shafts on the ground.

Putting Between the Rails
Putting Between the Rails

Once you have your putter aimed correctly, a good stroke will be much easier to execute because you won’t have to compensate for you bad aim during your stroke.  There are a few fundamentals with respect to set up and stroke, which you may also need to improve but those issues are better dealt with in person with a CPGA Teaching Professional.

Develop a Feel for Distance Control

The other major factor, speed control is a learned skill.  You can very quickly acquire a sense of distance by going to a practice putting green and rolling some balls.  The best drill I know of to improve distance control is to roll a series of putts with each putt rolling a few feet further than the putt before it.  You should be able to roll 4 or 5 putts and have a consistent distance between them.  If you struggle to do this, spend more time practicing because distance control is entirely a learned skill.

Putting Distance Drill
Putting Distance Drill

Do You Expect to Make the Putt?

The final component of being a good short putter is attitude.  You have to expect to make every putt you attempt.  To develop this confidence, I have a couple of drills I use with my students; the “Compass Drill” (pictured below) and the “Line Drill”.  The compass drill involves rolling putts from north, south, east and west from a distance of two feet.  You must make all four in a row to move on.  You then do the same from four feet and after you make all four of those putts in a row, you move out to six feet.  If you’re like me and you have limited time to practice, you may not complete all the six-footers!  There are two really strong benefits of this drill.  First, you may not make four putts in a row very often but you will make a lot of putts as you go through the drill.  Secondly, as you stand over that fourth ball, needing to make it to move on, you will feel just a little bit of pressure and this will help prepare you for the golf course.

Putting Compas Drill
Putting Compas Drill

The line drill (pictured below) is a simple one as well.  You line up four or five balls, every three feet, in a straight line back from the hole.  To complete the drill, you must make all of your balls in a row.  Once again, you will make a lot of putts as you attempt to complete the drill and when you get to the last ball, you will really want to make it so you can go home!

Putting Drill - Confidence
Putting Drill - Confidence

I hope this post will help you make more of those 3 and 4-footers.  Remember, aim the putter correctly and then forget about direction.  Switch your brain over to speed and roll the ball the correct distance.  It may take you some practice to rid yourself of that need to control direction with your stroke but once you do, your putting will really improve!!

Please let me know if you have more questions about putting or if you have other drills you have used to help your putting game.