FROM HOW TO PLAY YOUR BEST GOLF ALL THE TIME BY TOMMY ARMOUR
ARMOUR’S SECRET in numerable times I’ve had golfers come to me complaining about some fault that is ruining their swings.Generally, in such cases I find that the cause of the trouble is an incorrect grip which makes it utterly impossible to get any element of the swing correct. The situations have a parallel in your own automobile. If the transmission isn’t right, everything else can be O.K., but the car won’t go. When you haven’t got the connection (the hands) functioning properly, your arms, elbows, shoulders, body, legs, and feet can’t work in the correct manner.The basic factor in all good golf is the grip. Get it right, and all other progress follows. To hold the club properly, let the shaft lie where the fingers join the palm of the left hand. The last three fingers of the left hand are closed snugly to the grip.
A good tip is to keep the little finger of the left hand from being loosened; then the next two fingers will stay firm.
The left thumb is placed down the right side of the grip. Where a mistake in the left-hand grip frequently is made is in having the shaft lie from the root of the fore¬finger diagonally across the palm, about to the heel of the hand. After the club is placed at the roots of the fingers of the left hand, and the fingers closed snugly against the grip, the grip is pressed up slightly toward the heel of the hand, although it continues to lie in its original position against the left forefinger. Therefore, some make the mistake of believing that the proper placement at the beginning is diagonally across the palm. What you always should do with the left hand grip is to keep it just as near to the roots of the fingers as possible.
The position of the left hand on the shaft definitely must be slightly over to the right of the shaft so the V of the thumb and forefinger points to the right shoulder. That’s old advice, but still the best. Your right hand should be put on the grip with the club lying in the channel formed when the fingers are bent, and with your left thumb fitting snugly under your right thumb.
The right little finger goes over the fore¬finger of your left hand, or curls around the exposed knuckle of the left forefinger. It doesn’t make any difference which of these two positions the right little finger takes— whichever one you like. The right hand is placed slightly to the right of the top of the shaft. The right thumb is in a natural position to the left of the shaft. It is important that the right thumb and forefinger be as close as comfortably possible because these two parts of the right hand are a vital combination in a grip for power. The right thumb-forefinger combination enables you to whip the club through with all possible speed. The club is held in the right hand with about half the pres¬sure of the left-hand grip.
Keep both hands fitted compactly together. They must coordinate the essential factors of left-hand control and right-hand power, and unless they’re working closely, your hand action will be faulty. What you are seeking and must have in your grip is the utmost effectiveness in power and control. You need to keep the face of the club in correct alignment with the path of the swing at all times, until the ball has left the club head.
The most serious and most frequent deviation of the club face from its proper position occurs at the top of the swing. What very few golfers—outside of the experts—understand is the difference between holding the club tight and not letting it get loose at the top of the swing. When I see a player hold the club tightly at address, I know that the odds are about ninety to one that the firm grip of the last three fingers of his left hand is going to open at the top of the swing, and he’ll never be able to regain control of the club for his downswing.
The big idea—the essential one— is to hold the club at address with easy security rather than grim, tightening intensity. You can keep that kind of hold on the club throughout the swing. The last three fingers of the left hand hold the club firmly. The right-hand grip is relaxed, and not at all tight through out the back swing and the early stage of the downswing. When your right-hand grip does get firmer, just before and at the moment of impact, the tightening action will be spontaneous and precisely timed without conscious effort. The action must take place with such lighting speed that there is no possibility of deliberate application of the muscular strength that’s available in the hands.
Golf is a game to be played with two hands. Your left guides the club and keeps the face in the desired position for the hit, and the power pours through the coupling of the right hand and the club. Your hands must be together and work together to get the utmost lever¬age, balance, precision, and speed that can be applied. Always have your mind made up that you are going to whip your right hand into the shot. That is a “must”. Anytime you hear an argument advanced against the right hand whipping into the shot, you may be sure that the objection is fallacious.
Something about the right hand that must have your thought and practice is having that part of the right forefinger, which is nearest the palm, functioning positively in the hitting action. When the right-hand grip lies firmly between the forefinger and the thumb, it is in perfect position for a fast, firm, lashing action. The lashing action springs from the joint functioning of the forefinger and thumb.
When your left hand retains control of the club as it should, you will not suffer the usual error of the higher handicap player. This is the mistake of wasting the hand action too soon. Usually this mistake is made by straightening the wrists almost immediately after the downswing starts. Then, the ball is contacted by a stiff-arm push instead of with a vigorous whipping action.
You probably won’t be able to observe in the fast action of the experts’ play how their hands are over the ball or slightly past it before their wrists start to un cock. But, when you look at photographs of the stars in action, you will see how they get the right- hand whip precisely at the most effective time—and much later than the average player does.
When the grip is correct, there isn’t an inclination to let the right hand whip in too soon. What causes the right hand to throw from the top of the swing is that the left hand is loose, and the right hand tries to take over the function of control as well as power. Therefore, the right hand is in frantic action in a spontaneous effort to do the whole job.
By becoming acutely conscious of the necessity of a right-hand whip when the club is getting close to the ball, you will be pleasantly surprised at how your shoulders, hips, and footwork are naturally disposed to coordinate with the hand action. The correct grip, which is the governing component of hand action, is certainly the greatest single detail towards achieving direction and distance of the golf shot. When you get your grip right, you have automatically eliminated many of the bothersome details which may confuse you and prevent proper execution of shots.
reprinted from The Secret of Golf by George Peper (Workman Publishing/New York).