How do you find the right grip pressure? The goal is a grip that is just tight enough to support the weight of the club throughout the swing.
The truth is your grip pressure changes throughout the swing because the effective weight of the golf club changes as it gathers speed. The most important thing, however, is to get your grip pressure correct at address — the rest will take care of itself.
I have a method for getting the feel of grip pressure. Grip a club, and hold it in front of your chest so that the shaft is vertical, with your hands about chest high and the clubhead in the air directly above your hands.
Now think of a scale from one to five, with one being the lightest possible grip pressure and five being the tightest.
Work through the scale, starting at “one” and tightening just enough to feel a change to “two.” Work all the way through the scale, feeling the difference as you increase pressure until you get to a five.
About “three” is correct for most circumstances. “Four” might resemble your grip when you ‘re getting ready to tee off in the club championship. A “five” would be your grip pressure on the 18th hole of the club championship with a one stroke lead.
Get the idea? Work through the scale a few times to gain awareness of different grip pressures.
Different pressure for different Shots
Accomplished players understand how to adjust grip pressure to play specialty shots. Think of your hands as having control of the clubface. How tightly you hold on with each hand affects the clubface position at impact — a key to “working” the golf ball.
For a fade: Tighten your grip pressure to a “four” on the grip pressure scale, feeling slightly firmer pressure in your left hand. Increased pressure in your left hand will delay the release of your right forearm over left, holding the clubface open through impact, producing a shot that spins from left to right.
For a draw: To hit a draw, the club face needs to be closing as it strikes the golf ball. To do this, drop the pressure of your grip back to a “two,” perhaps slightly lighter in the left hand. Lighter grip pressure will allow the hands, wrists and forearms to be more active, and they will allowing rotate the face closed sooner through the hitting area.
Out of heavy rough: If you’re hitting out of heavy rough, you need a firm grip on the club — about a “four” on the pressure scale. You need to strike the ball forcefully to escape the rough, but take care that the clubface doesn’t rotate closed in the hitting zone. To accomplish this, you need a firm hold throughout the swing.
For a flop shot and greenside-bunker shot: These shots require a very fluid feeling in the hands and wrists. Your grip pressure needs to be at about a “two.” The flop shot, or a high, soft bunker shot, requires an abrupt hinging of the wrists on the backswing and the forward swing. If the pressure is too tight in your hands, the wrists will not be able to respond with the correct action.
The knock-down: On windy days, or when you’re escaping from low branches, you need to keep the trajectory of the ball down to score. This shot requires a firmer-than-normal grip pressure of about “four.” This will keep your wrists firm, helping you abbreviate the backswing. It will keep your follow-through lower than normal.
Putting: You need light grip pressure (one-and-a-half to two) for the putting stroke. In an attempt to keep the wrists passive or “firm,” some golfers grip the putter too tightly. A death grip on the putter will cause too much tension in the forearms, chest and shoulders, preventing the free swinging pendulum motion that good putters possess. Too much grip pressure also will kill your feel for distance. Keep the pressure light to enhance your touch on the greens.
The wrong grip pressure can create a number of problems in your golf swing. Eliminate unnecessary errors by creating some awareness of the amount of pressure in your grip.
Experiment with your grip pressure using the “one-to-five” grip pressure scale. Your hands give you tremendous feedback from the golf club. With a little practice you will discover the correct grip pressure that will allow your golf swing to repeat more effortlessly.
As a master of grip pressure, you’ll be able to expand your shot-making capabilities by changing your set-up to include different grip pressures for different shots.