Your hands are the only connection between you and the club, and you probably know that the grip in itself is very important. But what can you actually tell me about grip pressure? What have you heard about it in your golfing experience?
If you are not too much unlike myself, the very little you’ve heard of grip pressure is that you need to make sure to hold it light. I think it was Sam Snead who said that you should imagine that . . .
“You are holding a baby bird in your hands.”
You want to hold it hard enough for it not to escape but you don’t want to kill it. I’ve always found that hard to interpret to my own game.
I’ve been playing golf for 20 years by now and have never before even put a single thought into the grip pressure while playing. That is, until I started studying it about a year ago. Since then a few colleagues and I tested over 40 players, their grip pressure and their ball flight. Let me tell you, it was about as fun as it sounds. The players were of every level and some of them were unable to hit the ball far enough for the radar to pick up the data. (In the meantime making me worried my 1500-dollar machine was broken.) But the results are amazing!
Grip It and Rip It – Literally
What came as a surprise to me was that my teachings and what I’ve heard before in instruction was incorrect. Our data speaks quite clearly on the fact that if you’re in the span from beginner to a good amateur player, you’re way better off to really clamp down to increase the grip pressure on your clubs.
I’ve had a few of my students pick up more than 5mph in club speed, just by increasing their grip pressure. And not just that, most players have noticed an increase in consistency as to how they deliver both the face of the club and the club itself to impact.
In other words they are in more control. How would you like to be more consistent and hit the ball further?
This is Going to Feel Weird
The most astonishing thing about grip pressure is that it is easy to apply. You simply need to increase the pressure in your fingers a little more and you’re good to go. My students usually pick it up right away. But it’s going to feel weird. You will most likely not be used to the stiff feeling in your lower arms or in your hands. I get that! But work a bit with me and see how it feels after a few shots. I just want you to increase the grip pressure, not max it out.
If there is any advice I can give you while testing this it’s that you should do your best to squeeze harder with your fingers, not your whole hand (as the whole hand would stiffen your upper arms more). Try this right now. Make a fist, or even better, pretend you’re holding a club and just squeeze with your fingers.
This is NOT for Everyone
After the results of the research was clearer, I implemented the grip pressure into more and more of my lessons. A lot of my students looked at me probably much like you’re reading this article right now, with some suspicion.
I’ll have to admit that it’s not for everyone though, a few players, to my experience, the single digit handicappers and below, have already figured this out in their own way. But it still doesn’t hurt to try!
Also you might be the type of player who plays a lot on “feel,” and that might make this a little harder to adapt.
I once taught a player this concept and he starting hitting his seven irons great (I mean really great) in comparison to what he was doing immediately before the change. He was a player who had a “stock shot” which you’d probably recognize, the oh so powerless pull slice that didn’t really go anywhere. All of a sudden, he became a ball striker.
Increasing swing speed by nearly 3mph and with a much more powerful impact, he gained what was close to 8 yards with his seven iron. Just by increasing grip pressure. But after every shot all he could say to me was “That really feels awful”. He was playing with feel and he just couldn’t adapt the feeling of increased grip pressure, he tried but it never stuck.
Make sure you keep an open mind when trying to find a new grip pressure. It might not be for you but it might also work wonders. No matter what, it’s going to take some getting used to. Just try it out and remember what Ben Hogan once said . .
“What Sam Snead didn’t tell you is that the baby bird is a hawk.”
Let me know what your experience was after you play around with it for a while in the comments below.