Symptom: You diligently try to improve your game, and are serious about wanting to swing like the guys on TV. Maybe you should try a new grip? But try as you might, you just can’t seem to get it done, despite flashes of brilliance. Consistency eludes you and your handicap stays stubbornly high…
Overview: Fix your grip before you try anything else. Your left hand “V” should point at your right shoulder (a strong left hand grip). Your right hand “lifeline” must smother your left thumb throughout the swing.
Why it Works: First, a word of caution. Changing your grip will feel unnatural to you at first. This is to be expected — after all, however you are currently gripping your club, you have adjusted your swing accordingly so that it feels natural to you. When you change your grip, your swing will need to change too. But, hopefully, for the better.
Shed Your Poison Grip and Get A Robust Grip
It is well worth your time and effort to fix your grip. If you have the proper grip, much of the swing happens naturally. If you don’t have the proper grip, you will find it very hard to produce the swing you want with any consistency. There’s been much written about the grip. My own view is that it comes down to two very basic things: 1. The left hand “V” made by your thumb and forefinger points at your right shoulder, a “Strong” left hand grip. But please remember to grip the club lightly.
2. The right hand “lifeline” (shown in blue at right) smothers the left thumb at address and throughout the swing. The word “smother” is chosen carefully — it implies constant, deliberate pressure, not just a hand position.
Adam Scott’s Gorgeous Swing Shows Us How
There are important reasons for these guidelines. Let’s have the sweet-swinging Adam Scott demonstrate the basics for us:
First, the left hand. You want to grip the club lightly to avoid tension in your shoulders and allow a full turn. You want a strong left hand grip to make it easier and more natural to take an inside path on the downswing, avoiding a slice. Such advice is often heard on the range and on the course — “strengthen your grip” is a commonly-prescribed cure for the chronic slicer. It is true. But it is only necessary, not sufficient. The role of the right hand is more subtle, and advice on the right hand is much harder to find.
Your Right Hand Life Line is Your Lifeline
The smothering pressure of the right hand lifeline promotes a wide arc on your backswing, because it tends to push the club away from your body. It also tends to prevent your left arm from bending too much at the top of your swing (although some bending is OK). It does this by simultaneously a) bracing your left elbow, and b) encouraging your left wrist to hinge rather than allowing your left elbow to bend once resistance develops at the top of your backswing. Think of your right arm almost like a splint for your left elbow during the backswing.
Finally, the constant smothering pressure of your right lifeline tends to keep your two hands melded and joined together, almost “handcuffed”, throughout the swing. This promotes a “one piece” takewaway and downswing that is driven from your big muscles of your lower body, not from your hands. Let’s have Mr. Scott show us how it’s done:
If we stop the video at address, at the top, at impact, and at follow through, and focus on the right hand, you can see the role of the right hand in each of these swing positions:
Your Grip Could be Sabotaging Your Swing
Obviously Adam Scott does a lot of other things right in his swing too. And, this is not to imply that you should obsess about your right hand as you swing. Indeed, the “lifeline smothers thumb” tip is mostly a setup position tip. That is, it’s something that you do at address, and then maintain throughout the swing, such as “sit on the barstool” for a proper stance, or “aim at a point on your target line” for proper alignment. Setup thoughts are things you should just do, and then forget as you execute your swing.
This is in contrast to a swing thought, such as “throw the club underhand at the target” for a proper release or “point your belt buckle at the target” for a balanced finish. These swing thoughts things require your attention as you swing.
The key point is, these swing thoughts will work much better and more repeatably if your setup is proper. And your setup includes your grip on the club. So examine and adjust your grip the next time you are at the driving range. And please, don’t be discouraged if it feels odd at first, because it should feel odd to you at first. It is different, after all. But stick with it and you can make true improvements in your swing!
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