Get a grip on distance – proper grip is key to good strokes – Brief Article
Does a strong grip lead to extra yards?
Is a strong grip necessary for a player to hit the ball farther? We posed that question to six members of the Golf Digest Pro Panel. Here are their answers.
Rick Smith: It’s necessary as long as the clubface is not excessively shut at impact. A left hand left of neutral on the club handle [i.e., a weak grip] promotes a slow action and does not generate distance. You won’t have much clubhead speed if the “V” created by the thumb and forefinger of your left hand at address is going to the left of your chin. To create more clubhead speed and distance, the average player needs to grip it more in the fingers and get the “V” pointing between the right ear and right shoulder.
Chuck Cook: A strong grip may not be necessary in and of itself, because there have been some weak-grip players who have hit it long (Ben Hogan and Johnny Miller come to mind). However, it’s almost a requirement to have had a strong grip at some point to develop distance. Both of those players had strong grips when they were young and developed distance-producing mechanics because they had strong grips. A strong grip produces (1) a late release of the club to keep the ball from hooking, (2) delofting of the club to keep the ball from hooking and (3) a shallow inside-out swing path with woods to get them into the air. All are sound principles for generating distance.
Renee Powell: You don’t necessarily need a strong grip to hit the ball farther. It does, however, help a player to move the ball a little more from right to left, which produces a spin that makes the ball run more. Distance comes from the speed of the clubhead at impact. I believe that hands in a more neutral position can help generate clubhead speed. I’m not an advocate of a weak grip, but neither do I believe a strong grip equals greater distance.
Jim McLean: There have been some very long hitters who don’t have strong grips. That said, a stronger grip for most people is an advantage for hitting it longer, because it helps them put the clubface in a stronger position. It also helps deloft the club through the impact zone, which means the effective loft on the club is less and therefore you’ll hit it farther, all other things being equal, than the other guy. The stronger grip also encourages more lag and lateral shift, because if you don’t do that you’ll over-hook it. It helps in all respects for increasing distance. I recommend it for most but definitely not all.
David Leadbetter: Over all, yes, a stronger grip is necessary to assist in gaining distance, especially for a high handicapper who at some point in the swing has the face too open. Having the clubface square to slightly closed at the top encourages a square-faced hit, which is one of the major aspects when considering distance. Apart from anything else, a strong grip helps produce more hook spin, which can mean more distance. Finally, a stronger grip will encourage better wrist cock, which in turn assists leverage in the swing.
Judy Rankin: Yes, a strong grip is helpful. I think there are exceptions to the rule — people who can be very long without a strong grip — but most often, and particularly for the recreational golfer, it’s a big plus. First of all, it puts your hands and left arm in a position of more control and strength. It allows a weaker player to control and support the golf club more easily. Secondly — and this has to do more with hitting solid golf shots — players with strong grips require less forearm rotation to swing the club to a good position at the top. It actually eliminates one move in the backswing and makes it easier to return the clubface to the ball in the position it started.
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