To be a consistent and accurate ball striker, it’s critical that you control the face angle of the club at impact.
Launch monitor data has proven that face angle is the single most important variable in the starting direction of the ball.
In fact, the ball will launch very closely to the direction the club face (face angle) is pointed at impact.
If the face is not relatively square, it’s nearly impossible to hit your ball where you want it to go.
So, since face angle at impact is so vital, how can you insure that you’ll be able to control it
It is essential that the club rests across the base of the fingers, running from the middle of the index finger to the base of the little finger.
This will allow you to correctly hinge and unhinge the wrists during the swing, which makes it easier to square the club at impact.
What Affects the Club’s Face Angle?
There are a few things in your golf swing that can affect whether or not you’re able to deliver a square club face to the ball, but none is more influential than a having a proper golf grip.
There is a direct relationship between the position of your hands on the club and how well you strike the ball.
Your grip can determine if you will have a square face at impact, or whether it will be either open or closed.
The simple fact of the matter is that a golfer can have a beautiful and technically sound swing, but if that great swing is paired with a flawed grip, that golfer will always struggle with consistency and accuracy.
Weak, Strong, or Neutral Grip
Before getting into the proper ways to place your hands on the club, we should define some terms that are often used when discussing the golf grip.
You’ll often hear different grips described as being weak, strong, or neutral.
The terms “weak” grip and “strong” grip don’t describe how tightly you’re holding the club.
These terms pertain to the positions of your hands on the grip.
As you look down at your own grip at address, you will see that there is a “V” formed where the index fingers and thumbs of each hand come together.
A weak grip is one that is characterized by hand positions in which those “V’s” point to the left of your chin.
Conversely, rotating your hands clockwise on the grip (to the right), so that the “V’s” point to the right of the chin or even at the right shoulder, creates a strong grip.
How do these hand positions affect the club face?
A grip that is too weak will tend to leave the club face open at impact, causing left-to-right sidespin (a fade or slice), while a strong grip will make it more likely that the club face will be closed at impact, producing right-to-left spin (a draw or hook).
Establishing Proper Golf Grip
Let’s start by looking at the correct way to position your left hand (the upper hand for right-handers) on the club:
1. Rest the Club Across the Base of Your Fingers
The biggest mistake that amateurs make is to place the grip of the club too far up in the palm of the left hand.
Holding the club in this “palmy” fashion (along the lifeline of the palm) inhibits your ability to flex your wrist, and this limited range of motion reduces the amount of leverage you’ll have.
This results in an open club face at impact and weak shots that go off to the right.
2. Left Heel Pad on Top of Club
With the club running diagonally across the base of your fingers, make sure that the heel pad of the left hand is on top of the club.
This gives you much more control of the club and will make it much easier for you to square the face on your downswing.
As a test to make sure you’ve got the club properly under the heel pad, you should be able to extend the club with your left hand and balance it with just your index finger.
This will let you know that you have the club in the right place.
3. Two Knuckles Visible
As you close your fingers around the grip, make sure that at least two knuckles on your left hand are visible as you look down.
With two knuckles visible, the ‘V’ between your thumb and index finger should point to somewhere between your right ear and your right shoulder. This would be described as a neutral position and is the best guarantee of a square clubface.
If you see more than two knuckles, your grip is too strong. If you see less than two knuckles, it would be considered too weak.
Now that you have your left hand on the club properly, let’s look at how the right hand should go on the club:
4. Add Your Right Hand
As you did with the left hand, the club should be gripped predominantly in the fingers of the right hand.
With the club at the base of your fingers, simply close your hand around the club making sure that the fleshy pad of your right thumb is placed on top of the thumb of your left hand and place your right thumb on top of the grip just slightly left of center.
5. ‘V’ Pointing at Chin
When your right hand is on the club, make sure that the ‘V’ between your right thumb and index finger points at your chin.
For those with small hands or those that don’t have a lot of hand strength, it’s OK to have the ‘V’ aimed slightly to the right of your chin.
This will make it easier for them to square the clubface.
But if the ‘V’ points all the way to the right shoulder, that would be too strong. And if it points to the left shoulder, that would be considered too weak.
There are a couple of additional things to keep in mind for a proper golf grip.
(1) Don’t grip all the way to the butt end of the club.
Holding the club like this, where the end of the club’s grip is actually obscured by your left hand, can result in a loss of control.
It is better to grip down on the club just a little, so that approximately ½ inch is still visible. This will give you much better control of the club.
(2) A word about grip pressure.
A mistake frequently made by amateurs is gripping the club too tightly.
Applying too much pressure with your hands and fingers has the ripple effect of also tightening your wrist and forearm muscles.
And when hands, wrists and forearms are all too tight, that prevents you from attaining maximum club head speed, and also prevents a proper rotation of the hands and a fluid release of the club.
Here’s a rule-of-thumb:
On a scale of one to ten, with one describing an extremely loose grip pressure and ten describing an extremely tight grip pressure, you should aim for a pressure of approximately 5.
This gives you a grip pressure sufficient to control the movement of the club, but still loose enough to get good speed and a full release.