The ability to hit the ball long distances is inextricably linked to how fast a player can move the club head through impact.
The faster a club is traveling when striking the ball, the greater the force will be applied and the further the ball will travel, but there is always a balance to be struck. If golfer A swings their driver upward of 110mph they will generally hit the ball further than golfer B who swings at 100mph. However, if both players have their driver open to the same degree at impact, player A will find himself or herself further offline.
This balancing of power and control is something all golfers have to achieve if they want to hit long and accurate shots. There are many ways a player can increase club head speed whilst maintaining control, one such way is to alter their grip pressure.
A very tight grip not only causes tension in the hands but the wrists, arms, shoulders and torso. This is because the golf swing utilizes almost every muscle group in the body, all of which are connected in some way. By relaxing the grip pressure, other joined muscle groups also relax, allowing a golfer to move more freely and importantly for increasing club head speed, faster.
For an example of how relaxing the hands can increase club head speed, you can practice the swoosh drill. For the drill, you need to find a long thin stick, a golf alignment stick is perfect and is available at most golf shops and online.
- Take hold of the stick with your normal golf grip and adopt a posture position.
- Hold the stick as tightly as possible and begin to swing. As the thin stick travels through the impact area it will begin to rip through the air particles and create a 'swoosh' sound.
- After a dozen swings with a tight grip, switch over to a very loose grip and repeat the process.
- Because of the relaxed hands, arms, shoulders and torso you should be able to swing the stick with more freedom and the sound of the 'swoosh' should be louder and more piercing.
- Pick up your driver and transfer the light grip on to your normal club and swing, trying to re-enact the same swoosh sound.
- Your club head speed should instantly be increased and the ball should fly further without much of a decrease in accuracy.
- If you have access to any swing speed monitoring technology then even better.
Try this drill at your course or driving range to decrease grip pressure and increase club head speed.
How loose is too loose?
There are a few popular maxims a player can keep in mind if they are unsure of how loosely to hold the club.
Firstly, you can imagine you are holding a small, live bird such as a finch. You need to be holding the bird with enough strength to stop it flying away but soft enough so you don't hurt it.
Secondly, you can imagine you are holding an open tube of toothpaste. You need to be holding the tube tightly enough so you don't let go, but lightly enough so no toothpaste comes squirting from the end.
How to Get More Club Head Speed - Grip Club Lightly
Everyone wants more club head speed. More club head swing equals more distance, and more distance is something that every golfer can use. While there is more to playing good golf than just hitting the ball long distances, it certainly helps to be able to smash the ball off the tee or from the fairway. Longer drives will set up shorter approach shots, which should mean shorter birdie putts throughout the round. It is a mistake to focus all of your effort on hitting the ball as far as possible, but there is no doubt that additional distance can be a great advantage on the course.
Of course, finding extra club head speed is something that is easier said than done. You have probably already used a variety of different techniques and methods in a quest to gain distance, so you may be running out of options. Should you hit the gym to build muscles that could help you rip the club faster through the hitting area? Maybe buy some new clubs that will provide you with a few more miles per hour of ball speed? Before you take any of those steps, you should first check on the status of your grip. That's right - something as simple and basic as your grip can have a major impact on the speed of your swing.
With very few exceptions, the best golfers in the world use a light grip pressure while making their swings, and you should follow that lead. Light grip pressure allows you to remain relaxed throughout the swing, from your fingers and hands all the way up into your shoulders. Remember, you aren't trying to overpower the golf ball - you are simply trying to make a fast swing in order to transfer as much energy from the club into the ball as possible. Many golfers tense up during the swing as they try to force the ball down the fairway. That method is never going to work. Speed is only going to be developed in your swing when you give your arms and shoulders the freedom they need to whip through the hitting area. To make sure your arms can swing freely, you first need to make sure you are using a light grip pressure.
Teaching someone to use light grip pressure is tricky because it is such an individual feeling from player to player. You can't be told exactly how tightly to squeeze the handle of the club - rather, you have to discover the perfect grip pressure for your game through trial and error. Obviously, you have to hold onto the club tight enough to maintain control throughout the swing. You can't allow the club to go flying out of your hands, so always make sure you have total control before hitting any shot. In the end, the ideal grip pressure is going to be the lightest one you can use while still maintaining a firm grip on the club from takeaway all the way through to the finish.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please be sure to reverse the directions as necessary.
Getting Started with a Light Grip
Before you head to the driving range to try using a lighter grip, there are some preparations that need to be in place from an equipment perspective. While good equipment is never going to hit the shots for you, it is important to have your gear set up correctly for the swings you are trying to make. Golf is hard enough on its own, so you don't want to be fighting against your clubs as well as the golf course.
To make sure you are ready to work on using light grip pressure, check on the three points below.
- Good grips. The grips on your clubs need to be in good condition and recently cleaned prior to working on your new, lighter grip pressure. If you have old grips on your clubs, they may have gotten rather firm and slick over the years. It is extremely difficult - if not impossible - to use a light grip when the grips on your clubs are in poor condition. Cleaning your grips using a damp, soapy cloth can help give them some new life, but you may need to simply replace them if they are several years old or have seen extensive use. Caring for your grips is like changing the oil in your car - it is a chore that has to be done if you want to experience the best possible performance.
- New golf glove. Of course, you don't need to buy a new golf glove before each round that you play. However, when you are first using how to play with a light grip pressure, it is a good idea to have a new glove on your hand. A new glove, when combined with good grips, will give you great control over the club throughout the swing. Specifically, it will help to lock your left hand into place. When you do use a new golf glove, you might be surprised to find how much traction it can provide you without having to squeeze tightly around the handle. To keep your golf glove in good condition for as long as possible, be sure to take it off between every shot that you hit on the course. If you leave the glove on your hand all day, it will soak up all of the sweat that your hand produces, and that moisture will prematurely wear out the glove. When kept as dry as possible, a quality golf glove should last you several rounds before it needs to be retired.
- Tape any blisters. Do you develop any blisters on your hands when you play golf? Blisters are a common problem for golfers, especially for those who don't play often enough to have the skin on their hands thicken up in the affected areas. If you do have trouble with blisters, be sure to tape up the spots that tend to blister before you start hitting balls. Just a quick wrap of athletic tape around the finger or fingers that usually have problems should do the job nicely. By protecting your hands from blisters, you should be free to use a light grip pressure without any pain or discomfort.
You don't have to invest thousands of dollars in your equipment to get started with a light grip, but you do need to make sure your gear is in good condition. A new golf glove will only cost you around $10 - $15, and grips are usually a few dollars each. Invest a small amount of money in your equipment upfront and you will have a much better chance of success when trying to add swing speed through lighter grip pressure.
Keys to Building a Great Grip
While it is true that you want to use a light grip pressure during your swing, more important than that is simply building a great grip all the way around. Your grip needs to be technically sound to allow you to make quality swings time after time. If there is a flaw in your grip, it will quickly show itself out on the course. Ideally, your grip will stay 'out of the way' so that the rest of your technique can get down to the business of hitting good golf shots.
The list below contains some of the most-important fundamentals to consider when forming your grip. If you can follow the 'rules' below, your grip should be in excellent shape.
- Grip the club in your fingers. Your grip should hold the club in your fingers, not in your palms. This is a point that many amateur golfers get wrong. When you place the club into your hands, you should see it running along the base of the fingers on both hands. If the club is in your palms instead of your fingers, you will 'lock up' your wrists and you won't be able to create any speed at the bottom of the swing. You might feel like you have more control over the club this way, but all you are doing is limiting your ability to swing fast. Place the club in your fingers and then wrap those fingers around the back of the grip. Before moving on to any other details related to your grip, make sure you have this point mastered.
- Hands working together. Your hands should form a team when they grab onto the handle of the club. Rather than working against each other during the swing, your right and left hands should be teaming up to swing the club properly. To get them on the same page, make sure your palms are facing each other when you put your hands on the grip. The easiest way to do this is to first grab the club with your left hand, and then add your right hand once the left is in place. As long as the palms of your two hands are facing each other while you hold the club, you can be sure that they will work together nicely.
- Keep hands connected. There are a variety of different grip styles that you can use to hold the club, with the two most-popular being the interlock and the overlap. The specific grip style you choose to use is up to you as most of them can be successful when used correctly. However, no matter what style you pick, it is important that you make sure to keep your hands connected during the swing. As a general rule of thumb, players with smaller hands will have more success with an interlocking grip, while the overlapping style is better for players with big hands. Feel free to experiment with different options on the driving range until you settle on the one that feels comfortable to you.
A big part of using light grip pressure is simply preparing yourself correctly before making any swings. The previous two sections have highlighted this point - if you have quality gear that is in good condition, and you are form to make a fundamentally-sound grip on the club, you should be able to keep your grip pressure light.
It might be tempting to head to the driving range with your driver in hand as you learn how to hit shots with a light grip pressure. After all, the goal is to add club head speed, so why not swing the longest and most-powerful club in the bag, right? Not so fast. Most likely, if you start out with your driver, you are going to find the results to be frustrating and disappointing. Instead, you are going to want to start out small and work your way up to the long clubs over a period of time.
How small should you start? Try starting with the smallest swings that you make on the golf course - chip shots. For your first light grip practice session, head to the chipping area of your local practice range and take out your favorite wedge. You won't really run the risk of losing control of the club when hitting short chip shots, so this is a great way to introduce yourself to light grip pressure. Drop a few balls near the side of the green and chip to the nearest hole. Prior to each chip, focus on relaxing your hands and keeping the tension out of your forearms and shoulders.
Everything should feel comfortable and free-flowing at this point. You might not feel right using a lighter grip pressure than normal, but stick with it until you start to feel how cleanly the club can move through the ball using this method. After just a short period of time, you should find that your chip shots begin to come off of your wedge perfectly. Once your performance on the short shots starts to improve, you can gradually move back to a longer distance.
Even at this point, you don't want to go running to the tee so you can smoke a driver down the range. From chip shots, you should walk back a few yards and start hitting some pitch shots. At each stage of the process, there is likely to be the same kind of learning curve. The light grip pressure will feel unnatural at first, and then you will gradually get more and more confident in your technique. If you rush any part of this process, you are likely to suffer a setback in your performance. Be patient and work your way up through the bag gradually, allowing your swings to get longer and faster one step at a time.
When you do arrive at the driver, it is important that you don't try to swing harder just to create more swing speed. That might sound counterintuitive, but it is crucial to the success of your game. The whole point of using a lighter grip pressure is to allow the club to swing faster through the hitting area with having to change anything about your technique. You shouldn't need to exert more effort or make a longer swing in order to add distance - you should be able to do exactly the same things you were doing previously in your swing, only with the addition of a light grip pressure. If you pick up your driver and swing as hard as possible, you are going to ruin your mechanics and you probably won't hit the ball any farther anyway. Stay within your technique and trust your new grip pressure to add club head speed for you.
If you start to feel like you are losing control over the club, back up in the process and hit some shorter shots once again. Finding the perfect grip pressure is always going to be a balancing act, and it will take some time to strike the perfect compromise between control and freedom in your hands. Experienced golfers are able to naturally grab the club with the proper pressure without even thinking about it - but it will take you a while to get to that point. You will get better and finding the right grip pressure with every shot that you hit, so keep practicing and trust yourself to improve in time.
The key point that should be taken away from this section is that you are going to need to have patience when trying to learn how to hit shots with a lighter grip pressure. It would be great if you could just start with the driver and immediately launch shots longer than ever before, but that isn't how golf works. Improving any part of your game takes time and effort, so you will need to be invested in the process of learning a lighter grip if you hope to see quality results. In the end, your patience and hard work will be rewarded when the ball begins to rocket off the face of your clubs.
Grip pressure might seem like an exclusively physical part of the game, but there is actually a mental component to this technique as well. In order to use a light grip throughout a given round, you need to have your mind in the right place from the first shot to the last. When your mental game gets off track, it can quickly damage your physical fundamentals - including your grip pressure.
Most frequently, your grip pressure will be increased when you start to get nervous. If your brain tells your body that the next shot is an important one, your hands and fingers will respond by trying to take more control over the club. As your hands squeeze onto the handle of the club, your light grip pressure will be lost and the quality of your swing will be diminished. Since pressure and nerves are such a big part of golf, you may find this happening to you several times within a single round. It isn't good enough to learn how to use a light grip pressure on the driving range, you need to be able to take it out onto the course as well.
Since there is nothing you can do to get away from pressure - it is part of the game - you need to learn how to respond properly. One of the best ways to deal with nerves on the golf course is to step back from the big picture and focus only on the shot at hand. If you are getting nervous because you are playing a close match with your playing partner, put the thoughts of your overall match out of your head and zero in on the shot that is in front of you at the moment. What yardage do you have to the target? Which side would make for a better miss? What club do you need to hit to cover the distance comfortably? If you can fill your mind with these thoughts, you won't have time to think about getting nervous. Get lost in the process of playing good golf and you might find that the pressure no longer makes its way down into your hands.
Even with a good thought process, you still might find that you get nervous from time to time. When you feel the nerves coming on as you stand over the ball, try shaking your hands out prior to forming your grip. Stand back from the ball and shake each hand for a couple seconds. If you wish, you can allow that shake to work all the way up into your arms and shoulders as a way to loosen everything up before the swing. After shaking the nerves out of your hands, form your light grip on the club and make a great swing.
Using a light grip is a fundamental that can help you add club head speed to your swing without making any other technical changes. In fact, in addition to the gain in club head speed, lighter grip pressure can simply help you play better golf. You will find that you make better contact with the ball when you use a light grip, and your short game should improve as well. Use the tips contained above to work on your grip pressure and your game just may reach a new level in the near future.