For a right handed golfer, the right hand is obviously vital to perform a successful swing as it delivers a great deal of power into a shot and helps guide the club face through impact.
However, if the right hand becomes too dominant and takes control of the swing it can spell disaster! Throughout the swing we need the hands to work together in unison to achieve a successful shot, when one hand takes over it often throws other areas of the swing out of balance. There are a number of causes why the right hand would become dominant; here are a few you should look out for.
If the right hand becomes too strong it can take control of the club face through impact, close the face and send the ball flying low and left. The right hand (for a right handed golfer) should sit below the left and hold the grip through the fingers. The right thumb should sit on top of the left with the V created by the right thumb and forefinger pointing towards the right shoulder. When viewed from face on only one and a half knuckles should be visible – this is a neutral position with the right hand.
If the hand slips more underneath the club then the V created by the right thumb and forefinger will point below the right shoulder and only one or no knuckles will be visible when viewed from face on. This will put the right hand in a strong position.
The reason it's a problem if the right hands sits in this position is it will rotate to a neutral position through impact. This will in affect close the club face to the target line and send the ball low or left or low and left.
If the grip is sound and a golfer reaches the top of the back swing without any problem, a lack of hip turn during the down swing could lead to the right hand becoming too dominant through impact. From the top of the back swing, the hips need to begin to rotate through the ball towards the target. This allows the upper body to fall into line and the hands to bring the club through on an inside-to-square-to-inside swing path. If the hips don't turn then not only could the swing path be thrown off line but there will be power delivered into the shot. If no power is generated from the lower body then hands will look to make up the deficit, specifically the right hand for right handed golfers which will lead to shots traveling offline and poor ball striking. To help ensure this doesn't happen players should look to turn the hips through impact and allow the hands and club to follow.
There are a number of reasons why the right hand would become dominant during the swing and each one needs to be avoided to ensure a solid contact and starting direction of the ball.
Right Hand Too Dominant in Golf Swing – Cause and Cure
In golf, a player is said to play 'right handed' when they swing the club with the right hand lower than the left on the grip. The majority of golfers play right handed, just as the majority of people in the world are right handed in day-to-day life. However, while swinging with the right hand lower than the left is considered a right handed swing, it is actually that right hand that can cause plenty of trouble. It is easy for the right hand to be too dominant during the swinging action, and your technique will be damaged if that is allowed to happen. A proper golf swing uses a blend of both the right and left hands to control the club, regardless of which side of the ball the player happens to be standing on.
If you had to choose between the two, it is probably the top hand in your grip that plays a more important role in the golf swing. That's right – for right handed golfers, the left hand is the one that is doing more of the work in creating a solid strike. Your left hand will lead the club down toward impact, and it will control the position of the club face throughout the swing. Of course, both hands are important when trying to hit good shots, but you shouldn't assume the right hand is the key to success just because you play right handed.
Not only do you need to focus on using your left hand correctly, you also need to make sure the right hand doesn't get in the way during the swing. Many common golf swing problems – including the slice – are caused by the right hand getting in the way of proper mechanics. An overactive right hand can force the club out of position and force it to release prematurely, in addition to creating other issues. Any way you look at it, an overactive right hand is not beneficial to your game. There is a time and place to use your right hand effectively, but you have to be sure to deploy its use only when the time is right.
Ideally, you won't think of your full swing in terms of your two hands performing separate actions. A good golf swing is one that is cohesive and fluid, meaning that the whole body works together to create one smooth action from start to finish. You may need to think about the role that each hand plays while practicing on the range, but do your best to leave those thoughts behind when you are out on the course. It is best to keep your swing thoughts simple on the course, and trying to process movements for your right and left hands individually is never going to lead to clarity in your mind.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please reverse all of the directions as necessary.
What Can Go Wrong
There are actually a variety of problems that can all stem from using too much right hand action in the golf swing. The specific problems that you might be facing will relate to the specific point in the swing when your right hand is doing too much. For example, the problems that you will have arise when your right hand is too active in the takeaway are different from the problems that you will have with a right hand that does too much during the transition. Every golf swing is unique, however there are some mistakes that are shared across many players when it comes to the action of the right hand.
If you suspect that your right hand is creating trouble in your swing, check the following list for potential problems and their related causes.
- Early hand action leads to hook. The ideal takeaway action is one that uses the shoulders to turn the club away from the target while the arms and hands remain quiet. Unfortunately, this is a point that many amateur golfers get wrong. If you use your right hand instead of your shoulders to get the swing started, you will force the club too far to the inside almost immediately. From there, you will run the risk of attacking too far from the inside on the way down, likely leading to a hook. To correct this mistake, try making some practice takeaways while just using your left hand. With your right hand off the club, it won't be able to get involved (obviously) and you can feel what it is like to use your shoulders to control the takeaway. After a few practice takeaways with only your left hand on the club, put your right hand back in place but remember what you learned and apply it to your regular swing. Hopefully, your takeaway will be back on track with a quiet right hand and your hook will be a thing of the past.
- Transition problems create slice. Of all of the right hand mistakes you can make in the golf swing, this is the most common, and the most damaging. Countless golfers around the world struggle with the slice, and the majority of those slices are caused by a right hand that wants to do too much at the top of the swing. When you make the transition from backswing to downswing, your lower body should be leading the way while your hands stay out of it. The rotation of your hips toward the target should pull the club down into the 'slot', and you should just be holding on for the ride with your hands. Unfortunately, if you are a slicer, you are probably starting the downswing with your right hand instead of your hips. When the right hand starts the downswing, the club is forced away from the body and outside the proper path. From there, it will have to come back across the ball at impact, and a slice will be created. To fix this frustrating problem, you are going to have to work on learning how to initiate the forward action in your swing with the lower body rather than your right hand.
- Early release in downswing wastes power. Even if you do everything else properly leading into the downswing, you can still go wrong if you allow your right hand to release the club head prior to actually reaching impact. Your swing will be at its fastest when you are releasing the right hand through the shot, so you want that to take place at the exact same time that you are contacting the ball. Should you go ahead and use up that release before you get to impact, the club will be slowing down at the bottom and you will fall short of your distance position. Ideally, you will carry the angle between your left arm and the club shaft as far into the downswing as possible, only releasing the club at the last possible moment. This is a difficult technique for most amateur golfers to trust, but trusting it is the only way to max out your power.
The list above contains three of the many potential problems you could experience if your right hand becomes too dominant in the golf swing. Many players struggle with the points above, so don't feel like you are alone if you fall into this group. Now that you have identified the underlying problem of some of the biggest swing faults in the game, you can get down to work on making the necessary corrections.
The Control Myth
Most golfers feel compelled to 'control' the golf club as much as possible throughout the swing. What these players don't realize is that you don't actually want to control the club – you simply want to guide it from the start to finish, while allowing it to freely swing. Controlling the club too tightly will limit the tempo and speed that you can achieve in the swing, meaning your shots will always leave something to be desired. As soon as you realize that you can play better golf by actually giving up control, you will be on the path to lower scores.
Of course, giving up control doesn't mean you can just let the club swing wildly back and through with no sense of direction whatsoever. Your swing still needs to be measured and balanced, but there should be a freedom within the swinging of the club that isn't present in the action that is used by most amateurs. One of the best ways to maintain this freedom is to use a light grip pressure. Both your right hand and left hand should be relaxed on the club from address all the way through to the finish. As a general rule of thumb, you should be holding onto the club just tight enough to maintain control through impact, but no tighter.
If you are used to squeezing the club tightly during your swing, this new method will likely take some adjustment. Get started by hitting some short chip and pitch shots with a light grip until you get comfortable with how much tension is needed to keep the club in your hands. While it is important for both hands to be relaxed on the club, it is especially crucial for the right hand to avoid taking too much control at any point during the swing. Keep your fingers relaxed as they wrap around the grip, and don't pinch the handle between your right thumb and pointer finger.
In a lot of ways, this point simply comes down to trust. You have to trust the fact that your swing is on the right path without any 'intervention' from your hands. It is really your whole body that swings the golf club, not just your hands and arms. When you think that way, you will be less inclined to allow your right hand to get in the way of the rest of your mechanics. As the club is swinging down from the top, you should be confident that you are headed toward a quality shot, so you don't need to take any emergency action such as releasing the club early with your right hand. Many amateur golfers lack the confidence level needed to trust the club as it swings through the ball, and they hit poor shots as a result. Confidence really is a crucial part of the game of golf, and nowhere is that point clearer than it is with regard to the right hand.
To get to the point where you trust your swing enough to relax with your right hand, you need to spend plenty of time on the practice range. There is no replacement for quality practice time in golf, as seeing shot after shot fly down the range will help you believe in your own abilities. Nearly every golfer in the world is capable of more than they know, if only they would trust themselves and have confidence in their technique. By hitting plenty of range balls on a regular basis, you will suddenly have the proof you need that you are actually capable of quality golf. Make it a habit to take periodic trips to the practice range and you should find that your confidence gradually grows in time.
An Equipment Fix
Generally speaking, finding new equipment as a method of improving your performance on the course is overrated. Golf is an extremely difficult game, and no new club or ball is going to replace solid practice time and proper fundamentals. Too many golfers spend years chasing equipment fixes when what they really need is a better swing. However, in this case, you actually can look to an equipment change as a way to improve your mechanics. Specifically, you want to make sure that you are using the right grips for your hand to help prevent the over activity that can ruin your technique.
Some golfers are not even aware of this fact, but golf grips come in a variety of thicknesses that you can choose from based on the size of your hands (as well as personal preference). Thinner grips will encourage more hand action in the golf swing, while thicker grips will serve to take your hands out of the picture and force your arms and shoulders to do more of the work. Obviously, if you are having trouble with an overactive right hand, you should consider looking for some thicker grips to alleviate that problem.
There are a couple ways to wind up with thicker grips on your clubs. The first, and probably the easiest, is simply to buy bigger grips. These are often labeled as either mid-sized or over-sized, depending on how big you ned them to be (over-sized are thicker than mid-sized). To re-grip your entire set of clubs will likely cost you somewhere in the range of $100, and most golf shops are willing to do the work for you if you purchase the grips in their store. This process takes a bit of time, however, so you may need to leave your clubs overnight for a day or two until the shop has had a chance to install all of the grips properly.
The other option is to build up your regular sized grips with the use of extra tape. If you are not familiar with the workings of a golf club, there is tape underneath each grip which keeps it in place. Typically, there is just one or two wraps of grip tape used during installation, but more can be used if the grip needs to be built up to a bigger thickness. This method requires some knowledge of how to do the job, but it can result is a custom fit that is not possible with pre-sized grips. For instance, if neither mid-sized or over-sized grips feel right in your hands, you could build up regular grips to create just the right thickness for you.
In addition to ensuring that your grips are the right size, you also want to keep them in good condition as a way of maintaining proper grip pressure. You can easily get into trouble with worn out grips, as the lost 'traction' on the grip will cause you to squeeze tighter simply to hold on through impact. By maintaining your grips with a regular wipe down, and by replacing them periodically as they wear down, you can avoid feeling like you have to hold on tight just to keep the club in your hands.
If you aren't able to go through the process of getting the right sized grips on your clubs all by yourself, most golf stores have club fitters than can help you track down the perfect option. They will be able to take some measurements and have you hold some various grip sizes until it is clear which will work best for you. A simple club fitting session including grip fitting is generally a pretty in expensive process, and it has the potential to do wonders for your game.
Forget Everything Above When in the Sand
When you find yourself in a greenside bunker, you can forget everything you have read up until this point. Why? Because during an explosion shot, the right hand is the single more important part of the equation. In fact, you want to hit your greenside explosion shots with almost all right hand action and only minimal contribution from the rest of your body. When you use your right hand aggressively through the bottom of the swing, you can cut the wedge through the sand and loft the ball gently up out of the bunker.
Greenside bunker shots are notoriously difficult for amateur golfers, but they can actually be quite easy when the proper technique is used. If you are able to release the club head with your right hand as the swing is heading down toward impact, you should be able to slide the wedge under the ball beautifully. Remember, you aren't actually trying to contact the ball when you hit an explosion shot – you are trying to hit the sand, which will in turn lift the ball out of the bunker. The speed that is created by using your right hand to fire the club through the sand is exactly what you need to be successful. Even though you aren't trying to hit the ball particularly far, the density of the sand requires that you use plenty of speed in order to get through the shot.
Most golfers are afraid to swing aggressively while so close to the green, which is why so many players leave the ball in the bunker when trying to hit an explosion shot. This isn't the time for fear, however – you need to commit to the shot and allow your right hand to take the lead. Another reason that bunker shots are so tricky to master is that they run counter to everything you learn throughout the rest of the course. Good technique in the bunker is actually terrible technique everywhere else, so you have to practice a swing in greenside bunkers that you aren't going to use at any other time. With that said, it is important that you have a solid understanding of how to hit bunker shots, so try to set aside some time to practice this important phase of the game.
With the exception of greenside bunker shots, you are going to want to work toward keeping your right hand out of the swing as much as possible. An overactive right hand is a point of trouble for many golfers, as it can lead to a poor swing path and lost swing speed. Using the information contained above, work on your overall swing technique, including your grip, to successfully remove your right hand from the list of problems affecting your game. With that right hand taking a backseat in the swing as it should, you will likely notice that your ball flight improves quickly and you may even have more power than ever before.