At the point of impact, a golfer's right hand position is crucial if they wish to achieve consistently accurate shots.
The right hand is both a generator of power and accuracy, by controlling its position at impact you can achieve a better balance of the two. Firstly, a correct initial grip is important; follow this guide for a right handed golfer to achieve a neutral grip.
- Let the grip of the club run from the base of the little finger on the left hand through the middle of the index finger. This will put the grip nicely in the fingers of the left hand.
- Wrap the left hand over the top of the grip until two and a half knuckles are visible on the left hand when viewed from above.
- The right hand slots underneath the left with your preferred variation of grip (either an interlock, overlap of ten finger grip) and folds over the left thumb with one and a half knuckles visible on the right hand.
- The V created on both hands by the thumb and forefinger should point up towards the right shoulder.
The position of the right hand upon the grip will have slight variations from player to player but one thing should be consistent; the right palm must face the target at address.
This is important because it is this position golfers want to achieve at impact, the right palm facing the target. By getting the right palm facing the target at impact the club face is much more likely to be square to the target line and therefore should create a straight ball flight.
Flat hand drill
Achieving this position at impact is not easy as the club is almost traveling at its highest velocity. To help get the middle of the palm facing the target at impact you can follow this drill which doesn't even require a club or ball.
- Take up a posture position, addressing an imaginary ball.
- Place your left hand behind your back and let your right hand drop in front, pointing at the imaginary ball. Swing the right arm back until you reach the top of your swing.
- Bring the right arm and hand down slowly pausing at impact ensuring the right palm is facing the target.
- Repeat the drill but on the second time around go at full speed, attempting to hit the same position through impact.
After a few sessions practicing with this drill, take the same feeling on to a practice range or course. After impact, the right hand and palm will begin to rotate to the left as the club face is released. Golfers shouldn't try to resist this natural movement but rather allow it to flow and allow it happen. This should ensure no power is lost though impact by over control of the right hand.
What is the Correct Right Hand Position at Impact?
In golf, it all comes down to impact position. While playing an entire round of golf often takes four hours or more to complete, the score you shoot will largely be decided by the impact position that you use on each of your shots. If you are able to find a consistent, fundamentally sound position, you should hit quality shots and shoot a good score. However, if your impact position falters throughout the day, you will have a hard time even keeping the ball in play. Work hard on mastering the impact position in your golf swing and you will soon make progress on the scorecard.
While your whole body needs to be in the right position at impact in order to hit good shots, it is especially important for your hands to be in the right spot. Since your hands are the only connection you have to the club, they will largely dictate how you swing the club head into the back of the ball. Solid contact is essential to hitting good shots, and you will only make solid contact if you can get your hands into the right spot at the bottom of the swing. Specifically, it is a good idea to focus on the position of your right hand when the club impacts the ball. The right hand (for a right handed golfer) is what supplies the actual 'hit', while the left hand leads the club into position. You want to be able to fully release your right hand through impact, but you can only do that if you have positioned it correctly to begin with.
You will need to put in plenty of time on the practice range to master your right hand impact position before you go back out onto the course. Impact happens to fast to actually think about it during the swing, so any changes you make to your technique have to be carefully rehearsed before you ever put the club in motion. If you think you are going to be able to simply move the club in a different way with your right hand when you get down to the ball, you are going to be very disappointed in the results. Impact will have come and gone before you can even react with your hands, so putting a plan in place prior to starting the swing is essential. Ideally, you will know exactly what you are going to do in your swing before the club starts back away from the ball, so you can simply go about executing the plan rather than trying to make it up on the fly.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you play golf left handed, please be sure to reverse the directions as necessary.
A Proper Right Hand Grip
One of the pre-shot preparations that you will need to make is positioning your right hand just right on the grip of the club. The way you hold the club has a lot to do with the shots that you are able to hit, so take the time necessary to get your grip just right before each shot. A good grip can make the game easier, while a poor grip can make the game downright impossible. Fortunately, as long as you follow a few basic fundamentals, getting your right hand grip correct is a pretty easy task.
Following are three tips that you can use while positioning your right hand on the club.
- Mirror your left hand. You can place your left hand in a variety of positions on the grip depending on whether you want to use a strong or weak grip. It is totally up to you how your position that left hand, as there are plenty of good golfers who use both strong and weak grips (as well as grips that would be considered 'neutral'). However, once you settle on a position for your left hand, you need to be sure that you match that position with your right hand. The palms of your two hands should be facing each other on opposite sides of the grip. Situating your grip in this fashion will allow your hands to work together during the swing, instead of having them work against each other. To make this process easy, place your left hand on the grip first when preparing for a shot, then add your right hand to match.
- Light grip pressure. This is an important tip to remember whether you are talking about your right or your left hand. When holding the club during the golf swing, you want to maintain just enough pressure to keep control of the club throughout the shot. You obviously don't want to let the club go flying out of your hands while swinging, but you also don't want to squeeze the club so tight that you can't allow it to release through the hitting area. An overly-tight right hand could restrict your release through impact, meaning that your shots will lack distance and they may be pushed out to the right of the target as well. Practice keeping your fingers relatively loose around the grip of the club, while still making sure that you are in control at all times.
- Soft right arm. Okay, so this tip isn't technically about your right hand, but it is closely related. When you address the ball to hit any kind of shot, you want to make sure your right arm is in a 'soft' and relaxed position. That means that your arm isn't fully extended or locked from your shoulder down to your hand. By keeping it relaxed, you will give your swing the best chance to get off to a good start. The left side should lead the way early in the swing in order to put the club into the correct position. If you were to have your right side firm at address, it would be difficult for the left side of your body to take charge. Allow your right arm to hang down softly toward the grip of the club so you can make a free flowing backswing that will setup a powerful downswing.
The fundamentals of getting your right hand into a good position on the grip are relatively simple. As long as your right hand mirrors your left hand, you keep a light grip pressure, and your right arm is soft at address, you should be ready to go.
Palm to the Target
There aren't a lot of parallels between the sport of golf and the sport of tennis. A golf ball is sitting still when you are trying to hit it, while a tennis ball is moving any time it is being struck. A golf club has a small club face on which to strike the ball, while tennis rackets have large faces for the player to use. In golf, you stand still and make a swing – in tennis, you are often trying to hit the ball while on the run. Obviously, these games don't have too much in common.
However, there is one thing that brings them together in terms of the swing mechanics required – you want to have your palm facing the target when your strike the ball. Whether you are talking golf or tennis, it is a good idea to have your right palm matched up with the direction you are trying to hit the ball (on the forehand in tennis). Since the palm of your right hand closely matches the position of the club face (or racket face), pointing it at the target successfully will mean that your shot is unlikely to be very far off track. If you are a tennis player as well as a golfer, you can think about translating this concept across from one game to the other.
Thinking about your golf swing in this way is a great way to simplify your approach to the impact position. As you swing down toward the ball, you can make it your goal to simply point the palm of your right hand at the target at impact. You don't need to think about anything other than that basic goal. If you can achieve this position successfully time after time, you should be well on your way to quality ball striking.
Of course, the task of facing your palm to the target at impact might be a little bit easier said than done. Even with the best of intentions and a clear picture in your mind, the swing happens fast and you might not be able to time up your release on every swing at first. To learn how to control your right hand properly, try making some practice 'swings' without holding onto a club at all.
Take a stance as if you were going to hit a golf shot, but don't worry about picking up a club – just put your hands in an address position without the club. Swing up to the top of your swing, and then swing down toward impact. When you reach what would be the impact position in a normal swing, pause your movement and check the position of your right hand. Where is your palm pointing? Keep working on this basic practice swing drill over and over until you are comfortable getting your right hand in the perfect spot at the bottom of the swing. Once you do put a club back in your hands and resume hitting some balls, you should find it much easier to get square at impact.
One of the major mistakes that is made by amateur golfers around the world is an effort to manually rotate the club head through the hitting area. Many golfers think that they need to roll their hands over through impact, so they take the right hand and force it to turn over the left just as the club is approaching the ball. This move is a disaster waiting to happen. You don't want to turn your hands over, because your hands are connected to the club head and you will be manipulating the club head shut when you make that move. Instead, use your left hand to pull the club down toward impact and then get your right hand square to the line just as you make contact. The timing of this part of your swing will always be challenging, but you will be far more consistent if you are only trying to get your right palm pointing at the target instead of rolling your hands over through the hitting area.
If you are having trouble putting your right palm in the correct spot at impact, move down from full swings and try hitting some short pitch and chip shots. By hitting shorter shots, you will slow the swing down so you can get a better feel for how your hands are working through impact. Once you are comfortable chipping and pitching the ball with this method, you can gradually work your way back up to a full swing.
Right Hand Over the Ball
One of the most important fundamentals in the entire game of golf is getting your hands over or slightly past the ball at impact. What does that mean? When you make contact with the ball, your hands should either be directly above the position of the ball, or slightly closer to the target. If you hit the ball while your hands are still dragging behind, you will be unable to strike the ball with any authority. You want to be hitting down into the golf ball with your irons, and you want to hit your driver while the club head is moving parallel to the ground. Both of those goals require you to get your hands on top of the ball or slightly past it at impact. Many amateurs make the mistake of allowing their hands to come up short of the ball as they swing down, which will often contribute to a weak slice or poor contact.
If you are going to turn yourself into a quality ball striker, it is essential that you learn how to get your hands over the ball by the time you make contact. One of the best ways to do that is to think about the position of your right hand in the downswing. Make it your goal to get your right hand at least over top of the golf ball at impact, because the right hand will be trailing the left slightly as you swing through the shot. If your right hand gets into position, you will know for sure that your left hand has made it past the ball as well.
Again, this is a great technique to practice by hitting short shots. When you get a chance, head to the short game practice area at your local golf course and hit some chip shots from 10 or 15 yards off the side of the green. For each chip, focus on hitting down through the ball and taking a small divot after you have made contact. A divot after the ball is a great sign that you successfully moved your hands past the ball at impact. Not only will this basic drill help your full swing, but it will also teach you how to pitch the ball consistently with plenty of backspin.
Once you are satisfied with the quality of your chip shots, work your way up into longer and longer swings while maintaining the focus on hitting down through the ball. The basic fundamentals shouldn't change, no matter how hard you are swinging – move your right hand into a position that is either over the ball or slightly past it at impact, and you will be in great shape to hit a solid shot.
There is one other point related to this topic that should be mentioned, and it has to do with ball position. If you are having trouble getting your hands on top of the ball at impact, the problem may be with your ball position rather than your swing technique. Playing the ball too far forward in the stance is a common mistake made by amateur golfers, especially when hitting the shorter clubs in the bag. Make sure you are positioning the ball in the middle of your stance with your wedges and only moving slightly forward from there as the clubs get longer. By playing the ball from near the middle of your stance, you will be giving your hands a fair chance at getting into the right position to strike the ball solidly time after time.
Leaving Technical Thoughts Behind
It is important to work on the technical aspects of your golf swing – but it is also important to not allow them to overwhelm your mind when you are actually out on the course playing a round of golf. There is a lot to think about while you are playing golf, so you should try to keep out technical thoughts in order to make way for other concerns. Things like yardages, wind conditions, course conditions, strategy decisions, and more all take up 'space' in your brain. If your brain is already crowed with technical swing thoughts, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. There is a time and a place for your technical thoughts, and it is on the driving range, not on the course.
Unfortunately, simply leaving your swing thoughts on the driving range isn't as easy as it sounds. After you put in serious practice time to improve your technique, the thoughts you used to make those improvements are going to be burned into your brain. It is difficult to simply leave them behind when you walk to the first tee, so you have to have a specific plan to make this happen. Use the following tips to learn how to leave your technical thoughts on the driving range where they belong.
- Never practice before a round. There is a big difference between 'warming up', and 'practicing'. You should absolutely warm up before you play a round of golf, but you should never practice. That means that you aren't to be working on your technique while getting ready to play a round. Instead, you are simply hitting enough shots to find a good rhythm and get your muscles ready for action. Avoid practicing before your rounds and your mind will instantly become clearer.
- Practice your thinking on the range. You should have two different segments built in to each range session. During the first segment, you work on the technical aspects of your swing. Once that part of the practice session is over, you switch into 'on-course' mode and you simply hit shots to the best of your ability. You stop thinking about the technical aspects of the swing, and you focus in on the task of hitting the ball as close to your targets as possible. By practicing this way during at least part of your range session, you will have an easier time thinking this way on the course.
- Get lost in the details. One of the best ways to forget about the technical side of the swing while on the course is to simply consume yourself with the details of each shot that you are going to hit. By intently gathering all of the information you need to plan a successful shot, you won't even give your brain time to think about the technical points that you had been working on at the driving range.
Your right hand plays an important role throughout the golf swing, but it is especially vital at impact. If you can get your right hand into the correct spot when the club meets the ball, you will stand a great chance of hitting quality shots time and again. Through the use of the information above, along with plenty of practice time, you should be able to manage your right hand successfully at the bottom of your golf swing.