If you are a right-handed golfer, you may think at first that your right hand should play a meaningful role in the swing.

Should the Right Hand Play a Meaningful Role in the Swing?

That only makes sense – wouldn’t you want your dominant hand to be in charge of the action? As it turns out, that is not actually a good idea. While the right hand does have some work to do in the swing, it should not take over completely. Ideally, both of your hands will play a role in the movement of the club, along with the rest of your body.

Unfortunately, many golfers struggle with the mistake of allowing their dominant hand to ‘take over’ and get in the way of what otherwise would have been a quality swing. This usually happens between the top of the backswing and the moment of impact. On the way down, many golfers feel the urge to hit at the ball by using their dominant hand to push the club head toward impact. Making this mistake comes along with a couple of negative consequences. First, it wastes swing speed during a phase of the swing when you won’t actually be hitting the ball. You only make contact with the ball at the bottom of the swing, so that is when you should be swinging your fastest. By firing your dominant hand early, you use up swing speed that could have been applied later.

The other major problem associated with using your dominant hand too aggressively is forcing the club head off of the correct path. In most cases, that means pushing the club head outside of the right path, which will inevitably lead to an outside-in swing path at the bottom. If you manage to square up the club face with this outside-in path, you will hit a pull. More commonly, however, the club face will remain open and a slice will be the result. If you struggle with a slice – as so many golfers do – there is a good chance you are using your dominant hand too actively in the golf swing.

In this article, we are going to offer some advice which will hopefully help you reduce the use of your dominant hand. Again, this hand does have a role to play in the swing, but you can’t let it go too far. This can be a tricky part of the swing to work on, so you shouldn’t expect results to come immediately after getting started. Be patient and you will hopefully see gradual process as the practice sessions start to add up.

All of the content below is written from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

What is The Big Picture?

What is The Big Picture?

We need to back up for a second and talk about the big picture of the golf swing. A surprising number of golfers don’t really understand how the swing works, and they struggle to produce good shots as a result. When you have a clear understanding of what you are trying to do in the golf swing, everything gets a bit easier on the course.

The points below are going to outline the general idea of how the golf swing should work. Once we lay this groundwork, we will get back to the topic of how you can avoid letting your right hand become too dominant in the swing.

  • A rotational action. The first thing you need to know about the golf swing is that it is a rotational action. You should be turning your body to the right in the backswing and to the left in the downswing. Sliding from side to side is not going to help you produce quality shots, so it should be avoided to the greatest extent possible. There will be a bit of lateral movement in the swing, but that movement should be the result of your rotation, not the other way around.
  • Starts with balance. A good golf swing is a balanced golf swing. Sure, there are other things you need to do right in order to hit good shots, but everything begins with balance. When you can maintain your balance nicely throughout the swing, you will be far more likely to strike the ball cleanly at the bottom. Many amateur players struggle with balance, so this is something to pay careful attention to during your next practice session. If you notice that balance is a problem for you, make improving on this point your focus until you make significant progress. Making any other improvements to your swing will be largely pointless without having great balance in place.
  • The body is the engine. This is a point that needs to be highlighted as it is a point of major misunderstanding for a large group of players. While your hands are the part of the body that are actually holding onto the club, they are not the part of the body that is in charge of the swing. Rather, it is the core of your body – the big muscles – that should take the lead. When you see professional golfers launch powerful shots despite making smooth, easy-looking swings, they are able to do it because they use their bodies efficiently. The body is the engine of the swing while the arms (and hands) simple direct the club into the back of the ball. This is the opposite of the way many amateur golfers approach the game. The average player uses his or her arms to force the club down toward the ball while the body just stands by idly. Don’t put yourself in this category. Learn how to use your body to drive the movement of the swing and you will unlock power that you previously didn’t think was available in your game.
  • Eyes on the ball. If you read any golf instruction on a regular basis, you are probably tired of hearing about this tip. But it is extremely important, so it has to find a place on our list of golf swing basics. When you make a swing, you need to be watching the ball from start to finish. This makes sense, of course, since the ball is the thing you are trying to hit. However, many golfers get out of the habit of watching the ball as they look up early to see where their shot is going to go. Don’t make the mistake of falling into this trap. Keep your eyes down, watch the ball closely, and only look up after it is gone.
  • The value of lag. This last point on our list is crucial with regard to the discussion we are having here. During the downswing, you should be ‘lagging’ the golf club nicely on the way into the ball. What does that mean? Simple – you should allow the club to lag behind your hands and the rest of your body on the way down. As your body turns toward the target, the club head is going to hang back and eventually be the last thing to whip through the hitting area. That is important because using lag will let you build up as much power as possible before actually striking the ball. If you were to force the club head down prematurely without letting it lag back, you would struggle to produce much power. Remember that efficient power we talked about above in reference to professional golfers? This is a big part of how they do it. The first part is turning their bodies through the shot correctly. The second half of the equation is lagging the club nicely so they can store up all of their potential energy until the club fires through at the bottom. It can be difficult to learn how to lag the club but mastering this part of the swing has the potential to take your game to a new level.

We hope the five points above have helped you understand what the golf swing should be all about. You should be turning not sliding, you should lag the club down into the ball, and you should watch the ball carefully as you swing. Also, you should focus on your balance and make sure you are using the core of your body as the engine which drives the action. When you see how many points are on this list, it is easy to understand why so many golfers struggle to find their way in this game. Golf is difficult to be sure, and simply mastering the basics of the swing can take significant time and effort.

What Does the Right Hand Do?

What Does the Right Hand Do?

As you can see, the right hand did not have a place on our list of the basic keys of the golf swing. So, if it isn’t specifically highlighted as a building block of the swing, what does it do? Why do you keep your right hand on the club at all? Safe to say, the right hand does have an important role to play, but perhaps not the one you might think.

First, one of the key roles that the right-hand plays is helping you maintain control over the club. There are significant forces created when you swing the club through the ball at high speed, so you want your right hand to help you control the club at impact and beyond. At the very least, your right hand should help you guide the club through the ball and into the finish position.

Beyond simply helping with control, the right hand can actually help you apply speed and power at just the right moment. This is where things get tricky, however, because the point of this article was to talk about how your right hand should not be dominant in the swing. That remains true, for the most part, but there does come a point in the swing where it is okay to let your right hand really get to work. That point is at the bottom of the swing, just prior to the moment that you contact the ball. If you let your right-hand fire through impact properly, it is possible to pick up swing speed and create a clean and crisp strike.

Now, before you head out to the driving range and try to fire your right hand through the ball aggressively, there are a few things you should know. Let’s walk through those important points in the list below.

  • Don’t start too early. This is the big risk when trying to use your right hand actively in the swing. If you fire the right hand too early – meaning you let it take control of the golf swing earlier in the downswing – you are in big trouble. As we mentioned in the introduction to this article, you are likely to hit a slice when the right-hand fires too soon. And, even if that doesn’t happen, you will probably drag the club through the ball slowly since you have wasted much of your power earlier in the downswing. If this move is going to work, it has to be reserved until the bottom of the swing.
  • You need a base of skills. You should not be working on this concept if you are still struggling to hit solid shots and get the ball up off the ground. This is an advanced technique meant for experienced players. If you don’t yet fit that category, keep working on the other basics of the swing while letting your right hand be as passive as possible. Feel free to revisit this idea later on in your golf progression after you have improved on your basic skills.
  • Lag is required. It is only going to work to fire your right hand through the ball if you are lagging the club down toward impact successfully. If you are not hitting on that point, there isn’t going to be any benefit to using your right hand, as you won’t have created any angle which can then be unleashed into the ball. To determine if you are lagging the club currently, ask a friend to record your swing on video. Watch the video back in slow motion and see how the club behaves between the top of the backswing and the moment of impact. Does it hang back at all, or is it in front of your body the whole time? Is there a significant angle created between your left arm and the shaft of the club? If you do have lag present in your swing, you should be able to work on deploying your right hand near the bottom of the swing.

To be clear, you still don’t want to have your right hand dominating your golf swing as a whole. The golf swing is something to be performed by the whole body, with different parts of the body playing different roles. The right hand should be passive for the most part, only getting involved at the very last moment to help the club move through the ball with as much power as possible.

Take It Away Drill

Take It Away Drill

As a practice drill, it may be a good idea to take your right hand off of the club for a few shots. We mentioned above that it would be difficult to swing at full speed without both hands on the club, and that remains true. However, for this drill, we are going to suggest that you use just your left hand to hit some soft chip and pitch shots. You won’t be swinging at full speed, but you will get a good feel for what you can do without involving the right hand in the shot at all.

To try this out for yourself, follow the steps below.

  • Find a place where you can safely hit some pitch shots, or at least some long chip shots. You can do this on the range, of course, or you can find a golf course with a large short game practice area for you to use. Since the shots you will hit one-handed may not be as predictable as your two-handed shots, make sure no one is standing in a spot where they may be hit by a shot that goes awry.
  • Pick out a target and set up to hit the first shot. The club you use will depend on the target you picked, but something like a pitching wedge is usually a good place to start for this drill. You probably don’t want to pick a target which is more than 40 or 50 yards away, and you may even want to start closer until you get the hang of it.
  • With only your left hand on the grip – put your right hand into your pocket or behind your back – make a soft, smooth swing and send the ball on its way. Once you have watched the ball travel and evaluated the results, try again. Keep this up for as long as you would like before switching back to two-handed shots.

The goal here is to learn how to use your body to effectively move the club. It will be hard to control the club properly with just your left hand alone, so you will need to use the turning motion of your body to propel the club back and through. This is probably going to be quite difficult at first, especially if you are used to using your right hand actively in the swing. With some practice, however, you should get better and better at these little one-handed shots.

Once you go back to playing your shots with two hands, remember what you learned in this drill. Force your right hand to play a passive role for most of the swing, staying out of the way until the very bottom of the swing. From time to time, revisit the left-hand-only drill just to remind yourself of the way your body should be controlling the action.

On the Greens

On the Greens

To finish up this article, we need to touch on the way the right hand should perform on the greens. While you don’t want to let your right hand become too dominant in the full swing, it is actually even more important to keep that right hand out of the way when putting. In fact, we can go so far as to say that your right hand should do nothing more than hold onto the grip while you are swinging your putter back and through. The putting stroke is a motion which is controlled by the shoulders and you don’t need any hand or wrist action at all in order to hit good putts. It is harder to do than it is to say, but keeping your right hand quiet is one of the best ways to improve your putting performance.

The only exception to this rule would be on excessively long putts. When you face an extremely long putt from one side of a large green to the other, you might need to get your right hand involved slightly just to add speed to the stroke. Using a true pendulum stroke in this situation will make it hard to send the ball all the way across the green successfully. When you do come across an extra-long putt, feel free to let your wrists and hands do a little more work so you can cover the entire distance to the hole. Of course, you should practice this technique in advance to make sure you are comfortable with how it works.

In the end, the story of the right hand in the golf swing is a bit of a mixed bag. For the most part, the right hand should be passive, staying out of the way and not forcing the club off path. However, at the very last moment, you may want to engage the right hand as a way to force the club through the hitting area and pick up an extra little burst of power. We hope this discussion will help you move in the right direction with your swing as a whole. Good luck!