Golf is a game of details. If you want to play well, you need to master the details.
Many golfers get hung up on the big things – the clubs they buy, major swing changes, etc. – but it is really the small stuff that can take you to a new level.
The subject of this article, grip pressure, is one of those ‘little things.’
On the surface, it probably doesn’t seem like grip pressure is particularly important in the grand scheme of your game. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Once you start to work on your grip pressure, you will see just how much of an impact it has on your performance. That is true both in the long game and the short game.
Whether you are swinging a driver from the tee or hitting a three-foot putt, it is crucial that you use the appropriate amount of grip pressure.
A Common Mistake
The vast majority of amateur golfers hold onto the club too tightly. This is understandable, of course. You don’t want to let the club go flying out of your hands when you hit a shot, so the natural reaction is to squeeze tightly onto the handle of the club.
Unfortunately, doing so is going to present a number of negative side effects.
Holding on too tightly is actually one of the biggest hurdles most players must clear before they can elevate their level of play.
So what is the ideal grip pressure? Think about it this way – you want to hold on to the club tight enough to maintain control, and no tighter. The only grip which is too light is the one which lets the club fly away during the swing.
As long as you can safely control the club, you are in good shape.
It is important to understand what can go wrong when you miss the mark with your grip pressure. We have already discussed what can happen when you hold onto the club too lightly – the club can go flying out of your hands.
Obviously, you don’t want that to happen. But what happens when you hold on too tightly?
The problems that crop up when you make this mistake are not as obvious as a club flying through the air, but they will stand in the way of playing good golf just the same.
Following is a list of a few problems you may encounter when you squeeze the grip during the swing.
#1 Lost Distance
Holding on to the grip too tightly is going to take away some of your club head speed, meaning you won’t hit the ball as far as the end. The issue here is the release.
You won’t be able to release the club head freely through impact when you use a tight grip, and as a result, the energy passed from the club to the ball is going to be reduced. It might seem counter-intuitive, but you need to use a relaxed grip if you are going to hit powerful shots.
#2 Poor Ball Striking
Your golf swing may become too mechanical if you hold on with a tight grip.
Ideally, you want your golf swing to flow smoothly from start to finish, without any forced movements or awkward adjustments. Such a smooth swing is going to be difficult to achieve without a light grip.
#3 No Touch
One of the biggest problems you will find when using too much grip pressure is that your touch will be reduced. This is an issue mostly in the short game.
You will have trouble chipping the ball the right distance, and your speed control on the greens will suffer as well.
As you can see, plenty can go wrong when you hold onto the grip of your clubs too tightly. Get to work on this point as soon as possible and you will be able to take your game in the right direction.
If you currently hold onto the club too tightly, it will be difficult to make the necessary change if you start with the driver. It is going to feel awkward and uncomfortable to use a lighter grip while performing such an aggressive swinging action.
Instead of rushing out to hit your driver, start in the short game area by hitting some chip and pitch shots. Using a light grip will be more comfortable here, so you can build up your confidence before moving on.
Once you trust your lighter grip on chip and pitch shots, gradually make your way into some half swings with your wedges. Before long, you will be hitting full iron shots, and eventually, you can take the step of hitting drivers on the range.
Of course, as you move along, make sure you are using enough grip pressure to maintain control of your clubs throughout the course of each swing.
It is one thing to learn how to use lighter grip pressure on the driving range – it is another thing entirely to use that light grip on the course.
At first, you are likely to encounter some pretty serious trust issues. The only cure for this crisis of confidence is experience.
Play a couple of solo rounds at the start so you can focus on your grip without worrying too much about your score. Over time, the lighter grip you are using will start to feel natural, and you will play some of the best golf of your life.
The average golfer would be surprised to learn just how lightly the typical pro holds onto the golf club. It seems like professional golfers must hold on tightly because they hit the ball so hard, but that simply isn’t the case. Pros know that a light grip pressure is critical for great play, and you need to learn that same lesson in your own game.
Give yourself some time to make progress on this point, and look forward to producing excellent shots in the near future.
Cover Photo via Flickr