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Friday, September 11, 2009

Step 2: Try It with Your Normal Grip

In the last post you became familiar with the feel of a deadhands swing by using a “neutral” putter grip. Today we’re going to take a normal full swing grip, as shown in the first drawing below, which is much “stronger” than the putter grip. I guess they call it “stronger” because it places your wrists in a stronger position to strike both the ball and the ground. You don’t want to injure yourself when you take a divot.

Normal grip at address

By turning your left hand slightly strong, you pre-rotate your left shoulder. This eliminates some extra movement at the top of the backswing; that means a simpler move to the top, so much simpler that you may even feel that you’re just raising your left arm straight up as you turn away from the ball.

But there’s more to it than that. This may be one of the great secrets of the old masters, so listen closely. Have you ever wondered why most teachers advise you to turn your hands so that the V’s formed by the thumb and forefinger of each hand point at your right shoulder? It’s because if you do so and DON’T rotate your forearms on the backswing, your club should swing on plane automatically. That’s right; with the proper grip, if you don’t use your forearms to manipulate the club as you take it back, it should end up on plane without any extra effort from you at all! Even if your backswing isn’t perfect, it will be close enough that the club should find its way to the proper position without you having to think much about it. That’s the result of your relaxed forearms and the momentum of the clubhead and shaft on the backswing.

Look at the second drawing and you’ll see what I mean. The bending of your right elbow at the top of the backswing causes the glass to tilt just slightly more to the right, onto the proper swingplane. Do this in front of a mirror and you’ll see that the bottom of the glass is pointing pretty much at where the ball would normally be.

Normal grip at top of backswing

That’s a major reason why Steve Stricker plays so consistently now. He really just lets the club do most of the “thinking” for him. He sets up properly, then swings back without twisting his forearms, and the club goes where it should go. All he has to do is think about where he wants the ball to go after he hits it.

Try this in front of the mirror a few times until you’re sure you understand how this works. Set up and take the glass to the position at the top, then check it in the mirror. You’ll get comfortable with it really quick.

In the last post in this series, I’ll show you how it works on the course with a real club. The momentum of the head and shaft really smoothes this motion out. It just feels good to swing this way!


  1. I like the way you approached the full swing. I watch so many people play that don't have a proper grip and then they wonder why they spray the ball all over the course.

  2. Great stuff, as always Mike - it's raining here, so I can practice this in the house tonight!

  3. Thanks, David. I really do believe that simpler is better.

  4. And Greg, that's the idea! Most of us don't understand what we need to do; and when we do understand, we don't have time to practice. But if we can find ways to improve that don't require us to go to the course, we can squeeze in some "practice" whenever it's convenient.

    Improving our games with less practice... that's what I'm after.

  5. I like the way you approached the full swing. I watch so many people play that don't have a proper grip and then they wonder why they spray the ball all over the course.

  6. Thanks, Larry. It's almost always about fundamentals. Nine times out of ten, bad fundamentals are the source of problems in a golf swing.