Golf grip pressure is one of those things that is often so in the background of your awareness that you have no idea whether it’s tight, loose or somewhere between.
A lot of higher to mid-handicappers tend to lean on the side of gripping the club too tightly and the result is often a slice. This happens because the right hand is gripping the club too tightly and the club head won’t release into the ball, it will be open at impact, resulting in a loss of power and distance.
But it’s not just a slice that will result. It can wreak all sorts of problems with rhythm, timing, power and, of course, consistency.
So what to do? The first thing we have to do is to expand our awareness. One of the best ways to do this is by going to the extremes first. I know there is a fancier term to this as it was perfectly explained by one of our podcast guests, Ed Grant (see link below).
What this means is that we really need to go to each extreme – almost putting a death grip on the club and gripping it so loose your afraid it’s going to slip out of your hands and into your neighbors plate glass window.
Why are we doing this again? because to implement (and groove) a swing change we will always have a tendency to slip back to our norm and so by going further away from our “norm” the perceived gap increases and our “new norm” leans more towards the change we are trying to implement rather than to our usual pattern.
Got that? good! By the way, this is a solid mental framework when trying to implement any swing change. Of course, it’s not the only tool but it’s one more mental “crescent wrench” to add to your toolbox.
Keep in mind (as with any swing change) it’s going to feel a bit weird because it’s a new pattern. Stick with it. Begin to feel and get used this new feeling of freedom and lightness in your swing. Take a look at 7 Ways to Produce a Powerful, Tension-free Golf Swing for more tension-free ideas.
Golf Grip Pressure Drills
Drill 1: Soft Hands/Wrists
A good drill to begin the feel your wrists and grip soften a bit is to get one of those weighted donuts and slip it over one of your shorter irons and just begin to move the club back and forth (with one hand, then the other, then both) and start to feel your hands, wrists and arms “soften.” Try to feel the weight of the club head. Just move the club head a few inches back and forth to begin.
Eventually your hands and wrists will become softer and you can then try to do “figure 8’s” with your arms and other more complicated moves to get even more freedom by loosening your grip pressure.
Drill 2: Iron Taps
Here’s another golf grip pressure drill by legendary teacher, Bob Toski:
“Hold one iron by the clubhead in each hand. Point the grips toward the floor and tap them together. Not as easy as it looks, is it? Tap them together until you make dozens of taps in succession. Notice that it becomes easier as you ‘soften’ your hands and let the feel of the movement take over.”
“When you are doing the drill well, observe your grip pressure and the flexibility in your wrists. Stiffness and pressure may at first feel like control but they only make the task tougher.”
“I also started holding the club in the fingers of my right hand—lightly—as I looked at my intermediate target. I’d complete my grip as I walked into my stance.
This gave me a consistent way to begin each swing and got me into a nice rhythm. If I’m visualizing a fade, I might start this process with the face open; for a draw, less so. So I’m creating a feel in my hands for the shot I’m about to play.”
Drill 3: Club Toss 101
I recently wrote about How to Create a Solid Pre-Shot Routine and this drill can be perfectly worked into that. It was used by Jack Nicklaus to not only soften his grip buy in conjunction with that, get a feel for the weight of the clubhead.
See pic above for overall look of this.
For right handers: in your pre-shot routine stand behind the ball as you begin to see your target line and shot shape. Grip the club loosely (and try to “soften” forearms) in your right hand and your elbow close to you side. The club head should be pointing directly at the target line. If you were mapped on a clock your arm and clubhead would be in the 3 o’clock position.
Next, with your nice relaxed grip (and keeping your elbow in relatively the same position) allow the club head to swing back (feeling the weight of it) to about a 9 o’clock position. Now swing it back again so it’s in from of your body and you can grip with your left hand – all the while looking at the target.
It’s really a simple but beautiful move and can really relax the tension in your hands and body, particularly before a pressure packed shot is needed.
I also like to practice this with a weighted donut on the club head. It really helps exaggerate the feeling for me.
There you have it, just some ways you can help yourself monitor (and then free up) your golf grip pressure.
Just remember, grip pressure, whether too loose or too firm, will channel from your hands into every part of your body and make a smooth, rhythmical swing almost impossible.