EDITOR’S NOTE: “Tip of the week” is a periodic feature running in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, in partnership with the Incline Village General Improvement District, providing locals with various tips pertaining to the recreation opportunities the district provides.
When it comes to hitting the long ball, you might be surprised to learn just how important the smaller muscles in the hands are. In reality, better driving isn’t only about using the bigger muscles and your core, but you have to make sure the smaller muscles and joints in the hands and wrists are doing what they’re supposed to do, as well. So let’s look at two aspects of how the hands should work.
First, the right hand. Many of my students assume that because the left arm is the dominant arm in the swing (which isn’t always true, folks), the right arm is just along for the ride. That’s not correct. The right hand plays a pivotal role in helping you add power, and that comes from the hinging and unhinging of the right wrist.
What I mean by that is, think of how you hammer a nail into a board. Better yet, pay attention to how you hold a hammer and how you instinctively hinge the wrists so the hammerhead moves faster than the handle and hits the nail with extra speed and force. The same principle applies to how the right hand is supposed to hinge in the golf swing. In fact, it’s the same type of hinge.
The back of the hand should hinge toward the thumb, helping to add extra power. Second, look how I’m holding the hammer in my fingers — not completely in my palm. You can see that the hammer is supported by the heel pad of my hand. The same principle applies with a golf club. When the club is in the hands correctly, it’ll feel lighter, grip pressure will be lighter (more on that in a second), and the wrist and hands will be tension free. So grab a hammer and feel for yourself the right way to hold a club with your right hand. Then do the same for your left hand.
The second element I want to mention is grip pressure. Jack Nicklaus is on record saying if you want to hit it farther, you have to grip the club lighter. The lighter your grip pressure, the more hinge you can add and the faster your hands will release.
Granted, you never want to go too light and let the club slip, so try using a tube of sunblock as your guide. I like to think the optimal pressure is the same as it is holding the tube of SPF. You don’t want to squeeze too hard that you make a mess, and you don’t want to be too loose that the slick tube slips away.
If I were to assign a numerical value to it, the power grip would be about a 3 or 4, if 10 was for holding the club as tight as I could.
Try that, folks. Keep these two keys in mind and grip the club properly: Hinge the right hand like a hammer and grip lighter for more power. I bet you’ll see instant results.
Frank O’Connell, PGA, teaches at the golf courses at Incline Village.