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Proper Grip Pressure (It's Firmer than You Might Think)

post #1 of 111
Thread Starter 

Sam Snead famously quipped that to grip the club with the proper amount of pressure, one should feel as if they're holding onto a baby bird: grip the club firmly enough that it can't fly away, but not so firmly that you crush the thing.

 

Less famously, Ben Hogan said "what Sam Snead didn't tell you is that the baby bird is a hawk."

 

If you had to guess whether grip pressures among amateur golfers were too tight or too loose, I imagine most people would guess they're too tight. It's common advice to "grip the club loosely" or "lightly" or "decrease grip pressure."

 

If you guessed that most amateurs grip the club too tight, you couldn't be more wrong. Most amateurs grip the club far too loosely.

 

Studies have been conducted on PGA Tour players and average amateurs. What they found was that the average PGA Tour player has the capacity to grip a club more than two times as firmly as the average amateur. So let's say a PGA Tour player says he grips the club at a "3 or a 4" on a scale of 1-10. The average amateur is only capable of gripping the club to a 4 or a 5, so that makes his grip pressure anywhere from a 6 to a 10 if you extrapolate the scale! Everyone's "3 to 4" is not the same. (There's another study I remember vividly, but I'll add that in a second comment.)

 

One thing amateurs do tend to get a bit "firm" with is in their wrists and forearms. What skilled golfers have learned to do is have relatively soft wrists, forearms, elbows, and biceps/triceps, and shoulders with a firm grip. The grip is primarily in the fingers and part of the palm muscles. The "firmness" stops at your wrist.

 

It's tough to practice the sensation - frankly, a PGA Tour player develops grip strength largely by hitting a few thousand balls per week. But if you'd like, go ahead and grip a club. Grip it FIRMLY. Now move your arms, wrists, etc. about - waving the clubhead around in the air - and try to feel as loose in your arms, shoulders, and wrists as possible while still maintaining firm pressure on the grip.

 

Grip the club firmly, people. If you're white knuckling it you may be in the minority and you may need to back off, but odds are you aren't.

post #2 of 111
Thread Starter 

The other study I mentioned and remember vividly was this: grip pressure was monitored from setup to the the backswing, downswing, and follow-through. What researchers found was that pros tended to maintain a very steady grip pressure throughout the golf swing. Amateurs - and the worse the golfer the more this was true - tended to grip the club lightly at setup, increase pressure on the backswing, spiking pressure in transition at the top of the backswing, decreasing slightly from there, and then spiking again coming into impact before releasing pressure in the follow-through.

 

The advice in the article, IIRC, was to maintain a looser grip pressure throughout the swing, but when you compared the amount of pressure you'd see amateurs were well below pros and only briefly surpassed them at impact (because they had too little pressure, then too much as they tightened their grip in a millisecond). That advice was wrong if you look at the amount of pressure. The better advice: grip the club more firmly at setup, then maintain that pressure.

 

post #3 of 111

The difficulty for amateurs is that more often than not our minds can't process the feeling of gripping the club firmly with the fingers but having loose wrists. Then when it's explained that they need to loosen their wrists, the grip is also loosened by default and likewise with telling someone they grip too hard.

 

When grip is explained in terms of normal motions I found it registers a little better for me, e.g.

 

- The motion of hammering a nail. You grip the hammer enough that it doesn't slip out of your hand but don't grip it like you're killing it. You use your arm to begin the hammering motion but then let your wrist be loose enough that the hammer itself releases into the nail.

 

- The motion of drumming. You grip the drum sticks enough that they don't slip out of your hands but not too hard. Your arms begin the drumming motion but your wrists remain loose enough that they can be 'flicked' to send the drum stick into the drum.

 

- The motion of flipping a pancake. You grip the pan hard enough that you won't drop it and no harder. Your arm begins the flipping motion to start the pan ascending and moving forward but then your loose wrist 'flicks' to add the extra needed for the pancake to come out of the pan and flip over.

 

Once you have the imaginary (or physical) feeling of those motions, the correct grip pressure should be easier to realise.

post #4 of 111

I have mostly overcome this by using Hogans suggestion of a waggle as part of my setup.  The last thing I do before my backswing is waggle to ensure my wrists are loose.  I am sure under pressure circumstances I'm still too tense in the wrists but the waggle has helped overall. 

 

I also have used the concept Martin introduced to me in the Tour Striker video where they suggest a drill using a grape (I prefer mini-marshmallow) placed between the left index finger (right index for righties) and grip with the goal to be maintain downward pressure on the grape with my left index finger (right index for righties) but not squish it until the downswing.

post #5 of 111
Were those "Pro vs. Am" grip pressure numbers adjusted for swing speed? Most pros are swinging a LOT faster so their pressure to hold on would be a bit firmer than an amateur making his swing at a lower speed. It's going to take more grip pressure to hold on to the club when the clubhead speed is up in the 120's as opposed to a fairly average amateur swinging in the 90's or less.
post #6 of 111
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RayG View Post

Were those "Pro vs. Am" grip pressure numbers adjusted for swing speed? Most pros are swinging a LOT faster so their pressure to hold on would be a bit firmer than an amateur making his swing at a lower speed. It's going to take more grip pressure to hold on to the club when the clubhead speed is up in the 120's as opposed to a fairly average amateur swinging in the 90's or less.


Yes, and it's not going to take as much pressure as you think. Pros maintain similar grip pressure throughout the set, even on partial wedges (though once they get into the really "touch"-sensitive shots - the ones where a divot isn't really expected, basically - the grip pressure loosens to varying amounts).

 

post #7 of 111

I found that i use to grip the club alot tighter than i needed to. Because i would get blisters on my fingers even with new grips. now the only thing i get are a few calusus starting to form on my fingers by the last week of golfing. This is playing golf more than once a week with practice. I change my grips about twice a year, once in march, and once in early july. I do it myself, so i save money, but i never have slipping problems or grip pressure issues.

 

I think you can practice grip pressure. If you really need help with strengthening the grip, you can exercise it. Grip a tennis ball through out the day, just squeezing it. I found there is a line were you can have a firm grip and keep the arms loose. I would put it as the club is snug in the hands..

post #8 of 111
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by saevel25 View Post

I found that i use to grip the club alot tighter than i needed to. Because i would get blisters on my fingers even with new grips. now the only thing i get are a few calusus starting to form on my fingers by the last week of golfing. This is playing golf more than once a week with practice. I change my grips about twice a year, once in march, and once in early july. I do it myself, so i save money, but i never have slipping problems or grip pressure issues.


Blisters are caused by the grip moving in your hands (some is unavoidable - impact will subtly shift the club in your hands, for example) and is more often caused by a grip that's too light, not too firm (and, really, it's more often caused by a poor grip or poor mechanics, but if we're talking only about grip firmness, lighter leads to more blisters than firmer).

post #9 of 111

Baby birds can't fly, but if someone was holding a bird that could fly, and wanted to hold it without crushing it, they'd figure out pretty soon to hold their hands firm but without squeezing tight.

 

I heard a story from a friend who took a group golf lesson. The first thing the instructor did was have them take their setup positions, then he pulled the club out of some unspecting person's hands. If the club came free easily, they got a thumbs up for having good grip pressure. If the student held firm they were told their grip pressure was too strong. I remember thinking about hitting a ball out of medium to long rough with that grip pressure and laughing to myself - yeah that's gonna end well.

post #10 of 111

Erik,

 

Would it also have to do with which parts of the hand we need to grip firmly?  I've found I can grip firmly with the middle through pinky of my left  hand and the ring and middle of my right hand and keep my wrists relaxed.  If the index and thumb start gripping too hard, the wrist tighten up.

post #11 of 111
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sean_miller View Post

Baby birds can't fly

 

Okay, so take your pick:

  1. adolescent bird
  2. "so it doesn't fall out of your hands and onto the sidewalk below, snapping its poor little neck."

 

:)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boogielicious View Post

Would it also have to do with which parts of the hand we need to grip firmly?  I've found I can grip firmly with the middle through pinky of my left  hand and the ring and middle of my right hand and keep my wrists relaxed.  If the index and thumb start gripping too hard, the wrist tighten up.


Yes. The thumb in particular given the fact that its muscle attachment is really close to the wrist.

post #12 of 111
Quote:
Originally Posted by MiniBlueDragon View Post

The difficulty for amateurs is that more often than not our minds can't process the feeling of gripping the club firmly with the fingers but having loose wrists. Then when it's explained that they need to loosen their wrists, the grip is also loosened by default and likewise with telling someone they grip too hard.



Physical strength makes a huge difference in how hard you can squeeze and still be relaxed doing it.  I think of this every time my wife asks me to open a jar of pickles.  If she actually manages to get it open, it's usually followed by a huge arm lunge and pickle juice everywhere.  Most men, in a very relaxed way, can just give it enough turn to pop the top and maintain complete control.  It's the same with the golf grip.  If you have the right forearm strength, you can grip the club so tight that no one can really pull it out of your hands while maintaining what feels like relaxation in your forearms.  Getting a smaller grip so you can squeeze the crap out of the club helps too.  The hand chart says I should be midsize or jumbo, but I feel like I can really get a vice on standard grips so I switched back to those a while back.  Couldn't have made a smarter decision there.

post #13 of 111

I like to feel like im squeezing the solvent out of my grips! 

post #14 of 111

I wanted to quit wearing the left hand glove so started practicing without. After some time callus grew on my outer left palm which is what is needed.  I know some pros do not wear a glove, note Freddy Couples and  he has a very long ball so there is no denying that glove free can be OK.  But for me i also found that my left thumbnail was digging into my right palm, which would be impossible  with the glove on as the nail is covered.  I had thought this due to the left hand movement but just this week did some more investigation and found that the right hand  was too loose on the club and the hand was moving upwards into the nail as the club head moved out away from my body. I  had believed  the advice of Sam Snead and many others about loose hands but now can agree, in fact, it is loose wrists we must have.  Permitting the club to move around by having loose hands won't help. 

post #15 of 111

Tried this out on my last 2 rounds. It worked well with my irons, got some of the slicing sorted out. But didn't do as well with my driver.

 

Takes minimal time getting used to gripping harder at address...especially when the results are better than before. 

post #16 of 111

Interesting first post and thread.  Grip pressure has always baffled me, and Erik's first post lays out the issue nicely.

 

When I'm out on the course and things start to go unexpectedly sideways, this is frequently the issue.  My grip pressure will get too loose (often when I'm playing well and swinging freely), and all of the sudden I can't get the club square anymore.  After a few huge blocks with the driver, or really bad contact with the irons, I'll discover the issue.  I will make a conscious effort to take a firmer grip and things straighten back out.

 

For me, the swing thought is to grip the club tight enough that I can easily move it with my hands.  When my body is rotating at max speed, and I'm trying to execute a wrist release with less than a .05 second margin of error, the clubhead--which is all the way down there at the end of the shaft--has to be immediately responsive to movement by the hands.  That requires a fair bit of grip pressure.

 

I've always thought I was doing something wrong, and that I was robbing myself of clubhead speed or something because of my "crutch" of holding the grip tighter.  Maybe not.

post #17 of 111

We've all seen much written about weight distribution from the bottom vantage - the feet. 

 

What about the hands?

 

Is optimal pressure 50-50 for left and right hands throughout the swing?

 

Or is there more pressure in the lead hand from P4 and then more in the trail hand P6 onwards?

post #18 of 111

Question, would a nice tacky grip give someone the confidence to relax their kungfu grip on the club? My brother holds the club to darn hard, he needs some motivation. Or a swift kick in the read!

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