Do you make this mistake with your grip pressure that could be costing you 15 yards or more off the tee?
In an effort to hit the golf ball harder to pick up a few more yards on your drive, do you grip the club really hard, thinking that if you could just put a little more power into the shot you could launch a bomb?
Rule of Thumb for Grip Pressure
Generally speaking, if you use a scale of 1 to 10 to measure grip pressure, with 1 being very light and 10 being very tight, your grip pressure with your driver should be in the range of 5. For irons and fairway shots, use a grip pressure of 4, and for shots around the green, use a grip pressure of 3.
The "secret" to driving the golf ball as far as you can is to increase your clubhead speed. For every 1 mph increase in clubhead speed you add about 2.5 yards of distance to your drives. Anything you can do to speed up your clubhead speed will improve your distance. Conversely, everything you do that slows down your clubhead speed will cost you distance.
Extra Grip Pressure Kills Swing Speed
If you grip your driver with pressure greater than 5, you will actually slow down your swing speed and lose distance. That extra grip pressure may be costing you 15 yards or more off the tee – particularly if you squeeze with the thumb and forefinger of your right hand.
To Swing Faster, Allow the Forearms to Rotate Through Impact
Maximizing your clubhead speed at impact involves allowing the forearms to rotate through the impact zone. Your right forearm should cross over your left forearm after contact with the golf ball.
Physiology May be Working Against You
You may be making a physiological mistake that is robbing you of forearm rotation, and therefore robbing you of distance!
If you have your right thumb on top of the shaft – called a 12:00 position – it is a quite normal reaction during the downswing to push with the thumb and squeeze with the right forefinger to control the club.
The Right Thumb at 12:00 Prevents Forearm Rotation
The problem is that using the thumb and forefinger activates a set of muscles on top of the forearm that prevent rotation, thus slowing down club head speed!
One of my students has taught woodshop for 30 years. When we discussed grip and the right thumb position, he related it to the way students are taught to hold a hammer. For precise nailing in fine woodworking the thumb is placed on the top of the hammer handle. He had always thought that lining the thumb up at 12:00 was more accurate because of the thumb alignment. He had never considered that placing the thumb along the top of the handle activated muscles that worked to limit forearm rotation!
You could see the light bulb go on.
His forearms were not rotating through the impact area in his golf swing because his thumb position was activating the forearm muscles that prevent forearm rotation.
Move the Right Thumb from 12:00 to 10:00
When we moved his thumb to a 10:00 position the results were immediate. His distance and his accuracy improved dramatically.
But there was more.
Through long habit with his thumb on top of the grip he had learned to squeeze with the right hand thumb and forefinger on the downswing. We used the "finger-wrap" drill to finally get him to stop squeezing.
Finger-Wrap Drill to Eliminate Grip Squeeze
To use the finger wrap drill, take your normal grip and address the ball. Without changing your hand position on the grip take your right forefinger from underneath the grip and wrap it around the top of the grip. Leave your right thumb in position on the grip (forefinger will rest on top of the thumb). The grip will now be between your right forefinger and middle finger.
Make your normal swing. It looks and feels awkward, but the results may surprise you.
Relaxed Thumb and Forefinger Adds 15 Yards
Pay attention to the way your grip pressure feels, particularly through the impact zone. Keep the pressure from your thumb and forefingers light. The finger-wrap drill is an easy way to learn how to keep from squeezing with the wrong muscles that slow down swing speed. Your golf ball will fly straighter and your drives will be longer. I've had students pick up 5-6 mph in swing speed and 12-15 yards immediately without any other changes to their golf swing, and the answer was right at their fingers!