The Golf Grip: Fact and Fiction

the golf gripThe golf grip is one of the most important fundamentals of the golf swing and often the most difficult to teach and to learn. The reason for this is that everyone’s hands are unique. Length of fingers, width of fingers, width of palms all make for many different combinations of possible “proper” grips.

When learning the golf grip it is important to remember that the grip must be functional. Simply gripping the club according to basic generic principles like “more in the fingers than in the palm” or “in the fingers of the right hand” are destined to fail. The way a golfer grips the club must correspond to the way that the player swings the club, as the grip ultimately serves to square the club face and to add power. Some people use the hands more and others less in an effort to square the club and to give power. The way you grip the club influences what you can do.

Top Myths about the Grip

1)  Grip the club “in the fingers” of the left hand

It is very often said to grip it in the fingers of the left hand for better hinging. I have seen this cause many issues, especially for those people with big hands. Gripping in the fingers very often leads to excess “cupping” in the left wrist during the swing and often forces the hands too low at address and encourages the player to bend too much at the waist. It also makes the golf grip “weaker” because the hand can no longer use the functionality of the opposable thumb.

Read below to see some of the common myths and some facts about the golf grip.  Look at the pictures to see the whole story.

golf grip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2)  More knuckles showing equals stronger golf grip

Seeing more knuckles of the left hand does not always make the golf grip “stronger.” I often see students with the hand turned in so much (showing 3 or 4 knuckles) that the club shifts entirely to the palm. As a result, the grip is so “weak” that it slips at impact virtually every time. Just remember, more knuckles does not always equal “strong” in the golf grip.

proper grip

3)  Interlocking grip is the best for smaller hands

This is perhaps one of the more perplexing myths for me. Most people that try the interlocking grip find it most comfortable when the fingers interlock all the way to the base of the fingers. When someone has small hands, interlocking the fingers makes them open the palms to the sky so as to get the fingers locked in tightly. This results in a very poor, perhaps the worst, golf grip.  I see this often with junior golfers.

junior golf grip

Overlooked Facts About the Golf Grip

1)  The position of the arms influences the golf grip

The thing that I look at first when I see a bad golf grip is the position of the arms. I even like to tell students that you are not supposed to grip the club “with the arms.” By this I mean that if you take away the tension in the arms, the hands will more easily find a good grip. The most common mistake is to have the arms too straight. Some people have the arms so straight (especially the left arm) that they are hyper-extended and “bend the other way.” With arms in such a position, it will be virtually impossible to take a proper grip.

2)  Shaft lean and lie angle influence the golf grip

Because the correctness of a grip is determined by a position that enables proper hinging of the wrists all the while maintaining squareness of the clubface, the position of the club at the ground has a tremendous influence on the grip. A club that is pushed too far forward (toward the target) is going to create strong grip and a club that is leaning behind the ball will tend to create a weak grip. A club shaft that is too tall at address will have the person grip too much in the palms of the hands. The clubshaft too low will have someone take it too much in the fingers.  Learning how to properly position the club at the ball is imperative to gripping the club properly!

3) The design of the club can influence the golf grip (off-set clubs for example)

Because the club position at address is so important, the design of the club head has an influence on the golf grip. I am thinking mostly of the off-set models. Having the hands placed in front of the clubface with off-set clubs often makes it difficult for players to reconcile a slightly strong grip with a square clubface. I see this most often with higher lofted off-set drivers and some models of very off-set irons. I find few people who are able to have a proper grip with these styles of club. If you are using such clubs to help you correct ball flight problems, I suggest trying a more traditional, “blade-looking” club and working on your grip and swing in order to correct ball flight.

 

 

 

 

What is the Stableford point system?

Stableford point system

golf scorecard

Golf scorecard

The stableford scoring system is a way of scoring in golf where a player scores points based on his stroke-play score for each hole. The goal is to score as many points as possible. The player with the most points wins.

The points are earned according to the following scale.

 

Double bogey or higher: 0

bogey: 1

Par: 2

Birdie: 3

Eagle: 4

Double eagle (albatros): 5

The US PGA Tour event, The International (canceled in 2007 after 21 years) used a modified stableford system.

 

• Double Eagle: 8 points

• Eagle: 5 points

• Birdie: 2 points

• Par: 0 points

• Bogey: -1 point

• Double Bogey or Worse: -3 points

 

Stableford System and Handicap Play

A very important aspect of the Stableford System is that the traditional handicap system in golf can be easily applied so that players of different abilities can play against eachother as equals.

This is done by taking a player’s handicap and spreading it out across all the holes. This is done according to the handicapping of each hole as shown in the diagram below.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

Ex. 1) A player holds a handicap of 18. He has 18 strokes to be distributed. He will get one stroke on every hole. In essence, he can subtract one stroke from his score on each hole. A bogey for him on any hole turns into a par. In stableford, he will thus score 2 points for every bogey he makes.

A scratch golfer (0 handicap) must score a par in order to score 2 points in Stableford.

Let’s say the scratch golfer has 18 pars. He earns 36 Stableford points. If the 18 handicap player has 18 bogeys (18 over par), he too will score 36 points in Stableford. In this case, there would be a tie between the two players.  This is quite normal, as the scratch golfer would “give” the 18 handicap player 18 strokes in a handicapped stroke-play match.

Ex. 2) A player has a handicap of 24. He will automatically have one stroke on every hole. He will have a second stroke on the 6 most difficult holes. On those more difficult holes, a double bogey will score him 2 points in Stableford, as he will subtract 2 strokes from his stroke-play score on each of those holes. He will also scored two points in Stableford for every bogey on the other “easier” hole.

It is easy to imagine a scenario between this player and a scratch golfer as we did in example 1.

Ex. 3) A player carries a handicap of 4. He will receive only 1 point on the four most difficult holes. As a 4 handicap player, he is expected to be able to score a par “without help” on the 14 easiest holes.

Once again, it is easy to illustrate a match between this player and others.

The interesting thing about the Stableford point system is that it very closely reflects stroke-play scoring in golf.  By knowing a player’s handicap and how many points he scores in Stableford, we can essentially know what he shot in stroke play, AND more importantly, what he shot relative to his handicap. The “magic number” in Stableford is 36. In essence, 36 points in Stableford means that a player had 18 pars (18 x 2 points for a par). Knowing that the par for each hole is adjusted according to a player’s handicap, 36 points also means that a player shot his handicap.

Remember that in Stableford the better one plays, the MORE points he scores. So if a player scores more than 36 points, he has played better than his handicap. If he scores less than 36 points, he has played worse than his handicap.

Extra credit:

For anyone who has studied the details of the modern handicap system, you may notice that the Stableford system reflects the idea of equitable stroke control. The equitable stroke control system is set up so that a player cannot score more than two strokes over his handicap on any given hole. Inversely calculated, those two strokes are the two points for a par in the Stableford system.