|Many times, golfers' faulty ball direction can lead directly back to the initial grip. (Courtesy of Karen Palacios-Jansen)|
The first item of importance for me as a golf instructor is to check the set-up and the grip of my students. Many times their faulty ball direction can lead directly back to the initial grip. I have to emphasize that we do not all fit the same mold for a grip! I begin by having my students hang their arms naturally down at their sides. Then, we look to see how many knuckles we see in view.
For me, for instance, I am double jointed; therefore, I see three knuckles on each hand. Most people will see two and maybe three on one hand. Now, I have them grab their club keeping in mind the knuckles that they just saw hanging from their sides must be visible as well when positioning their hands on the grip. This will be your natural grip!
You do not want to place your hands on the club so that it feels awkward for you! Yes, there is a "strong" and "weak" grip, however unless they are overdone, most of the time with your "natural" grip you will not have that come into play.
The correct grip for you is the one that delivers your clubface square to your direction of swing during impact. You may need to experiment slightly with the above, and it may feel very uncomfortable. However, if you stick with it you will see results. After you have placed your hands on the grip, you can check to see where the "v's" between your index and thumb point to in your shoulder area.
Make sure you are gripping with the last three fingers of each hand-Not the palm itself. Your hands have to be able to work through the ball and will be unable to do so by overgripping with the palms of your hands. The "v's" are made by squeezing the index and thumb together down the shaft-I tell my students to stick a tee in-between those fingers, and if it stays they did it correctly.
Start with your "v's" pointing to "normal" or midway between your nose and your right shoulder (opposite for left-handers). If the flight of your shots tells you that you are delivering the clubface to the ball looking to the right of your swing line, move both your hands gradually towards the "strong" position-"v's" pointing to your shoulder.
If your shots tell you that the clubface is arriving at the ball looking left of your swing path, move both "v's" gradually towards the "weak" position-pointing toward your neck area. The grip is right for you when your shots fly straight, although you may be pulling the ball right or pushing it left of target.
No curve on your shots shows that your clubface alignment and swing direction are matched!
To encourage a Draw, fan your right foot away from the target and turn your left foot so it's perpendicular to the ball-to-target line. Hold the club a bit less firmly than usual to encourage a full release. The Fade-to hit a fade, turn your left foot out toward the target and your right foot a bit more toward the ball. Hold the club a little tighter to prevent your hands from releasing.
LPGA Professional Kelly Kleckner teaches at Cherokee Ridge Golf Course in Colorado Springs, Colo. She played collegiate golf for Colorado State University, and is the founder and director of the LPGA Girls Golf Club for the area. She coaches and teaches private and semi-private lessons all year. For more information call 719-576-9176.