How you can change your golf grip without even realizing it
Editor’s Note: Baden Schaff has been a PGA teaching professional for 17 years and is the co-founder of Skillest, a digital platform that connects golf students with golf coaches across the world for online lessons. To learn more about Skillest and to book a lesson of your own with Baden or with Andreas Kali.
The grip causes eternal fascination for golfers. It’s often the first thing I get asked during a lesson. Why is it that the aspect of the swing that creates the most intrigue has nothing to do with the swing itself?
The commonly rolled out line is “because it’s the only part of the body that is connected to the club”. This might well be true, but I think it’s more likely because it’s the only part of the golf swing you can see without videoing it. Your grip is staring you in the face every time you look down at that ball. But why, then, do students still have so much trouble getting it right?
Because they try and fix it in isolation.
Whenever I see a tip regarding the grip it is always a close up of how the two hands are sitting on the club, cut off above the wrists. But what if there is something else at play? What if your grip was influenced by more than just the way your hands are holding the club. Well, there is and it’s got everything to do with your body posture and the way your arms hang at setup. Trying to get your grip right without getting your set up right will drive you mad.
Let’s look at two of the best players in the world. Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau. Dustin has an incredibly strong grip and subsequently shuts the club on the takeaway. Bryson on the other hand is the opposite. He has an incredibly weak grip, particularly evident in the left hand, and has a much more neutral face during the golf swing.
Now are these two grips diametrically opposed because they just hold it differently? No, it’s also because DJ generally starts with the body more over the ball and an almost straight down arm hang. This creates more “radial deviation” and gives the left wrist an exaggerated “extension” or cupping. This is what makes it look so strong.
Bryson is the exact opposite. He plays golf with a more upright posture and has much higher hands, almost like the heel of his club is off the ground. This is why Bryson has his clubs lie angles so upright. This setup creates ulnar deviation and less extension in the left wrist and gives it a look of being incredibly weak. It’s not so much the way their hands sit on the club as much as their posture and their arm hang. This is why you can get your grip looking perfect when you hold the club up in front of you but looks completely wrong when the club is down at address.
Grips cannot be fixed in isolation, they are part of a much broader picture.
A great way to test this for yourself is by taking your usual set up. Then, if you want to see your grip weaken without moving your hands on the club, stand slightly closer to the ball, raise your hands so that it feels like the heel of the club is off the ground, just like Bryson.
If you want to see your grip strengthen, push your hands towards the ground and watch the toe of the club come off the ground. You will notice that your left wrist will cup or extend more making it look stronger. When it is set like DJ you will notice that you can see three of four knuckles while setting up like Bryson will show you only one or two knuckles.
Personally, I prefer Bryson’s style, but let’s not detract from the larger point: Your grip can be changed and influenced without ever moving the hands on the club, because it’s affected by your body position. Like always, any change to your swing must be made with a broader context in mind. Nothing ever works independently. Your challenge is finding a coach that understands cause and effect well enough to work with your motion as a whole.
PGA Tour implements stricter policy, harsher penalties to prevent slow play
The policy will go into effect later in the 2019-20 season
You all have hollered, and the PGA Tour has listened. This week, the PGA Tour announced a new slow-play policy that will go into effect at the RBC Heritage the week after the Masters.
In a two-pronged approach to quelling slow play, the PGA Tour has decided to crack down on players who take an excessive amount of time to hit shots. This will be done two ways.
- Observation list: Players will be put on a list based on ShotLink data over their last 10 tournaments based on “egregiously slow” play. They will be subject to a 60-second shot clock at all times if they are on the list in the given week of a tournament.
- Excessive shot times: If anyone takes more than two minutes to hit a shot without a “good reason for doing so,” you’re given an excessive shot time.
The biggest change is probably that now you get penalized a shot for two bad times in a tournament, not just a single round, which is what the rule previously stated. Not only can you get penalized in the two new ways above, but all of the old ways still apply, too.
Here’s Bob Harig of ESPN with a succinct breakdown of those.
Currently, any group that is deemed out of position — a hole behind the group in front or with a significant gap — is told it is out of position. That means any player in that group can be timed and if a time limit for various shots — typically 40 seconds — is exceeded, the player is warned. A second bad time results in a 1-shot penalty, which has happened in an individual stroke-play event on the PGA Tour just once going back to 1995.
So, I remain mildly dubious considering this type of incident has resulted in a stroke penalty one time in 25 years. But still, give it up to the PGA Tour for moving forward, for raising the stakes (literally) here and for the implementation of its two new rules.
Additionally, fines and penalties for slow play have been enhanced significantly. Officials will now assess a one-stroke penalty for the second bad time in a tournament, not a round, and for every bad time thereafter in the same tournament. The fines for the second bad time in a season and for 10 cumulative timings in a season have also been raised to $50,000 (from $5,000).
“We felt we needed to ratchet up the deterrence,” PGA Tour Chief of Operations Tyler Dennis said. “We’ve significantly upped the ante on stroke penalties. Currently it’s by the round; now it’s going to be over the entire tournament. It’s more likely that a player could find themselves in this situation.”
This is a story that won’t go anywhere, especially as golf becomes easier and easier to view. Fans, other players and media will only apply more scrutiny to every scenario moving forward as the PGA Tour starts to prepare to handle it.