Golf Grip and Swing: Player Q&A;:

Question: Golf Grip and Swing

I want to put spin on the ball consistently. I want to strike the ball more purely. I think I need to better understand my grip position and my grip pressure.


Wow! I am been certainly getting some great questions lately. Here is another great question regarding the fundamentals on the golf grip and swing. It is great to see the recognition that we need to have a great grip in order to have great ball contact. A poor grip leads to glancing blows on the golf ball. In order to maximize spin you need pure contact.

When it comes to the grip and how it affects ball contact we need to look at placement and pressure. How we place our hands on our golf club affects how much rotation we get during our golf swing, while pressure affects club head speed. Both are key ingredients to better ball striking, while better ball striking leads to increased spin rates.

Placing Our Hands on Club

If we start with proper placement please refer to the grip lesson at Golf Grip Lessons. You will find that I designed the lesson in a series of steps in order to facilitate the routine.

The key to the grip routine is consistency and placement of the top hand. If you can get your top hand in the right place, then you are close to having a great golf grip and swing. There are a couple of things to always remember:

  • The line formed by your hand and thumb should point down to the golf ball in your address position. If it is too far ahead or points behind, then you will create too much forearm rotation in your golf swing. Too much rotation makes it harder to time it perfectly at impact, and therefore contact is not as pure. Without pure contact you will not get great backspin.
  • The line formed by your bottom hand should run parallel to your top hand. This will have your hands working together. When the lines are not parallel the hands fight each other. They will not move in the same direction during the swing, which make contact more difficult.

Proper Grip Pressure

Grip pressure is key to everything in the golf grip and swing. It is difficult to have a great golf grip and swing when you have tension. Tension starts in the hands. If you grip the club too hard you create tension in your hands and wrists. That tension will creep up your arms and into your shoulders. When you have tension in your shoulders you can’t generate the same power as a free flowing, tension free, golf swing.

Backspin comes with club head speed. You don’t have to generate the same speed as Bubba and Tiger, but you also can’t expect a lot of backspin with limited club head speed either.

Make sure your hands are relaxed in your golf grip and swing. In fact, try taking your club with the loosest grip possible. Your hands should feel like they are barely on the golf club. Now start turning your shoulders back and forth letting your arms dangle from your shoulders. This is the kind of tension free feeling you want in your hands and arms. You want just enough pressure to hang on to your golf club. This will help increase club head speed and backspin.

There has been a tip used for years to describe the proper grip pressure to enhance the golf grip and swing. It was even featured in the movie “The Greatest Game Ever Played”. When Francis Ouimet meets his idol, Harry Vardon, at a store in Boston, he becomes a volunteer to hit shots in front of the crowd. His first attempt is not very good but Mr. Vardon changes his grip and asks Francis if he has ever held a live bird. Francis nods, and Vardon continues to say “tight enough to not let him fly away, but light enough as not to hurt him.” Francis of course, has a “bash”, and hits a nice shot.

It is a great analogy, and was used beautifully in the movie. However, how many people hold live birds regularly? I love the image of holding a live bird, and if that image works for you, then please use it to its full extent. There are a couple of others images that I like to use as most people do them on a regular basis, so the feeling is more familiar.

  • Driving a Car – picture yourself on a Sunday drive in the country. No meetings to get to…no kids yelling…no traffic…no pressure to be anywhere. How hard are you holding that steering wheel? Probably very loosely. In fact you are probably only holding it with one hand. Now, I don’t suggest one handed for hitting golf shots but that is the same type of grip pressure you want to use…just enough to control the car.
  • The same goes for a bicycle. If you are on a casual bike ride then you are not gripping the handle bars really tight. In fact the tighter you grip the less control you have on the bicycle. The same holds true for the golf grip and swing.

Condition of Your Clubs

Before we finish this segment on golf grip and swing, how are the grips and grooves of your golf clubs? This is a key question to hitting the ball with maximum spin. New grips are easier to hold with lighter grip pressure. Tension in the hands and wrists kills club head spin, and therefore kills the amount of backspin you can impart on the ball. While anything that gets in between the ball and the grooves at impact will also reduce spin.

Grips should be changed regularly. Now I often get asked what regularly means…which is a good question. It all depends on how much you play. If you play 100+ rounds a year, you would probably want to change them every year. If you play less than ten times a year then you can probably wait 5 years. You can certainly get more life out of your grips with proper care. Washing your grips does help. It will help bring back some of the tackiness.

If you watch golf on TV then you have probably noticed how much the caddy cleans the clubs during the round. They will clean every club, after each shot. Why? Simply to keep the face and grooves clean. They keep the face clean so that no debris gets in between the club face and the ball at impact. If there is dirt and grass on the face it will reduce the amount of spin you can put on the ball. Now I am not talking about clumps of grass and dirt. I am talking about an ultra thin layer that can get caked on if left on the club face.

It is also important that the grooves remain clean. If debris gets in the grooves then they won’t grab the ball as well. It is the grooves grabbing the ball that helps create more backspin. If you hit shots with lots of dirt in the grooves, it will wear down the grooves. They won’t be as sharp and they will not be able to grab the ball effectively. In fact you will be hitting ‘flyers’ almost all the time. A flyer is when a couple of blades of grass get between the club face and ball at impact. This affects the amount of back spin and distance the shots will fly. The ball will fly farther but with much less spin. It makes your shots much harder to control.

Golf Ball

What type of golf ball do you play? If you are trying to maximize spin then you will want a urethane cover golf ball. They tend to be a little more expensive but their technology increases their spin rate over other golf balls. However, they not only increase backspin…if you have accuracy issues, particularly off the tee,where you hit slices or hooks, then this type of ball will only increase that shot shape.

Thank you for sending in such a great question. I hope you found the answer helpful in making the proper golf grip and swing to create more backspin. Good luck with your practicing and playing. I hope you reach your golf goals sooner with the help of