In life it’s the little things that often mean a lot. Golf is the same way. It’s why players take golf lessons. It’s also why we read golf tips. A slight change in your stance or your swing spells can produce rewards. The difference between success and failure in golf is small.
Many players with low golf handicap, for instance, turn their left foot out slightly (right- handers) at address. A lot of professionals also do it. This is not a big change to your swing, but turning their left foot out allows you to open up your hips during your swing, generating more power.
A slight change in your grip can also mean a lot. Generally, I teach three grips in my golf lessons: the baseball, the overlapping, and the interlocking. (The double overlapping is a fourth grip that some players use. It isn’t as popular as the others, but it has its advocates.)
Each grip has its advantages, as I explain in my golf instruction sessions. Which grip is right for you depends on several factors. For example, I often advise woman in my golf tips to use the baseball grip because it’s better for players with small hands, which most women have. Women with big hands can use one of the other two grips.
Regardless of which grip you use, they’re all designed to let you do two things—control the club and generate power. The more control and power you generate, the better your shot. The better your shot, the lower your golf handicap.
One aspect of the grip that isn’t spoken about too often is the long and short thumb styles of holding the club. The position of your thumb on the club is one of those little things in golf that have subtle effects on your swing. Ultimately, the thumb style you choose determines how much hand action you use during the swing. It also determines how well you control the club at the top of the backswing—a critical position, as I’ve explained in my golf tips.
Long Thumb vs. Short Thumb
The long thumb grip isn’t as popular as the short thumb grip. Extending the thumb down the shaft causes the handle to shift toward the palm of your left hand. That’s not good. A palm grip restricts hand action and clubhead speed and hampers control of the club at the top of the slot.
Unfortunately, the long thumb grip provides the sensation of having more control of the club, when in fact it actually provides less. Because it feels like you have more control, many golfers unwittingly adopt this grip, restricting their hand action during their swings and short-circuiting power.
The short thumb grip is the more natural of the two styles. With this grip, the handle rests more in the fingertips and less in the palms. It allows the left hand to hinge fully on the backswing and because a golfer’s fingers are in position to control the club, he or she is capable of more clubhead speed coming down.
If you extend your grip way down the shaft, experiment with the short thumb grip and see how it affects your swing. You’ll probably find that it provides more control and more power during the swing.
Remove Thumbs for More Power
Speaking of thumbs and power. Here’s another tip on generating power involving the thumbs. Take your normal address position, and then remove your thumbs from the grip, just enough so that the grip rests in your other fingers. Removing your thumbs provides a “lighter” grip. Now take your normal backswing.
You’ll find that even without your thumbs on the grip, you will have enough control in the pads of your fingers to take the club back without using your thumbs, but that your thumbs will automatically return to the handle during the back swing. With your thumbs removed, you’ll relax your grip more, resulting in a more fluid swing that creates more power.
Keep these tips about your thumbs in mind next time you go to the practice range. Experiment with them and see if they don’t provide better control and more power. Remember in golf, as in life, it’s often the little things that mean the most.