Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dear T.J.,I'm a right-handed golfer and I’ve been playing since 1985. My index has varied from 10 to 13 and I have taken many lessons. One thing I've never asked about, but has concerned me is that my hands don't seem to work together. They just don't feel like they're working together. I use an interlocking grip. There's a lot of wear on my left-hand glove on the fat pad below the pinkie and on the index finger on the outside of the first knuckle. That knuckle is always sore, as are the middle and ring fingers of my right hand. It feels like my right hand turns into my left hand. How do I work on getting my hands to work together? Garrett B., Santa Rosa, Calif. Dear Garrett,
Hand pressure is one of the most important, and yet, most overlooked aspects of the swing. Most golfers grip the club much too tightly with the four fingers of their top hand reducing the mobility of their wrists. This sounds like your problem.
During the swing, excess pressure from your hands cuts down on the sensory input to your brain, which can’t feel the correct wrist cock on the backswing or make the natural adjustments to maintain the proper wrist angles on the downswing. Under these conditions, even properly “trained” hands are rendered almost useless and you have a civil war -- right vs. left.
The index and middle fingers are for clutching while the other two are more for touch. The thumb of course is the Great Grasper that combined with the last two fingers allowed our ancestors to fashion some neat tools. We are used to grasping important objects very firmly -- and that can turn into a death grip when you have the ultimate survival tool in your hand -- a golf club. How to get the correct grip pressure—Think "hold," not "grip"On a scale of one to 10, where one is much too light and 10 is a death grip, your hold on the club should be a five.
The major pressure point in your grip is the pressure exerted by the big joint of your lower thumb on the big joint of your top thumb. Picture a quarterback taking a snap for an image to guide the correct positioning of your thumbs. Your overall hold pressure should be light enough to allow your wrists to cock 90 degrees at the top of the backswing but firm enough that you don’t have to rearrange your hands on the downswing. I use the term “hold” rather than “grip” to promote a more moderate approach to hand pressure.   
Note: Your new hold may feel too light but your hand-feel coordination system will make all the adjustments necessary during the swing to stabilize your club -- if you start with the correct pressure you'll end with the correct pressure. Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher T.J. Tomasi, Ph.D., a Class A PGA professional, teaches at the Nantucket Golf Club in Massachusetts. You can learn more about T.J. at www.tjtomasi.com

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