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Get a Grip on Your Game
Robert Baker

Low in the fingers promotes vital wrist hinge

One of the biggest power sources in the golf swing is a good wrist action. Take a look at Ernie Els. He generates tremendous clubhead speed with seemingly little effort. How does he do that?

He combines a full shoulder turn with a full 'loading' of the wrists - energy that is then stored deep into the downswing before being unleashed as the wrists 'snap' the clubhead on the ball. If you want to copy Ernie's example, you first need to have a grip that allows you to fully cock and uncock your wrists in the course of making your swing. The way you place your left hand on the grip is critical to this - and here's a useful tip that can help you get it right every time.

Stand up tall and let your arms hang naturally, as I am doing opposite. Notice the way your fingers curl inwards - a huge plus when it comes to placing the left hand on the grip. All you have to do is take the club with your right hand and simply let it fall into the fingers of the left at a slight diagonal angle before closing your hand around the grip.

You should then find that your left-hand grip looks like mine (left). Placing the club too high in the palm of the left hand is a problem that many golfers suffer, one that stifles hand and wrist action and, ultimately, inhibits your ability to generate clubhead speed. Use this routine to get the club fitted low and diagonally across the fingers of the left hand.

Think 'palms parallel' as you fit the right hand

With the fingers on the right hand extended down towards the ground (below left), make sure the palm is square with the clubface as you bring the hand in to join the left. Ideally, you want the grip to run diagonally through the right forefinger to the fleshy pad at the heel of the of the right hand.

Then, when you close your right hand, check that the left thumb disappears fully under the fleshy pad at the base of the right thumb. That way your grip will feel nice and 'snug'.
Ideally, the left thumb sits on top of the shaft, angled slightly to the right. To take

the V on the left hand to the right shoulder, the right thumb sits slightly to the left of centre (as you look upon it), down the left side of the shaft. With your hands correctly fitted, you will enjoy the full mobility in the wrists that enables you to make a repeating swing that generates clubhead speed.

The basis of my education as a coach really couldn't have been any better. For six years I worked as a trainee with perhaps the best in the business - David Leadbetter. During my time at his teaching base in Orlando, I was lucky enough to work with many of the game's greatest players, including the 1998 Open and Masters champion, Mark O'Meara.

For me, the way O'Meara waggles the clubhead is the model that every golfer should aim to copy. During the hours I spent on the range at his club in Isleworth, O'Meara showed me that by waggling the club in this deliberate manner, you very quickly get a sense of the delivery position you are looking for in the swing itself- i.e. toe-up and slightly behind the hands, the right hand fully hinged back on itself, wrists 'loaded'.

(If you look at Ben Hogan, his waggle was virtually identical, designed to give him a sense of that critical delivery position.)

Because there is no body motion involved here, the appearance from the set-up is that the left hand and forearm move out and away from the body just a fraction. Of course, in the swing itself, this wrist and forearm action combines with the rotary body motion that swings the hands, arms and the club naturally inside the ball- to-target line.

There's an old saying, 'As ye waggle, so ye shall swing.' Rehearsing this move is the key to priming your hands and arms to work this way during the swing, nurturing the wrist action that maximises your speed into the ball.

'Finger-off' drill sets up a freewheeling rhythm

When you rotate your body correctly, reversing direction with a subtle foot-and-knee action (and marry with this a fluid wrist action), you experience a wonderful sense 'lag' in the arms and club.

This quality in a good swing is inspired by the lower-body action, recognized as one of the secrets to good golf.

Reversing your momentum in this way (i.e. from the ground up) and perfecting that wrist action rewards you with a whip-type release of the clubhead and effortless power through the ball.

And, with a simple adjustment to your grip, the exercise I am demonstrating here will help you to appreciate the feeling of a full and fluid wrist action, which immediately improves your general rhythm - a double whammy.

To start, slip the little finger of your left hand off the end of the grip (inset). Then, to prime your motion, start the club a couple of feet ahead of where the ball would be, and simply go after a feeling of cranking your wrists to the max as you let the club fall and gather its momentum.

As you reach the top of the swing, the key is to initiate your change of direction from the ground up so that everything shuffles nicely into place as you unwind back down and through.

When you get the knack, it will feel like the momentum of the clubhead 'loads' the wrists for you going back - the exact sensation you want in the swing for real.

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