Okay, so this past week has seen me finally realize something important with respect to my golf swing. I’m almost ashamed to admit this epiphany, because it’s so obvious, so basic, that the first reaction I expect is for you to give me massive shit for not having this down pat years ago. I know I’ve gotten a shit ton of grief from my league mates already.
So, anyway, what’s the big revelation? Don’t grip the god-damned club so hard.
There, that’s it. Isn’t a proper grip supposed to be the very first thing you learn in golf’s equivalent of kindergarten? Hasn’t it been stressed in every book I’ve read, every lesson I’ve taken?
Just call me stubborn-stupid. In the scaly recesses of my lizard brain you have to have a death grip on that sucker if you’re ever going to use it to apply massive force.
So, during Tuesday’s round I took a chance. I held the club gingerly in my left hand, wrapped the fingers properly so I had the strong grip my pro suggests I use, relaxed the fingers deliberately so the grip was just nestled in there a bit, put the right hand on, and tried some test swings. It felt like I was going to launch the club into the stands like Johnny Damon swinging for the fences. I tried it again, anyway. Hmm. The head did feel like it was whipping around better, I felt more relaxed on the downswing (necessary, due to the fear-feeling of losing the thing), and by gosh and golly the club grazed the grass very nicely, no digging a post hole.
I tried it with the ball in the way. Ka-blooey. Clean contact and, while I didn’t come close to getting the kind of distance that would make me the envy of armchair hacks the world over, the shot was respectable. I didn’t hit it fat, didn’t shank it into the next fairway, didn’t end up with Yet Another Wasted Stroke. The ball flight was even decent, a slight fade and a good roll at the end.
I kept at it. It kept working. Fairway wood, hybrids, irons…they all started working for me. I didn’t end up with the round of my life, but I scored right on the goal I had set for myself, and that on a Robert Trent Jones course with wicked hard greens that had me three-putting often. Then I played my “home” course yesterday, and subtract the evil greens (this course is tons easier) I began the round with two pars (including par on a hole that I have NEVER made better than double on before), and broke 50 handily after 9 holes–still a big deal for me.
Okay, okay already. I believe it now. The lizard has been silenced. The death grip I was maintaining was forcing the head down into the ground too early, enabling me to tense up and “grip-n-rip” during the swing, and causing all kinds of nastiness. I’m thinking my major problem all these years hasn’t been what I thought it was, it’s been that silly-ass grip.
So, my droogies, believe it. Get that grip worked out before you try to progress to the rest of your golf swing. Take it from me.
I can hear the “I told you so!” from my pro at tomorrow’s lesson. Sigh.