The Grip Changes Everything For Me

I’ve said that if you don’t implement all parts of a working model, it is bound to fall apart, but I’ve just discovered something in reverse – fix the issue and everything first unravels but then can be rearranged correctly.

You’ll note that, time and time again, I made changes to my setup and mechanics, only to say that while it was an improvement, there was still something off with the motion.

Well, I can say that it all began and ended with my grip on the club.

As soon as I began to look at the grip, I saw how inherently flawed it is to have a “strong grip,” especially the better one’s swing model is.

The greatest swingers in the game, more or less, had neutral-to-weak grips, and it may seem silly for me to say this, because it is self-evident – they were the best swingers because they didn’t have strong grips.

To whit:

From left to right:

  1. Snead – very weak grip,
  2. Nicklaus – very weak grip,
  3. Hogan – all-universe weak grip,
  4. Nelson – also weak grip

I’m not saying you must have a weak grip to swing well, but here are the 4 greatest players of the Classic Golf Swing era, all with much weaker grips than you see these days.

I know many people will say that they need a strong grip because they’re prone to slicing the ball, however I would respond that the problem is probably to be found in their club path through impact – if it’s over the top and outside-in, you’re going to slice the ball even with a square face at impact.

Sure, Hogan had the world’s weakest grip because he was terrified of hitting a hook and his go-to ball shape was a pronounced fade.

Yes Nicklaus played with a fade, but he aimed and set up left of his actual target and swung square to his left target with a slightly opened club face to fade the ball from his left target to the actual desired target.

We also know that Byron hit the ball nearly dead straight with that weak grip, so we can no longer pretend that the weak grip is something harmful to the swing when the four greatest swingers ever in the Classic era played with weak grips.

Now that I’ve begun to look into the grip to see how much weaker than the standard neutral grip would be optimal (as I’m pretty sure now that the optimal grip will be weaker than standard neutral), I can see why this is the case.

I’ll have to do some lab work first before making it official for the model, but things are rapidly coalescing in every aspect (stance, ball position, balance at address, pivot action), all dependent upon the proper grip.

More to come!

10 thoughts on “The Grip Changes Everything For Me

  1. Alex

    Hi DJ. I think you have hit the nail on the head here. You previously mentioned Jack strengthening his grip slightly. Jack mentioned in his ‘84 book. It was to do with work on deepening his swing in early 1980. Interestingly enough, he then moved back in ‘86 towards the older model on instruction from Jack Grout. As we know he then went on to win The Masters. Snead and Hogan both moved towards more optimal “weaker” grips as their careers progressed. Footage confirms this. I’ve always been convinced a “strong” grip compensates for other sub optimal technique elements. Good luck with this chain of thought.

    1. DJ Watts Post author

      Thank you for confirming my speculative hunch on Nicklaus’ grip, Alex! It is there to be seen, as I’ve said when pointing out glaringly incorrect swing analyses in the past. You can believe your own eyes or rely on people telling you things that simply aren’t true & which can be verified with a glance.

      Cheers. 😊

    2. neil massa

      Fascinating observations as ever. Any chance we could see Snead with Driver in hand as a more direct comparison; and also the others with a 6 iron (or whatever club Snead is holding). My hunch is that there is more to be revealed. N

  2. JJ

    This may be crazy talk, but I’ll throw it out there. The grip requires 2 hands. If you looked at my grip straight on, it would look like those guys. But my feeling is that my left hand is strong, while my right hand is weak. Not intending to complicate things – just an observation.

    1. DJ Watts Post author

      Not so crazy, J – and it could be a problem area for you, as one hand may be working against the other.

      I will of course have my thoughts on the optimal grip and how to take it, once I’ve finished.

  3. BM

    Is the weak or strong of a grip considering both hands or just the right? What consideration is made for how the arms and hands hang from the shoulders without a club? Meaning, if at speed the arms seek to straighten, do they straighten to the position they would have held at arm hang? And if they do, should we seek to setup with the hands in that position at address?

    1. DJ Watts Post author

      All I would say now BM is that you want the same for both hands.

      I’m of course looking diligently into the issue and will be able answer the rest of your questions 😁

  4. KJ Burtscher

    I took a few lessons from an instructor who strengthened my grip to fix a slice. It worked (no more slice) but I was very inconsistent (balls going every direction and a lot of poor contact).
    Eventually made some changes on my own- shortened backswing straight up with neutral to weak grip. Ball now generally starts left and then fades to center or just travels straight or slightly right. I think the straighter backswing keeps me from going out to in on the downswing and then a strong grip isn’t needed.
    I constantly have to remind myself to keep my backswing quiet. It feels good to have a big wrist cock at the top but it generally leads to disaster. When I am doing the backswing right it feels very abbreviated but it really isn’t. Do that right and you can let it rip on the downswing with good results.
    After golfing with many, many amateur golfers (of which I am one too), most take the club up and back too much. Many have some kind of hitch or wiggle at the top where the club head goes off in the wrong direction. The worse they do those things the more inconsistent their shots are.
    Anyway, that’s what I’ve learned in a year and a half of golfing. Undoubtably there are other challenges when one has progressed to the next level.

    1. DJ Watts Post author

      Good stuff, KJ – I know many instructors will simply tell their students to strengthen their grip for a slice cure, but that just opens Pandora’s box for other issues, not to mention a strong grip actually serves to encourage an over-the-top and early rotation move to get the club face to impact before it closes.

      Keep thinking things through, you seem to be on the right track!

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