In Search for the Perfect Grip

In Search of the Perfect Grip, by Todd Graves

Searching for perfection and for the truth can be an adventure and eye opening. Sometimes it can make you do things that most people wouldn’t think of – like crawling between someone’s legs and snapping a picture.

As you can see in this picture of Moe’s right hand – discovering exactly where he placed his right hand position on the club. I wanted to see his knuckle position so I crawled between his legs and took a pic. I also took dozens of other pictures from different angles of his hands on the golf club.

Knuckle Under.png

What I do know, after watching and learning from Moe over ten years is that Moe had the best hand action in golf because he had a perfect grip. I also learned that hand position or the grip is a vital part of the golf swing and I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that it could be the most important variable. Not because it is the only thing that is important but because the entire swing will often reflect and compensate for where you hands are placed on the club.

So why exactly is hand position so important?

Your hands hold the club so that you can move the club, produce speed and square the clubface at impact. I call this hand action within the golf swing and your hand action is a direct reflection of the position of your hand placement on the grip. As a matter of fact, I often check a persons grip at the top of the backswing because you simply cannot hit a golf ball correctly if the clubface is not square during the swing movement. And the only way to have a square clubface is by having a correct hold and hand action.

I discussed the importance of the hands position with Moe as well as how a correct hand position allows for a great address position which leads to a great hand action and swing action that Moe called – “The Feeling of Greatness”. This feeling that Moe described, started in his hands where the lead hand worked together with the trail hand to produce perfect club and club-face movement during the swing. Here are a few details to describe the Hand Position and Hand Action:

Hand Position Basics:

  1. The back of the lead hand faces the target / square with the clubface
  2. The club is held in the fingers of the lead hand (pressure points) (The Lead hand is the left hand for a right handed player).
  3. The club is held so that it aligns with the lead arm (from face on view)
  4. The Trail Hand pinky overlaps the lead hand index finger to unify the hands. (The trail hand is the right hand for a right handed player)
  5. The Trail Hand is under or aligned with the club into a “non-rotational” position where it does not rotate during the backswing or downswing allowing for a direct, straight, non-rotational movement into impact.
  6. The club also aligns with the trail arm (down-the-line view

Moe Coke.png

Below you can see Moe’s hand position from another angle:

Grip on Top.png

This angle shows Moe’s Lead hand and how it aligns with the club face. You can also see how the trail arm is below the lead arm showing that the club is placed through the lead hand under the heel pad. Notice the squareness of the club-face.

 The Grip (Hands) position the wrists

With the hands placed on the club correctly, there is another key factor to the hand position – the wrists. If there were one concept that I would want you to fully understand about the grip is that when I talk about your grip, what I am really talking about is your wrists. What I mean by this statement is that your hands are like clamps and your wrists are like hinges. The clamps simply hold the club, the hinges are the things that actually move. To have a proper grip, you must hold the club so that the wrists can move together – hinging and unhinging to maximize both the range of motion and the direction of movement.

There has been much debate between a 10 finger, Overlapping and even Interlocking grip. And my position on all of these different hand positions is still the same, they all work. The problem is that none of them work if they do not place the wrists in the correct position. What needs to be discussed here is which grip promotes the ideal wrist movement – which I believe to be the Overlapping Grip.

Why do I believe the Overlapping Grip provides the best possible wrist movement – the answer is simple. Because it moves the wrists closer together unifying them. By bringing the lower hand up by overlapping the pinky over the index finger, the lower hand wrist is moved closer to the lead hand wrist. Think about breaking a stick between your hands, the more you separate your hands apart, the easier it is to break the stick in between. When you bring the hands closer together, it becomes more difficult to produce pressure between your hands.

Pressure POints.png

 

This is an important part of understanding the pressure in the hands when you hold a golf club. You want pressure on the ends of the hands, not in between the hands. This allows for you to “use” the shaft to produce speed as opposed to placing stress on the hands.

With the proper pressure points and the hands unified, the hands work together -unifed. With unified hands, you can freely move the wrists to their ideal range of motion as well as produce speed on the club-shaft propelling the club head quickly to through the golf ball.

Improperly holding the club where the hands are not unified, is the main reason I see golfers lose speed. They simply don’t have the hands working. And since the hands are such one of the main speed producers in the golf swing, without proper hand movement, the club can’t move either. Here are a few samples of improper hand positions that completely inhibit hand unification and speed:

  • Hands in opposite rotations
  • Hands Split or 10 finger (not unified)
  • Lead Thumb too Short
  • Lead Thumb too Long
  • Club in Palm of Lead hand
  • Club in Lifeline of Trail Hand

These are just a few of the improper hand positions that we commonly see. The main issue of course is that these hand positions inhibit wrist movement thus the entire golf swing is negatively affected – mainly club speed and angles of club approach into the ball at impact.

If you want to understand club approach into the ball – ask yourself if you take a divot or not. If you don’t take a proper divot with your irons, most likely you have issues with your hand position causing you to improperly use your wrists. In other words, you do not have angle into the ball because your wrists aren’t working.

Here are the hand action basics:

The hands work together during the backswing where:

  1. The lead hand cocks
  2. The trail Hand Hinges (non rotationally)
  3. The lead arm stays straight in the backswing
  4. The trail arm folds in the backswing
  5. The movement of the hands and arms (hand action) planes the club shaft
  6. The movement of the hands and arms also planes the club face
  7. The uncocking and unhinging of the hands produces speed into impact
  8. The uncocking and unhinging of the hands squares the clubface at impact

As you can see, the proper grip allows for the ideal hand action throughout the golf swing including the proper angles of club approach into the ball at impact.

Todd Top View.png

The proper angles of approach result in the golf ball flying straight due to the ideal hand position as the unhinge into impact. And in my opinion playing golf with an improper grip is a waste of time because you are fighting poor fundamentals, improper face aim and angles.

Moe would call this “fighting yourself” because if you hands are on the club incorrectly, you simply cannot swing the club well. You’ve lost the battle before it has begun.

Spend some time perfecting your grip and train your hand action. You will be amazed at how much you can improve from this simple yet critically important fundamental.

 

Comments

24 comments on “In Search for the Perfect Grip”
  1. Terry Gordon says:

    Hello GGA; Is it the camera angle or did Moe line up or point the shaft on the outside edge of the ball outside the target line. Could this account for the slight lifting of the left shoulder into impact. What an amazing man. Be well.

    Like

    1. Todd Graves says:

      Hi Terry,

      Yes. The ball is slightly on the heel of the club – accounts for the position of the shoulders at impact.

      Todd

      Like

  2. Mark says:

    Todd, if you squeeze too hard with the trail thumb and trail fore finger and the bottom three fingers of the lead hand, (the pressure points on the club) is there a chance that you can over release through impact causing a hook for a right-handed golfer instead of a straight shot? How hard should we grip and squeeze the club at the pressure points on the down swing through impact so we do not over release? Is there a feeling you can describe for this?

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    1. Todd Graves says:

      Mark,
      When you skip a rock you don’t squeeze the rock. You must swing the club like you are skipping a rock with the trial hand. Just don’t let go of the club. That is the pressure you should feel in the trial arm and hand.

      Todd

      Like

  3. Burt Kagen says:

    Hi Todd, The single plane swing has made an immediate improvement to my golf and I hit longer and straighter but I still have a problem with hinging my wrists at the top of my backswing. Every time I try it I hit the ground behind the ball. Is there something I can do to eliminate this problem and get more power into the ball, Burt

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    1. Todd Graves says:

      Hello Burt,
      Instead of hinging your writs make sure your trail arm is bent properly. You are most likely overhanging the wrists. If you want more power into the ball, you must have the proper impact position and shoulder rotation at impact. Have you considered having our coaches take a look at your swing? We have an online coaching program that can help you immediately. Email me at toddg@moenormangolf.com if you would like our coaches to help.

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  4. Kenny Kling says:

    Todd,when looking at the picture of Moe’s grip to me it looks as the v’s of the thumb and index finger are pointing at different places. The trail hands v is pointing at the trail shoulder and the lead hands v is pointing at to me is Moe’s lead eye. Is this accurate or am I missing something.

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    1. Todd Graves says:

      Yes. V of trail hand to right shoulder, V of lead hand to mid of body. Make sure you get the spine tilt correct as well.

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  5. Brian Lilly says:

    Great stuff Todd. I am 65 years old and have “played” at golf since my early twenties. I had my best three rounds of 81, 82 and 83 in a one week period when the wind was negating my slice most of the rounds. Since then I hardly break 100. When “Natural Golf” came around I thought it was the answer but it didn’t help and not all of us can afford a set of the clubs they offered. For the last two or three years I have been trying to improve and the most important thing to come along is this current blog entry. In just a few short paragraphs and your answers to other readers questions, a lightbulb came on. Thanks for all you do to help us older fellows who hooked on golf for life, never give up. Brian Lilly still freezing up here in Canada.

    Like

  6. Ty says:

    Have you tried reaching out to Tiger Woods? Or is he to stubborn to make a serious change that will ultimately help his back and swing?

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    1. Todd Graves says:

      I’ve never reached out. Might be fun.

      Like

  7. Dave says:

    HI Todd, Everything I have learned from your academy has helped me tremendously. But this is one part I am not quite fully understanding. In my set up my hands are unified with the back of the lead hand sqaure to the target as is the club face . On my back swing my lead arm naturally begins to rotate clockwise which causes the lead wrist to rotate along with the arm . One cannot rotate the wrist independently of the arm obviously. I just to want make sure I am not suppose to be resist this natural rotation . The reason I ask is because at times, not often, my ball flight will go straight left 10 to 20 degrees. Not a hook but straight left. Could I be closing the club face on the down swing ?

    Thanks

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  8. Larry Schaefer says:

    At address the back of the lead hand is facing the target, which means that the lead hand is perpendicular to the target line. At the top of the back swing the lead hand is parallel to the target line, which means that the lead hand/arm had to have rotated about 90 degrees from address to top of the back swing. Since the hands are “unified”, if the lead hand/arm rotates then the trail hand/arm must also rotate. Please clarify these two different lead hand positions versus your “non-rotational” comments in your article.

    Like

    1. Todd Graves says:

      Larry
      The lead arm rotates but the trail arm does not because the trail arm folds and the hand hinges. The trail hand stays in its original rotation from address to impact.

      Todd

      Like

  9. Larry says:

    Excellent article.

    Like

  10. Dan Sabatucci says:

    Hi Todd. Thank you for all these lessons and explanations. I was a terrible and inconsistent golfer with a handicap around 25 or higher before finding “Natural Golf”, around 1990 or so. I bought the original training video and my game has improved tremendously – my handicap is now around 12 or 13, but it could get better. My question is about your hand position. Actually, I’m a little confused. In the original video Moe talks about holding the club in the palm of his hand like a hammer. He said he talked with a carpenter and found that he could get maximum power by holding the club in the palm of his hand. Am I missing something or did he change that approach? Thank you in advance for your help.
    PS – by the way I just got my swing trainer and am anxious to start practicing with it.

    Like

    1. Todd Graves says:

      HI Dan,
      Moe Never held the club in the palm. HE would often say that it was in his palm but when I practiced with him I closely investigated both hands positions on the club.

      IF you look at all photographs you will see his lead thumb tucked into the Palm of his hand. What is important is that the hand rotation is correct as Moe had a “non-rotational” hand position. This allows the club to align with the trial arm in the Single Plane.

      Thanks.

      Todd

      Like

      1. Dan Sabatucci says:

        Thank you for the clarification, that helps a lot.

        Like

  11. Joseph Valenti says:

    Todd, this was a great email, good info on the grip. I just got your pvc single plane swing trainer and am starting to work with it I will let you know how I improve. thank you——— Joe

    Like

    1. Todd Graves says:

      Thanks Joe. Let me know how you are doing.

      Todd

      Like

  12. Mark says:

    Hi Todd, I am trying to dial down the exact or as close to it as I can at address.

    Forward bend is it 45 degrees, shoulder tilt is it around 20 degrees and spine tilt is it about 15 degrees?

    One other thing I have always wondered about at address. Is this the correct sequence of set up:

    1. Before you put your lead hand on the club, first do you set the club head down right behind the ball and aim to target.

    2. Then put your lead hand on the club so the back of the hand is facing the target, then put trail hand on club, then pick up club and move it behind the ball for actual set up and then go into the back swing?

    Does that sound right?

    Thanks

    Like

  13. Frank Petterson says:

    I’ve been trying to glean Moe’s swing for a couple of years now. My recollection was that the back of the lead hand was on the same plane as the specific club that was being employed.

    In this session about hand positions and grip, you seem to be stating that the back of the lead hand is always perpendicular to the ball’s flight line which is the same position as the leading edge of any club.

    I guess you can see I have a little confusion brewing. Help.

    Like

    1. Todd Graves says:

      The back of the lead hand is parallel to the leading edge of the clubface. (The part of the club perpendicular to the line of the target). The grip doesn’t change with each club. One grip, one arm rotation etc.

      Like

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