My Grip Is Only As Good As My Setup


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , | Posted on Saturday, January 8, 2011

I had a great practice session today. It was the best I have struck the ball since I change my grip. If you have been following this blog you know that I am going through a grip change. And as with any change, it takes a while to put all the pieces together.

In a recent post I talked about an article I read in Golf Magazine, and how I used their methods as a model for my own grip. Swing Coach Mike read my post and pointed out a few things that I needed to do in my setup that would make the grip change truly effective. He had a few concerns with the pictures featured in the article and made a few suggestions. This is what he had to say...

I'll be interested to see how this grip change makes you look at setup, Dex. Just from what you described, your grip was definitely too strong. (As he said, that's a common problem for over-the-toppers.)

But if you're setting up like those Golf Magazine photos, I think you've gone too weak. Here's the problem: See how the butt of the club is pointing directly toward the bottom of the photo? See how the left wrist is bent? To return your wrists to that position at impact, you're going to have to flip the club head instead of leading it with your hands, which can cause you to hit thin or fat shots.

Remember the Walter Hagen post I did on December 30? Go to the 2nd video (the iron shot) and start the video, then immediately stop it. See how Hagen's shaft and his left forearm form a fairly straight line? Hagen set up that way because he intends to contact the ball in the same position.

This means his grip has to be a little stronger than the Golf Magazine photos -- otherwise, he'll leave the face open at impact unless he twists his forearms to square the club face. That's going to affect your accuracy in a bad way because it's hard to turn them the same amount each time.

Here's what I'd suggest -- and granted, this is without seeing your new setup -- take the grip as shown in the Golf Magazine photos, then straighten your left wrist so your shaft is in line with your left forearm. The face will probably be open now. Without changing your hand positions, turn the club in your hands so the club face is square to your target again. You should get more solid contact without affecting your accuracy as much.

I immediately watched the video of The Haig and then grab a golf club and set my shaft to the angle of my left arm the way he did. Mike pointed out that this is the same position I want to be in at impact, so it makes sense to start the swing in this position. I understood the logic, but at the time, it felt like a lot of shaft lean. I told Mike about this and he retorted with this...

You said it seems like a lot of shaft lean. It is... if you're only thinking one-dimensionally. ;-)

Yeah, that sounds funny. Here's what I mean: You're thinking about your ball position on the straight line running back from the target:

o--------------------- a -------- b -------

where "a" is your original ball position and "b" is where it would be after you straighten your left wrist ala Hagen.

What you're forgetting is that you can stand farther away from the target line and the ball.

1) Put the ball in your original setup position, and take your original setup.

2) Set your left wrist so the shaft and your left forearm form a straight line. The club head is farther behind the ball, correct?

3) Now, don't move toward or away from the target (that is, parallel to the target line). Instead, back away from the ball (perpendicular to the target line) and lift your arms just enough to keep the shaft / forearm line. You probably won't have to move back more than two or three inches, but you can leave the ball in the same position on the target line that it was before.

This may make your one-piece takeaway easier as well. Your swing will feel like it's more around you. And you keep the "straight line," so you hit the ball more solidly. Try that and see how it feels.

Again, I grab my wedge, and practiced the motion in my living room. Mike was right. It did feel like I was swinging around my body more. As I practiced, I realized that this tip allowed me to make a better shoulder turn to where my back was facing the target at the top of my backswing. Which helps to generate more club head speed, and as a result, should mean more distance.

My last concern had to do with balance. As I moved away from the ball as Mike instructed, I felt like I was leaning too far forward. I asked Mike for the fix, and he gave me some suggestions, but as I thought about it, all had to do was move back a little closer to the ball. Another example of an amateur trying to make the game more difficult than it has to be.

Mike gave me some great stuff to work on. I hope that it will help you as well. The only way to find out is if you give it a try. For those of you who can not play due to weather, these are a few swing thoughts you can work on in your living room. By the time season hits again, you will be a few steps ahead of the rest of the field. Have a great round and always hit your target.

*Start the video and then immediately stop it. Notice Hagen's shaft at address. It is just about in line with his left arm. If it's good enough for Hagen, it's good enough for me:-D

Golf setup picture found here.

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Comments (4)

  1. January 10, 2011 at 8:25 AM

    I'm glad my suggestions are helping you, Dex. Just remember that "making it harder than it needs to be" is part of the learning process... and not just in golf. You have to learn new ways of thinking whenever you learn new skills.

    That's why it seems like you have a dozen swing thoughts in your head at once. Even after you "get it down pat," you're still thinking about a dozen things -- it's just that you learn streamlined ways of thinking about them. You learn to focus on one key move that causes several other moves to happen automatically.

    Or, to put it another way: When you're new to something, you think about a dozen things because they're all equally important to you. When you become skilled, you realize that one or two things are more important than the rest and that you'll perform the skill properly if you do those one or two things properly.

    Hang in there, Dex. You're getting there. ;-)

  2. January 10, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    I like this a lot Mike. I have been contemplating my next move as I prepare to move to Arizona. I have to decide whether to try and get a normal 9-5 job, stay in the same industry, or really pursue golf as a career.

    Obviously I can't play on the Tour(not right now at least:-), but I have been thinking of other ways to get into the golf industry full time. This blog was the foundation to see if I really like golf that much. And I do. I'm happiest when I'm on the golf course or writing about it.

    I have been toying with some ideas for the future but I keep bouncing back and forth between these ideas. You're right in that they are all important to me, but the problem is that they sometimes conflict and then I become kind of stuck in limbo.

    Your words are a reminder that it is time to streamline my thoughts. It's time to focus on the one or two things that you eluded to. Good stuff Mike!

  3. January 11, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    Good luck with your decisions, Dex. Of course, things may be a bit more complicated than you think -- remember, your wife-to-be probably has some thoughts on the subject as well! ;-)`

  4. January 13, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    Thanks Mike. She has been great with everything so far and she has the attitude of "do whatever makes you happy." I am fortunate that she is willing to support me no matter what direction I go in. Now to decide what path to take.