The key to a good golf swing is a good grip. To swing the club properly you need to look at both the position of your hands and your grip pressure before you swing.
Every shot in golf requires 'soft hands' in order to execute each shot. You need to minimize grip pressure when you putt, pitch, and even swing an iron or your driver. When you have tension in your hands, that tension is then transferred into your forearms and your shoulders.
To eliminate tension from your swing, first check your grip. When the club is squeezed in your palms, there is simply too much pressure applied to the grip with your fingers. Instead, the club should be 'cradled' in your fingers when you grip it. The club will then feel different when you swing it, simply because you cannot squeeze the club as hard.
When you start your grip, first set the club behind the ball with the left hand (for a right handed golfer). Position the club-face so that it is square to your target before you take your grip. Rotate your left hand over slightly to the right so that the thumb of your left hand is on the back edge of the grip. The club should now be 'cradled' in the fingers of your left hand and you should be able to see the first two knuckles on your left hand. Then place your right hand on the club and try to hide the thumb of your left hand with your trailing right hand. A common error for many golfers is to position the right hand too much under the club. Again this causes you to squeeze the club excessively with the palm of your right hand, causing tension. When both hands are correctly positioned, the club should be 'cradled' in your fingers and the club should feel looser in your hands.
Once your hands are positioned correctly on the club, you should be able to better control your grip pressure. Both your thumbs and index fingers should simply be sitting on the grip and not squeezing the grip. A good way to test your grip pressure is to waggle your golf club a few times before you swing. Simply lift the club up above the ball and swing the head of the club back and forth a few times. If your grip pressure is excessive, then you will feel the grip of the golf club. When your grip pressure is softer, you will then feel the weight in the club head as the club swings back and forth. You can also test your grip pressure by closing your eyes during your practice swing. Your sense of feel is much more acute when your eyes are closed and you will quickly be able to determine if you are squeezing the club too hard. Again you will feel the head of the club rather than the grip.
Power is generated in the swing when your wrists properly hinge and unhinge during the swing. A good, soft grip will allow you to achieve proper wrist angles in your back-swing. The shaft of the club should be ninety degrees to your left forearm (for a right handed golfer) when you swing the club in your back-swing. When your left wrist hinges correctly you should be able to maintain the extension in your lead left arm. Good extension will help ensure consistent, solid contact on the ball.
If your grips are getting worn and feel slippery, then it is probably time to change them. Just like an old tire, rubber breaks down over time and needs to be replaced. Old grips cause you to squeeze the club excessively and prevent you from swinging the club properly.
Next Week: Managing Your Game