Play Better Golf

Lesson 1: Finding the Best Grip and Natural Backswing Plane

Area: Iron play

Site: Putting range or home

Instructions by: Mike Adams

There are three basic types of swings and the most adept of players know that it is best to use the techniques that suits their mechanics, naturally. It is clear: doing a swing that is not ideal for you will only cause inconsistency in terms of contact.

Through research, we can share with you some ways to determine which swing type is best for you. This is the first important step in the 30-day game improvement plan. First, determine how your arms move. The swing plane and grip that will work with you depends on the movement of your arms. This test shows critical to consistent and solid contacts when swinging. Follow these steps:

  1. Stand straight. Your arms should dangle in front of you. Slightly flex your knees and bend forward from the joints of your hips, until your fingertips are touching the kneecaps.  
  2. Place your hands clasped together in front of you, right where you would hold the grip. Don’t move any other part of your body.
  3. Using the littlest shoulder movement possible, swing your arms back, just until the right elbow starts to fold. Stop right there, then check your right elbow and right hand’s position and compare these with the following:

Check Number 1: Immediately, the right elbow folds and stays in front of the body. The right palm is facing up. If this is the case, then you are an UNDER GOLFER.

Under golfer

During the takeaway, your forearms roll naturally. You feel strong and comfortable when lifting something heavy with your elbows in front of your hips  and hands underneath the object.

Check Number 2: Your right elbow lines up with your shirt’s seam while your right palm faces outward. If this is your hand position, then you are a SIDE-ON GOLFER.

Side-on golfer

Did you know that Tiger Woods is a side-on golfer? If you swing like him, you’ll notice that your natural swing is neutral or is equal parts up and around. You are much stronger and more comfortable when lifting with your elbows on your sides, as if you are doing dumbbell curls in the gym.

Check Number 3: Your palm points down to the ground as your right elbow swings back and up. Then you are an ON-TOP GOLFER.

On-top golfer

When your arm moves, your elbows naturally lift. You are stronger and more comfortable when lifting with your elbows behind you, as if you are doing push-ups. Swings often feel steep, but that’s fine for you.

Knowing how your arm naturally swings is crucial in finding the plane, grip, and hinging action that allows you to move smoothly. To maximize your performance, do the following depending on your above results:

Natural grip for under golfer.

For under golfers, start with a strong grip. Make sure that the Vs formed by your forefingers and thumb point toward the outside of your right shoulder. Using this position makes it much easier for you to execute a natural backswing.

Hinge your wrists in a vertical manner. If you are an under golfer, you are more likely to have a naturally shallow swing, hence, you will need to make your wrist hinge steep if you do not want to get the club “stuck” behind you. Bend your wrists as shown in the photo. You should be able to see the deep wrinkles at the base of your right hand thumb.

Swing on the plane. Do not go against your flat swing, which is your natural swing. Instead, keep it shallow by keeping your thumbs pointing below your right shoulder during your top swing.

If you are a side-on golfer, make your hold neutral. Hold the grip with your right hand with the palm facing the target. This position sets your right hand to horizontally hinge the club, applying pressure on the side of the shaft and making the shot more powerful.

Natural grip for side-on golfer.

Your wrists should be hinged horizontally. You have a fairly neutral arm swing, so you need to maintain a horizontal or neutral hinge.  While folding your right elbow, bend your right wrist back. You may use a club to get the feel for this. Hold it in front of you, keep the shaft aligned with the ground while hinged to your right. That is the hinge we are aiming for when making a backswing. Now, try to swing on the torso plane. If you have a neutral arm swing, your swing plane should be neutral. How to know if it is neutral? Do it in front of a mirror. Imagine swinging back on a line that runs from the ball all through your torso.

For On-top golfers, you have to make your top hand weak. Because of your stance, you are likely to hit on the ball steeply, hence, positioning your right hand on top is crucial. If you fail to do it, you are going to lose control of the club shaft. Use your right hand to make a very weak grip, with the “V” pointing to your left shoulder, while your left hand grip remains strong.

Natural grip for on-top golfer.

Hinge diagonally. You need to offset your natural swing’s steepness by using a diagonal hinge. To set you on plane perfectly, you have to hinge both of your wrists to your right shoulder. Keep the shaft aligned from the ball through your right shoulder as you hit high. As you make your swing, you should feel as if your thumbs point to the sky. This is your natural swing, so don’t attempt to change it.