Getting Back to the Basics

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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There is no question the setup is important.  At the TOUR Academy, we breakdown the setup into three components  – grip, posture and alignment.  Our goal is to coach our clients to a very high GPA!!! Hopefully, understanding the importance of how each affect ball flight will motivate you into mastering your basics. I am going to break these three components down over the next 3 months- starting with the grip.

The grip is the only physical connection we have with the golf club. The manner in which the hands are placed on the handle will also affect clubface rotation and loft. This in turn determines the starting direction, curve, and trajectory of your ball flight. Other than that, the grip isn’t important.

There are really three classifications of grips – weak, neutral and strong. It is easy to confuse these terms with grip pressure. We are really speaking more of hand placement and not grip pressure. In addition to these three classifications, there are three ways in which to connect our hands – overlap, interlock and 10-finger.

Take a look at the three pictures. As it pertains to the strong grip, notice how more knuckles are exposed on the glove hand. This hand placement allows for more club face rotation through impact. Oftentimes, a strong grip will lead to pulls or hooks to the left for a right handed golfer. The opposite would be true for a weak grip. This grip allows for less range of motion through impact, often producing an open clubface. This produces more of a push or a slice to the right. What is the best grip? For most golfers a neutral grip allows for the most efficient use of the club face allowing for straighter shots on a more consistent basis.

Finally, the manner in which the hands are connected is more of a personal preference. There have been great players who have used all three grip types. Pictured are the three ways in which you can connect your hands. Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus use the interlock while most of the professional tours use the overlap. Some have even used the 10- finger grip. My advice – pick one that feels the most comfortable and allows you to correctly place your hands and fingers on the handle.

John Stahlschmidt is the Senior Head Instructor for the TOURAcademy TPC Scottsdale. To learn more about the TOURAcademy or to comment on this column, email John at