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Tony Simpson/PGA

Choose Article...


 »Get A Grip

 »How to Pole Vault 


by Tony Simpson/PGA

The Villages

Lady Lake, FL



"Get a Grip"
The way a person swings the club many times is determined by the way the club is gripped, or more appropriately, placed in the hands. A quick analogy is when a hammer is used and the similarity in the way the hand grips the handle to create leverage and power in that hammering stroke.

If you think about it, the hammer is usually placed across the hand in a position that allows the hand to hinge. The same thing should happen in the leading lever, or arm, of the swing. This is not to say that the arms work separately, because if the club is placed in the hands properly the arms and hands work as a unit. It is to say that the control a golfer will have of the club will be highly determined by the support that is offered by the hands during different stages of the swing.

When a club is placed into the hands of a golfer there is a certain amount of instinct that controls what is going to happen. That instinct is to create power. The swing is really a result of how the player grips the club and stands to the ball. For example, a golfer beginning with their back and shoulders bent over in excess is most likely going to stand up during the swing. It is the point of least resistance.

There is a way to make improvement to a swing just by working on the grip at home without a golf ball waiting to be hit. Again, the instincts of wanting to hit that ball are going to override the task at hand. The point is to work on the grip in a way that you can become comfortable with the feeling of doing something differently. Try to become comfortable with how it feels to hold the club in a way that allows the arms and hands to create most of the club head speed, which could be different than it was gripped in the past.

It is advisable also to get in the habit of taking the grip one hand at a time when on the course to insure that the club is being placed in the hands properly. Then trust it. It is important to experiment without any expectation on result with a proper grip to then see and feel how the body reacts to having the different grip.

When we were created there were lines put on our hands for the specific use of gripping a club. Using these as reference, here is a simple three step process for placing the hands on your club the same every time.

1. With the leading arm, place the grip across the hand and close the hand in a way that allows it to hinge up and down. This, for most, means using the line in the palm that begins above the small finger and points toward the forefinger as a guide. The thumb would lay just to the right of center on top and down the shaft.
2. Place the club in the two middle fingers of the trailing hand, after forming a “hook” with those fingers. This could be possible with any variation of the grip, such as Vardon or interlocking. Once the club is placed in this position, the life line of the trailing hand should fit nicely on top of the thumb of the leading arm.
3. The final step is to place the inside edge of the thumb on your trailing hand on the side of the grip where it would appear to lay naturally. It may even slightly touch the forefinger of that hand as well. Placing this thumb on top or on back of the grip can only cause problems with pressure on a point that would work against creating the proper leverage needed in a golf swing.

If hitting a golf shot feels more like work than play it is always a good idea to check the 3 pre-swing fundamentals: Grip, Stance and Aim. There have been more good swings from good preparation than there have from not.

"How to pole vault"


This is a story of a man named Sam who had the desire to learn how to pole
vault. At this point you may be wondering what this has to do with a golf
tip. Please read on.

After a quick search, he found there were three pole vault instructors in
town. The first instructor was a nice person who greeted Sam with a smile.
They proceeded to the practice area where the instructor began to tell Sam
how to grip the pole, run and place the pole in the ground in order to
propel himself over the bar. Then Sam was turned loose to unsuccessfully
try again and again to do just what the instructor had very clearly explained.
Unhappy with his results, but still wanting to learn to pole vault, Sam
decided to go and try the next pole vault school in the book.
At this appointment he was greeted by a hot-shot instructor who was full
of the confidence Sam would love to have, the perfect model for a pole vault
expert. Sam became excited as they proceeded to the instruction area,
thinking he would learn this time for sure.

The larger-than-life instructor sat Sam down in a chair and proceeded to
show, on a video tape, a slow motion review of tapes from the instructor's
own medal-winning performance in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. After
viewing the gold performance at least 10 times, breaking down each important
point, the instructor took Sam out for his next miserable and painful experience
trying to do exactly what he had been told and shown to do. No doubt, he
had understood what they had told and shown him. It just wasn't getting
through. He started to doubt his own athletic ability, not to mention his hope for learning to pole vault. Sam, starting to lose all hope of soaring over that bar, resolved to try
the third and final choice of instructors. The price for instruction was a
little higher than the others, but this was going to be his last attempt.
Right from their first meeting did Sam have a different feeling about his
new instructor. After being asked about his past attempts to pole vault
and whether he felt there were any physical limitations, he knew that this his best interest was a concern. The instructor also explained that this would
be an investment of time and effort. There would be no short cuts. Wanting
more than ever to learn to pole vault, Sam readily signed the dotted line.
The instruction began by asking Sam what his interpretation of pole
vaulting was. Did he understand the concepts that had been previously presented? It
wasn't until there was a clear picture did they proceed. Then Sam was
given a shorter pole and asked to assume his position for beginning. After all,
how he was holding the pole and even the foot he began the first step with
was important. These were the fundamentals, according to the instructor.
The next week they would actually begin to put these into action. He was
encouraged to repeat these new ideas in front of a mirror every day for
practice.  Only after working with the way it felt for Sam to hold the pole properly
and run to the jump with proper timing was he able to see himself doing
it.  And not until he learned how it felt to propel his body in the air did he
challenge himself with reaching even a silver medal height. Sam was
finally on the way to his dream of really pole vaulting.

Sam's experience is probably not unlike many of those who are wanting to
learn or improve their game of golf today. To learn from Sam's journey,
identifying and understanding what needs to happen before attempting to
actually do it comes first. Then doing the skill at a level that Sam could
be successful and rewarded was an important point. The point that should
be made most clear, however, is that not until the proper movement was
experienced did Sam begin to put all of the pieces together. The first
instructor told Sam how to do it. The second instructor showed Sam how to
do it. Finally, the successful instructor coached Sam to feel how it should
be done through related drills and exercises in addition to the other

 Learning golf, or any other physical activity, is no different. All
effective instructors will include the following in their lessons:

1. Begin with sound fundamentals;

2. Take the activity in less challenging doses, making the reward of
success a motivator;

3. Incorporate kinesthetic drills or movements that support the
activity to promote the movements required;

Analyze your current golf improvement program to determine if you are
satisfied with your progress. If not, maybe Sam's story can help you
understand why and get on the track to your greater enjoyment of the game. is Recognized by the

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