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The grip of the right hand, since it is the hand that does the overlapping, is more complicated. If setting up a strong, correct left hand is one half of the job of establishing a one-unit grip, the other half is getting your right hand in a position to perform its share of the work but no more than its equal share. This means, in effect, subduing the natural tendency of the right forefinger and thumb to take charge. If they do, they'll ruin you. The "pincer fingers," the forefinger and thumb, are wonderful for performing countless tasks in daily living such as opening doors and picking up coffee cups, but they are no good at all in helping you to build a good grip and a good swing. The explanation behind this is that the muscles of the right forefinger and thumb connect with the very powerful set of muscles that run along the outside of the right arm and elbow to the right shoulder. If you work the tips of the thumb and forefinger together and apply any considerable amount of pressure, you automatically activate those muscles of the right arm and shoulder—and those are not the muscles you want to use in the golf swing. Using them is what breeds so many golfers who never swing with both hands working together, who lurch back and then lurch into the ball, all right arm and right shoulder and all wrong.
TO OBTAIN THE PROPER GRIP WITH THE RIGHT HAND, HOLD IT SOMEWHAT EXTENDED, WITH THE PALM FACING YOUR TARGET. NOW—YOUR LEFT HAND IS ALREADY CORRECTLY AFFIXED—PLACE THE CLUB IN YOUR RIGHT HAND SO THAT THE SHAFT LIES ACROSS THE TOP JOINT OF THE FOUR FINGERS AND DEFINITELY BELOW THE PALM.
THE RIGHT-HAND GRIP IS A FINGER GRIP. THE TWO FINGERS WHICH SHOULD APPLY MOST OF THE PRESSURE ARE THE TWO MIDDLE FINGERS. As we have mentioned, the forefinger shouldn't be allowed to become too forceful. As for the little finger, it slides up and over the forefinger of the left hand and locks itself securely in the groove between the left forefinger and the big finger. NOW, WITH THE CLUB HELD FIRMLY IN THE FINGERS OF YOUR RIGHT HAND, SIMPLY FOLD YOUR RIGHT HAND OVER YOUR LEFT THUMB—that is how I like to think of it. When you have folded the right hand over, the right thumb should ride down the left side of the shaft, slightly.
If there is one major consideration to keep uppermost in your mind about the right hand, it is that the club must be in the fingers and not in the palm. In order to get a check on the ball with backspin or to cut the ball up with a nice underspin and to do many other things with the ball, the ball must be hit sharp and crisp, and you can achieve this only if the club is in the fingers of the right hand. Furthermore, a proper right-hand grip will enable the player to transmit the greatest amount of speed to the clubhead. Controlled speed is what we want, and you can get this control only from the fingers, not from the right hand itself.
A word more about the little finger of the right hand. While it has been approved practice for quite some time to let the little finger ride sort of piggyback on top of the left forefinger, I would really advise you to hook that little finger in the groove between the forefinger and the big finger. It helps to keep the hands from slipping apart. It also gives me the good feeling that my hands are knitted vigorously together.
A word further about the thumb area of the right hand. To promote a right-hand grip that is strong where it should be strong (and which will then more than offset the dangerous tendency to let the tips of thumb and forefinger work like a pincer), I recommend the golfer-reader to cultivate the following habit: School yourself when you are taking your grip so that the thumb and the adjoining part of the hand across the V—the part that is the upper extension of the forefinger—press up against each other tightly, as inseparable as Siamese twins. Keep them pressed together as you begin to affix your grip, and maintain this airtight pressure between them when you fold the right hand over the left thumb. In this connection, I like to feel that the knuckle on the back of my right hand above the forefinger is pressing to the left, toward my target. It rides almost on top of the shaft. I know then that the club has to be in my fingers. Furthermore, when you fold the right hand over the left thumb—and there is a lot left to fold over—the left thumb will fit perfectly in the "cup" formed in the palm of your folded right hand. They fit together like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle.
This union of left thumb and right thumb pad strengthens the welding together of the two hands and it serves to add real reinforcement to your grip, particularly at the top of the backswing where poor grips are most likely to deteriorate. When you check your right-hand grip, the V formed by the thumb and forefinger should be pointing right at the button of your chin.
And a final word about those potential swing-wreckers, the right forefinger and thumb. While the tips of the forefinger and thumb do serve the advanced golfer as his finesse fingers, learning to use them only for touch in striking the ball requires some training. You will develop this talent as you go along. However, at this stage of the game when breaking down bad habits and acquiring correct new habits is our paramount consideration, there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the average golfer should forget about this finesse business completely. It can do him so much more harm than good in learning how to use the right hand. In this connection, an extremely beneficial exercise to practice (perhaps five minutes daily for a week) is to grip the club and swing it with the right forefinger and thumb entirely off the shaft. This gives a golfer a wonderful sense of having just one corporate hand on the club. This, of course, is the ideal. When you complete your grip, try to feel that the tips of the forefinger and thumb are hardly on the club and strive instead to build up that opposite feeling (which we described earlier) that the knuckle above the forefinger is pressing toward the thumb and toward the target.
It may seem that we have gone into unwarranted detail about the elements of the correct grip. This is anything but the case. Too often in golf, players mistake the generality for the detail. They think, for example, that overlapping the finger is the detail and so they do not pay sufficient attention to how they do it. Or they confuse an effect (which can be quite superficial) with the action (the real thing) that causes the effect. For instance, a lot of golfers are under the impression that if their two Vs are pointed correctly, their grip must be correct. It may be or may not be. The direction of the Vs is no guarantee, simply a check point. In golf there are certain things you must do quite precisely, where being approximately right is not right enough. The grip is one of these areas where being half right accomplishes nothing. On the other hand, once you start cultivating the right habits, gripping the club correctly comes easily. You'll fall right into it. Furthermore, being painstaking about learning to grip rewards you a thousand times over. Once you have mastered a correct grip—and assuming your stance and posture are also correct—you can practically forget about what the hands will be doing, or what they have to do, during the swing. They will take care of it themselves. The reason for this is that a correct grip brings into play the correct muscles of your arms and body.
I would like to support these points, if I may, with a chunk of autobiography, for if any golfer ever ran the whole gamut of grips, I did. I was born left-handed—that was the normal way for me to do things. I was switched over to doing things right-handed when I was a boy but I started golf as a left-hander because the first club I ever came into possession of, an old five-iron, was a left-handed stick. I stopped being a left-handed golfer for what might be termed local commercial conditions: the boys in my home town, Fort Worth, used to buy our golf clubs (at a dollar per club) at a five-and-dime store, and there simply never was any left-handed equipment in the barrel where the clubs were stacked. When I changed over to the right side, possibly as a hangover from my left-handed start I first used a cross-hand grip. I experimented next with the interlocking grip, and at length—I must have been about 15 at the time—I finally arrived at the overlapping grip. I was working then in the golf shop at the Glen Garden club, and I copied the grip of Ted Longworth, the pro. I recognized quickly that this was the best of all grips, and once I had persuaded myself of that fact, it took me only a short time to familiarize myself with it.