Golf Tips: Thumb Thing Interesting

You may not pay too much attention to what your right thumb (for right-handed golfers) does during the golf swing. But many everyday players take their grip with the right thumb right on top of the shaft in what many instructors call the 12 O’Clock position. In an effort to generate extra power for more distance, golfers will squeeze the club between this thumb and index finger to try to control the club. What happens instead is this squeezing move activates muscles that actually prevent the forearms from rotating all the way through impact, robbing you of power and distance.

Ben Hogan, in his legendary book “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf,” called the right thumb and index finger “swing-wreckers.” Hogan advised, “gripping the club with the right thumb and forefinger off the shaft helps a golfer to accustom himself to the feeling of a strong, correct grip in which both hands work together as one unit.” He recommended that golfers practice gripping and swinging with the right thumb and forefinger completely off the shaft to ingrain that feeling. Tom Lehman, Fred Couples, Brandt Snedeker are among the modern golfers who advocate practicing with the right thumb and forefinger off the shaft to promote the hands working together in the swing to increase clubhead speed.

Hogan says the two middle fingers apply most of the right-hand grip pressure. Most instructors and good players agree. Instead of resting directly on top of the shaft in the 12 O’Clock position, the right thumb should be in more of a relative 10 O’Clock position to the left of the shaft and resting on the tip of the right index finger. In that position, the right thumb can lend support without applying excess pressure to the shaft. Your forearms can rotate more freely through impact, allowing you to generate more power and add more distance.