I’ve not been playing well lately. My drives are still long and hitting the fairways, and my chipping and putting are always solid. But my iron and fairway wood play has been horrific. In recent weeks, I lost at least a club length—probably more—in distance on every club.
I took a lesson from my club pro, but his suggestions didn’t really do anything for me. He said I was breaking my wrists at impact, and gave me a few drills to work on. And it all worked on the range. But when I went back on the course—all the gains were lost.
So I figured that it was time to go back to basics. I got out the notes that I had taken from my first lessons and headed to the course.
I took my usual drive off the first tee without a warmup, or even a practice swing (kind of a ritual with me; the first swing of the day is my best). Worked like a charm: I blasted the ball up the hill on the par four to 110 from the green.
For my second shot, I got out my 9-iron, took my grip and stance, and then stopped. Body angle. Ok. Ball position. Ok. Head. Ok.
Grip. Not ok. It was too far up in my right palm, and my right thumb was too high up on the shaft. I settled the club back into my fingers and moved the thumb. My grip instantly felt less tight.
I swung. It was a high, beautiful shot uphill to the elevated green. On target. Good distance.
What a big difference a little grip change makes.
For the rest of the round, I made a conscious effort to get the grip right. And my play was remarkably improved.
But why hadn’t my pro noticed the bad grip form?
I think that what happens is that—like my boys at the club restaurant, I’m on my best golf form behavior during a lesson at the range. So it’s likely that the bad grip didn’t show up for my pro to see.
Not sure what to do about that one.