FINDING TRUE NEUTRALBY: BILL HULBERT, PGA
A “neutral” grip is a good place to start with beginners and often a desired change for others. But what is a true neutral grip, and how do we create it with a student? What often goes overlooked is that a neutral and soft lead arm is necessary to establish a true neutral grip in the lead hand.
From a golf posture allow the arms to hang freely and softly from the shoulder sockets. This will create the desired neutral lead wrist and hand position that is the starting point for a true neutral grip. By simply rotating the trail arm and wrist so the trail palm faces the lead hand, true neutral happens.
Note that everyone’s neutral is not the same. There is dramatic variation from person to person in the wrist angle during a soft lead arm hang. Establish an individual’s neutral and work from there. The old adage that the v’s will point to the center of the trail shoulder doesn’t really hold water, especially if there is more or less shaft lean at address. They are more likely to point up the shaft in a true neutral grip.
Soft arms cannot be over emphasized. There is an epidemic out there of locked out lead arms, some to the point of jamming the arm up into the shoulder socket. Think Bryson DeChambeau with his putter. This changes the lead wrist position (weakens) and therefore creates a false neutral. It also hinders the ability of the lead arm to work properly on the backswing. The most common result is an outward hand path with the club working dramatically to the inside.
Clearly there are successful players with all types of grips. DJ and Bubba both use very strong grips. Hogan’s grip was weak, as is Jordan Spieth’s. Adam Scott and Tiger are both neutral. Wrist flexion and extension will influence clubface, with flexion closing it and extension opening it. As an instructor it’s your job to find the grip that matches your student’s swing, or more specifically their clubface.
Whatever your preferences soften up those arms, find true neutral, and help your students grip correctly and consistently. By taking the grip with the lead arm hanging comfortably off the lead leg, we can establish a neutral grip that is also in the fingers. By bringing the club back in front of the body to take the trail hand grip, we can match the hands and keep that arm soft as well. Step into the setup, place the club behind the ball, line it up and go. Build a consistent and purposeful pre-shot routine, with emphasis on the lack of tension throughout. Your students will thank you.