Knuckles, the Outdated Method of Managing Club Face and Grip

By: Tim MItchell, PGA | Pelican Hill Golf Club

How golfer’s use the tool is arguably one of the most important components that we share with our students.  Making sure that the student’s grip matches up with the rest of their dynamic qualities can require a significant amount of trial and error.  One way we have traditionally asked our students to modify their grip is via how many knuckles we want them to see with their target hand at address.  After making that suggestion, did that grip change produce the desired ball flight and matching technique that you and your student wanted?  Or does that student need a more defined piece of information and game plan to make the necessary changes?  In my experience, the traditional knuckle standard doesn’t give the wide array of students we work with a precise enough way to manage their club face needs.  If you’re struggled with the same experience, perhaps you’ll find the following information useful.

I like to use a clock system and the compatible angle to the time of day to help my student’s make adjustments to their club face needs.  What exactly does that mean?  Let’s start off with this base line information.  When you take your grip, and the club face is perpendicular to the ground, or parallel to your spine, I consider that to be 12 o’clock, or 90 degrees.  When the club face is parallel to the ground, or perpendicular to your spine, I consider that to be 9 o’clock (for a right handed golfer), or 0 degrees.  Additionally, 10 o’clock is 30 degrees and 11 o’clock is 60 degrees.  How do I then apply this information?  Let’s take a look at the following example.

I have a right handed student who is struggling with a slice and has one or all of the many dynamic symptoms of an open faced player, I will encourage this student to close their club face.  For this example, let’s say I want them to try closing their club face to 11 o’clock.  That is closing their club face 30 degrees.  To better ensure this grip modification, I will ask my students to take their normal grip, loosen their grip pressure, spin the shaft inside their hands until the club face is pointing to 11 o’clock, and then re apply their grip pressure.  If they do not like looking at a club face that is pointing that much to the left, I will ask them to rotate their hands clockwise without spinning the shaft, until the club face is pointing back to 12 o’clock.

I will then ask that student to start hitting some golf shots.  If the golfer immediately starts hitting golf shots that curve to the left, and achieving the ball flight that he wants, without wanting to modify his swing dynamics, we’re done!

If the golfer is still hitting shots that curve to the right, I will ask that student to try 10:45.  15 minutes of time is adding approximately 7.5 more degrees of left to the club face.  I will keep making my student’s club face more closed until they experience a draw oriented ball flight before I make any additional changes.

If the golf ball is curving too much to the left, and the golfer does not want to change the dynamics of his technique, then I will ask that golfer to move his club face to 11:15, versus 11 o’clock.  We continue this exercise until the golfer achieves the ball flight that he wants.

If the golfer starts hitting shots that are curving too much to the left and he wants to change the dynamics of his technique, we then start to modify the dynamics that produce more right into his delivery of the club and ball flight.

I believe this to be a more precise and simple way of helping our students understand and manage the changes of their grip, club face and dynamic needs.  Golf can be an incredibly difficult game to understand, with many rabbit holes that can lead us away from the most direct route to improvement.  If we share simple concepts that are easier to understand and implement, I believe we have a better chance of impacting our student’s games and ultimately lives.


Tim Mitchell, PGA
Certified Golf Instructor
Pelican Hill Golf Club