Strong hands, wrists and fingers are essential to the retention of a correct and constant grip in every detail and the development of the feeling that it is fitted snugly to the shaft of the golf club.
You may well ask why this emphasis on strength. After all, a golf club only weighs between twelve and fifteen-and-a-half ounces.
Here is the answer. For all its comparatively light weight the club head moves in a wide arc and works up to a high speed at impact. To keep complete control of it without restriction of the life and power of the swing it is necessary to develop a measure of strength which permits firm mastery without the fullest physical effort to apply it.
The novice, learning to drive a car, starts by clenching the steering wheel. Smooth steering thereby is impossible and if he were to drive any distance the arms would soon be aching. Similarly with the novice boxer. Clenching his fists inside his gloves and holding his arms rigid he cannot throw a proper punch or react quickly enough to parry one from his opponent. His arms rapidly tire and feel as heavy as lead.
It is this same muscular tension against which I am warning you as a golfer. A fierce grip on the shaft locks the wrists and deprives the movement of LIFE, but if the hands are not conditioned to their task the natural instinct is to grip fiercely.
Now for ways to train and strengthen the hands, fingers and wrists.
I am not among the advocates of swinging a specially weighted club. Do all your club-swinging with a club of the swing-weight you will use out on the course. That to me makes common sense. A practice-swinging club with ounces of extra lead poured into the head simply provides you with a clumsy, unwieldy implement in sharp contrast to the finely balanced product which the manufacturer has turned out for your use.
No, I advise a selection of simple exercises such as pressing the spread finger-ends of the two hands against each other and compressing a spring grip obtainable for two or three shillings and easily carried in the pocket. This spring grip also builds up the forearm muscles, and when you can fully compress it without strain you will be on the way to your objective.
But probably the best method of strengthening the fingers is by using a simple piece of apparatus which you can rig up in a few minutes.
Take a broom handle and bore a hole half-way along its length. Run a piece of string through the hole and fix a weight at the other end of the string. Holding the pole with both hands apart and parallel to the ground, turn it with the fingers clockwise towards the body thus winding the string towards the pole and drawing the weight up to it. Release the weight slowly back to the ground by turning the fingers in the opposite direction.
You cannot put in too much work on the hands and fingers, those vital extremities which are your sole contact with the club, the means by which you feel and sense the position of the club head throughout the movement. Train them and condition them, and you will find that the rest of the technique which goes to the shaping of the swing will become less of a chore and more of a pleasure. Your progress will be more rapid and sure.
Finally, here is a significant admission by American Ryder Cup Captain, Jerry Barber. Last year he declared he was hitting the ball farther than he had ever done before, thanks to hand exercises with a spring grip.
Barber, no big man physically, was already a big money winner, but, still not content, he set to work "increasing the playing strength in my hands and forearms and gained greater control over the club. That is why I am hitting the ball farther than ever".
The time spent strengthening your hands will undoubtedly pay dividends when it comes to your game.
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