*By Roger Schiffman
One of the worst things you can do in the golf swing is to let go of the club with the fingers of the left hand at the top of the swing. However, you see golfers doing this all the time. Letting go at the top causes you to regrip the club starting down and increase your grip pressure. The result is a premature uncocking of the club, which then bottoms out before the ball. Usually a fat shot results, but sometimes you hit the ball thin. A tell-tale sign is your glove gets worn out in the heel.
Jack Nicklaus told me last week that he sometimes has this flaw today, but it's because he can't physically make as big a turn as he used to, and it's the only way to get the club to parallel on the backswing. He doesn't like the move. He said that during his prime, he never let go of the club with his left hand at the top of the swing. He noted that sometimes his right hand was a little loose at the top, which is confirmed by photos, but never his left.
One of my favorite teachers, DeLayne Pascal, at Holly Ridge Golf Club, in Sandwich, Mass., recently told me what she often does for her students who have this problem. Rather than try to get them to hold on tighter with the left hand at the top (often difficult for players whose hands are not so strong and it restricts clubhead speed), she tells them to make a bigger shoulder turn. When you make a bigger turn, you don't subconsciously feel you need to let go, she told me. DeLayne, a former NASA scientist, always looks at cause and effect. Really smart teachers, like DeLayne, treat the cause, not the effect.
So if you're hitting the ball fat or thin, or if you feel loose at the top of your swing, try making a fuller shoulder turn. It might make your grip more solid at the top--and your shots more crisp through impact.