124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2


The easy way to shape shots

By Tom Watson Illustrations by Jameson Simpson
November 25, 2007


If my intention is to hit a shot that curves right to left, I want to see three knuckles when I set my left hand on the club (see strong grip on left). The fewer knuckles I see, the more likely the shot will curve left to right. Sometimes a slice can be good (see weak grip on right).

Can you shape shots? Can you move the ball from left to right or right to left to play strategically or to get out of trouble? That's basic shotmaking, and it's not that hard. The easiest way to maneuver the ball is to adjust your grip. It's also the easiest way to cure a slice.

Right-handers should set the left hand on the club first. A neutral grip would be two knuckles showing. To hook the ball, rotate your left hand to see three knuckles, with the thumb running down the side of the shaft (above left). That's also the stronger, anti-slice grip. To slice the ball, see only one knuckle of the left hand, the thumb straight down the shaft in a weaker grip (above right). However you adjust your grip, keep the clubface aimed where it was. Don't turn the clubface as you turn your hands. And it's important to turn the right hand as much as the left -- your palms should be facing. Then make a normal swing. Hitting a bucket of practice balls, changing your grip different ways and to different degrees, should give you a feel for the technique. It's a good start to understanding how to control the ball.

Tom Watson is the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. View more tips from Tom.