*On the Instruction Blog we're open to all ideas. And we don't care where they're from as long as they work. A few weeks ago we solicited from you, our valued readers, the best tips you ever received. Now each week I'm posting one of these tips and will explain why it's effective and who would most benefit from it. Please submit your favorite tip by email to Editors@GolfDigest.com.
One thing I learned from our solicitation is that a number of teaching pros follow the Instruction Blog. This week we hear from 29-year-old teaching professional A.J. Spicer, whose father was a 40-year veteran golf instructor. A.J. teaches at White Beeches Golf & Country Club, in Haworth, N.J.
*Left: Paul Azinger is a prime example of a player who made a strong grip work for him. Photo by Getty Images.
*Here's A.J.: If there is any swing tip or advice that I would love to share with you and all of your readers, it would be twofold. First, strengthen your grip by turning your hands to the right on the club (your left hand will feel more on top of the club, and your right hand will feel more underneath). Second, shallow out or flatten your downswing.
Most golfers tend to have a weak grip and are way too steep into the ball. They either take the club back too flat, then come down steep (chopping-wood motion) or they take the club back steep and swing down steep. The visual I like to use is a large hula hoop lying at an angle, with the base at the ball and the top at your chest. Just try to swing the club with your hands and arms tracing the imaginary plane. So in summary, correct your grip, then your swing plane, and you'll be on your way to great golf.
*Thanks, A.J. What I like most about this tip is the two pieces of advice work so well together (strong grip, flatter plane). If you strengthen your grip, over time you'll stop coming over the top because you'll get tired of hitting pulls or pull hooks. Paul Azinger, who has as strong a grip as any top-level player, once told me it was one of the reasons he rarely came over the top. If he did, he would hit the ball dead left. His club was always beautifully set on a slightly flatter downswing plane.