I never play a shot without first glancing at my hands. What I check before address is the alignment of the grip with the face of the club. They go together.
Most golfers know of this relationship between the hands and the club face—at least, they know it theoretically—but the ordinary golfer rarely puts it into practice. Very often, while he is fiddling with his grip, he inadvertently rotates the shaft and twists the club face out of alignment. Most pros, on the other hand, knowing that the grip is correct only when it is correctly aligned with the club face, take pains to check this fundamental of good golf. If you have ever watched Jimmy Demaret, you have no doubt seen him affix his grip, raising the club until his hands are only a foot or so in front of his eyes. Then Jimmy sights down the shaft and checks both his hands and the club head as one unit.
Gripping a club, you see, is like aiming a rifle. If your hands are improperly aligned with the club head, you will hit only a few isolated accurate shots. I never trust my grip entirely to feel. It can go off too easily, and after a couple of days the incorrect grip will feel fine and natural. Once you start your swing, you must trust entirely to feel, for your eye is fixed on the ball. However, before you start to play your shot, you have the chance to check the relation of the grip and the club head visually. The results are well worth the effort.
CLAUDE HARMON, pro at the Winged Foot Golf Club
addressing ball, Harmon checks grip and club head
exaggerated depiction of incorrect alignment
NEXT WEEK'S GUEST PRO: MIKE TURNESA ON THE RELAXED ADDRESS