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May 27 2012

12:45 PM

On the Mark: The Hawk's grip tips

By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM Last week the HP Byron Nelson Championship. This week The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Ben Hogan’s back yard. Two weeks, two legends of golf, two of Texas’s favorite sons, one giant helping of championship golf, history, and lessons for one and all to learn. Whilst Lord Byron was known for his kind and gentle persona and is all-round game, the Hawk, Ben Hogan, was notorious for his steely determination, the mystique of his icy glare, his unparalleled focus and his powerful and repetitive swing.
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A man of fierce resolve, Hogan built a very successful career from nothing and by sheer hard work and grit became one of the leading players in the game. He then suffered a broken collarbone, a smashed rib, a double fracture of the pelvis and a broken ankle in what many thought was a career-ending car-wreck while en route back home from a tournament. Nevertheless, in typical Hogan fashion, he rebounded stronger than ever and completed his Hall of Fame resume, winning thirteen more tournaments including five of six tournaments with three majors in 1953. In total Ben Hogan won 63 tournaments and 9 majors. Alongside Herbert Warren Wind, Hogan also penned one of the most widely read and referenced books on the golf swing. Highly acclaimed and a must-have for any golfer, Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf is a wealth of information and certainly one of my favorite golf instruction reads. I hence would like to share a lesson from Mr. Hogan and Modern Fundamentals with you; a lesson I feel that would benefit golfers of all skill levels. To quote the Hawk: "The grip is the heartbeat of the action in the golf swing." Further, as Hogan pointed out in his masterpiece, "The player’s only contact with the ball is through the clubhead, and his only direct physical contact with the club is through his hands." For this reason it would make logical sense that any player should take real care whilst setting his/her hands on the club. So, with complete deference to Mr. Hogan, I wish to list a couple of things that I feel are important to pay attention to when gripping the club: 1.) Make sure that you grip the club predominantly in the fingers as you wrap the palm of the lead hand around the club. 2.) Mold the hands together by holding the club so that the thumb of the lead hand fits neatly into the palm of the trail hand. Focus on maintaining that connection as it helps to ensure that both hands work together as a unit during the swing. 3.) Retain even pressure on the handle of the club but not too much as that will immobilize the wrists. Remember, without a heartbeat there is no life. So, bring life to your swing by ensuring that your grip is fundamentally sound. Mr. Hogan, a man revered for his ball-striking and control, felt it so important that he listed a fundamental grip as the first of his five fundamentals to success. Good luck. Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or "Like" Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called "Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution" available on iTunes/iBooks.
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