The two things that golfers request the most when I ask them what they would like to achieve through golf lessons are more distance and more consistency. Golfers can improve both of these areas by working on their full-swing mechanics and by developing their mental and physical ability. Most golfers understand the importance of strength and flexibility in the golf swing. You know that lifting weights and stretching will enhance your physical ability to hit the golf ball. However, one of the most important aspects of physical ability that you may have overlooked is HAND STRENGTH. Hand strength directly affects your ability to control the golf club at high swing speeds.
At Precision Golf Academy, we use a dynamometer to measure our client’s hand strength. A dynamometer measures (in pounds or kilograms) the amount of force that a person is able to apply with each hand. Once hand strength is measured, we compare it to a chart that displays the ideal club speed for any hand strength. This comparison shows students how their hand strength relates to their current swing speed. We know from measuring over 150 tour professionals that the best players in the world have average hand strength of 60 kilograms of force per hand. Amateurs, however, average around 50 kilograms. This means that a run-of-the-mill tour professional has the physical ability to control the golf club at 100 miles per hour or more; while an amateur with an average of 50 kg hand strength can only control the golf club at 90 miles per hour. The stronger players that we test have hand strength of 70-75 kg, while the women’s average is about 25 kg. I’d be willing to bet that if you measured Tiger Woods hand strength it would be 80 kg or above!
Now you may ask, How can improving my hand strength make a difference in my golf game? Consider how stronger hands could affect your game by imagining these scenarios: Let’s say you hit the ball into some tall rough. If you have very strong hands, you can keep the clubface more square and rip through the long grass with more force, allowing you to advance the ball down the fairway instead of duffing it out or possibly even whiffing. Strong hands are also a benefit if you miss-hit the ball badly toward the toe or on the heel. If you have strong hands, the club will not twist nearly as much, therefore the ball will stay on the line and carry farther. This could mean carrying a pond or bunker and landing on the green when you normally dump it in the water or the sand. Both scenarios result in improved CONSISTENCY. Add to that the correlation between hand strength and club speed, which will help you gain DISTANCE, and you can start to see the benefits of stronger hands.
The next question that you might have is, Don’t I want to have a relaxed grip on the club? Obviously, the answer is YES. Tension in the hands ruins the rhythm in the golf swing. However, if you have hand strength of 75 kg, your relaxed grip on the club might be 60 kg, while someone who has hand strength of 60 kg at full strength will have a relaxed grip of 45 or 50 kg. In essence, a person with stronger hands can hold the club lightly but still swing and control the club at higher swing speeds than a person with weak hands.
The last question that you might ask is, How can I make my hands stronger? Here are some good exercises that will help you strengthen your hands and forearms:
1) Get a grip ball or a spring-loaded squeeze device. Grip balls tend to be a little better because they allow you to work individual fingers and parts of the hand. If you can’t find a grip ball, a tennis ball or racquetball will work as well. For the best results, squeeze it for 8-10 minutes with each hand, and try to switch it up so that you use just the fingers and thumb for a while, then the palm, and then each individual finger.
2) Wrist curls. You will need a bench or a flat table, and a 5 25 pound dumbbell, depending on your current strength. Make sure that your arm is immobilized by resting your elbow and forearm on the bench or table, and let your hand hang over the edge. Keeping your forearm and elbow still, do 20 curls with your palm facing up, and then do 20 curls with your palm facing down. You should feel some fatigue and burn in your forearms when you are done. If you don’t feel the burn you need to increase the weight or do more repetitions. If you can’t do 20 repetitions each way, use less weight.
3) Wrist twists. Cut an old broom handle to a length of about 1 to 2 feet. Tie a rope around the center of the handle that hangs down about 3 or 4 feet. Then tie a 5 25 pound weight onto the rope. Stand tall with your arms extended in front of you, holding the broom handle. The weight should be hanging just above the floor. Try to roll the broom handle as fast as you can so that the rope wraps around the handle in between your hands. Once you have rolled the rope all the way up so that the weight is almost touching the handle, begin to unroll it as fast as you can until it is all the way back down at the starting position. Repeat the cycle two or three times.
Building your hand and forearm strength should be a priority if you are trying to get the most out of your game. Your miss-hits will be better. You will be able to escape from trouble easier. And you will be able to swing the club faster with less tension. Remember, stronger hands will help you build a stronger game!!!