The Split Grip Drill

Believe it or not, the basic concept of how to square the club face is actually highly  debated amongst various golf instructors. Like many people, I found myself quite confused after reading all of the different school’s of thought. However, over the past year or so I have spent a great deal of time studying and breaking down Jimmy Ballard’s concepts and I now have a greater appreciation for how Jimmy explains this concept. Specifically, Ballard talks about the dynamic between the inner force and an outer force and how it is fundamental in squaring the club face.

Perhaps the Ballard concept is easiest to understand by equating the golf swing to a slap shot. Notice when hockey players take a shot, they keep a very short left arm with the butt of the stick near their navel and a longer right arm placed half-way down the shaft.  Utilizing this split grip, players are able to rifle slap shots at over 100mph which clearly demonstrates the power of this technique.


Ballard regularly points out that Hogan talked about feeling like he had ‘half a left arm’ once he learned to get his elbow into his chest rather than ‘chicken-winging’ it. Furthermore, Hogan also said that he wished he had ‘three right hands to hit it with.’  In other words, Hogan understood that he could deliver additional power with added right hand force.

You can easily see and feel what Jimmy is talking about by hitting balls utilizing a split grip. To try this drill, simply split your grip by a few inches and take your normal golf swing. Keep in mind, it is important to stay tall during your swing. As I wrote in my earlier post, staying tall is akin to a baseball player hitting a low outside pitch, you don’t have to go down to get it. Instead, let the club go down as you stay tall. Also, try to keep both elbows pointed at the ground like you’re tossing a medicine ball underhanded. As you work on it, you will feel your left elbow just above your navel, and you really want to feel that right hand pass your left as your shoulders uncoil through the impact position.  If it feels weird at first, stay with it a bit.  Then, watch as you hit balls that go straight and far.

Written by Wade Baynham
Single-digit handicap, who learned golf in his early 20′s from my former father-in-law, a long time PGA tour and Champions tour player. I enjoy studying the golf swing and occasionally give golf lessons.