When’s the last time you heard someone talk about hand path in the golf swing?
Unfortunately, it’s not a common conversation amongst golfers but plays a big role in getting the most out of your game. When most golfers talk about the golf downswing they don’t realize that proper hand path is the key to a better downswing.
While you need a consistent grip (preferably neutral to slightly strong), your hands and takeaway are just as important. If your takeaway gets going too far inside or outside, a lot of bad things can occur and lead to a ton of frustration on the golf course.
Today, we’ll review this important topic to help you hit it straighter than ever. If all goes well you might even learn how to hit the hardest shot in golf – a straight shot!
Hand Path in Golf Swing
If you’re like most golfers chances are you work on your grip and takeaway a lot. Those two factors contribute to the overall path of your swing and can help you become a better ball striker.
But what about your hands? What role do they play in helping you hit shots at your target line and hit the ball with force?
As Chris Ryan (a huge golf YouTuber/swing coach) said in this video, “How we use our hands and the path we take in the golf swing can hugely influence your ability to shape shots in either way.”
Needless to say – it’s a big part of the backswing, release, and shot consistency.
- Your hands are the only part of the body that touch the club and thus, play a big role in all aspects of your swing.
- If your hands get sucked too far inside it’s easy to get steep on the downswing which creates all kinds of ball striking problems.
- Elite scratch golfers and Tour players are better at swinging from the inside which creates lag on the downswing.
Keep reading to learn how the hands should effectively move in the downswing.
Hands in Backswing
As Chris Ryan mentioned, your hands play a massive role in getting the club in the right position on the backswing and downswing. Your hand motion is separate from your grip itself but both need to work together for a neutral swing plane.
The golf club will move based on your hands and they can be in one of three positions in the backswing:
- Neutral hand path.
- Outside to inside hand path.
- Inside to outside hand path (most common for the everyday golfer).
According to Golf Digest, most golfers make a crucial error to start their backswing. “Average players suck it inside and move the hub more shallowly going to the top, and then go more upright or steep on the way to the ball and even more steep on the exit. That means you’re essentially getting in your own way.”
This is one of the most common mistakes for average golfers and you can’t find the “slot.” When you suck the club too far back on an inside path on the backswing, it’s nearly impossible to get shallow.
Think of the golf swing as one big circle or a “loop.” If you loop inside, you have to loop outside on the downswing which leads to getting too steep.
But if you can get steeper on the backswing and not suck the club behind you, you can then come into the ball from the inside. This in to out swing path is what Tour players do better than most golfers.
As the same Golf Digest article said, “Tour players have a path that’s a lot steeper on the way back, and the downswing goes back to the ball below that initial path and the exit is even more below that.”
The Correct Hand Path on the Backswing
So, what is the correct path of the hands?
While it’s not true for every single golfer, it’s about getting your hands more vertical on the backswing. Too many golfers have a low, slow, and around backswing.
When you make this motion it’s easy to get too steep and lose out on tons of power on the way down.
Instead, you want to feel like you’re getting the club up earlier in your swing. You want to think up, not around your body on the backswing.
A great example of this move is Dustin Johnson.
He has a noticeable hinge of the wrists that show how he picks up the club as he rotates around his body. While most golfers cock their wrists too late in their swing.
This is an issue I recently faced and once I got it corrected made a massive difference in my consistency. I went from sucking the club too far back to picking it up sooner and getting into a much better position at the top. This made it easier to get more shallow on the downswing and come from the ball at an inside angle.
The results has been better weight transfer, more power, and finally stopped hitting so many thin shots. Think up, not around, to change your hand path and make a better golf swing with every club in the bag.
Best Training Aids to Improve Hand Path
To improve your hand path you need to adjust your takeaway and backswing more so than your downswing. Too many golfers try to adjust something in their downswing but in reality, this happens in less than a second. Everything that happens on your downswing is a result of your grip, setup, takeaway, and backswing.
Use these training aids to create a more powerful backswing that will inevitably improve hand position on the downswing.
PlaneMate by Tour Striker
If you’ve sucked the club back too far on the inside for quite some time, it’s hard to feel the backswing path at times. Luckily, the PlaneMate by Tour Striker can help you out.
This training aid goes around your waist and attaches to the club with an elastic band. The elastic band is strapped to the belt and guides you into a perfect takeaway position.
It makes it easy to feel the hands slightly outside the shaft once the club is parallel to the ground. When you’re here, it makes it so much easier to bring your wrist up (not around) to complete your backswing. Plus, you can use this device with any club, indoors or outdoors, and while hitting golf balls.
Hack Motion Golf Sensors
While the PlaneMate is great for your full swing, the Hack Motion is amazing to improve your wrist position. This wearable device gives you immediate feedback to better understand your wrist action in the golf swing.
Here’s how the company described their revolutionary training aid. “The clubface is king. It determines more than 80% of the direction of your ball flight, and your wrist angles directly determine how the clubface moves. With HackMotion training aid and feedback tool, you can now be in control of your shot direction.”
This wearable device makes it easier than ever to understand your lead wrist and proper wrist mechanics. You can set it up in 30 seconds or less and the app provides amazing data and feedback for every swing.
FAQs About Hands in the Golf Swing
Do you have more questions about the right grip and the role the hands play in golf? If so, keep reading to learn more now.
What is hand path in the golf swing?
Your hand path is the movement the hands take in the golf swing.
There are three ways the hands can move; out to in, straight up – straight down, and in to out. This is so important because the head of the club will move based on the hands.
How can I improve my hand path in golf swing?
While the training aids above can help, there are some drills too. Here’s a good hand path swing drill from Golf.com to help you make the correct move in your downswing.
“A good drill to improve this fault is to stick an alignment stick in the ground a few inches outside the ball, and about six inches behind it. Make sure the stick is parallel to your shaft and then work on dropping your hands down when you start the downswing.”
Like most golf drills, you want to start out at 50-70% speed and work your way to a full swing at maximum effort. As you miss the shaft on the downswing you’ll be in a much better position to hit the ball from the inside.
Where do my hands go in the downswing?
Ideally you want the hands to come from the inside path on the downswing.
This “in to out swing” is what most golfers are searching for as it helps you create lag and generate power. Unfortunately, too many amateurs are the opposite with an out to in swing which leads to a lot of pulled shots and slices.
When you drop your hand down – try to feel like a chain is to pull the clubhead down – you can make so much better contact. This doesn’t necessarily happen on the downswing though but instead, more of a result of a solid takeaway and wrist hinge.
Where should my hands start in the golf swing?
The hands should start in a neutral position at address position. It’s beneficial to have a neutral grip (or strong grip) as most golfers have a weak grip that leads to a lot of slices and loss in distance.
With irons and wedges, the hands might be slightly ahead of the ball which is known as a forward press. This makes it easier to compress the golf ball and make solid contact through impact. But you don’t want forward press with driver as the goal is to hit up the one shot and increase launch angle for maximum distance.
Your hands play a big role in getting the most out of your swing.
Since they’re the only part of your body touching the club, it’s essential to master your grip and wrist motion. Without each of them working together, you can limit yourself and make it difficult to score consistently well.
Prior to making these adjustments myself I was way off my target line and suffered from inconsistency with irons. But a few sessions with the training aids above (plus a video of my swing) made a huge difference in swing path.
Focus on your backswing and takeaway to improve your hand path with every swing.
When your hands are in the right place it’ll take the club in the proper direction and make the loop discussed above. This will lead to more shots at your target line and will get your shoulders in a better spot in your swing.
This will help your quality of strike, stop pulling so many shots, and even learn how to hit a draw. Remember, the transition and downswing happen incredibly fast, it’s about changing your backswing to create better angles. Change your hand path, change your game!
Do you struggle with hand path or wrist issues in your golf swing?
If so, check out some of our related articles to get your arms and shoulders into a more powerful impact position.