Is Jordan Spieth’s grip change already starting to work?
It was something of a passing comment. A throwaway, even. The kind that means a lot to professional golfers — golf nerds, the lot of them — but is too often glossed over professional by golf journalists on the other end. It’s far juicier to focus on intangibles like ‘heart’ or ‘mindset’ rather than a grip alteration to explain a change in form. But more often than not, it’s tweaks like the latter which lead to a change in the former. And while it’s still early, I’m starting to wonder if we’re seeing those same wheels in motion with Jordan Spieth.
Back at the Waste Management Open, Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker reported that on the eve of the tournament, Spieth and his longtime coach, Cameron McCormick, strengthened his golf grip (for those who may not be familiar, that means rotating his hands more to the right at setup), about “five degrees”:
“That’s something that takes two, three months to nail down…I miss a lot of left shots given the grip. My hands are pretty good and I’ll be able to figure it out in a couple of weeks, but I did it with the idea that we have a couple of months before the first major.”
One of the least charming things about the online golf instruction community is that people love to nit-pick things like camera angles at the expense of the larger, more general point (so if that sounds like you, take the below with a grain of salt and maybe chill out just a little bit) but it does look like Spieth’s grip has changed ever-so-slightly over the years.
As you can see on the pictures on the left, taken from Golf Digest’s insightful swing sequence from Spieth’s 2014-2015 season, the line formed between Spieth’s leading left arm and the back of his left hand formed more of an angle than they do in the right picture, taken from his 2018-19 season. It’s why you could also see more of the logo on his glove back then then you can now. Those are both indicators that his left hand is rotated more to towards the target nowadays than it used to be.
(Remember: The stronger the grip, the more closed the clubface is going to be, and the more knuckles you’ll see on your lead hand. A weaker grip means the clubface will be more open, and you’ll see fewer knuckles on your lead hand at address)
Also notice how the “V” formed between his thumb and index finger on his trail hand is pointing more up his trail arm. In the right picture, taken from his 2018-19 season, that same “V” is pointing more towards the side of his chest. It seems his right hand has also rotated more towards the target into a weaker position in recent years.
That, in a nutshell, and in Jordan’s own words, is one of the tweaks Jordan has made to his game recently. He said it’ll take a few weeks to bed-in (something golfers at any level who have made a grip change can attest to), but in week two of his newly strengthened grip he’s already hit a significant breakthrough: Spieth finished first in SG: Approach and first in SG: Tee-to-Green at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. It was the first time since the 2018 Houston Open that he managed that feat.
Yes it’s a small sample size, of course, but it’s an encouraging one nonetheless. We’re all rooting for Jordan Spieth to get back to his best. It may have been a small step, but hopefully a first step towards better days ahead.
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