Wednesday, May 2, 2012


The other day I was thinking what if the MONGOOSE GOLF SWING grip technique were the conventional gripping technique?  What if everyone in the world was gripping their clubs with my separated hands technique?  Would I have the slightest chance of converting them back to the Vardon? Never!  I would be tagged a lunatic.  Well - back to reality.  My gripping technique is not being used by everyone in the world.  

With any grip where the fingers are touching or overlapping - the hands and fingers get weaker.  Right-handers are taught to squeeze tighter with the little finger and ring finger of their left hand - and tighter with the forefinger and thumb of the right hand.  Essentially a 4-finger grip - which explains why the big hitters grip comes unhinged on any given drive or when they’re trying to muscle a shot.  
When you separate your hands - you have a 10-finger grip (if we’re allowed to call the thumb a finger).  And rather than having to squeeze tighter with a couple of fingers - I recommend a very light gripping action.  Like someone learning to fence - you might hear this - “Think of holding a bird.  Hold it tight enough so it won’t fly away.  And not so tight you kill it.”
My grandfather lost two fingers to industrial accidents.  He was a machinist using primitive take-no-prisoners equipment as early as 1904.  He always said that when he lost his fingers - he could no longer feel himself moving around in the world.  I never got it.  Never knew what he was trying to teach me.  Years later --- I was walking down a winding road in Oregon and it hit me.  He spoke like a blind man who feels his way through the world.  Seems that even though we can see with our literal eyes - we do far more feeling our way through life with our fingers and hands than we realize. And only when we lose a finger or two do we become aware of how important they are to our existence. 

Every artist - makes art with his or her fingers and hands.  Wonderful things that they are.  Hands and fingers built the world.  Years ago I had the opportunity to talk at length with a neurosurgeon about the brain and the nerves - etc.  He said something that just floored me.  “Our whole body - every square inch of it - is our brain.  The 3-pound mass located in our skull is simply the nucleus.  The operating system as it were.  We get a tiny splinter in a tiny toe and it becomes the dominate thing in our life until we fix it” (or words to that effect).

I learned from him that when our hands touch - even for a split second - the brain tries to figure out what’s going on.  What are we trying to accomplish.  Are trying to clap?  Are we dusting something off?  Are we feeling an area of our hand that’s sore?  What?  The brain is fairly slow to react to these situations because it really doesn’t quite know what we’re up to.  
Seems that a cluster of nerves called the corpus callusum - located between the two hemispheres - acts as a coordinator between the two hemispheres.  "It facilitates inter-hemisphere communication.  It has something like 250-million contralateral axonal projections.”  A lot of “wiring” as it were to help the brain (meaning our whole body) coordinate our arms and hands and fingers - among many other things.  I learned about certain syndromes that affect the hands and fingers.    
Allen hand syndrome is a neurological disorder in which the person's hand appears to take on a mind of its own.  A person suffering from it sees its hands go out and touch this or that.  Or grab hold of something.  And they have no sense of initiating such a thing.  This strange syndrome appears when a person has had the two hemispheres of their brain surgically separated.  The corpus callusum and its inter-hemisphere communication job has been severed.  What happens is a person's hand movements of the upper limb and inter-manual parts begin to conflict.  Seems our hands are meant to operate separately but cooperatively.  When our hands are not touching and trying to accomplish something - they work much better.
MS is an inflammatory disease in which the fatty myein sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged.  MS affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other effectively.  So we learn many things from these illnesses about the hands and fingers and how easy it is to break down the necessary communication between nerves that influence how our hands and fingers actually work.
My point is this: if we touch our thumb to our forefinger - the appositional thumb peculiar to humans - we can feel the sensation because the nerves are "talking" to each other.  Now - grip any club with the conventional Vardon grip or the overlapping finger grip - and note something strange happens.  The central fingers go blank.  The middle finger and ring finger on both hands lose a great deal of feeling.  So when we need to have feel in all fingers to execute a shot - we don't have it.  It's missing because a couple of our fingers are touching one another and our brain doesn't quite know what we want it to do during the swing.  Again - the brain reacts slower when our hands or fingers are touching.  
I know this is one of the reasons golfers tend to slice the ball.  They simply can't feel what's going on with their hands.  Can’t get the right hand around far enough to close the club face and prevent the slicing effect.   
By separating them - so they don’t touch - the corpus callusum makes them cooperate better with one another.  Go on YouTube and watch any juggler.  Watch the adjustments they make with BOTH hands during their performance.  In many cases they have to move a hand several inches to catch a ball or the object being juggled that wasn’t thrown quite right.  They move way over here - several more inches with the other hand to compensate for the hand that had to do something similar.  But the performance goes on.  Amazing to watch this in slow motion.  The need for both hands to be free to make significant adjustments is not just part of juggling - but also to hit more golf shots well more often.
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