Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone went around and interviewed all the legends in a particular area for their tips to success? That’s exactly what Jack Zanger did back in the early 1960’s – ol’ Jack spent six months traveling around the country “talking shop” with the most successful golfers of the day, his interviews became a series of articles and later a book on the physical preparation side of golf.

Interestingly, many of the interviewees seemed to have one key element in common…

Here’s a look:

…The average golfer’s problems center around his hands; they simply are not strong enough to hit a golf ball consistently well.  The Golf grip is the key to good golf — so why not keep your hands in shape? Several years ago an eye infection forced me to remain indoors and off the tour for six weeks. I wanted to keep my hands in condition. To keep them from losing strength, I did a series of hand exercises every other day. Six weeks later I rejoined the Tour and, much to my amazement, resumed the routine of 18 holes and two hours practice a day without any difficulty at all…”

Jay Hebert

1954 Long Island Open
1957 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am Golf Championship
1957 Texas Open Invitational
1958 Lafayette Open Invitational
1959 Orange County Open Invitational
1960 PGA Championship
1961 Houston Classic
1961 American Golf Classic


“[For golfing success] I have always been a strong believer in two things: good balance and strong hands.  I can’t tell you anything about developing good balance but I can tell you about hands.  You have to have strong hands for more than driving the ball.  How about when you’re stuck in a thick rough? It’s got the be the hands–strong hands–that guide the club through the weeds and pop that ball out there.”

Jimmy Thompson

1936 Richmond Open
1938 Los Angeles Open


“While I think strong legs are most important to a tournament golfer, I believe the average weekend player should concentrate on building up his hands and making them as strong as possible…With strong hands, you can overcome most other deficiencies in your game.  I have proven this with with some of my women pupils.  Some of the ladies as my club have lower handicaps than man because they worked at strengthening their hands–as a result, they can hit the ball better.”

Tom Nieporte

1951 NCAA Golf Championship
1959 Rubber City Open Invitational
1960 Azalea Open
1967 Bob Hope Desert Classic


…And what is the very best way to build stronger hands? That would be with hand grippers (which were unsurprisingly recommended highly by these individuals and many other famous golfers besides.)

Of course, the grippers that were to be found back in their day were, for the most part, the sporting goods store variety that you could probably close for three hundred reps without breaking a sweat. I have little doubt that a more serious gripper – and the training to go with it – would have been very welcome to these folks. One other thing that I think should be pointed out is that what we are dealing with here is a development of the “raw materials” so to speak.  You would not do a gripper workout and then go out and expect to shoot your best round. It doesn’t work that way.  The physical training should be done away from the course — then, once recovery and subsequent improvement occurs, you can hit the links with your new and improved hand strength.

Seeing how most people don’t golf but once a week anyway, it works out just about perfectly here, or this time of year with snow on the ground. In golf, as in all other physical activities, it is going to be specific practice which is most important to overall skill development.  Physical training simply allows you to practice that much more efficiently and frequently. And if you play for a paycheck, which the folks quoted above did, some grip training will undoubtedly make one heck of a difference in who comes out on top when knockin’ that little white ball around.

I would recommend getting started immediately, and you can do so, right here:

Train hard,
John Wood signature
John Wood