When I teach I do so abiding by many rules and principles that are required to produce a fundamental golf swing. However, when I can highlight a player’s preferences I do so. This is most commonly seen in grip instruction. In full swing lessons, I will educate beginners to grip the club using 3 different grip options, searching for feedback on which feels most comfortable and offers them the most control. These grips are an overlapping Vardon grip, inter-locking grip or the 10-finger grip. Over the years these grip options haven’t changed that much, yet the way players hold the putter has. In this month’s edition, I will explore many ways you can grip the putter to make you more successful and either correct a putting fault or produce more comfort and control.
My putting strategy is simple, if you’re not making putts, don’t be afraid to change your technique
Traditional – Reverse Overlap
Most players are used to this grip where a you take the conventional Vardon grip of the full swing and modified it so that your left forefinger rested on top of the fingers of your right hand.
This was the accepted standard and it was seldom questioned. Many top players today still use this grip, however as golf has become more advanced and with an unlimited opportunity to explore alternative methods, this might not be the right grip to use.
The problem that has surfaced over the years, is the Reverse-Overlap grip does little to prevent two common faults in the putting stroke. These problems are a breakdown of the left wrist, and an overactive right hand. There are many other grips to try if you experience these faults later in the article.
Breakdown of the Left Wrist
Golfers are taught to hold the angle of their left wrist through impact. If you allow your left wrist to flip, you destroy the true alignment of your putter face to the target.
A popular solution to a twitchy left wrist is to change the relationship of your hands and putt left hand low. Gary Player stated that if he had to learn golf again, he would use this Cross-Handed grip for putting.
Bernhard Langer (below) at one time resorted to bracing the putter shaft against the inside of his left forearm, securing it there with his right hand. This is a method still used by Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark.
Overpowering With the Right Hand
In the ideal putting stroke both hands work in unison. However, we are born with a preference for one hand over the other. For right-handed golfers, this means that their right hand is generally stronger than their left.
When you putt with the standard putting grip, you are also more likely to overpower your left hand with your right hand. This is because its position lower down on the shaft makes it more dominant in the stroke.
When your right hand takes over control, it closes your putter face prematurely. Your putts typically will be pulled left on your aim-line (target line). Some remedies for this is to use an untapered grip that is the same thickness throughout (Super Stroke or Golf Pride Tour Snsr). Furthermore, if the grip is large enough some golfer will place their hands next to each other to highlight the hands working together. If you explore this avenue make sure to think about the size of the grip and the placement of your hands.
We are now going to explore other grip options more popular today and explain how they are used:
Left Below Right (Crosshanded)
When standing naturally, every golfer has shoulders that are either open (left shoulder behind right), closed (right shoulder behind left) or square. Most golfers have open shoulders, and the putting setup that best accommodates this anatomical structure is one that features a cross-handed (left-hand-low) putting grip.
Some websites describe how your putting technique should be determined by your anatomical structure. There are a few ways to determine your anatomical structure. The best is to stand in any doorway with your toes set across the carpet seam. Look left, then right. If your left shoulder is farther behind the door jamb than your right, you have open shoulders. A second test is to get into your putting stance, allow your hands to hang naturally, then pull your arms together until your hands meet. If your right hand is outside your left, again you have open shoulders. To accommodate open shoulders in your setup, use a cross-handed putting grip. With the left hand below the right on the handle, your shoulders will automatically square themselves to the target line, resulting in a straighter putting stroke.
This style takes away both common faults that conventional grips encounter. With the left hand acting as a deterrent for the right hand to over power. This grip has become more popular today preventing some of the pitfalls of a conventional grip.
The claw is great for players who get into that knee-knocker zone and struggle to control the face of the putter
It takes the lower hand right out of the stroke. Because most people have played their whole lives with a conventional grip, they have better distance control and touch with the conventional grip. Switching back and forth is a great thing for anybody to try. If you hit more good putts, your confidence is going to go up, and it feeds off itself.
-Kevin Weeks, PGA. Cog Hill Golf & Country Club
Alternating grip styles is most commonly seen with Phil Mickelson. The rule with putting is to do whatever makes the ball find the hole in a manner that can be repeated consistently. There are no rules about sticking primarily to one grip type, like using only one style of shot in your long game. using the grip style that suits the putt might help you have more success.
The Claw grip also takes away two of the common faults seen in a conventional grip. It tends to lock the left wrist in place and controls the right hand from overpowering. The reason behind this is that the right hand is placed underneath the grip between the thumb and index finger. This puts the right hand more on the side of the grip acting in a pushing or bushing motion. With the right hand in this position it becomes very difficult to twist or turn the putter face producing a more robust and consistent stroke especially under pressure. There are different styles of claw and the placement of the right hand and of your fingers. Remember that there is no right or wrong way if it is comfortable and produces the desired stroke.
The Gator Clamp grip devised by a fellow MET Section PGA Professional Steve Scott of Paramount Country Club, NY. It holds many of the same characteristics as the Bernard Langer and Claw Grip. It will help any golfer because it combines the best parts of 4 of the greatest putters in the game.
First, grip the putter where the grip sits in the lifeline of the left palm (right-handed golfers) and the left wrist is arched as Steve Stricker preaches. This grip position (using a 36-38” putter) allows the shaft to run up the left forearm like Matt Kuchar; thus, producing a one piece solidified motion (use a putter with 5-7 degrees of loft as Kuchar does). Place the right hand in a less dominant position like Chris DiMarco with a pronated right hand. Finally, simply clamp it into place above the left wrist like Bernhard Langer used to do. All their styles have led him to this innovative method, Steve knows it will help you hole more putts!
Whichever grip you decide is right for you make sure you focus quality time practicing it. It might turn out that the way you originally gripped the club still works best but without exploring your options who knows how good your putting and ultimately score will be. For more help on putting contact me or your local PGA Professional.
Discover how Golf Pride putter grips can help compliment your grip. We stock all the latest models and install them while you wait. Grip sizing is also recommended to maximize comfort and control. For more visit www.golfpride.com or contact the pro shop (631) 751-0585.