Now it’s time to talk about how to hold the putter. Here, unlike in the full swing, a golfer can employ a multitude of putting grips. Again, putting is the most individualistic part of the game.
The only rule of thumb is that we want you to adopt the grip that complements your set-up, makes you feel comfortable, and, most importantly, allows you to consistently square the putter face at impact. When you find the grip that gets both hands working together as a unit and results in sinking the most putts – which in turn builds your confidence – give it a go.
Whatever grip you decide on, always go to the practice green and hit as many putts as you can, until the grip becomes second nature.
More than likely, the grip that suits you best will also take any tension out of your stroke. But always remember to maintain a nice, light grip pressure. This allows you to feel the weight of the putter head, and that translates into great feel, a solid strike on the ball, and good distance control.
This traditional style – which dates back to the early 20th century – is generally considered the conventional putting grip. In the reverse-overlap, both hands are parallel to each other. But unlike in the full swing grip – where the pinky finger of the right hand overlaps the left hand – here the left index finger sits straight down, lying over the top of the fingers on the right hand. Hence the name, reverse-overlap.
The other major variation on the full-swing grip is that the club should sit more in the palms of both hands, rather than the palms and fingers. This keep the putter head square to the hands and arms and discourages excessive wrist and hand action.
Keeping the left index finger on the outside of the right also makes it very easy to unite the hands into a single working unit. Even though it’s 100 years old, the reverse-overlap is still the most popular putting grip today.
Left-Hand-Low/ Cross-Handed Grip
For PGA Tour pros who once struggled with their putting, the cross-handed, or left-hand-below-right grip has been a lifesaver.
The cross-handed grip works by taking an overactive right hand out of the stroke, while emphasizing the left hand and forearm as a guiding force in the movement of the putter. The grip also encourages the shoulders to sit level at address and promotes the feeling of the putter swinging in true pendulum-like fashion down the target line, especially at impact.
One of the pros who uses this grip is Ricky Fowler, and he made the change just before his first PGA Tour event in 2012. However, Fowler likes to switch between the traditional reverse-overlap, which he uses for better feel on long puts, and the cross-handed grip for more stability on the short ones.
Here’s how it’s done: line the putter up with your right hand, then place your left hand below the right on the club. The linkage is provided by the left pinky finger, which sits on top of your right index finger.
If you get a little shaky under pressure – and thus have a tendency to let your dominant hand take over- give this grip a try. The reboot to your system will smooth out your stroke and get you holing more putts.
The Claw Grip
Popularized by players such as Mark Calcavecchia, Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson – the claw grip is another way of dealing with an overactive right hand on the putter. In this grip, the golfer uses a solid left-hand connection, keeping the club high in the palm, while the right hand and forearm are arranged with a more side-on orientation.
In other words, if you were looking at a golfer from a straight-on camera position, you would see the top part of his right hand, which doesn’t link with the left – and the fingers and thumb of that hand lightly pressed against the putter shaft.
Although this grip is certainly not for everyone, we do suggest you try this variation if you struggle with your putting especially in the short- to mid-length range. In our experience, we have found that both the cross-handed and claw grip were great options and often led to an improvement in your putting.