My question relates to the way in which some good golfers hold their putter. I have the reverse overlap grip, which you suggested but I see Robert Allenby using a one-finger claw and Tim Clark, a type of claw grip on his long putter. Is there anything I need to know about other methods of holding my putter?
How you hold the putter is extremely important.
First, it is very important that grip pressure is very light and you have no tension in your hands or forearms: this will help promote a rhythmic swing.
Second, you must be at ease and comfortable with your grip. If you make significant changes, it may feel awkward for a while but if it works it will soon become comfortable.
One of the most popular methods of holding a putter is the reverse overlap where the left index finger – if you are right handed – overlaps the fingers of the right hand. This allow you to maintain a similar posture and shoulder tilt to the rest of your game. The only problem with this grip is that if you tense up, your hands will start fighting each other for dominance.
Another grip, which some golfers have, is the split grip – 10 fingered or baseball grip. This is not a bad grip if you make sure you are not holding it with the same grip pressure as you would hold a baseball bat. This only leads to over rotation and inconsistent putting results.
A third type of gripping method is the left-hand-low grip. This positions the hands as if you were gripping the putter to play a left handed stroke but hitting it with a right handed stroke. I believe that the left-hand-low grip is most effective when the left arm is straight and the grip is split even more than a baseball grip. This will help in reducing the dreaded wrist break and after a while start feeling very comfortable.
Now for the claw grip, which I consider it a band-aid grip. Robert Allenby has recently switched to this grip but I predict he will go back to a standard reverse overlap as soon as he has taught his hands not to fight each other. Robert’s grip is almost totally a one handed grip with the one-finger-right-hand-claw going along for the ride and not interfering with his otherwise good swing and dominant left hand.
As far as Tim Clark is concerned, the long putter reduces the degrees of freedom and the associated sources of error from five to two. The fact that he has the putter locked to his chest, reduces the importance of how he grips it as long is it is light and allows him to maintain his rhythm. He too needs to work hard at training his body to operate effectively having lost three degrees of freedom. This is somewhat like walking with your leg in a splint, which he seems to have almost perfected.
Chris, you have been successful with your grip so don’t change. Normally if you find it necessary to change from your tried and true grip, means that something else has gone wrong. If this happens, come in for a check up. To learn more about putting, click here for my free putting guide.
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email firstname.lastname@example.org