Upside Down

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Frank,

I was watching the Transitions Champioship last weekend and listened to the announcers talking about Jim Furyk’s putter grip. He has a regular grip turned upside down on his putter and I was concerned about whether this was within the guidelines of the rules and wanted your opinion about the advantages of doing this on my putter.


Brent,
Tennessee  

Brent,

First, I can tell you that the rules do not prohibit a grip from being placed on the putter or any other club upside down. The grip rule states in part, that the grip consists of  material added to the shaft to enable the player to obtain a firm hold and must not be molded for any part of the hands.  A bulge or waist in a grip is considered molded for the hands and is thus not permitted. There are certain exceptions for putter grips regarding flat sides etc. but all grips may have a taper, and most grips do but they usually taper with the larger diameter at the butt end of the shaft.

I do recall some innovators submitting grips with what we call a reverse taper. These were designed for irons and woods with the theory being that the semi-clasped hand has a smaller opening under the pinky than between the index finger and the thumb and that the grip should be designed to accommodate this natural phenomenon.

This reverse taper grip concept was submitted to me on several occasions during my tenure at the USGA but never took off as something that changed the game or significantly improved performance. Infact, it became a little more difficult to hold onto the club during a full swing and slippery conditions because of the reverse taper and lack of an end knob – like we find on a baseball bat – which would have rendered the grip non conforming because this would be considered to have a waist and thus molded for the hands.

Brent, because the putter does not require a firm grip there is no particular disadvantage to taking a regular tapered grip designed for irons or woods and mounting it on the putter upside down. Just make sure the grip extends to the end of the shaft – another requirement in the rules. This reverse taper seems to work for Jim Furyk with his left hand low grip but this doesn’t mean it will help you.

I suggest that you stick with a regular pistol grip --  the most popular on tour and the one we use on our Frankly Frog putters .

Thanks again for the kind comments and your support.
Frank 

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 letsbefrank@franklygolf.com