Putting Grip Showdown: Which is Best for Your Game?
Is your putting grip helping or hurting your game?
Mastering your performance on the greens is essential to shooting lower scores every round. And if history has shown us anything it’s that there is no one way to putt.
Jack Nicklaus putted quite differently from Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, or Phil Mickelson. Each has a slightly different grip, posture, tempo, and stroke. But clearly, it’s worked for all these players.
So what’s the lesson here? Play a grip and overall putting style that is right for you. Today we’ll review the most common grips and provide more insights to becoming a more consistent putter.
Putting Grip Styles
The biggest goal for putting is to feel comfortable over the ball. I love how Tiger described the art of putting in his book, How I Play Golf.
“The main thing in putting, whether it ‘s with your grip, posture, stance or ball position, is to be comfortable.” Later saying, “So the biggest priority in gripping the club is to establish a feeling of sensitivity, comfort, and relaxation.”
Needless to say, if Tiger thinks the grip is important then we’ll listen to the 15-time major champion. For this article we’ll discuss each grip from a right-hander perspective since most golfers are right-handed players.
Let’s get into the main grip styles plus the pros and cons of each.
Traditional – Reverse Overlap Putting Grip
The first grip to discuss is the most common – known as a conventional, reverse overlap, or traditional putting grip. This is the most similar to how you likely grip the club for full swing shots.
A traditional grip method has worked for some of the greatest players ever including Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and countless others. It’s also the most commonly used method on the PGA Tour.
With a conventional grip the back of the right hand is parallel to the left hand. The goal is to place both hands on the grip so they’re square to the target and working together for a smooth stroke. Both thumbs extend down the grip and provide extra feedback during the stroke.
The left hand faces the target and is in a weak position – this helps minimize excess wrist movement in the stroke. No hand is overly dominant with this stroke which makes it very repeatable and consistent.
There are variations to a traditional grip style like Brooks Koepka for example. He extends his right pointer finger down the shaft instead of overlapped around his left hand. This helps him feel more stability throughout the stroke, so don’t be afraid to try different methods.
- Familiarity – this grip is very similar to a traditional full swing grip which makes it easier to feel comfortable over the ball.
- Consistent – this grip makes it easy to rock the shoulders back and forth for more consistency with any length putt.
- Works great for short or long putts and fast or slow greens. As you’ll see below some putting grip styles don’t work as well on certain length putts or certain green speeds.
- Some golfers with wrist or joint issues don’t think it’s the most comfortable style.
- Both hands play an active role in the stroke. This can make it more challenging to fix any face issues as it might be a left or right-hand issue.
- Not the most versatile grip as it may not work for players with smaller or larger hands.
Cross-Hand Putting Grip (Left-hand Low)
The second type of putting grip is known as cross handed or left-hand low – this is the exact opposite of a traditional grip and second most used style on the PGA Tour.
With a conventional style your right hand is the lower hand on the grip but with cross handed, your left hand is lower. This gives your left hand all the dominance in the putting stroke and feels quite different for most players.
Jack Nicklaus has even been quoted as saying if he had to teach a putting grip style, he’d recommend cross hand. Which is a big revelation of the 18-time major champion as he used a traditional putting grip in his amazing career. Other players that use this stroke include Jordan Speith (one of the best putters of his generation), Billy Horschel, Kevin Chappell, and others.
If you’re struggling with short putts and/or too much wrist action, experiment with this on the putting green. The good news is that you don’t need to change putters and/or grips, just where your hands are placed on the club.
- Improved alignment makes it easier to get the ball started on the proper line.
- Stability through the stroke thanks to less wrist action. This means the face won’t rotate as much which should help you make more putts.
- Very effective for short putts. Since the face doesn’t move much it’s easier to make more putts from short range which can do wonders for your confidence.
- Less feel can cause distance control issues on mid to long range putts.
- Not easy to switch. Switching grips can feel very difficult, especially if you’ve been playing golf for a long time.
Prayer Putting Grip
Whether you’re a religious person or not, the prayer grip might answer your plea to the Golf Gods to putt better. This grip style is quite different from the first two putting methods as each hand is level and facing each other. It looks very similar to someone praying, hence the name.
The prayer grip gets your shoulders square to create a simple putting setup. The thumbs are also touching which is a very different look and feel than the other grips mentioned in this article.
The only problem with this grip is that you likely will need to buy a bigger grip. Since both hands are on the grip you need more surface area to allow space for them. It’s recommended to use a grip made for the prayer style like Two Thumb Grip.
- Both hands are in a very neutral, stable position as each hand is facing each other.
- Levels the shoulders throughout the putting stroke. Since both hands are on the same placement of the grip one shoulder won’t get higher than the other. This should lead to a more consistent putting arc and better contact.
- Must re-grip your putter and fully commit to the grip.
- This method is unlike a normal full swing grip which can make the learning curve steep.
- Not the best on slow greens where you need to make a more aggressive putting stroke.
Claw Putting Grip
The claw grip (also known as the saw grip) is another grip style that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years and is the third most common on the PGA Tour. It’s quite different from the first three grip styles as the right hand is removed almost completely.
To try out the claw grip, place your left hand on the grip like a conventional style and place 1–3 fingers of your right hand around the grip. The right thumb will rest underneath the grip while the pointer, middle, and/or index finger rest on it. Or, you can choose to only put 1–2 fingers on the club and the remaining underneath the grip.
Another version of the claw grip is known as the pencil grip. The left hand is still dominant but the right hand is placed so the grip is between your thumb and forefinger. The pointer finger extends down the shaft while the rest of the fingers wrap underneath the grip.
This makes it easier to guide the putter with your left hand and eliminate excess wrist motion. It’s worked for players like Phil Mickelson (occasionally), Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, and many others. Here are some other benefits of this style as discussed in Golf Digest.
“If you’re a strong-grip player, and you haven’t been able to control the face, holding the putter with the “claw” style or cross-handed are great options. You’ll be able to keep your elbows closer to your body in a way that prevents your spine from tilting too much. When you’re more level, the club can swing more neutrally.”
- You don’t need to change grips so you can test it out with your current putter and grip.
- Nearly removes the right hand entirely which is great if you miss a lot of putts left from flipping your wrist.
- Amazing for fast greens. If you play on faster greens and just need to get the ball rolling I think it’s tough to beat the claw grip.
- Can take a while to adjust and there are multiple variations to grip the putter with your right hand.
- Challenging for slow greens as the overall power is reduced. Making a harder, more aggressive stroke isn’t the easiest.
- Tough to hit long putts hard enough. Since it’s pretty much just your left hand on the putter it isn’t always easy to dial in your distance control on longer putts.
Related: How to Lag Putts Closer
Arm Lock Grip
A few years ago the golf world got turned upside down when anchoring was banned. As the USGA noted, “The new entry —Rule 14-1b prohibits strokes made with the club or a hand gripping the club held directly against the player’s body or with a forearm held against the body to establish an anchor point that indirectly anchors the club.”
This made putting substantially harder for certain golfers overnight. But the newest alternative to players who preferred anchoring or belly putter is the arm lock grip. While this doesn’t give you an anchor it does give more stability in the stroke.
Not much changes with your actual hand position but more so the putters itself. Most putters are 32–36 inches but these putter lengths are between 38–42 inches. This allows the club to rest against your left forearm for a more pendulum motion – Bryson DeChambeau is a great example.
- Great for all types of greens and different lengths of putts.
- Stability above all else. While it’s not anchoring it is resting on your lead forearm which makes it easier to feel a more consistent stroke.
- Less wrist movement. If you struggle with getting too “wristy” in your stroke this style will fix it quickly.
- Steep learning curve. It’s quite a different feeling in your stroke which means a lot more practice is needed to get comfortable with this method.
- You will need a new putter and new grip which can get expensive. Plus, there isn’t a huge selection of these types of putters either..
- There is a growing call to ban arm lock putting by professionals as it has similarities to anchoring.
Bonus Tip: Don’t Forget About Grip Pressure
While finding a grip that gives you confidence is key, don’t forget about your grip pressure either. Some instructors argue that the proper grip pressure is one of the most important parts of rolling the rock consistently well.
Tiger Wood summed up the importance of grip pressure perfectly in his book, How I Play Golf. “I’d say that on a scale of 1 to 10, my grip pressure is about a 5. That may be tighter than Ben holds his putter, but it’s pretty light for me and I do have an increased sense of feel.”
Having a 5 out of 10 grip pressure will ensure you don’t have excess tension in your body which leads to a more free flowing stroke. Too many amateur golfers squeeze the club to death and their putting suffers as a result.
As Tiger elaborated, “If you’re having trouble on lag putts, or if your speed isn’t right on shorter, breaking putts, or if you feel you’re manipulating the putter, check your grip pressure. No doubt about it, light is right.”
Top Questions About Putting
Want to learn even more about putting and getting the fundamentals dialed in? Keep scrolling for our top questions and answers now.
What is the correct grip for putting?
There is no “right way” to grip the putter – it’s whatever style gives you the most confidence on the greens. All the great putters over the years use different grips, types of putters, posture, and even stroke patterns. Yet, they’re all still great at the most important thing – getting the ball in the hole.
What is Tiger Woods putting grip?
Tiger Woods has one of the most textbook putting grips ever. For his illustrious career he’s pretty much used the same trusted Scotty Cameron putter, the same traditional grip style, and even the same Ping putting grip.
The old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” couldn’t be more true in this situation. Regardless of what happens the rest of his career, Tiger will go down as one of the greatest putters of all time. He’s made more clutch putts than an entire generation of PGA Tour players and his flat stick helped him win so many different events.
If you need to emulate someone for putting, it’s hard to not recommend Tiger’s style.
How often should I regrip my putter?
Your putter doesn’t need to get regripped as often as the rest of your clubs.
The reason is that you shouldn’t have a “death grip” on your putter and it’s not used with speed swings. This should allow you to replace your grip much less often as it won’t break down as fast.
But sometimes if you’re in a putting slump, switching grip can help you out.
Who makes the best putting grips?
SuperStroke Golf has dominated the golf grip market for putters as they have tons of different styles, sizes, and colors. I’ve used them for years and have nothing but good things to say about them.
Should you rock shoulders when putting?
Yes, you want to rock – not rotate your shoulders.
As Golf.com mentioned in this article, “If you want to become a better putter in a hurry, it’s imperative to develop a stroke that’s both easily repeatable and free of unnecessary body twisting and rolling from side to side.
The best (and fastest) way to do that is to drive your putting stroke not with your arms and hands, but with your shoulders moving up and down as you swing the putter back and through on the correct path.”
Your shoulders play a key role in maintaining a consistent putting stroke and getting the ball started on the right line.
Are fat grips better for putting?
Fat grips (also known as mid, oversized, or jumbo grips) have their benefits for sure. They make it easier to remove excess wrist motion from the stroke and putt more consistently. I’d argue this might be the best putting grip for seniors who might suffer from the occasional yips.
But they have disadvantages too; specifically, a big putter grip makes it hard to feel the clubhead in your hands. Since it’s so big and heavy it can throw off the weight of your putter and adjust tempo.
Plus, switching to a large grip makes it harder to switch in the future. If you’re playing a normal size grip, switch to something slightly bigger (like a Super Stroke 2.0) vs. going all the way to a jumbo grip.
Can you interlock your fingers when putting?
While some golfers – like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy to name a few – interlock for the full swing, none of them do with putting. All of these golfers use a traditional grip style with fingers overlapped, not interlocked.
But as discussed throughout this article, there is no one way to putt. If you interlock and it’s working, keep it going.
Should I take my glove off when putting?
Yes, it’s recommended to take off your glove when putting. The overwhelming majority of professional and elite golfers remove their gloves on the greens. The main reason they do is that it provides enhanced feel – something you want as much of as possible when putting.
Can you put a normal grip on a putter?
Technically, yes you can put a normal golf grip on a putter. But why would you? It’s always recommended to use a standard putting grip on your flat stick.
Plus, putting grips come in different sizes and styles. Some golfers prefer larger grips while others prefer different shapes that help get their hands in the right position. Not to mention some grip styles like the arm lock actually require a different type of grip too.
What putting grip does Jordan Spieth use?
Jordan uses a left-hand low putting grip style and he’s become one of the top names in the putting world because of it. Interestingly enough, sometimes Jordan also looks at the hole, not the ball, when putting.
Putting is a simple but complex motion that can have a huge impact on your scores. Ben Hogan is famous for saying, “There is no similarity between golf and putting; they are two different games, one played in the air, and the other on the ground.”
He seemed to resent putting but it’s often credited with being the reasons he didn’t win more tournaments. The point is even the best ball strikers, like Hogan, can’t outperform someone who is consistent on the greens.
To become a clutch putter you need to first master your grip.
Find a style that is comfortable and works well for you – if you’re going through a slump, don’t be afraid to try out a different grip or putter too. Once you love your equipment, work on these things to putt more consistently:
- Maintain a consistent grip pressure throughout the stroke.
- Develop a consistent green reading routine and aiming process.
- Practice short putts (4–8 feet) the most as they are the “low-hanging fruit” of scoring lower.
- Create and stay loyal to a pre-shot putting routine. This will make it easier to stand over all putts (even under pressure) with more confidence.
Hopefully, these putting tips will help you find more confidence than you thought possible on the greens.
Which putting grip style do you prefer?
Let us know in the comments below.