A Panel of Our Teachers Share Their Views

It seems, since golf began some 600 years ago, players have argued whether the straight back-straight through putting stroke, preferred today by putting expert Dave Pelz, is better than the inside-square-inside stroke recommended these days by another short game guru, Stan Utley. Well, surely these arguments will go on for a long time, yet one thing will stay the same: most USGTF and WGTF members believe the Pelz type stroke works better on short putts while the Utley-type stroke rolls the ball more purely on long putts. Something else that’s been getting a lot of attention lately is the putting grip, probably because there is such a wide range of grips, including the highly unorthodox claw popularized by PGA Tour pro Chris DiMarco, unique cross-hand hold employed by former US Open winner Jim Furyk, and the unconventional split-hand type grip used by LPGA player Natalie Gulbis. Before things get out of hand, Golf Teaching Pro editors thought we better check in with our members and ask them this question: what do you think is the best putting grip to recommend to average golfers, and why? What follows are the answers to this question that you might find fun to compare to your own. Bill Picca: I prefer the reverse overlap grip simply because it is the putting hold that has proven to be the most popular historically among winners of regular PGA tournaments and major championships. Let me make it clear that this is not the opposite grip to the standard Vardon overlap. My grip of choice is the grip called the reverse overlap grip, even though for a right-handed golfer it entails draping the forefinger of the left hand over the fingers of the right. I prefer this grip myself and recommend amateurs try it before any other grip. The reason is it keeps the hands out of the stroke and promotes a coordinated and rhythmic arms and shoulders action. In essence, then, this grip encourages the player to control the movement of the putter with the big muscles rather than the small ones, thereby virtually guaranteeing an on-line stroke rather than an off-line stroke. Yvon Legault: I know I am a minority, believing that the interlock grip is best for putting, so let me explain my thinking. When hitting drives and other standard tee-to-green shots, more and more PGA Tour professionals are following the example set by Tiger Woods, who prefers the interlock grip, as did Jack Nicklaus before him. When putting, slowly but surely, more and more top professionals are switching from the reverse overlap putting grip to a less conventional hold. A few years ago, several top pros started changing to a left-hand-low or cross-handed grip. A couple of years ago, the claw grip started to catch on and now a number of pros are using it. I predict the interlock will be the most popular grip of the future. I say that, knowing that it unifies the hands, but, unlike the overlap grip, it does not take them out of the stroke so much that you lose feel. The interlock grip promotes a very slight hinge in the wrists, too, and that freedom of motion is enough to enhance feel. In turn, your club direction is enhanced, and so is your distance control. A golfer cannot ask for anything more. Most of all, though, to quote essentially what I say in my bestselling book, Become A Putting Machine, which is likely to be published in America after enjoying success in France, Canada, Switzerland, and Belgium particularly: “The goal in putting is to robotize the stroke, make it automatic, and the interlock grip does this because it CONNECTS the hands.” Dave Shaver: Since ModelGolf innovator Ralph Mann bases his instruction on pro models, I believe the average golfer will do himself or herself the most good by adopting the grip of choice by male and female tour pros: the reverse overlap grip, with the left forefinger extended down and over the fingers of the right hand. This leading choice of grip by the world’s best golfers enhances shoulder action and quiets the hands, making for a very repetitive, consistent stroke. John Andrisani: I think weekend golfers should copy Natalie Gulbis and create a six-inch to twelve-inch gap (whichever feels most comfortable) between the hands when holding the putter. In testing out this grip, I determined that it automatically allows the left hand to lead the putter back and through and the right hand to follow and provide the power in the impact zone. In short, the left hand is the guide hand, the right hand the power hand. Because the right hand is not hindered in any way by the left hand, namely, because the hands are separated from one another, the player finds it easier to determine how much oomph he or she should put behind the stroke with the right hand to hit the ball a specific distance. I think more golfers would be trying this grip if a male tour player were using it. In the past, pro Hubert Green putted well using a similar hold. Hubert won many times on tour, yet golfers forget he did this using an unorthodox grip. I suppose that’s because he missed a short putt to tie Gary Player in 1978 Masters. John Wilde: I am not a teacher who believes in one set methodology. However, that does not in any way mean that I allow a student to choose some kind of wild-looking putting grip that, though comfortable, really will never offer him consistency in terms of distance and direction control. To repeat something I say in my book, The Old Man’s Practice Guide, “Putting is very individualized, but there are principles that you need to master. “The preferred grip is the reverse overlap, where the left forefinger overlaps the right pinky, but the crosshanded grip with the left hand low is an alternative.” One more thing I do stress is this: whichever of these two grips you choose to putt with, I like the student to position the putter’s handle a little higher on the left heel pad, and, ideally, use a putter with a reminder grip which positions the hands in a “weaker” grip position. Both of these keys give you an added sense of security in the hands when holding the club, thereby enabling you to make a pure pendulum-like stroke that rolls the ball smoothly across the green.
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