How do you grip your putter? Have you ever thought about using the claw, or putting cross-handed?

The majority of golfers putt with a conventional putting style. Most of us don't grip the putter much differently than you do any other club in the bag. Left-hand on the top, right-hand on the bottom. It's familiar, and most of the time it works.

From time to time, however, each of us must confront the urge to try something different. Has one of your buddies used the claw grip because he saw Phil doing it? Rory messed around with left-hand low; maybe you should too. When our putting stats go south, we may face the sudden temptation to try something different. All options are on the table, sometimes mid-round.

But is changing the way you grip your putter the best idea? Can a sudden change in your putting style yield immediate and positive improvement?

We went to the lab to find out.

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HOW WE TESTED

  • 10 golfers participated in this study.
  • All testers prefer to use a conventional grip.
  • With 3 different grips, testers putted 18 holes to completion.
  • 6 holes each were played with starting distances of 5, 10, and 20 feet.
  • Distance order was randomized for each tester.
  • Grip style order was randomized for each tester.
  • A total of 540 holes were putted to completion.
  • All testers putted with an Odyssey White Hot RX #1 Putter.
  • All testers used Bridgestone B330RX Golf Balls.
  • Testing took place at the MyGolfSpy Test Facility.

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THE DATA

The table below shows the total number of putts required to finish all holes with each of the three grip styles tested. In addition to the average number of putts required to complete each hole, the chart also provides our SG18 (Strokes Gained 18) calculation, which represents the number of strokes gained or lost with each style, relative to average, over 18 holes.

OBSERVATIONS:

  • From 5 and 10 feet, the testers using the conventional grip required considerably fewer strokes to finish the holes.
  • From 20 feet the testers finished with six fewer putts using cross-hand grip than claw grip.
  • Although testers reported feeling uncomfortable with the cross-handed grip, they also felt it offered superior distance control.
  • Transition to the claw grip proved the most difficult for our testers. Difficulty comfortably placing the right-hand was frequently cited as an issue.

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THE VERDICT

Not surprisingly our testers showed the best results with their preferred putting style.

While further study is required to validate claims of improved distance control when using cross-handed grip, our test results suggest little evidence that a quick change in putting style will yield improved results.

The preliminary data suggests that, without proper practice, you're unlikely to see any improvement, and putting performance may suffer.

When your putting goes south, rather than resorting to a sudden change in your grip style, we recommend focusing on fundamentals...alignment, ball position, and stroke.

As always, we suggest you run your own test, gather the data, and determine what works best for you