MyGolfSpy Labs: Conventional vs. Claw vs. Crosshand

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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.

grip-style-2

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.

3-grip-styles

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.

grip-style-1

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

About MyGolfSpy

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Comments

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Wayne Kivi September 24, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Having dealt with the bad case of the yips which creeped into all of my shortgame. After trying everything out there, I finally tried the claw and it immediately helped my putting to become at least respectable and avoid the dreaded 4 putt greens. I’m still working on getting my short game back, especially in greenside bunkers.

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Brian Lawrence September 23, 2016 at 7:03 pm

Just switched to crosshand and found it far more accurate

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Jack king September 22, 2016 at 7:20 am

I have been playing for about 60 years and putting was always a strong part of my game. Then a little over 3 years ago I started yipping every putt, long and short. I went through the claw, pencil, separated hands, broom, belly, left hand low and even left handed. I even had Botox injections in the muscles in my right arm that didn’t help. Then I put a 6 inch extention in a putter and started putting face forward or side saddle. My putting touch has returned. Golf is fun again. Dave Pelz has contended for a long time that side saddle is the best way to putt. Give it a try.

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ButchT September 21, 2016 at 6:28 pm

There is a style of putting that can accurately be called “cross handed,” but it is not the same as “left hand low.” I wish you (and the golf Channel) would not continue to perpetuate this nonsense.

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steve s September 21, 2016 at 9:19 pm

Enlighten us.

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Rick September 21, 2016 at 9:08 am

Interesting data. Fundamentals like alignment , ball position , quiet head and eyes etc. are all mandatory . But putting is nothing more than being comfortable and relaxed over the ball.

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baudi September 21, 2016 at 6:17 am

…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…
Grip is a fundamental. A neat change in the size/shape of the grip itself can/will lead to better results.
Probably much sooner and more visible than adapting to a different holding technique.

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Walt Pendleton September 21, 2016 at 2:04 am

I like what GolfSpy said, “Alignment, ball position & stroke.” My testing has shown player always aims with 50% less brake than they need, the ball position is too far forward by 2″ to 5″ and the cadence of the stroke is too slow doing back and too fast coming through. However, with monitored practice Nside10 feet, you can be taught to putt well…not great! Great putting takes a young strong back, an eye for subtle topography changes and a gift from the Gods called extreme talent! For most of us that means…buy a new driver and have some fun!

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Micky D September 20, 2016 at 9:44 pm

I have never had to tinker with my grip only my stance which worked fine . This is over Forty tears of golf , mind you I have tried sevaral putters
But still use the trusty Oddessey # 5.

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Brad Taylor September 21, 2016 at 1:40 am

I have probably the most untraditional-traditional grip ever lol

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Rand Feura September 20, 2016 at 9:36 pm

Interesting, but predictable. Can ANY golfer change their grip and quantify the results in so short a period of time? Putting is the only part of my game I don’t fret about. I use a vardon overlap with the club nestled in my palms for putting, but place it in my fingers for the other clubs. Due to a persistent fade or slice–and occasional nuclear banana–I switched to an interlocking grip at the range a few days ago. Had to try something a little radical. I immediately had better control of the club face and was adding as much as 10 yards to the 5-7 irons with more consistent accuracy. Didn’t try the driver but there’s good reason to expect similar results on the course over my next few rounds.

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RAT September 20, 2016 at 8:59 pm

Has there been a test on how glasses or lack there of effects putting or just on golf play in general? Vision is very important in any aiming! Which eye is dominant ? Vision test 20/20 ? 20/50 / 20/15? I have poor vision in my left eye and I must turn my head more to site the target and alignment of the club. I think this can effect playing (putting ) a great deal!

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Greg Kuhnlein September 21, 2016 at 12:32 am

I have the worst putting swing ever seen but it works for me

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Pointer September 20, 2016 at 3:10 pm

I look at the results from a perspective of “Inside 15′, accuracy is the most important. Outside 20′ distance is more critical.”

Suddenly the idea of using one grip for the “inside” and another for “outside” seems more than plausible.

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Jon Hardy September 20, 2016 at 6:47 pm

The claww is the GOATTT

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Mark Blankenship September 20, 2016 at 2:27 pm

I use a “praying” grip. My hands are even with each other, right hand wrapped around left. Anyone that has an oversized grip ought to at least try it. I use a SuperStroke 3.0 long grip, and grip down on it. Works great.

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Justin September 20, 2016 at 1:10 pm

While interesting, the outcome was completely predictable. The only thing that should be taken from this is that it appears that you can adjust more quickly to a cross handed putting grip vs the claw. I would like another longer study to be done where golfers get to practice every day for a week with each style before testing begins.

Also, cross handed putting almost forces you to forward press the putter a bit, which leads to more consistent roll from longer distances. If you had the conventional testers add a little more forward press to their grip I’d bet the results would be much more similar to cross handed. I will say that if you know how to CORRECTLY grip a putter cross handed, it allows you to make a more repeatable stroke vs conventional. However, some people feel like they lose a bit of feel because it’s a weaker grip.

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Mbwa Kali Sana September 20, 2016 at 12:54 pm

After numerous tests ,I adopted a variant of GEOFF MANGUM ‘s”pistolero grip”.In this grip four fingers of the right hand overlap four fingers of the left hand .It provides the advantages of the ‘”left hand low ” grip (Which you wrongly call the “cross hand grip “) and the “feeling ” of the right hand fingers .
I”m a very good putter (24/28 puts per round ) and an excellent chipper with the same grip ,but of course I train every day I don’t play on the course ,18 holes each time;3 times a week .
Putting schedule :20 puts from each distance 4,6,8 ,12,16,20 =120 puts
Chipping Schedule :40 puts from 12,16,20 ,24 feet =120 chips
The good performance derives from my training ,not from my grip .
Also I train with a metronome to keep a smooth tempo .

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Marcelo September 20, 2016 at 12:44 pm

I switched to the “Cross Hand” midway through the season and have made a considerable change in my putts per round from 1.8 to 1.3. It would be interesting to see my stats in a year! The good thing is that it didn’t take me long to get acclimated to the change, hours of practice and a couple of rounds.

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John Muir September 20, 2016 at 12:39 pm

I get similar results switching to crosshand. Much better control and contact with longer putts, sort of a nightmare with shorter putts so I switch back to conventional for shorter putts.

John

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Marco A September 20, 2016 at 12:31 pm

I think it would have been interesting to also get golfers who use cross-hand and claw as the putting stroke and have put the practice using those strokes. Do the test with them and see how the number play out when they switch to the other methods of gripping the putter.

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2clubs September 20, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Putter? How about using the driver inside the green? Give it a try!

http://www.instagram.com/2clubs

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JayB September 20, 2016 at 12:15 pm

An interesting variant would be to take devotees of each style, baseline their performance. and then switch them to a new style. Revisit the performance after several weeks of practice to identify did a style change have an impact, and if so which style from/ to had the biggest changes.

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Mike Barnett September 20, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Good study but perhaps it might make it less of a sudden change for some if the group had players that use left hand low and the claw regularly as well as the conventional grip. I use left hand low but it took a whole off season to make it comfortable on even more so on long putts. Which is contrary to the study.

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Jason Humes September 20, 2016 at 11:58 am

This stood out to me… “Although testers reported feeling uncomfortable with the cross-handed grip, they also felt it offered superior distance control.”

Makes me wonder if, with loads of practice to get comfortable, the cross-handed grip might yield the best results. Wonder how much practice would be required?

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Brett Williamson September 21, 2016 at 1:15 am

Hey Jason,

I was suffering from the yips and went cross-handed but was amazing at the increased accuracy I had with longer putts. A new mental routine of counting on shorter putts, a much better feeling of longer putts starting on my intended line and then putting a Ping Ketsch into play made a great difference.

My experience on the transition was that it became routine and comfortable VERY quickly. On VERY long putts I will sometimes use a conventional grip only because it gives a bit more freedom for the strike.

I regularly do the Dotty Pepper 3, 5, 7 feet drill ie 3 balls at each distance and keep going until you make all 9 in a row. I did this 8 times continuously with a cross-hand grip: 72 putts in a row! I never got close to this with a conventional grip (and this result was prior to buying the Ketsch).

Give it a try for an hour or so … it was a great eye-opener for me.

Cheers,
b

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Michael September 20, 2016 at 11:43 am

The test should be done with golfers who believe they are having problems with their existing style… and then switch them to a different style… then measure the results.
It took me 3 mos to get used to the claw…

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Kenny B September 20, 2016 at 11:42 am

ANY change from your normal grip is going to feel uncomfortable, and if it’s uncomfortable then it’s difficult to make the change permanent. It’s a commitment, and you have to stick with it. I spent two months getting comfortable looking at the hole while putting. Short putts were easier, but it was difficult to trust it on long putts. Eventually the anxiety went away. What I find unusual is that the cross-hand grip is better at distance control from 20 feet. When I tried it, I couldn’t get the ball to the hole.

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Mark cahill September 20, 2016 at 11:38 am

I went to the claw with a split hand about a month ago. Took a few days to get comfortable with it. I am putting the best I have ever putted. Wished I had done it years ago. But the point of my post is that it takes a little time to get comfortable and proficient with the claw so you have to keep that in mind with your short term test.

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pooch September 20, 2016 at 11:37 am

Its called PRACTICE.

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Pointer September 20, 2016 at 2:58 pm

PRACTICE? That is an over simplification.

Thanks to this article, I know how to get the most out if my practice without learning bad habits and wasting my time.

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Rob Samson September 20, 2016 at 11:37 am

The reason why the claw is uncomfortable for most is because your right should lowers down quite a bit. As well with left hand low, the left shoulder lowers and often tilts your head toward the target. In my own trial and error I’ve found that you’d need to add about 1-2 inches to the putter shaft to combat the awkward/uncomfortable feeling. Left hand low and The Claw dramatically change your posture if you are used to putting conventionally. I wouldn’t recommend using these 2 methods with a 33-34 inch putter.

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SethO September 20, 2016 at 11:36 am

An interesting concept, but asking anybody to do anything they are not used to would obviously yield worse results. Back when anchored putters were legal, it was said that 1,000 putts were needed to be able to get used to the anchored putter. It is an interesting test, but the only thing I really got out of it is that switching grips won’t immediately fix my putter, only practice will do that.

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Jari Hakonen September 20, 2016 at 3:36 pm

As an ex-hockey player I even started swinging 7iron crosshanded until my pro asked what’s wrong with me. I changed that but it always stayed with the putter.

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Gary September 20, 2016 at 11:31 am

I have a suggestion for MyGolfSpy to test golfers for most helpful putting idea or technique. Install a 60 gram or 80 gram counterweight inside the shaft at the top of the putter grip.

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JunkerJorge September 20, 2016 at 11:28 am

Would be interesting to have an article outlining procedure to test/calculate SG18 for an individual to test grips, putters, etc. These kinds of articles are helpful for a jumping off point but each person is different.

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Michael Woods September 20, 2016 at 3:20 pm

“The Claw” just sounds bad to the bone

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