Putting Grip Styles – How to Grip a Putter

Written by Michael VanDerLaan 

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The way that you grip a putter can be the difference between making and missing putts. In this article we are going to discuss the various putting grip styles that are commonly used at every level, and why each one is useful.

When talking about putting, the goal is to activate the big muscles in the back and shoulders and minimize the use of the hands. I like to call this "locking in." Different players find that different grips help them to lock in, so it takes a little bit of trial and error to find the best option for you. 

Keep in mind while you read that there is no one best grip. Even more, you can make adjustments to each of these grip style to make it yours and make it work even better! The end goal is to increase control over both the starting line of your putts, and your speed. Let's talk about how to grip a putter. 

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Putting Grip Styles Explained

There are putting grip styles that tend to work better for golfers with all kinds of different physical attributes. Each one has its pros and cons, and will produce results for people with certain tendencies. 

It is important to keep an open mind when you are deciding which putting grip styles to experiment with. Some of them look strange. Some of them feel strange. The important thing is to make the ball go in the hole. Without further delay, let's jump into it. 

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Reverse Overlap Putting Grip Style

Reverse Overlap Putting Grip

The reverse overlap putting grip style is commonly viewed as the conventional way to grip a putter. It is the most commonly taught and the foundation for all of the other grips we will discuss. As you might imagine, the reverse overlap is similar to the overlap grip of the full swing. However, rather than resting your pinky finger on top of your lead hand, the index finger of the lead hand overlaps the pinky and ring fingers of the trail hand.

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Left Hand Position

How to grip a putter in the left hand

The left hand position when employing the reverse overlap grip is very simple, and will be very similar to most of the other grips we walk through. 

You want the back of your left hand to face toward the target. I like to think about it like there are eyes on the back of my hand, and I want them to be looking straight down the target line. With this in mind, run the grip of the putter through the lifeline of your left hand, and close your hand around the grip. Take a look at the image above to see how to position the putter in your left hand.

Keep in mind, the index finger on your left hand is going to overlap your right hand, so be prepared to fit the right hand under that left index finger. 

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Right Hand Position

The best way to maximize your control over the putter with the reverse overlap is to have the palm of the right hand face in the direct opposite direction of the left palm. A good way to visualize this is to press the palms of your hands together. With your hands pressed together, turn them each way and feel how they are working as a single unit. This is the goal in putting.

In order to correctly place your right hand on the golf club for this grip, start with your left hand in position and lift your index finger off of the putter. Since we started with the back of the left hand facing the target, the palm of the right hand should match up. 

Unlike the full swing grip, you actually want the grip of the club to rest more in the palm of your right hand as well. Wrap your hand around the grip and let the left index finger rest across the pinky and ring fingers of the right hand. Once you have done this, your reverse overlap grip is complete.

Pros 

1. The reverse overlap is simple. It is easy to learn and takes less time than other grips to become a good putter.

2. Because of the way the hands work together (remember that palms together drill?), it is easy to control the club face with the reverse overlap. 

3. About 70% of tour pros use some variation of the reverse overlap. That means there are plenty of great models out there to copy!

Cons

1. Active hands are a golfer's worst nightmare on the greens. The reverse overlap is not very effective at locking the hands into place if it is not practiced properly. 

2. Two words - grip pressure. It's easy to squeeze the club standing over a pressure putt. The reverse overlap grip will not provide much help if you are one of those golfers that squeezes.

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Left Hand Low Or Cross Handed Putting Grip Style

Cross Handed Putting Grip

The left hand low, or cross handed, putting grip style has gained popularity in recent years, partly due to the massive success Jordan Spieth has had using it.

Cross handed putting is basically exactly what it sounds like. It is essentially the same as the reverse overlap, except the trail hand will be at the top of the grip, with the lead hand closer to the shaft. There are a couple of very important details to consider when learning how to grip a putter cross handed, and we will go over them.

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Right Hand Position

If you have already learned about the reverse overlap, this one should be pretty straightforward. You might notice that the right hand rather than the left hand position is listed first here. That's intentional. Since the right hand is going to be holding the end of the club, it is easiest to create a cross handed grip starting with the right hand

Run the grip up the lifeline of your hand, so that the butt of the club rests on the heel of your palm. The palm should be facing down the target line. That's it, you're ready to position your left hand.

Left Hand Position

Just like in the reverse overlap, you want your palms facing in opposite directions, with the back of the left hand looking down the target line. The grip of the club should rest in the palm of your hand, with your pinky finger overlapping the gap between the index and middle fingers of the right hand. If it is more comfortable, you can also overlap your left ring finger over your right index finger. 

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Pros 

1. Shoulder alignment is a fundamental of putting that the left hand low grip will help you with. When you move your left hand below your right, your shoulders will also square up and level out. This makes it easier to make a solid, repeatable stroke.

2. Quiet hands mean less missed lines, and more control over speed on those mid range putts. Putting cross handed helps you to lock in and use the big muscles we have been targeting.

3. A side effect of having quieter hands and activating those big muscles is that you are more likely to hit your lines on those must make short putts. Even if your grip pressure gets a little tight, you'll be locked in and less likely to open or close the club face through impact.

Cons

1. The way the body alignment changes when you move your left hand low can be uncomfortable. Golfers are so used to the traditional orientation of the hands on the grip that it can take some time to become comfortable putting cross handed.

2. No grip is a magical fix-all for any putting stroke. The left hand low style is not an exception. With the left hand dominating the stroke, it can be easy for the left elbow to come off the body in a sort of chicken wing through impact. To combat this, try putting with a towel or glove tucked under your left armpit. 

3. Being able to see down the target line while standing over the ball is not talked about ofter, but it's important. It works in the subconscious to tell your brain where you want the ball to go. Putting cross handed closes the shoulders and makes it harder for your peripheral vision to do its job while putting.  

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The Claw Putting Grip Style

The Claw Putting Grip

The claw is a grip I have used with success over the years. It is an untraditional style of putting grip that features the the club resting in the web of the right thumb and index finger, with the fingers pointing down towards the ground. 

First seen at a high level when Andy Bean started hitting his shorter putts with it, the claw grip is known to help players who have a difficult time with their right hand becoming too active through impact. It was made popular by Mark O'Meara and Chris DiMarco in the late 90's and early 2000's, and has continued to grow in popularity at all levels of golf. 

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Left Hand Position

Claw Grip Left Hand Position

Even though the main feature of the claw grip is the right hand position, the left hand is the key to success. You need to create more stability in the left hand in order to properly lock in. Luckily, there is a very easy way to do that. 

Just like you can see in the image above, you are going to hold the grip in your fingers for the claw grip. Run the grip along the bottom pads of your fingers, with your palm turned more towards the sky. Close your hand around the grip and put the putter down behind the golf ball. You should feel like your wrist is really locked into place, creating a bridge that stabilizes the putter.

It may seem odd to turn your palm towards the sky like that, but remember that you want your palms to face opposite directions. Getting the hands to work together with the claw grip requires a little bit of unconventional adjustment of the left hand due to the position of the right hand.

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Right Hand Position

Claw Grip Right Hand Position

The right hand position for the claw grip can vary based on comfort. The key is to understand where the putter and the hand come into contact. 

The claw grip gets its name from the shape of the right hand. The claw shape also resembles a hand in a mitten, for another visual. Matching your palm to the palm of your other hand, fit the grip into the webbing between your thumb and index finger. You want to grip firmly enough to maintain control of the club, rather than just letting the club rest lightly. 

Once both hands are on the club, you should feel like it is very difficult to move your hands at all without moving your chest and shoulders. This is the easiest grip to lock in with in my own experience. 

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Pros 

1. The claw grip does a great job of minimizing use of the right hand in the putting stroke. Golfers who struggle to hit short putts on line will love the claw.

2. It is very easy to lock in with the claw grip, relative to other putting grip styles. A properly built claw grip should give you the feeling that the only way to move the putter more than a couple of inches is to rock your shoulders. 

Cons

1. Lag putting with the claw grip can be tricky, because speed control in lag putting actually involves a little bit of finesse with the hands. Some tour pros are great lag putters with the claw, but they also spend a lot of time practicing. Even still, you will see some guys on TV hit the shorter putts with the claw, and change to a traditional style for lag putts.

2. There is a more significant adjustment period when switching to the claw grip. It is such a different putting grip style that it takes time to coordinate the feel with all of the changes in the way your arms and torso work. 

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The Arm Lock Putting Grip Style

You often hear golf commentators talking about the left arm being an extension of the putter. This is the goal of the arm lock putting grip style. The arm lock style is very easy to lock in, making it a great grip for those who struggle with the yips. 

Left Hand Position

The left hand position with the arm lock putting style is largely the same as the reverse overlap grip. You want to run the grip up the lifeline of your left palm with the back of your hand looking down the target line. 

There are two key differences when using the arm lock. First, you want to press the grip into your forearm. And second, you need to make sure the end of the grip stays below the crook of your elbow. This second key is actually a rule of golf, so it is especially important. 

Right Hand Position

Armlock Traditional Putting Grip Style

The Reverse Overlap Arm Lock Putting Grip

Arm Lock Claw Putting Grip Style

The Arm Lock Claw Putting Grip Style

Full Arm Lock Putting Grip Style

The Full Arm Lock Putting Grip Style

Here is where the arm lock gets a little weird. The right hand can actually sit in 3 different positions, depending on what works for you. All 3 options are shown in the images above. With all 3 putting grip styles associated with the armlock, make sure you are maintaining the connection between the grip and your left forearm.

First, you can form a traditional reverse overlap grip. 

Second, you can use the claw grip.

Third, and where the armlock truly gets its name, is to use your right hand to hold the grip steady against the left forearm. As with the more traditional grips, the grip should run through the lifeline of your right palm. 

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Pros 

1. The armlock style makes it very easy to dominate the stroke with your torso, rather than your hands. The is great for returning the putter face square to the ball.

2. On short putts, it is much easier to hit your line. This means you will probably make a lot more of the knee knockers.

Cons

1. The arm lock is not very comfortable on the left wrist. It is not ideal for golfers who either have trouble with their wrists.

2. As with the claw grip, the armlock makes lag putting more difficult. Of all the putting grip styles, this one does the most to eliminate excessive hand and wrist movement. Like we talked about before, this is great for hitting lines, but makes speed control difficult. 

3. The body dominates the stroke with the arm lock style. While this is a great thing, it is a double edged sword. If your body alignment is off, you will start to struggle being consistent with the arm lock. 

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Palms Facing Each Other Putting Grip Style

Another putting grip style that is becoming increasingly popular is a mouthful to say, but you can just call it the prayer grip. Remember how we talked about making sure the palms face each other to help the hands work as a single unit? That is the entire goal of the prayer grip.

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Hand Position

Palms Facing Each Other Putting Grip Style

It's best to talk about both of the hand positions together for the prayer grip, because both hands have to start on the golf club in order to build this grip style. 

Start with your hands at the same level on the sides of the grip, palms facing each other. This prayer type position is where the grip gets its name. Without shifting your hands, place your thumbs on the grip, pointing to the ground and side by side. Keeping your index fingers down the sides of the grip, wrap the rest of your fingers around the back of the grip. You can arrange them however you feel the most comfortable - all interlocked, one hand overlapping the other, or some other method that works for you. 

Pros

1. The prayer grip keeps the hands on the same level, which also makes the shoulders more level. It is easier to create a triangle formed by your forearms and chest, which makes the pendulum motion that is so sought after easier to create.

2. If you are going to use the prayer grip, the grip you will put on your club will be much bigger than traditional. These jumbo grips help golfers to take their hands out of the putting stroke, and hit the ball more with the body.

3. The weight of the putter will be more evenly distributed in your hands. This takes the dominant hand out of the stroke more so than other putting grip styles and helps you monitor grip pressure.

Cons

1. In order to commit to the prayer grip, you need a different grip on your putter. You can try it out with the grip you already have, but if you decide to commit to the prayer grip you are going to want to make a switch.

2. You are going to feel like you have less control over the putter when you first start out. In the long term this will change, but it takes a bigger time commitment to see results with the prayer than with other putting grip styles.

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Broomstick Putting Grip Style

The Broomstick Putting Style

The broomstick putting grip style gets its name from the resemblance of the setup and stroke to that of using a broomstick to sweep the floor. The putter used for this method is much longer than others, sometimes exceeding 50 inches in length.

Regardless of the variation of the broomstick putting grip you choose, your goal should be to only use your shoulders to move the golf club, the hands, arms, and lower body should all be completely quiet.

While the broomstick putting method has become very rare since the major golf associations banned anchoring of the golf club in 2016, there are still some golfers who have success with it. Adam Scott and Bernhard Langer have both won on various tours with the broomstick.

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Left Hand Position

The left hand is the one that used to anchor to the body for the broomstick method. Starting with your left hand all the way at the top of the golf club, and your thumbprint on the butt of the grip, press your left thumb into the top of your chest.

Before the anchor ban, this would have completed your left hand position. Under the current rules, however, you are not allowed to maintain this anchor. After you have positioned your right hand and the putter is stabile, you will have to take your left hand off your chest in a sort of hovering position. 

Right Hand Position

Broomstick with traditional grip

The Broomstick Putting Style with Traditional Grip

Broomstick putting style with claw grip

The Broomstick Putting Style with the Claw Grip

Broomstick Style with Split Finger Grip

The Broomstick Putting Style with Split Finger Grip

As with the arm lock putting grip style, you have options with the broomstick that are entirely personal preference. 

You can place your right hand on the club the same way as you would for a traditional grip. Have the grip running through the lifeline of you palm and wrap your fingers around the grip.

Another option is to use the claw grip with your right hand. Many golfers find this more comfortable due to the way the right arm hangs in relation to the putter. 

Finally, you can fit the grip into the gap between the index and middle fingers of your right hand, with the grip running through your palm. Vijay Singh is the only professional golfer currently using this method. 

View the images about to see the different putting grip styles you can use with the broomstick.

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Pros

1. The broomstick putting grip style creates the truest pendulum motion. Even though you can no longer anchor the broomstick putter, there is still a more definitive point where all the movement is centered - the place where the putter intersects the chest. 

2. It's easier on your back. For golfers who may have back problems or struggle to bend over to get to the ball with a more traditional putter, the broomstick will provide some relief.

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Cons

1. Lag putting is hard with the broomstick. This is a common theme among putting grip styles that minimize or eliminate the hands from the stroke. It can be bypassed with practice and consistency, but many golfers simply don't have enough time to commit to this practice. One solution is to get a Perfect Practice Putting Mat so that you can practice inside, when you have time.

2. Without the ability to anchor the putter, it can be difficult to keep it stabile. It used to be easy to eliminate the arms and hands with the broomstick method. Since you now have to hover the putter, it can actually be easy to move the putter entirely with the arms now.

3. There is a stigma around broomstick putters. Even if you honestly are not anchoring and following the rules of golf closely, you may be accused of cheating at some point. This can be a difficult situation for everyone involved. 

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What Is The Proper Putting Grip Style?

The proper putting grip style is whichever one works best for you. The best thing to do is try them out, and be patient. Two easy tests to do when you are experimenting are a 5 foot drill, and a lag putting drill.

Ideally, you find a grip that lets you make the most 5 footers without sacrificing speed control on the lags. That's a really good combination to start bringing your scores down

What Size Putter Grip Is Best?

Choosing the size of your putter grip is entirely a personal preference. Different size grips will feel more comfortable with different putting grip styles. For example, the grip that is best for the palms facing each other style is very different than the grip you would want for the claw.

The size of your hands will also make a difference in what grip you find that you prefer. Some golfers find that matching the grip size to their hand size helps them with grip pressure. At the end of the day, the deciding factor should be comfort. 

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Should You Wear A Glove When Putting?

No you should not wear a glove when putting. Virtually all PGA Tour Pros remove their glove when they putt. They believe that it is a barrier to all of the small nerve endings in the hand that helps them to control the putter head and feel the putt.

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Final Thoughts On How To Grip A Putter

Putting makes up as much as 40% of your overall score. With all of the different grips to choose from, it can be hard to decide which one is the best for you. Be patient, identify some of the strengths and weaknesses of your putting, and decide on which styles you would like to try.

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Start with 5 foot putts and lag putts. Typically, whichever grip style produces the best results on these two tests will be your winner. When you combine that with comfort, your putting will feel renewed and you will begin to putt better. That said, keep in mind that any grip change will be uncomfortable for a time while your body is making the adjustment. 

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Finally, whichever grip style helps you to lock in and make putts the most consistently, remember that you can absolutely make it your own. These guidelines are just that - guidelines. They are suggestions to give you a place to start. If a variation of one of these putting grip styles works better for you, go for it and go make more putts!

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Michael VanDerLaan

Michael is an Associate Editor here at Golf Gear Advisor. He is a playing professional with a passion for finding the best equipment through product testing and evaluation. He has an intimate knowledge of the golf swing and a very effective way of communicating his knowledge to those that are interested in learning more. As an Associate Editor at Golf Gear Advisor, Michael shares his knowledge about the golf swing, fitness and finding the right equipment for your game.

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