By Jonathon Fleming
It can be an uneasy feeling walking off the 18th green when you know your score doesn’t reflect how well you feel you’ve played. Regardless of how straight or long you have driven the ball, or how close you have hit your wedges, the way you close out with the ‘flat-stick’ either makes or breaks your round. Putting is a game within a game, and for the average golfer makes up around 47% of total shots. This plays a significant part in your overall performance when you consider that you might only use your driver 14 times a round.
The two best players to have walked the fairways – Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods will tell you that putting is all about feel, and this all starts in the hands. Given the grip is the only contact we actually have with the club, choosing the right putter grip is essential to feeling comfortable and in control when standing over the golf ball.
So, what’s the best putter grip for you?
Using a thinner grip such as a ‘pistol’ or ‘tapered’ design, engages the smaller muscles of the hands and wrists, providing more feedback and feel through impact. This is especially beneficial with distance and speed control.
Thicker ‘jumbo’ size grips limit the movement of your hands and wrists through the putting stroke which promotes a pendulum motion controlled by the shoulders and arms. Bryson DeChambeau is a classic example of this where he concentrates on a consistent repeatable motion with as few moving components as possible.
Players suffering from the dreaded ‘yips’ often turn to a thicker grip to try to prevent any involuntary twitching of the hands, and to also take any tension out of the arms.
The way the putter head releases through impact has a lot to do with weight. This is particularly relevant with heel-toe weighted putters which generally suit an arc shape putting stroke. Increasing or decreasing the weight of the putter grip will alter the balance of the club and make the putter head feel lighter or heavier accordingly. A lighter putter may assist with more feel at the expense of being able to feel the putter head as much through impact. Finding the perfect weight balance will dramatically improve rhythm.
If you are struggling with alignment, a flat, or paddle grip could be the answer. The flat front of the grip aligns with the putter face and assists in maintaining a square clubface during the stroke. It is more suited to a straight back and through technique as opposed to an arc.
One of the reasons this game is so challenging and addictive is the at times, bewildering fluctuation in form. Why can we so be good one day, and terrible the next? Due to the fickle nature of the game, anything that can increase confidence, especially on the greens has to be beneficial to your game.