For Better Putting - Light Makes Right
In the post on three putting, I touched on grip pressure, but this is a subject worthy of an entire article, so here goes.
If there is any single core fundamental of putting that applies to EVERYONE, it is that the grip has to be L-I-G-H-T !!!!! I can assure you that there is no possible way to hold your putter too lightly.
I had the opportunity to spend lots of time with Ben Crenshaw when I was running Reid Lockhart, and I was amazed at Ben’s phenomenal sense of touch with the putter. You could actually “see” how lightly he held the putter during the stroke, cradling it like it was soft chocolate (I just thought of that analogy!)
Once, when he was rolling putts (I don’t like to think of “hitting” putts), I stuck a putter grip in the path of Ben’s putter before impact – AND HIS PUTTER COMPLETELY FELL OUT OF HIS HANDS ! I assure you that no amateur holds their putter that gingerly.
The killer for grip pressure with all clubs, but especially with the putter, is the thumb and forefinger, particularly with the lower hand (in a conventional grip).
We do everything with our “pinchers”, so we naturally want to control the putter with the thumb and forefinger. But those are the key to feel, and they can’t do that well if we are squeezing the putter with them. Think of other “feel” activities – throwing darts, tossing coins, handling a needle and thread . . . whatever.
All of them are done with a very light hold on the object.
Now, get your putter and try this drill. Hold the putter as lightly as possible in the last three fingers of both hands, with your thumbs and forefingers completely off the putter grip. Make slow back and forth strokes, concentrating only on the path of the grip, not the putter head.
Now, as lightly as possible, just lay your thumbs down on the top of the grip, keeping your forefinger disengaged. Concentrate on “feeling” the putter move back and through, rather than “making” it go back and through.
Then put down some balls and roll some putts this way, not “trying” to make them, but to feel the ball impact the putter face, and watching it roll. If you have a decent carpet, putt toward the baseboard, but not to a particular spot. The key is to “FEEL” the putter moving, and the ball leaving the face.
I highly recommend working on this for a while. You’ll need to “re-learn” how to hold your putter, and make this your new habit. But when you do, your putting will improve dramatically – I promise.
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I tried the light grip technique on a practice green and it may be just the thing I need to eliminate 3-5 three putts a round.
I'll try it during a real round in a couple of days and let you know if it helped.
Great post !
Bill Marshal says:
I know you are right, Terry, but light grip pressure is not so easy for a driving analytical who grinds his teeth at night and drives with a death grip on the steering wheel! Maybe some relaxation tapes to help me go to my "happy place" when putting is what I need. Got any?
Excellent advise about the grip pressure. I took your advise and utilized it on my 9 hole round yesterday. Recently I've had problems with trying to steer the putter to much.
Last night I made all putts from 10 feet and in. I hope this will be the beginning of something beautiful.
Just a small follow up. This change in grip pressure has completely changed my performance on the greens.
Played in a 18 hole tournament yesterday. I was holing a lot of putts from 15 feet in. The total number of putts was 29 which is pretty good considering I was chipping awfully. There were no gimme 1putts.
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