Wholesale Putting Change!

Putting can make or break your golf game.  Roughly 40 % of your strokes are with your putter, so what drives putting performance?  Four things:

1: Technique.

2: Nerves.

3: The quality of your short game.

4: Proximity – i.e., how close you are to the hole for your first putt.

After some deep thinking on these areas, I’m going to make a significant change, but before discussing, let’s take a sanity check on my putting data.  I’ve captured putts per round statistics from 2007 through 2020.

The statistics tell a story of recent improvement, but when I ask myself, “Do I believe I’m truly a good putter?”  Unfortunately, the answer is “no”.  I get that everyone’s performance is relative and my improvement from 2018 to 2019 was nice.  It was the result of a March 2018 short game lesson, and a July 2018 putting lesson, and a lot of hard work to cement those changes in.  But it’s not enough.

Right now, I’d consider myself a good lag putter but when I get to the 5-10 foot range, where you should make your share of birdies and par saves, I’m terrible because I can’t start the putt on my intended line.   Missing a little off-line on a 30-40 footer won’t usually cost you a two-putt but nothing is more deflating than stuffing an iron shot and yanking the birdie putt way left.  I’ve solved an alignment problem by putting over a spot, and have tried numerous top of the line putters but to no avail.

There has got to be a better way and perhaps I’m getting greedy, but I’m thinking even if I don’t improve my ball striking one bit, if I can reduce my putts to less than 30 per round, I’d get a free handicap drop from 4 to 2.  Tempting, and I’m going for it!

The change is a switch to the claw grip with my right hand.  I’ve been using a traditional reverse overlap grip for years and have tested this change inside on the rug, and outside on the putting green.  The difference on the shorties is exceptional, but it’s not without concern.

Phil using the claw. Photo courtesy of golfmagic.com

Pros like Sergio, Phil, and Adam Scott have all gone to a variation of the low hand claw with great success, but they are putting extremely fast greens.  Indeed, this change works best on fast surfaces and one may be susceptible to inconsistencies with longer putts on slower greens.  My home course has fast greens, but I only play about 25-30% of my rounds there.  So, I may rack up a few extra three putts but hopefully make up for it in the scoring range.  Maybe I’ll alternate grips for long putts???  I’m willing to give it a try.  Has anyone had any success trying this method over a protracted time period?  Please share if you have a story.

Thanks, and play well!

7 thoughts on “Wholesale Putting Change!”

  1. Hey Brian. That’s a bold move. I’m never sure if it’s the right thing to do. Have you tried putting lessons? If you have a flaw, regardless of grip, it may not go away. I doubt you are yanking putts or missing that many short ones given your handicap.

    1. Hey Linley, I had a putting lesson back in 2018 and it was beneficial but focused on mostly alignment. Perhaps another lesson is warranted. I’m going to give this claw thing a try for a couple 9-hole rounds on my executive course where I can play a couple of balls. Need to satisfy my curiosity at this point 🙂

      Thanks. Hope you are playing well!


      1. I’m all for trying things. What have we got to lose. Phil Kenyon who works with pros would probably say we need more than one putting lesson. No different than a swing change where we need to relearn the new stroke.
        My game is coming along. Down to 8.1 and heading in the right direction.

  2. Brian,

    I cannot believe I missed this post from a few days ago. Sorry for the late response. I understand your desire to improve your putting by a stroke or two on average per round. I believe anything under 30 putts a round for an amateur is a great milestone.

    As far as changing, I think it is worth a try. I have never tried the claw grip for any period of time, so I cannot offer any advice with respect to the particular change0.

    I would, however, suggest that you establish a very methodical pre-shot routine to make the most out of your efforts. I think by doing this (this is a process I use when making changes) you will garner the greatest benefit because you can track any small adjustments as to what works or what does not work. I think this will help you work through the change.

    Of course I am very interested in how things go, so keep us posted! Good luck and have fun.

    Cheers Jim

    1. Jim, good advice on the pre-shot routine. While practicing this last weekend, I used the same putting routine as always and didn’t give it a thought. My biggest concern is on the long ones and from the fringe. Just gotta road test it for a few rounds!



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