|Grip style: Vardon (overlapping)||Hand position: strong||Putting grip style / hand position: Reverse overlap / neutral
When does weaker equal stronger? When the subject is Jimmy Walker’s grip.
The ever-improving pro from San Antonio enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2014, winning three times powered by a wide stance and a “stacked” body rotation. Walker has increased his earnings every year since 2006 and, now in his mid-30s, should be a leaderboard fixture for the next several seasons.
Credit Walker with the willingness to tweak his swing, starting with his setup. In photos from 2011, Walker’s left and right hands were positioned on the strong side. Skip ahead to 2014 and you’ll notice a subtle but significant difference. While his left hand remains in essentially the same spot, Walker has weakened his right hand grip (i.e., turned it to his left) into a neutral position.
Where Walker’s right hand “V” (between thumb and index finger) once pointed toward his right shoulder, it’s now aligned with the club’s handle and his chest. Oddly, it’s hard to tell what if any benefit this change has had on Walker’s game. In theory, the weaker right hand should curtail his power slightly while boosting his accuracy. Yet Walker remains one of the PGA TOUR’s longest, least accurate drivers—he averages around 300 yards but hits only 52% or so of fairways.
He consistently excels, however, on the greens. Jimmy Walker’s grip with the putter is a tad stronger than most of his peers, placing him in the same category as Brad Faxon and a young Ben Crenshaw – pretty good company. Walker has done them proud by finishing among the top 50 in strokes gamed putting every year since 2011.