Switching to a so-called “cross-handed” putting grip has rescued many golfers – including professionals – from their putting woes. Its simple: Instead of gripping the club with the right hand below the left, the left hand is placed below the right. (This style is also called “left hand low.”)
Whats the purpose of a cross-handed grip? Primarily, to ensure that the arms and shoulders control the putter, limiting hand and wrist action. A stroke that's guided by the arms and shoulders is easier to repeat consistently, whereas a “handsy” putting stroke relies more on feel and timing.
Try the cross-handed putting method if your wrists tend to break down during the stroke, especially before impact with the ball. Or, if your right hand tends to dominate, sending putts well past the hole.
The cross-handed grip may feel awkward at first, but you'll notice that it restricts the movement of your right hand. With practice, your stroke should become smoother and more consistent.
If you think the cross-handed method looks silly, consider that many top pros employ it. Jim Furyk established himself as one of the games best putters this way, while others like Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia have used left-hand-low as a band-aid when their putting went south.
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Everything You Need to Know About Using a Cross-Handed Putting Grip in Golf
There are a variety of ways that you can hold onto the grip of your putter – and each can be successful when used correctly. A traditional putting grip is very much like a traditional grip for the full swing, with the right hand below the left (for a right handed player). This grip has been the most-popular through the majority of golf history, likely because it maintains a consistency between the swing and the putting stroke. However, in recent years, the Cross-Handed grip has become more and more popular, even among some of the best golfers in the world.
The reason that golfers are tempted to experiment with different putting grips, such as the Cross-Handed method, should be obvious to anyone who has played the game even just a few times. putting is hard, plain and simple. Not only is it difficult to make a stroke that rolls the ball the proper speed on the correct line, but it is also a challenge to handle your nerves when putting during a round. The combination of steady nerves and precise technique required to make putts on a consistent basis is something that many golfers are never able to achieve.
If you are searching for a way to improve your putting, and you have never tried the Cross-Handed method previously, now may be the right time to give it a chance. When you watch a golf tournament on TV, you are sure to see at least a few players employing this technique. The fact that Cross-Handed putting is used by many golfers who play the game for a living should tell you that it is a viable option worth considering. If it didn't work, those players wouldn't be using it.
Of course, it isn't as easy as simply switching your grip and starting to watch the ball roll into the middle of the cup. Like anything else in golf, you are going to have to work at your new grip in order to make it effective. Improvement in golf takes plenty of practice, and that is certainly the case with using a Cross-Handed putting grip. You do stand to make great strides in the consistency of your putting, but only if you are willing to put in the work.
One of the best things about trying a Cross-Handed putting grip is that you shouldn't need to buy any new equipment. A traditional putter with a length in the 31 – 36 range should work just fine. Also, since putting practice is not nearly as physically demanding as practicing your full swing, you should be able to get more repetitions in a short period of time with your new technique. That means, hopefully, that the change will take less time to work into your game, and the results will start to show sooner.
Please note that all of the instruction provided below is based on a right handed golfer. If you are a left handed player, please be sure to reverse the directions as necessary.
The Pros and Cons of Cross-Handed Putting
There are no perfect techniques in golf. Each style or method that you try is going to have its pros and cons. Your job as a golfer is to work your way through these various methods until you find the ones that work best for your game. Once you find something that works, it is then important to stick with it and resist the temptation to be taken in another direction. The best players are the ones who can trust the process they are using and believe in it even when they have a bad round. If you try Cross-Handed putting and it works for you, stick with it for the long haul.
It may be helpful before you get started to learn some of the pros and cons that come along with this style of putting.
- Pro – Getting the ball on line. You aren't going to make very many putts if you are unable to start the ball on the target line that you have selected. While it is always helpful to hit your putts on line, it is especially important on short putts. Most putts from inside five feet don't have a ton of break, so starting them on line means that you will make the vast majority of these key putts. Many golfers try the Cross-Handed approach for the first time because they are struggling to make short putts. The mechanics that are created when you put your left hand below your right allows your left wrist to lead the stroke and pull the putter face through the ball on a straight path. It isn't fool proof, but putting Cross-Handed is very likely to improve your performance from five feet and closer.
- Con – Speed control. Since most golfers wont find the Cross-Handed technique to be as natural as a traditional grip, controlling your speed might be difficult. Many players report not having as much feel in their stroke as they do with a regular grip, meaning it can be hard to lag the ball close to the hole from long distance. If you do decide to use a Cross-Handed putting stroke in your own game, it will likely require plenty of time on the practice putting green to dial in your speed just right.
- Pro – Resistance to pressure. Dealing with pressure is something that you have to learn how to do if you are going to improve your game, and Cross-Handed putting can make it a little easier to hole your putts when the nerves are affecting you. Since the mechanics of a Cross-Handed stroke take your hands largely out of the process, you will be less-likely to flinch or twitch right at impact. If you feel like nerves have cause you to putt poorly in the past, trying the Cross-Handed method is something that you should consider.
- Con – Lack of consistency. This point was touched on briefly above. When you putt Cross-Handed, you are creating a divide between your putting stroke and the rest of your game. That means that you will always have two distinct parts of your game to practice – the putting stroke, and everything else. For many golfers, the practice they do on things like chipping and pitching will actually help their putting performance because they are teaching their hands to feel the ball and control speed. Cross-Handed putters wont enjoy that same benefit. Since the feel and technique is so different between chipping with a regular grip and putting Cross-Handed, there really wont be any carryover between the two areas of your game.
The cons listed above shouldn't stop you from trying the Cross-Handed approach to putting. There is plenty of like about this method, and it has been used by plenty of highly successful golfers. It is only important that you understand some of the common drawbacks so you can be ready for them. As long as you learn good fundamentals and put in a good amount of practice time, there is no reason to think that you cant become a great putter using a Cross-Handed stroke.
Cross-Handed Putting Basics
Learning to putt Cross-Handed is a pretty dramatic change from putting with a traditional grip, but you wont be starting from scratch. Some of the same fundamentals that you use in a regular putting stroke are still going to apply when you putt Cross-Handed, so you are already starting with some of the work done. By knowing which parts of your technique need to change, and which can stay, you will make the transition to your new stroke that much easier.
Following are three putting basics that don't need to be changed when you switch to a Cross-Handed stroke.
- Your stance. There is no need to change the stance you use in your putting stroke just because you are changing your grip. You should still use a good athletic posture with your knees bent slightly and your back straight. You should be in a position that allows your arms to hang freely from your sides so they can rock back and forth easily. The most important element of a putting stance is comfort, so make sure that you are standing in a position that feels comfortable to you and that you can repeat over and over again, all day long.
- Tempo. Regardless of how you hold onto the putter, it is crucial that you have a good tempo in your stroke. Good tempo means that the putter head swings with a similar pace both on the backstroke and the forward stroke. If you dramatically speed up or slow down at any point during the stroke, you are going to struggle to control your speed successfully. Tempo should be something that you regularly focus on as part of your putting practice, but it doesn't need to change between a regular grip and a Cross-Handed one.
- Eyes on the ball. This might be the king of all putting fundamentals, and it definitely applies no matter how you choose to hold the putter. While you are making your stroke, your eyes should be focused on the top of the golf ball. Ideally, you will be able to keep your eyes down until after the ball has rolled away, only looking up after your putter head has stopped moving. Controlling the movement of your eyes during the stroke is the best way to fight back against nerves and it will also help you make solid contact with each of your putts. If you are committed to becoming the best putter you can be, you will put eye control high on your to-do list.
You don't want to change any of these three items above. They are all important to becoming a good putter, and each of them is independent of the style of grip you are using. Throughout the rest of your golf career, those three points should remain priorities in your putting technique.
However, it is now time to start working on forming your new grip. This is where the changes will start to take place as compared to using a traditional grip. The Cross-Handed approach is likely to feel awkward at first, so be patient and expect it to take some time before it becomes natural.
To start, take your normal putting stance with your putter in your right hand. Place the putter head flat on the ground behind the ball – at this point, it doesn't matter if you are aiming at a hole or just practicing off to the side of the green. With your putter grounded behind the ball, place your right hand into position at the top of the putter grip. Your right thumb should be running straight down the top of the grip, and your fingers should be lightly wrapped around the back of the club. Just like with any other shot on the golf course, you don't want to grasp the club too tightly. The way you grip the putter with your right hand should be very similar to what you would do with a traditional grip, except the hand is up at the top of the grip to make room for the left hand below.
With your right hand comfortably in place, it is time to add your left hand to the grip. You have a few options at this point –
- Interlock. You can interlock the pinky finger of your left hand with the index finger of your right hand. This is the most-secure grip, and it is basically the reverse of what you would do for a full-swing interlocking grip. If you are used to playing with an interlocking grip on your full shots, you might find this to be the most comfortable.
- Overlap. Again, this is the opposite of the overlapping grip in the full swing. The pinky finger on your left hand will rest on top of the index finder of your right hand. Taking the grip this way gives you a good feeling of connection, while not tying the hands together.
- Ten fingers. There is no connection between the two hands in this grip. You simply place your left hand on the grip below your right hand, and make the stroke. If you choose to putt with this style of grip, you will be putting almost all of the control over the stroke into your left hand. This is likely the least-popular of the three options.
Ultimately, the best way to decide is to try all three and see which works best for you. Try hitting five to ten putts with each of the three grip styles. It will only take a couple of minutes to try out each one, and you will probably settle on your favorite rather quickly. Each one can work just fine, so your decision should be based purely on what feels most comfortable to you.
Making the Stroke
Spend as much time as necessary to get your grip right, and then move on to actually learning how to make a Cross-Handed putting stroke. There are plenty of similarities between the mechanics of a Cross-Handed stroke and a traditional one, but there are enough differences that you need to pay attention and make sure you are doing things the right way. Trying to make a traditional stroke with a Cross-Handed grip isn't going to be a successful approach.
The biggest difference that you need to understand is that your right hand has effectively been taken out of the stroke. By placing it up at the top of the grip with the left hand below, your right hand now have very little control over the path and speed of the putter head. Basically, the right hand is there for stability, and the left hand is the one with the control over the stroke.
This can be a great benefit because it can help you keep the putter face moving straight down the target line through impact. The right hand is the one most-commonly guilty of causing the yips, so putting the control of the stroke into the left hand can certainly help take some inconsistency out of your technique. At the same time, having no power in your right hand also means that you aren't going to release the club very much through impact (if at all). Many golfers use their right hand to release the putter head through the ball, but that is difficult to do with a Cross-Handed stroke.
To visualize this difference, think about a traditional stroke as hitting the ball, while a Cross-Handed stroke pushes the ball toward the hole. Obviously you don't actually push the ball when putting Cross-Handed, but the effect is similar – you are trying to trace the putter head on a straight back-straight through path to send the ball along the target line. By contrast, a traditional putting grip will more resemble your full swing, with the putter swinging to the inside and then taking an arc back into the ball. The consistency that many golfers gain when switching to a Cross-Handed stroke is a result of removing that arc from the stroke.
As you are getting started with your new Cross-Handed stroke, it might be helpful to lay another one of your clubs down on the putting green as a guide. Since you are trying to move the putter in a (mostly) straight line, the club you set down can be used as a great visual aid while making your stroke. Line up the toe of your putter with the shaft of the extra club, and make your stroke back and through while tracing that straight line. If you can do this simple drill successfully, you should be able to quickly start making the majority of your short putts.
How to Practice Cross-Handed Putting
As mentioned earlier, Cross-Handed putting is all-about being able to control your speed. It is relatively easy, with only a little practice, to learn how to hit the ball on your target line time after time. Being consistent with your speed is another challenge altogether. Only when you learn how to feel your stroke with this new grip and hit the ball with just the right speed will your putting be able to take a big step forward.
With that in mind, the majority of your putting practice should be based on speed control. Prior to every round, and during practice sessions between rounds, you should hit plenty of long putts across the practice green in order to dial in the speed control. Rather than aiming at a hole, try putting all the way across the green using the fringe as your goal. See how close you can roll the ball to the fringe without actually putting the ball off the green – doing this drill for just a few minutes prior to each round will make you a much better putter.
Speed control isn't only important on long putts, however. When you are trying to make short putt with a significant side-to-side break, you will need to control your speed perfectly in order to knock it in. To practice this discipline, find a breaking putt on your practice green and set three balls on the green five feet away from the hole. The goal in this drill is to either make the putt, or roll it just barely past the hole. Use the grip on your putter to measure your success. Each of the three putts should finish either in the hole, or less than one grips distance from the back of the cup. If you run any of the putts too far by the hole, or leave them short, you have to start over. Try to finish this drill successfully a couple of times prior to the start of a round.
Putting with a Cross-Handed grip isn't for everybody, but it can be a great choice for many players. Deciding if it is right for you is something that can only be achieved through trial and error. Spend some time on the practice green working on this style of putting and it should quickly become obvious if it is a technique that can save you strokes on the course. If you do make the switch, be sure to spend plenty of time practicing your speed control and getting comfortable with the grip. Unlike a swing change, your new putting method could start paying dividends in the very near future.