A reverse putting grip or cross handed putting grip sees the weaker hand, left hand for a right handed golfer, placed below the stronger hand on the putting grip.
It is used by some of the world's best putters including Padraig Harrington and Jim Furyk. The reverse putting stroke is promoted as the 'natural' way to hold a putter as it brings the shoulders level at address. By bringing the shoulders level, golfers can easily rock them back and through the ball. With the standard right hand below left grip, the lower shoulder (the right) can become too dominant and control the stroke.
The reverse putting grip also helps nullify the weak hand / strong hand relationship by putting more control in the left hand (for a right handed golfer). This can help bring the relationship between the left and right hand into balance and not have one fight the other for control.
Probably the greatest positive effect the reverse putting grip can have is to help stop the wrists breaking down through the stroke and 'flicking' at the ball.
How To Use The Reverse Putting Grip
1. Take hold of the putter grip with the right hand (for right handed golfers) and let the grip run through the center of the palm, up through the life line. After sitting the grip comfortably in this position, wrap the right hand over the grip so the palm faces towards the target and the back of the right hand faces away from the target. The right thumb should sit directly on top of the grip.
2. Place the left hand underneath the right on the grip. Lift up the right forefinger on the right hand and let the left hand slide up the grip until it touches the third finger on the right hand. Then let the forefinger of the right hand rest across the back of the left fingers. The left thumb should sit directly on top of the grip.
3. The back of the left hand should now be facing the target and the palm facing away from the target.
4. From this position, you should concentrate on keeping the hands and arms working as one unit, rocking the shoulders back and through the stroke.
To feel if using the reverse grip would work in your game, practice putting one handed. Pick a hole on the practice green featuring a number of different slopes around the cup. Place 10 balls in a circle around the hole, each ball 6 feet away. Take up the putter in the left hand placing it exactly in the place it would be if you were to adopt a reverse putting grip. Work around the circle stroking putts towards the hole. Repeat the drill a number of times before placing the right hand on top of the grip if a full reverse grip. Practice the drill again and see how the putts roll and how the stroke feels. If you are unsure about switching to the reverse putting grip, repeat the drill again but in reverse, holding the club with the right hand at the bottom first then using a normal putting grip.
There are merits to the reverse putting grip and it is utilized by fantastic putters. Give the technique a try and see if it would work for you.
What is a Reverse Putting Grip?
As a golfer, you already understand the tremendous challenge that putting presents. Sure, it might seem like an easy task to just roll the ball along the ground toward the hole, but you know better. Putting well is extremely difficult, and it literally takes a lifetime of practice to hone your skills in this area. Many golfers, even if they are willing to work hard, never quite get comfortable on the greens.
Since putting is such a big challenge, golfers have turned to all sorts of various grips in order to look for an advantage. The traditional form of holding the club, with the right hand below the left (for a right handed golfer), doesn't work for everyone. If you struggle with your putting while using a traditional grip, you may decide to turn to alternative forms of holding onto the club. One such form is the 'reverse putting grip', which is also known as putting 'cross-handed'.
No matter what you call it, using a reverse putting grip involves placing your left hand lower on the grip than your right hand (again, for a right handed golfer). This configuration offers some advantages, as well as some disadvantages, when compared to a regular grip. Each golfer will have a different amount of success with this style of grip – some think it feels great and it gives them confidence, while others can barely get the ball anywhere close to the hole. You should know within just a short period of practice time whether or not the cross-handed grip is something that is going to suit you nicely.
One of the best things about changing grips on the putting green is that it doesn't take nearly as much time as it does to change things in your full swing. If you make a change on the putting green that is successful, you should find your results on the greens start to improve as soon as your very next round. That simply won't be the case when working on your swing technique. Changing your full swing is something that can take months or even years, so you have to invest effort over the long run to see results. With putting, you could potentially make a change today that can have a positive impact tomorrow. That kind of immediacy is exciting, as you could quickly lower your scores and move your game in the right direction.
However, with that kind of potential also comes some risk. Specifically, you will run the risk of constantly changing your grips, chasing one idea after another in order to hopefully make a few more putts. It is important that once you find something that works well, you stick with it through thick and thin. Even a good putter is going to have bad days on the greens, so don't abandon everything you do from a technique perspective just due to one or two bad putting rounds. Find something that works – maybe even the reverse putting grip – and then commit yourself to that style of putting for the long run.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
Building a Reverse Putting Grip
To give this grip the best possible chance at success, you should first learn how to place your hands on the club properly. There is a little bit of room for personal style and preference in this area, but there are also some basic guidelines that you should follow. If you can position your hands on the grip in the right fashion, you will stand a much better chance at success once you start to roll some putts.
To get your hands into the right spots, follow the three tips below.
- Overlap left pinky. Even though you will be using your left hand as the low hand instead of the right, you still want to make sure your hands feel connected throughout the swing. If each hand feels like it is doing its own thing, you probably won't be able to make a consistent stroke time after time. Therefore, consider overlapping your left pinky on top of your right pointer finger when you grab onto the putter. Your hands should be relaxed on the grip, and this overlapping method will help you to control the swing of the putter without having to squeeze too tight. Also, by using the left pinky finger to overlap your right hand, you will be keeping the control of the stroke out of your right hand, which is exactly what you want to do.
- Left thumb on top of the grip. Once your hands are in position, you should find that your left thumb is resting perfectly on top of the grip of the club. By getting your thumb on top of the grip, you will have the back of your left hand pointing nicely at the target. You are going to be swinging the back of that left hand toward the target when actually hitting the putt, so you want to start out with it in a square position. If your thumb were to be positioned to the left or right of the top of the grip, that misalignment would likely throw your stroke path off track. Since most putter grips are flat on top, it should be easy to tell when you have your thumb in just the right position.
- In your fingers. The grip should be running through your fingers, and not your palms, on both hands. Pushing the grip of the club back into your palms will rob you of feel for the club head, and you badly need that feel in order to control your speed correctly. You might be able to get away with putting the grip in your palms with a conventional putting style, but that isn't going to work very effectively when you are putting cross-handed. To experience the best possible success with a left-hand-low approach, try to keep the grip of the putter in the fingers of both your right and left hand.
To practice taking this kind of grip, you don't even need to be at the golf course. You can work on your putting grip anywhere you have space and a few spare minutes, and you may even be able to find room away from the course to roll some putts. Take your time with this first step of the process to ensure that you are getting off to a good start with your new grip. Once you have a feel for the reverse putting grip, you can go ahead and hit the practice green to test it out.
Hitting Some Putts
Now that you have a comfortable feel for how you should grip the handle of your putter with a cross-handed technique, it is time to head to the practice green and test out your new grip by rolling a few putts. To start, you want to set up close to a hole with very little break from side to side. You want to make things as simple as possible, and you can add to the complexity of your putts after you gain some experience.
Find a three or four-foot putt with as little break as possible, and set a few golf balls down on the green. At this point, you are simply going to roll the ball over and over again toward the hole, making as many putts as possible. You can keep hitting these short and straight putts for as long as you would like, taking note of any patterns that might come up during the practice session. If you are making most of these putts, you can feel confident that you are off to a good start and you can move on to more difficult places on the green. However, if you are consistently missing to one side or the other, you need to address that problem straight away. The following tips will help you get back on track whether you are missing to the right or the left.
- Missing to the right. If you are consistently missing these short and flat putts to the right of the hole, you are likely guiding the putter out toward the target instead of releasing the putter head properly. You should be remaining perfectly balanced throughout your stroke, but players who miss right often are swaying toward the hole in an effort to guide the putter head down the line. To correct this problem, focus on the position of your left knee throughout the stroke. Once you are set in your address position, do your best to keep your left knee perfectly still from the start of the stroke through to the finish. As long as that knee doesn't move around, the putter head should release naturally and the ball should get on the proper line.
- Missing to the left. On the other hand, missing short putts to the left is usually a sign of an overactive left hand in the forward stroke. It is your shoulders that should be doing most of the work when it comes to swinging the putter, but it is easy to get your hands too involved – especially when trying out a new grip. Eliminate this problem by placing all of the power over the stroke into your shoulders while keeping your hands quiet throughout. Once you feel what it is like to rock your shoulders in order to hit the putt, you will notice how smooth and effortless the action can feel. It may take some practice to get used to taking your hands out of the stroke, but that is exactly what you need to do in order to hole out consistently.
Getting the ball on line is what a cross-handed grip does best, so you should find that you are able to make plenty of short putts relatively early in this transition process. As long as you have formed the grip correctly, and you are setting up square to the target line, the ball should find its way into the bottom of the cup more often than not. Once this step is completed and you are confident in your ability to get the ball online, your next job is to learn how to hit your putts with the right speed – and this is going to be a much bigger challenge.
Learning Speed Control with a Reverse Putting Grip
By far, it is learning the speed control on your putts with a cross-handed grip that is going to be the biggest challenge. The reason that many golfers give up on using a reverse putting grip before they ever get comfortable is the fact that they are never able to control the speed properly. Putting well is all about speed control, so this grip style is never going to work out for you unless you can conquer this half of the equation.
The good news is this – it is certainly possible to master speed control with a cross-handed grip. However, to do so, you are going to need to spend plenty of time on the practice green, and you are going to need to be dedicated to getting your technique down just right. Plenty of professional golfers are able to beautifully control their putts while using a cross-handed grip, but you can be sure they have put in the hard work ahead of time to make that happen.
Speed control is all about hitting the ball in the center of the putter face. Just like you need to hit the sweet spot of your club when making a full swing, you also need to do the same thing on your putts. While it might seem easy to hit the sweet spot while putting, this is a challenge that can be a little more difficult than expected. Instead of taking this point for granted, you should spend practice time as necessary working on making good contact until you can do so time after time with the reverse putting grip.
To practice solid contact, go back to hitting that same short and flat putt that you were working on earlier in the article. Set up a few balls just a few feet from the hole, and focus your effort on the quality of contact that you are able to make with the ball. Don't worry so much about your makes and misses for now – just hit every putt as square as possible. To do so, you are going to need to keep your head still and keep your eyes on the back of the ball until after impact has been made. The basic fundamentals of head position and eye control are what will allow you to make good contact while using this altered grip. If you get lazy with your head position or eye control, however, you can expect to make off-center contact and your speed control will suffer.
Once you have hit plenty of short putts to learn how to make good contact, change things up and start to hit long putts across the length of the green. When it comes to learning how to control your speed, there is no substitute for good old fashioned repetition. Hitting as many long putts as you can, over and over again, is a sure way to dial in your speed control nicely. Even if you don't notice your improvement at first, you will gradually get better at rolling the ball the right speed with this grip just through the sheer volume of practice putts that you hit.
Remember, speed control matters on short putts just as much as it does on long ones, so be sure to work on your distance control from short range as well as rolling putts across the green. The best way to work on short putt distance control is to hit putts with a dramatic break from one side to the other. Find a five or six footer that slides hard from right to left or left to right, and do your best to knock it in. If you are going to make this kind of putt, you have to match up the line and the speed perfectly. By practicing these kinds of challenging putts over and over, you will teach yourself to control the speed of the ball with your new cross-handed grip.
Sticking with It
Even though it is true that you can adapt to a new putting grip faster than a swing change, there are still going to be some bumps along the way. If you decide to try putting with a reverse grip, you should at least commit to a moderate amount of time in order to see it through properly. Without committing to a specific period of time, it will be easy to give up after missing a couple of short putts or after three putting on a flat green. There is no point to even starting down the road of making a change if you are going to give up in short order, so set out a time frame and stick it out until the end when you can review your progress.
Depending on how often you are able to play golf, you want to test out this putting grip for anywhere from a month up to a few months. If you play most days, you should be able to determine whether or not this is a winner in just a few weeks. However, if you only get to the golf course once or twice within a month, you really need to give this kind of change several months before you call it one way or another. Most golfers give up on game improvement projects before they ever have a chance to succeed – which is why most players never really get any better.
When you are out on the course with your new grip, focus on the basics of executing solid putts and try to think about the new grip as little as possible. All of the technical practice with this grip should be done on the practice putting green – while on the course, you should only be trying to do whatever it takes to get the ball into the hole. That means that you need to make a great read, you need to go through a consistent pre-putt routine, and you need to execute under pressure time and time again. Many of the challenges that you face while putting have nothing to do with the grip that you are using, and those challenges will still be there even after you start rolling the ball cross-handed.
Unfortunately, the new grip that you are using is most likely to break down when you are hitting putts that matter during a round. For example, if you are playing a friendly match with your friend and it is coming down to the last couple holes, you might start to tighten up on the greens and your putts could suffer as a result. You will get better at performing under pressure with your new grip as you gain experience, but you have to stick it out long enough to gain that experience in the first place. If you just give up on the grip after failing once or twice, you will never get to the point of trusting and believing in the reverse putting grip method.
Putting cross-handed is not going to work for everyone, but it is a viable option for many players who are currently struggling on the greens. If you are going to reach your scoring goals in golf, you are going to have to putt well – that is just a fact. With that in mind, consider trying the reverse grip if you are having trouble building confidence in your stroke with a 'normal' grip. Even if it doesn't end up being the grip that you go with over the long run, it is worth a try to see if cross-handed putting can unlock another level in your game.