Putting Trend

Players Championship: The leaders all use this putting grip—is it the start of a new trend?

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It doesn't take much for things to catch on among tour players.

One player does something differently, and others take notice. That player starts experiencing some early success, and suddenly others start kicking the tires on it as well. PGA Tour players can be a fickle lot when it comes to finding an edge. And when your livelihood depends on a few fractions of a stroke, who can blame then=m?

At the 2024 Players Championship, we may be seeing the inklings of a new trend: Left-hand low putting.

The left-hand low, or cross-handed, putting grip is obviously nothing new. An alternative style of grip where golfers place the hand nearest the target below their other hand, it's been the second-most popular grip on tour for decades. But it's having a bit of a moment recently.

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Keyur Khamar

Last season, golfers who putted cross-handed had the best average putting rank on tour. Its successes don't stop there:

  • Under the guidance of top putting coach Michael Kanski, Wyndham Clark switched from the conventional grip that won him the U.S. Open to cross-handed ahead of his most recent win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February and has been on a tear ever since.
  • Brian Harman, meanwhile, made an astonishing 59-of-60 putts inside 10 feet cross-handed en route to a 2023 Open Championship win.
  • Xander Schauffele finished fifth in SG/Putting in 2023, making him the highest ranked cross-hander on tour.

Of course, those three players come into Sunday at TPC Sawgrass inside the top three. So what's the deal with cross-handed putting? Should we all switch?

Here's what prominent putting coach and Golf Digest Best-in-State teacher Bill Smittle has to say:

The Pros

Magic bullets don't really exist in golf. It's all about finding something that suits (or sometimes, counteracts) your natural tendencies to help you be more consistent.

In the case of cross-handed putting, its main benefit is that it pulls the golfer's trail shoulder back slightly, which can help golfers square their shoulders. It's especially useful for right-handed golfers who end up pulling putts to their left.

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BRENNAN ASPLEN

"Many amateur golfers tend to swing over-the-top on their full swing, which can show up in their putting stroke … they move the putter severely out-to-in, with their shoulders pointing left at address," Smittle says. "For those golfers, a lead-hand low grip can help bring their shoulders into better alignment, which can improve their start line."

The Cons

While a left-hand low grip can help counteract the tendency for golfers whose stroke moves too severely left, it can cause other strokes to move too severely out to the right. The putting equivalent of a golfer hitting a big, high hook.

"I'll often see golfers with lead-hand low grips have a stroke that's too much out to the right," Smittle says. "The only way they can make that work is by closing the clubface through the stroke."

The grip also changes the height of the shoulders relative to each other, which can change the angle of attack on your putting stroke. All of which is a long way of saying: It depends!

A cross-handed grip might be just what you need. It may create a different problem for you to solve. One thing though is for sure: Your path to better golf isn't changing your putting grip on a whim, because it worked for a handful of some of the best golfers on the planet.