How to Hold the Putter: Common Putting Grips and Their Pros and Cons

Golfers have many options for putting grips

John Senden (L) of Australia putts alongside two other golfers during a practice round prior to the start of the 2015 U.S. Open
There are many ways to hold the putter. In this article we discuss five of the most common putting grips. Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Golfers have several good options when it comes to putting grips. But what are those putting grips, and how does a golfer go about choosing the best way to hold the putter?

Putting is the most individual of the golf strokes, and one of the most important considerations is always what feels natural, what feels right, what feels good to each individual.

But there are some pros and cons to each type of putting grip that can help golfers analyze their current way of holding the club, or select a new putting grip to try.

We asked PGA Professional Gevin Allen, director of instruction and player development at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch in Boerne, Texas, to go over five common methods of holding the putter, and in this article he gives us the pros and cons of each. Gevin first stresses the following:


"Regardless of the grip you experiment with, the fundamentals that are shared by great putters are: The clubface is square to your intended line; a consistent tempo with every stroke; the body remains still until after impact; forearms parallel to the target line."

In what follows, Gevin shares insights on the reverse overlap grip (the "standard" putting grip), cross-handed (left-hand low), claw, arm lock and prayer grips. All the text that follows was written by Gevin Allen. (Have questions? He can be emailed at gallen@cordilleraranch.com.)

Reverse Overlap Putting Grip

Golfer demonstrating the reverse overlap putting grip
The difference in these two versions of the reverse overlap putting grip is the position of the left index finger (for right-handed golfers). Courtesy of Gevin Allen

(Editor's note: Just a reminder that Gevin Allen is the author of all the following text.)

The most common putting grip taught by golf instructors and used on the PGA Tour is the reverse overlap grip. It’s called reverse overlap because the left index finger rests on top of the right pinkie finger (for right-handed golfers) instead of a normal overlap grip where the right pinkie finger rests on top of the left index finger.

There are variations on how the left index finger rests on the right hand. For example, the left index finger can be extended pointing towards the ground (as in the left photo above) or resting parallel to the right pinkie finger (right photo).

The most important aspect to the reverse overlap putting grip is for the left thumb to rest flat on the top of the putter grip. That is why a putter grip is not round - the left thumb provides additional support in keeping the putter face square at impact. The right hand (for right-handed golfers) will be the dominant hand during the putting stroke and acts like a piston during the stroke, while the left hand determines the direction of the face.

Pros of the Reverse Overlap Putting Grip

  • This grip is similar to a standard overlap grip used on full shots, which helps maintain a consistent feel from full shots through putts.
  • This putting grip also gives the golfer the best feedback during the stroke.

Cons of the Reverse Overlap

  • If a player has a problem maintaining their grip pressure, then this grip is not for them.
  • This grip will not limit the right hand if it becomes too active during the stroke.

Cross-Handed Putting Grip (a k a, Left-Hand Low)

Golfer demonstrating the crosshanded, or left hand low, putting grip.
The difference in these two photos of a crosshanded grip is the position of the right index finger (for right-handed golfers). Courtesy of Gevin Allen

The cross-handed putting grip — also known as "left-hand low" — is where your left hand is placed on the putter below the right hand (opposite of a normal grip) for a right-handed golfer.

There are different variations on how the right hand and left hand connect:

  1. The left pinkie finger can rest below or on top of the right index finger (as in the photo on the left).
  2. As Jim Furyk does, the right index finger can also point straight down and rest perpendicular to the fingers of the left hand (right photo).

It is ideal for the left and right thumbs to rest on the top of the putter grip to provide additional stability. (Watch a video of the cross-handed grip.)

Pros of the Cross-Handed Grip

  • An excellent grip for golfers who fight an overactive right hand (or left hand for left-handers) during the stroke.
  • With this grip, lining up and keeping the face square is easier because the left hand is closer to the head of the putter.
  • Helps you maintain a flat left hand because the left arm and wrist are already in line with each other. (Imagine the back of the left hand representing the putter face during the stroke.)

Cons of the Cross-Handed Grip

  • Although this grip is ideal in keeping the putter head square to the target line, a golfer will have problems feeling the pace of the putts. This is due to the fact that the dominant hand is farther away from the putter head.

The Claw Putting Grip

Claw putting grip
One version of the claw putting grip. Courtesy of Gevin Allen

The putting grip known as "the claw" has become popular since the early 2000s, so much so that more pro golfers are using the claw now than the cross-handed grip.

There are variations on how your right hand (for a right-handed golfer) is placed on the putter. However, your left hand will always grip the club the same way, making sure that the thumb rests flat on top of the putter grip. Your right hand will also be 2-4 inches away from your left hand. (Watch a video of the claw grip.)

Pros of the Claw Grip

  • Because the right hand is in a passive position, it will increase the grip pressure of the left hand.
  • Even if the golfer doesn’t use the claw grip during a standard round of golf, using the claw grip during a practice session can help the golfer sense the proper grip pressure with the left hand in the stroke.

Cons of the Claw

  • There is a tendency for the right elbow to fall above your left elbow, which will cause a pull. When the elbow is misaligned, the forearms will also be misaligned. When using the claw grip, pay attention to the alignment of your forearms to ensure they are parallel to your target line.

Arm-Lock Putting Grip

Ilustration of the arm lock putting grip.
Using the 'arm lock' method as your putting grip. Courtesy of Gevin Allen

With the arm-lock putting grip, the handle of the putter locks against the inside of the left forearm (for right-handed golfers). This union should not separate at any point of the stroke.  (And this holding of the putter handle against the forearm does not constitute anchoring — it is legal under Rule 14-1b.)

The player may use any putting grip with the arm lock method so long as they maintain the forward angle of the putter through the stroke.

Pros of the Arm Lock Grip

  • If a golfer has used a belly putter or long putter, the arm lock grip can be a great alternative to anchoring.
  • This method always keeps the hands ahead of the ball through impact.

Cons of the Arm Lock

  • The arm lock grip requires a putter with a minimum of 6 degrees of loft and adequate length for the handle to rest flat against the inside of the left forearm.
  • Golfers also may find it harder to line up the face of the putter because of the angle of the shaft leaning towards the hole.

Prayer Putting Grip

Golfer demonstrates the prayer putting grip
The prayer putting grip, also called the palms-facing grip. Courtesy of Gevin Allen

The prayer putting grip features the palms facing each other (and so it is sometimes called the "palms facing grip") and the thumbs next to each other. A golfer can either place the right fingers on top of the left, or vice versa.

Pros of the Prayer Grip

  • Because the hands are at the same level, the shoulders will also be level. This creates a perfect triangle between the shoulders and the arms, which will improve the pendulum of the stroke.

Cons of the Prayer Grip

  • This grip requires a wider putter grip to accommodate both thumbs being placed side by side.

Allen's Video Demonstrations and Recommended Drill

In addition to his insights above, golf instructor Allen has also provided two short video clips to accompany this article. One is a demonstration of these common putting grips. The other demonstrates a quick practice drill that can help you choose a putting grip.

Both those videos are on YouTube, and YouTube is a great source of free golf instruction videos in general. Search by the name of the putting grip you are interested in seeing demonstrated and discussed, or search for general putting tips.