Bonita Springs — The difference between winning and losing is based on how well you can use the shortest club in your bag, your putter. Frankly, the better you putt the better you play. Golfers hear pretty often that putting is responsible for over 40 percent of your total score. This is a fact worth repeating since it will have such an impact on your round. I will refer to the PGA Tour players for reference on the importance of putting.
If you can, recall the recent U.S. Open and the crucial missed putts that moved some of the top players farther and farther down the scoreboard. But for those players that seemed to make all the important putts did you notice the popularity of oversize or jumbo putter grips? Out of the top 10 players in contention, you would have counted about 6 to 8 very large putter grips. The grips you noticed were the Super Stroke grip and a few Super Stroke Belly putter grips (not a plug for the grips just a fact), and are one of the most popular oversized grips on the market. In addition to the oversized grips, there were 2 to 4 belly or long putters.
Tour players are not utilizing these types of grips or putters as the latest fad or gimmick, but simply because it eliminates most of the wrist motion and hand manipulation during the putting stroke. This is what I consider one of the easiest ways to alleviate human error in your putting stroke and score. The Super Stroke grip (or any larger grip model) has a very different feel from a conventional putter grip, but provides a more consistent putting stroke every time. For some golfers the feel of the larger grip is not initially very comfortable, but this means the grip is probably doing its job by preventing you from breaking your wrists during the putt.
We utilize the Science & Motion PuttLab aka SAM for putter fittings and lessons. This is the most advanced ultrasound putting system, used to measure over 35 parameters of your putting stroke, as well as the overall pattern and consistency score. I have found from custom putter fittings that over 80 percent of players improve their stroke with a midsize or larger putter grip. A belly putter is another significant way to improve accuracy and lower your score. Similar to a larger putter grip, the anchored grip from a belly putter minimizes wrist motion, and if any remains, it will be very subtle. Larger putter grips and belly putters also help to relax the hands and forearms.
Professional golfers worldwide have a very relaxed grip, upper body and smooth tempo, perfect for sinking putts. If you opt to try a larger grip, be sure to check the swing weight or balance of your putter prior to removing the old grip, and then recheck once the new one is installed. A larger grip will alter the total weight, obviously since you are adding more mass to the putter. It will also change the feel of the putter head or it’s technical term, the swing weight. It’s crucial that you don’t allow the swing weight to get any lighter since the lighter the club head, the easier it becomes to manipulate the putter. As a result of adding weight to the top end of the putter you will have to compensate by adding weight to the bottom.
I would recommend that a professional club fitter complete the alterations to ensure that the putter’s manufactured balance and swing weight are not affected by the larger grip. Trust me, trying a larger putter grip will be a painless way to drop your score, and since they cost on average $20-$30, it’s probably one of the cheapest ways to win your next round.
Josh Musselman is a PGA professional, 2008 Horton Smith Award recipient, 2006-2012 “World’s Top 100 Club Fitter” recipient and can be reached via email at email@example.com.