Golf Tips - Putting - Cross-Handed

By Joe Sullivan

November, 1998 - As I am sitting here watching the Skins Game, I am noticing that Freddie Couples has gone back to his cross-handed style of putting. This is something he has used on and off for the last few years. This raises a couple of pertinent questions. Why is it that someone would putt cross-handed? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks?

The biggest advantage I see in putting cross-handed is it allows for you to get your shoulders lined up more square to the target. Once you move that left hand low, your left shoulder will correspond by moving out, and squaring up. It kind of just closes, and hence, lines up correctly. From there, it's just a matter of swinging the putter straight back, then straight through.

This is great on short putts (5 feet and less). If all you had to do was putt dead straight 5 footers, then I would highly encourage you to go cross-hand. It's almost a "can't miss" situation, as long as you can get lined up correctly.

The biggest problem with this style of putting, however, and the chief reason that the majority of players on tour DON't do it, is because of feel. Your feel for the putt takes a big-time hit when you grip your putter the complete OPPOSITE way that you grip every other club.

And in putting, especially when you are faced with a long putt, or one that breaks a ton, you need to have feel. It's just like any other shot. You need to feel comfortable, so you can have the confidence to pull it off.

Would I encourage you to try cross-handed? Absolutely. Even though only about 1 in 30 pros putt this way, it might work for you. Jim Furyk is one of the best putters in the world and he has been putting cross-handed his entire life. Just remember to practice of bunch of different putts if you are going to try it. Don't just make 5 uphill three-footers in a row and think this is right for you. If you do, have fun trying to get that thirty footer that has three breaks in it anywhere close to the hole.

Here is how you should go about trying it:

  1. Line the putter up to the target with your RIGHT hand.
  2. Once you are lined up, then place your left hand on the club. Your left pinky should rest on top of your right index finger.
  3. Hit the putt! Your left hand (the bottom hand in this case), along with your left arm and left shoulder, lead the way. Feel like your left arm is a lever and you are simply swinging it like a pendulum.

That's really all there is to it. Like I said, it's a great method for short, simple putts. But if you find that you are knocking 20-footers 10-feet past the hole, then don't putt this way. Don't go back and forth on the course either. Choose one way, like all of the players on tour do, and you will be much better off.

Columns ©1999 Joseph K. Sullivan and GolfLink Inc. All rights reserved.

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