Indeed, the next time you are addressing a crucial putt, pause for a moment and consider your grip pressure—an underrated facet of putting that can get easily lost amid more obvious concerns, such as alignment, distance control and stroke mechanics. Chances are, you will be gripping the putter much harder than necessary, and quite possibly to the detriment of your performance.
In his magnificently thoughtful book Zen Putting: Mastering The Mental Game on The Greens, Dr. Joe Parent explains the consequences of excessive grip pressure while prescribing a simple remedy:
“When the pressure is on, our fingers tighten like a fist and transform our soft hold on the putter into a strangling grip. Softly holding the putter means the fingers aren’t doing much; when they get involved in grasping the putter more tightly, the fingers become troublemakers. The key point here is that the wrists get blamed, but it’s the fingers that are causing the problems. The muscles around the wrists themselves initiate very little movement. The fingers lead the action, and the wrists follow the fingers….Use your awareness to notice situations in which your grip pressure tightens. When you feel that happening, counter it by imagining that a feeling of softness and ease is flowing down each of your arms and into your hands and fingers, almost like something liquid.”
Dr. Parent boils it down to the following: “Try putting with a range of different grip pressures to find the softest pressure you can use and still feel in control of the putter. Practice maintaining that grip pressure throughout your stroke You’ll soon develop a better feel for pace and a more consistent stroke.”
The above excerpts are reprinted with permission from Gotham Books, a division of the Penguin Group, copyright © 2007 by Dr. Joseph Parent.