Putting Fix - Left Hand Low
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy
Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of my struggles for my entire golf life is that I can tend to get a little “yippy” on short putts – you know, the ones you really think you should make. I have streaks where I’m beyond that, but then I’ll have a relapse and get to a point where I dread a short putt. And getting older sure isn’t helping the problem, I’ll assure you. This is entirely a mental thing, and manifests in golfers of all ages; it is completely non-discriminatory. The “yips” nearly drove Bernhard Langer from professional golf . . . two or three times! Each time, he’s found a way to beat it and get back to form. It’s happened to many others, in varying degrees of severity, and many never recovered.
Well, by late summer, I was getting rather frustrated with this dang disease. On the practice green I would stroke them pure as can be, but on the course I would get quick and miss way too many. I’ve taken a few weeks off of golf lately, but decided to start practicing this week as we have our season-ending Member/Member tournament next weekend. My partner strongly suggested that he would feel better about it if I would not go in without playing a full round of golf in over two months. I guess that’s reasonable, huh?
Anyway, I had this idea of experimenting with changing my short putt technique to “left hand low” – I never liked “cross-handed” as a description. I went to the practice green and began drilling 3-6 footers right into the center. Then I went out and played a few holes with a friend and it translated to the course rather well – I made a couple of birdies in the 6-12’ range, and three par putts of 5’ and under. We’ll see how it shakes out when the competition heats up a bit, but let’s talk about why this is not all that “unconventional” a technique for short putts.
To me, most importantly, what the left hand low set-up does is make it easier to square your shoulders to the line. When your left hand is above your right, it tends to cause your shoulders to get open to the intended line, which in turn makes it much more difficult to execute a solid back-and-through stroke. When you drop that left hand below the right, it changes the body geometry significantly and squares up the shoulders. Of course, you can overdo that, too.
With the shoulders square, I feel like I am controlling the putter with my right, or master, hand, where all my eye-hand coordination is centered. The left hand provides a simple back and through “guide” for the right hand to follow. I also think this method works best with a face-balanced putter design – mine is an older Ray Cook Austin mallet.
My own twist on this experiment is that I’m only using the left-hand-low technique on shorter putts – ones that I think I should make, or have a good chance to make. My lag putting is generally pretty good, and I make a good percentage of longer putts, so I’m approaching those conventionally. I’ve written about the notion of using two putters for the different length putts, so this experiment is about using a different technique for short putts and long ones. When it’s more about the line, I’ll go left-hand-low. When it’s more about distance control and touch, I’ll go conventional. Should be interesting, and I’ll report to you guys how it works out.
In the meantime, does anyone have any good stories about putting experiments to share?
* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.
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I went Left-Low ten years ago and have never looked back.
Had a terrible case of the "y"s because my left wrist kept breaking as I stroked the putt, made my distance control frightening. With my left hand low this almost can't happen physically and my distance control inside 20 feet improved dramatically as did my starting putts online. Took me a while to get my lag putting back, which I'd heard was a side effect of this grip. Long term it's been the best change I've ever made in my game. Guys in my league used to make me putt 2-3 footers now they give me 4 footers on a regular basis.
I have almost always putted using left hand low and I tend to make quite a few putts (or at least get close enough that I can certainly 2 Putt the green. My putts average now is 1.68 and I am anywhere from 26 - 35 putts per round. One thing that has always helped me is my practice putting before a round. I hit the practice green about an hour before tee time and practice putts from 4, 6, 10, 15, and 20 feet. I usually will practice about 10 putts each from thos distances. I then go back to the 6 footers and do my drills. I use golf tees and place them into the green about 1/4 of an inch off the toe and heel of my putter head. I then practice my 6 foot putts by placing the ball between the tees and putting trying not to hit the tees as I putt. This helps to keep my putter head swinging through my intended target line and acting more like the pendalum it should when I putt. Try it next time you play and I guarantee, you will be sinking a lot more putts and will not feel those "yips" nearly as often.
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