What is the Claw Grip in Golf?

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What makes golf a beautiful sport is that there is no one way to play the game or swing the club. 

If you compare the swings of Matthew Wolff, Jim Furyk, or Bubba Watson with that of more conventional golfers such as Rory McIlroy or Justin Thomas, it goes to show there’s no one way of doing things. 

And that applies to putting too. 

Putting is arguably one of the hardest but most important parts of golf. Nearly half your shots in a round will be made in and around the greens. But still there are still so many different ways to putt. 

From the normal grip to cross-hand grips, and now arm lock putters, there are many different styles that work for different golfers. But one that’s gaining more and more popularity and you may have heard of on TV is “the claw” grip. 

We’ll dive into exactly what it is and why more golfers are switching to it!

What is the claw grip in golf?

The claw grip is an unconventional way of gripping the putter that aims to remove as much wrist rotation as possible by aligning the upper wrist with the putter. 

The weaker hand position is designed to make the shoulders and upper body more active in the putting stroke and eliminate the tendency for the arms and wrists to take over. Overall this should result in a more consistent stroke and strike. 

If you have never heard of the claw grip before, you may know it as the pencil grip. No matter what name you call it, it’s one like no other as it is arguably the most unconventional grip of them all. 

How do you grip the putter with a claw grip?

If you want to give the claw grip a try, follow the steps below to grip the putter correctly.

1. Grip with the lead hand – The claw grips works with your upper hand (left hand for right handed golfers) “staying normal” or gripping the putter more conventionally. To be clear this means creating as close to a continuous line as possible between the putter shaft and lead forearm

2. Set the claw – The lower hand is where the claw grip gets its name! Make your lower hand (right hand for right handed golfers) into the shape of a crab’s claw, or “V” if you’re struggling to visualise this. You then need to introduce “V”, or the point between your thumb and first finger, to the putter grip seam at the back so the palm is facing the hole

3. Support the grip – From there simply place your hand right down the club shaft with two or three fingers on the grip of the club. The point of the lower hand is to simply stabilise the putter rather than adding any force to the swing.

The claw grip will feel really weird at first. Even Tommy Fleetwood admits it took him a while to get used to it and he deliberately learnt it over winter putting on a putting mat to help embed this into his game. 

Why does the claw grip work?

So now you know to grip your putter with the claw grip, why does it actually work?

Well, the theory behind the claw grip is that it takes your dominant hand out of the equation in the putting stroke. This should stop the hands taking over and opening and closing the putter face leading to a more consistent stroke. 

Try the grip real quick, and you’ll almost feel like you’re putting one handed. 

For some that may scare you away from putting the grip into play, but taking away your dominant hand forces you to swing with your shoulders instead of the hands. If you’ve ever been told that you are using your hands too much when you are putting this may be the grip for you. 

The idea is that this creates a swing-down-the-line motion and helps the putter face stay “still” or square through the entire putt. If you suffer from regularly pushing or pulling your putts then it may be worth giving the claw grip a go. Overall, it should support a more stable face and smoother flow to the putting stroke.

Is the claw a good putting grip?

Not long ago, the claw grip was laughed at. If you saw someone with the claw grip on the putting green, it was seen as an act of desperation. Like they’d literally tried everything else to solve their putting issues, but nothing had worked, so they tried the claw.

But over the years that has changed and the claw has become more mainstream – and “accepted”.

There’s now a number of top pros who made the switch and have stuck with it. They are big names at that, with the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson having all put the claw grip into play at some point in their careers. 

In fact, during the 2018 Ryder Cup, 4 of the 24 players were using the claw grip. And if it’s good enough for some of the top pro’s in the world, competing for millions of dollars each week, then it’s good enough for you!

In truth, the claw is probably still considered a grip to change to for people who are struggling with their putting. Sometimes a fresh approach helps change something in your game and can suddenly spark a good streak of putting. 

However, it’s definitely become more common on the golf course and only grown in popularity thanks to some of the top pros winning some big events using the grip.

Alternative putting grips

If you’re not quite ready to try the claw grip, what are the alternatives? We run through them below starting with the more conventional grip.

Conventional putting grip 

Beginning with the conventional grip, which is what I’ve always personally used. This is the most popular putting grip simply because it’s the conventional style, similar to how you grip your irons. Whenever you learn the game of golf this is the putting grip that you’ll learn. 

It takes people a while to learn how to putt in the first place, so it takes them even longer to make the decision to change putting styles.

Cross handed putting grip

Next up is the cross handed putting style. It comes under many names, cross handed, lead hand low and left hand low for right handed golfers are just some of the names given to this style. 

It’s another grip that has grown immensely in popularity over the past few years and is certainly more widely used than the claw grip since it’s not as big of a difference from the conventional grip. 

Similar to the claw, it’s designed to take the hands out of the stroke and lock the wrists. The set up also ensures the shoulders are more level which helps minimise shoulder rotation in the putting swing.

Palms together putting grip

Last but not least is the palms together grip. This involves gripping the putter in a “prayer” grip style with (as the name suggests) the palms of your hands together, or facing one another. 

The grip works as it places everything symmetrical and again ensures the shoulders are level alongside the wrists and forearms. It also works better with a thicker putter grip as you have more space for your hands to grip onto the putter.

Perhaps not as popular as the other styles, but it has had some success on tour with Henrick Stenson having used this style for a while.