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How Much Does Putter Grip Matter? – Golf Myths Unplugged

A Quiet Revolution

One of the biggest stories in golf equipment isn’t discussed nearly as much as it should be: the ascendency of SuperStroke grips.  Thanks to Jordan Spieth and an army of other top players, giant putter grips that might once have been thought of as a “gimmick” or a “crutch” are now commonplace.

The questions that we sought to answer are, “Do these big grips make a difference?  And if so, is it a positive one?”

The Myths

Myth #1 – Larger putter grips decrease face rotation

Myth #2 – Larger putter grips keep you from “flipping” the putter

Myth #3 – A different grip can change your club path

Myth #4 – Larger putter grips will make you more consistent

How We Tested

We brought together five testers with handicaps ranging from 0 to 10.  Each player rolled five putts with each of five different putter grips – a standard sized Lamkin grip, mid-size and jumbo Scotty Cameron Matador grips, and Super Stroke 2.0 and 5.0 grips.  Every putt was measured on SAM Puttlab.

Outside of changing the grip, we did not do anything to modify the putter between tests.  This did cause a change in swing weight because the grips did not all weigh the same.  We opted for this method for two reasons.  First, it’s what most golfers do.  Second, changing the headweight to hold swing weight constant would mean that we’re trading one inconsistency for another.  We may repeat this test in the future with identical swing weights if that’s something that’s of interest to our readers.

All testing was done at, and with the help of, Club Champion.

Results

Big putter grips are alleged to “take the hands out of the stroke” and make the mythical “straight back, straight through” stroke easier.  This is all the way busted.

Looking at our players individually, only one recorded their lowest total rotation with the largest grip (and that was by 0.1 degrees compared to the smallest grip).  However, three players recorded their highest total rotation with the largest grip!  When we look at the group averages, the SuperStroke 5.0 had the second highest average for total rotation and the highest median.

These results shocked our testers.  They all felt that the “soda can” grip locked their hands into position.  This is another example of the truth in the cliche, “Feel isn’t real.”

Another facet of “taking the hands out of the stroke” is not “flipping” the putter into impact.  Flipping refers to letting the putter head pass your hands, thus adding loft to the club.  While the results weren’t as stark as the rotation myth, we can still say that this myth is busted.

Again, only one tester showed the most shaft lean with the largest grip.  The same number of testers made their “flippiest” strokes with that same large grip.

The picture is equally muddy when we look at the group averages and medians.  Our smallest grip did produce the lowest amount of shaft lean, but beyond that it was a mess.  The testers had more shaft lean with the smaller of the pair of SuperStroke grips and Scotty Cameron grips.

Now for a myth that we can clearly confirm: your putter grip can alter your club path.

Individually, our testers saw their paths change 1.8, 3.2, 2.8, 4, and 2.2 degrees as they moved through the different grips.  While club path is much less important than the club face in putting, these are still significant changes.

We saved the best for last: the magic word “consistent.”  If you make your putter grip bigger, your putting will get more consistent, right?  Turns out, there might be some merit to that.

If we look exclusively at the SuperStroke 5.0 – the biggest grip in the test – the evidence looks pretty weak.  It’s middling in every measure of consistency: face angle, club path, impact location, and rotation.  However, if we include the jumbo Scotty Cameron grip, the big putter grips look pretty good.  Focusing on the group averages, the jumbo Scotty was #1 in every consistency metric.  It was also the leader in median in 3/4 categories.

How should we interpret this?  I have two thoughts.  First, the shape of the grip may matter as much, or more, than the size.  Second, there must be a point of diminishing returns with size.  Bigger is better, until it’s not.

Conclusion

While the big putter grips didn’t deliver on the promises of minimizing face rotation or decreasing a “flip,” there was some evidence that a larger grip could lead to an improvement in consistency.  However, the data was not conclusive enough to make me run out, slap a giant grip on my flat stick, and challenge Jordan Spieth to a putting contest.

As always, the best thing that you can do when changing your equipment is to work with your teaching professional and/or club fitter.  They will have the tools to figure out what will help your game in the long term instead of slapping a band aid on it.

The Data

Matt Saternus
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13 Comments

  1. I tried the biggest superstoke grip a few years ago and endured my worst putting of all time. I felt like I had no control of distance which lead to flicking or flipping I thought I had a brown snake in my hands . Went back to a normal putter grip and putted the spots off it go figure. Not for everyone I guess if you have big hands I guess it may work but worst 3 weeks of putting in my life!

  2. Different strokes for different folks I guess. I went from the 5.0 SS grip to the Winn Mid pistol and Putting a lot better, so what is the answer, I think it is individual.

  3. Hello.
    The Cameron ‘jumbo’ grip that was used for the test, is it the Matador grip or just the biggest grip they offer. I’m not too familiar with their grips but willing to try one.

  4. Doug Jamieson

    These are interesting test results. I have been using the largest Superstroke for several years on my old Odyssey Rossie, and I believe it has helped me become a better putter. Before making the switch, my hands were too active, causing face rotation and flipping. I feel that my consistency is much improved. I wonder whether using these grips for an extended period (e.g. a full season or more) has a more positive effect. My only complaint is that it must be carried in the putter well of my bag, even when traveling.

  5. I tried the superstroke on a odyssey 2 ball tank putter and gave it 2 months playing at least twice a week and hour long practice sessions to no avail . My biggest complaint was no feel and distance control I wear 2 xl gloves so having big hands is not making it any better. Went back to my 2 ball with a winn mid size and everything got better.. A warning : I was critical of a asst pro on youtube for “shilling” that a superstroke was the greatest golf invention since cavity backed clubs and he didnt like it . I hope he can read this study and grow some class

  6. Barney Ward

    I have hands that twitched badly for years. Not flipping just little twitches. When I tried the Super Stroke a big difference in my putting happened. I do not think I sank appreciably more first putts but I definitely had a huge amount more very short second putts. In other words misses were a huge amount closer to the hole when they stopped rolling. Three putts no longer happen very often and they used to be common four -five times a round.

  7. Jeffrey Stich

    I used to have a Super Stroke 5.0 for about a year and a half. To big. Then a 3.0 for about a year and a half. Going back to the midsize pistol grip. It just seems like they never really improved anything and just made it harder to put in the bag. I’m just a twice a week bogey golfer and miss a lot of short putts. The biggest destroyer of the putting game are glasses!!

  8. Matt what grip do you use

    • Matt Saternus

      Robert,

      Something along the lines of a Pingman grip. I’ve done round grips in the past, too.

      Best,

      Matt

  9. Do you think the actual grip has more to do wit ha solid stroke than the form itself? The results are intriguing however I would be curious to narrow it down to lower handicap players. Results varying from handicaps ranging 0-10 make it foggy. Interested to see more tests.

    • Matt Saternus

      Brett,

      I’m not sure I understand your question. Are you talking about the piece of rubber vs. the way the player holds the club?

      -Matt

  10. Gary Pelletier

    Always been a terrible putter, even with a Scotty Newport. Had been away from the game for 4 years and came back to it 3 years ago. For 2 years the putter was an absolutely alien device in my hand, no distance touch, no directional feel, appalling results. This year I tried every single putter in the local golf store putting in more then 20 hours. The takeaway was my putting improved with a flat face putter. I live in a rain forest on the west coast, slow greens are a fact of life. I asked the manager if he might recommend a solution. He asked what putter I was considering, told him a Wilson mallet was the most consistent on the wall. He suggested adding loft so we went from a 3 degree to 6 degree.
    This was my slow wet green putter. I added a second mallet putter and had the loft adjusted to 4 degrees. I then added a 3rd Wilson blade putter reset to 2 degrees for fast greens. In the fall we have heavy morning dew so will use the 4 degree for the first few holes and then switch to the blade, usually for the dry back 9. The manager also suggested I try a counter weight, 50 g for the mallets and 25g for the blade. All 3 clubs combined cost, including the grips and weights was still less expensive then 1 Scotty. I found the flat face putter the most significant change together with moving to cross hand grip. The counter-weighting on the Super Stroke Claw does help me with distance control and provides exactly the same feel for the 3 putters.. Scoring has improved with an expectation of making 30 or less putts on every round. I carry 11 graphite clubs most days so adding a 2nd putter is no issue. This process was over 3-4 months, but so worth it. The correct putter and reverse grip came 1st, the counterweights in the bigger grip was the enhancement.

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