Putting accounts for 50-60% of strokes in a round of golf, yet it so often takes a back seat to the long game when it comes to practice time. Working on proper grip, alignment, and technique are critical for consistency and results on the course. In “Club Focused Golf Instruction,” Ed LeBeau writes that “a putter face misaligned by 1 degree will result in the ball missing the hole on a 13 foor putt.”
In this post we will be looking at the putting grip, specifically the fundamentals set forth in Club Focused Golf instruction (CFI), for creating a consistent grip that leads to square contact and a repeatable stroke. We’ll do an introduction to CFI (or a refresher if you frequent this site), review the grip fundamentals, and review our favorite putter grip, the JumboMax Palmbird, which aligns perfectly with this method.
Additionally, we’ll review two drills that help reinforce proper grip, recommend some training aids that have added value to our practice routines, explore some further reading, and share some instructional videos so you can get these funamentals and more, from the horse’s mouth.
Club Focused Golf Instruction (CFI) has been around for nearly 100 years as an alternative to the more common body focused approach. This method focuses on the golf club instead of body mechanics. Research has shown that club focused instruction allows players to learn faster and play better.
The manual “Club-Focused Golf Instruction” brings together the work of World Golf Hall of Fame instructors Ernest Jones and Manuel de la Torre along with 20 years of experience from Heartland Golf Schools to provide a guide to this superior approach. Manuel de la Torre focused on 3 swing tenants – the ball is struck by the center of the clubface, the clubface is square to the direction of the target line at impact, and the club is swung at the direction of the target.
When expanding this to putting, the principles are just as clear. Focus on the target (as an extension of the line) and the putter, while letting your body do the rest of the work. We posted about Instinct Putting, which is moving focus completelly to the target, and believe this to be very close in approach. Don’t be afraid to expiriment to find out what works best for you.
CFI Putting Fundamentals
Though many teach a straight back and through motion, the natural arc of the putter head should be allowed for a true swinging motion. This facilitates solid contact and better directional control. Above all, the feel should be that of rolling the ball smoothly rather than striking the ball forcefully. Manuel De La Torre advocates making a smooth, pendulum motion with the arms rather than wristy strokes to enhance reliability.
The club and target focused approach to the golf swing emphasizes proper grip and setup with the club rather than positions of the body. The grip taught to compliment the “natural” movements of the body is very neutral, with palms facing each other, as if praying. A benefit of the palm to palm grip is it automatically positions the hands and clubface square at address leading to more consistent impact. It also encourages a swinging motion from the shoulders rather than manipulation with the hands and wrists.
While putting grips tend to be more personal that their full swing counterparts, the fundamentals themselves translate, no matter how you approach the grip. There are only two grip fundamentals in CFI – thumbs down the shaft on the flat surface of the putter grip and plams facing each other. This helps in promoting a square face, pendulum stroke, and reduces hand action. As in the long game, LeBeau recommends ten fingers on the club, which creates a more natural grip and reduced grip pressure. However this would be more of a recommendation than a hard and fast rule. Personally, I am using a left-hand-low or “crosshanded” grip, while still complying with the fundamentals of thumb and palm posiiton.
There are two drills that I recommend for ingraining the feel of the palm-to-palm grip, reducing the feeling of “hitting” through the ball, and focusing on the target line. The first one is from LeBeau’s book, the second is my own drill, though I have no desire to claim any originality, as it just borrows pieces of others.
LeBeau’s “Prayer” drill is simple and straightforward. You simply put your hands together in a prayer like position on the putter grip, leaving your fingers straight and pointing down at the ball. Simply make strokes in this manner, which will force you to apply an even amount of pressure to the grip/ shaft with each hand. This will effectively remove the “hit” from the stroke and encourage the proper pendulum motion as the body responds to the swinging of the club. I admit this was a tough one to get used to, but after a few attempts, I found myself rolling the ball well consistently. I now start my practice sessions with a few minutes of reps on this drill.
“Target Line” Drill
Manuel de la Torre described a good putting stroke as “enabling the ball to roll along the intended line with enough speed to reach the end of that line.” This is the idea behind the “target line drill.” I use the Perfect Practice Putting Mat , soley because it has the target line already inscribed. The other tool that I use for this is the Pelz O-Balls. You can recreate this easily on any putting mat or green using a piece of string for the line and by drawing a line on the ball as you probably already do on the course.
The execution is simple and is just a variation of the ladder drill with some simple changes. Set the ball up on the target line, making sure to align the line on the ball with the target line. Grip the putter with the palm-to-palm, thumbs down the shaft grip and focus on the target line.
Understanding that the putting stroke is a swing and not “straight back, straight through,” my goal with this drill is to focus on the target and deliver the palms into the ball with the face square, following through straight down the target line. What you will find if executing this correctly is that as the ball rolls, the line on the ball will trace the target line all the way to the hole. Consider that a “make” and after each, you can move up (or back down) the ladder. I play from 7 feet, down to 1 foot and back. You can ramp up the challenge with a product like the “Devil Ball.”
Featured Training Aids
Club-Focused Golf Instruction
by Edward LeBeau
Summary: Club-focused golf instruction focuses on the golf club motion rather than body motion, an approach used by only 5% of instructors. This method, championed by Hall of Fame instructors Ernest Jones and Manuel de la Torre, allows faster learning and better play. LeBeau combines de la Torre’s expertise with educational principles into a powerful instruction manual bringing together decades of club-focused instruction experience. Scientific studies have verified club-focused instruction’s superiority for improving player performance over traditional body-focused methods.
Understanding the Golf Swing
by Manuel de la Torre
Summary: Manuel de la Torre was a leading teacher of Ernest Jones’s swing principles, emphasizing a simpler approach focused on developing a true swinging motion rather than complex body movements. The book covers the philosophy of the golf swing, analysis of ball flights, techniques for special shots like pitching and chipping, the mental side of golf, and understanding golf courses. It argues that if the club is swung properly, the body movements will take care of themselves, so golfers should focus on the motion of the club rather than their bodies. The book blends golf philosophy and practical advice for golfers of all levels, from beginners to professionals.
by Eric Alpenfels, Bob Christina, Cary Heath
Summary: Instinct Putting promotes a counterintuitive technique of looking at the hole rather than the ball while putting, based on scientific tests showing improved results. The book explains how focusing visual attention on the target taps into the brain’s innate ability to perform complex tasks through unconscious processing. With simple steps to retrain traditional putting methods, Instinct Putting aims to boost putting skill by emphasizing proper alignment and distance control. This unique guide provides golfers with an unconventional but effective approach to conquer the mental game of putting.
Instinct Putting Revisited
by Eric Alpenfels, Bob Christina, Cary Heath
Summary: Instinct Putting is one of the most extraordinary golf instructional books to come along in my lifetime. In a radical break from conventional wisdom, it brings a whole new paradigm on the art and science of putting. — Carol Mann, LPGA Tour (1961-81), Member of the LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame.A scientifically proven approach sure to cut strokes on the putting green by tapping the power of intuition.The Instinct Putting method relies on the brain’s built-in ability to perform incredible tasks through unconscious information processing, rather than through active thought. Through crystal clear instruction and gorgeous illustrations, the authors explain how to retrain your putting protocol with uncomplicated steps and easy-to-follow drills. From setup to follow-through, this book puts the keys to precision putting into your hands. A revolutionary new method that is based on cutting-edge research, Instinct Putting promises to end frustration on the green.