Excess wrist movement during your putting stroke causes the clubface to close or open to the target at impact. This is a challenge endured by many amateurs who struggle to drain putts and reduce their strokes. In this post, I offer a solution to your challenge with saw grip putting tips.
Two-time major champion Mark O’Mera popularised the technique, which players such as Collin Morikawa have since adopted. This guide is designed to educate you on the process of employing this grip style. Plus, it shows why Major champions recommend it.
If your grip is troubling your entire game, we have the solution for you. Read our guide on how to hold a golf club. It teaches you simple steps for enhanced control over your sticks.
What Is A Saw Grip?
The Saw putter grip or pencil hold restricts wrist movement to keep your clubface square to the target at contact. O’Mera suggests that this setup prompted him to take the putter straight back and through for improved stability and accuracy.
If you are a right-handed golfer, your index, middle, and ring finger grip the front of the putter. In other words, they are visible from a front-on angle.
In addition, your thumb and pinkie finger grip the back part of the rubber and are invisible from a front-on position.
By gripping the club this way, you push your elbow outwards, creating a slight bend. It is easy to take the putter head back along a straight path and propel it through from this position. This increases the chance of keeping the putter face square at contact to start your ionomer on the desired line.
Ultimately, it eliminates deviation from your putting stroke for straighter shots and superior accuracy.
Who Should Use The Saw Putting Grip?
Excess Wrist Movement
I feel that most golfers can benefit from this putting grip. But, those who produce excess wrist movement are bound to receive the greatest boost. Moving your wrist during your stroke can encourage the face to twist, which is dangerous.
The more movement that occurs during your stroke, the higher the chances are of you leaving it open or closed to the target. Both actions propel your ball off line, missing to the left or right of the cup.
The saw setup is an excellent combatant of wrist flex in your stroke. It neutralizes your wrist’s tendency to veer out of place on your backstroke or follow through. This improves your ability to keep the putter’s head on the intended path for a straighter putt.
We have all had them at some point, and if your playing partner says otherwise, they cannot be trusted. I am talking about the yips, or as doctors call it, involuntary muscle spasms.
My playing partner suffers from them on a grand scale. The chap cannot chip or putt anything. On the one hand, I feel sorry for him, but on the other hand, he never listens to any advice, so he needs to suffer the consequences.
Anyway, yips make effortless shots seem insurmountable. A regulation 3-foot tap-in feels like a 100-footer on the Old Course at St Andrews. It gets so bad your playing partners stop giving you any putts.
Operating with the saw putting grip setup restricts your wrist action so that the effects of the yips are eliminated. Therefore, you improve your ability to stroke each putt cleanly and accurately to reduce your strokes and handicap.
Maybe wrist action is not your issue, and neither is the yips. However, you tend to misjudge the distance control of your putters, leaving them short or sending them well past the cup. The lighter touch provided by the saw setup allows you to stroke using feel, which is vital for speed control.
You do not have the temptation or strength of both hands gripping the club. Instead, you have a softer touch and a straighter stroke. You may initially leave your putts short as you adapt to the weaker grip. However, you will soon produce more consistent putts, especially on longer strikes.
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How Do I Putt With The Saw Grip?
The saw grip is one of the easier putting grips to employ, as the only changes occur with your right hand. I have laid out 6 steps to help you effectively operate with the consistent saw grip. Keep in mind that these tips are designed for a right-handed golfer. However, if you are a lefty, simply follow the opposite steps.
Step 1 – Left-Hand Position
I will ease you into the transition with elementary instructions. Grab your putter grip with your left hand and hold the club as you would with your regulation setup.
Since you will have fewer right-hand fingers gripping the club, it is up to your left mit to stabilize the club during your putting stroke. As a result, you will need to apply sufficient grip pressure to maintain control of the flat stick.
Not all right-handers follow the conventional setup. Some prefer the cross-handed grip approach. Basically, your right hand plays the role of the anchor at the top of the grip, while your left encourages a straight takeaway and follow-through.
Step 2 – Right-Hand Position
To achieve the saw grip setup, you must adjust the position of your hand and the placement of your fingers. Instead of your thumb sitting at the bottom of the grip, it rests closest to your left hand. In other words, you flip your right-hand upside down from a standard grip setup.
Next, your ring, middle, and index fingers should touch the front of the putter grip. That means that the back of your palm sits parallel to your sightline. This structure positions your right hand as if you were holding a saw.
Now that you have achieved the optimal hand placement, your arms are leveraged to take the putter straight back and through. Those operating with a cross-handed grip will place their left-hand index finger, ring, and middle on the lower part of the rubber. On the other hand, the right-hand anchors the putter.
Step 3 – Right Elbow Position
Once your hands and fingers are ready to rock, the setup should push your right elbow outwards. Your right arm effectively provides the appearance of a flexed chicken wing. Alright, that’s an exaggeration, but you definitely feel the pressure of it pushing outwards.
It is easy to pull the putter head along a straight line and back through for improved accuracy and distance control.
Step 4 – Stance
Your right arm is in position, and the back of your palm sits parallel to your line of sight. That means you have the feel and understanding of how the putter moves in your hands with the saw grip.
Since you are adopting this grip for the first time, you must tweak the ball position in your stance. Place the dimples where you usually would with your previous grip, and take a few practice swings.
Your new putting grip may change the position of the putter face relative to the golf ball at address.
Golf coach Shawn Clement suggests adjusting your stance until the putter is square behind the ball and the dimples are in the middle of your stance. This setup positions you to send the putter head straight back and through for an accurate stroke.
Placing the golf ball too far forward in your stance can prompt you to take the putter along an out-to-in path resulting in a sliced putt. That means you miss your putts to the right of the hole if you are right-handed.
Every time you adjust your aim, take a practice swing and pay attention to the movement of the club face leading into contact. This helps you determine whether it remains square, open, or closed to the target, which will impact the accuracy of the stroke.
If your putter face is open or closed at impact, you need to adjust the positioning of the urethane in your stance. Alternatively, the length it sits away from your body impacts the angle of your clubface at impact.
Do not stop tweaking your stance on the practice putting green until you are comfortable pulling the trigger and generating a straight stroke.
Your putter face should not twist at any point during the stroke. However, players occasionally alter their path mid-stroke if they feel the face isn’t aligned correctly. This can produce inaccurate strokes that veer off your target line.
Step 5- Distance To The Golf Ball
The pencil grip prompts me to hunch over more than usual. That is caused by the outwards position of my elbow. Therefore, if I fail to move the golf ball closer to me, I produce excess wrist movement and leave the putter face open contact. This causes my golf ball to miss to the right.
The most important point is to feel comfortable. You should be able to take the putter straight back and through from your address position. If you cannot achieve this, change your proximity to the golf ball.
Step 6 – Practice Swing
Now that you are comfortable with your alignment and ball position, I recommend taking two further practice strokes.
On the first attempt, I want you to look down at the contact point the entire time. The aim is to identify if your putter is following a straight line. If you are satisfied that the putter’s face will remain square through contact, prepare for phase two.
The second practice stroke is all about feel. Focus on your target, and swing the putter back and through. All the while visualizing the force required for improved speed control. When you are ready, approach the dimples, do a final check on your line, and pull the trigger.
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Saw Vs Claw Putting Grip
I often hear golfing pundits refer to the paintbrush, saw, and claw grip as one and the same. While they are similar, the presence of your ring fingers is the difference between these grip styles. Your index, ring, and middle fingers touch the rubber for a pencil grip.
On the contrary, your thumb, middle, and index finger hold the putter for a claw grip, which Chris Ryan demonstrates in the below video. Either way, they are both crafted to produce a straight stroke for improved accuracy on the green.
Several hybrid versions of these grips exist, and golfers adjust the position of their fingers for a comfortable setup. It depends on your personal preference.
Which Pro Golfers Use The Saw Grip
Out of the current crop of PGA Tour professionals, Collin Morikawa is the only one I can think of who uses the pencil grip. However, I remember watching Mark O’Mera operate with this setup in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Although many suggest Chris DiMarco used this approach, he played with the claw grip. Similar, but not the same.
There you have my 6 saw grip putting tips to produce a straighter putting stroke and superior accuracy on the green. The grip is designed to restrict wrist action during your stroke to promote a direct path, which helps you square the putter’s face at impact.
Besides promoting improved accuracy on the dancefloor, the lighter, controlled grip minimizes the impact of involuntary muscle spasms. This enhances your confidence and helps you drain more close-range shots.
Golfers struggling with wrist action, accuracy, or speed control on the green, should try this grip style. Since there is more than one way to make a birdie, I am curious to know what grip setup works for you.