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Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Prayer (or Palm-Facing) Putting Grip (Video)

Tony requested this post in the comments a couple of days back, so here we go!

First off, there are a couple of versions of this putting technique. In one, the hands are perfectly even; in the other, one hand is just slightly lower than the other. Here's a picture of Vijay Singh demonstrating the latter on a belly putter, but he says he tends to use the same grip no matter how long or short his shaft is. Note that the index finger of his low hand curls around the handle while the other index finger curls around the first two fingers of the low hand. That's how his hands lock together.

Vijay using a palm-facing putting grip

And here's Paul Dunne using a version of the former. Note that both of his index fingers point straight down the shaft.

Paul Dunne using a palm-facing putting grip

Clearly there isn't just one way to use this grip. But there are some basic principles at work here, which I'll try to summarize in this post.

Let's start with the basic feel of the motion. I believe this grip gained popularity because of something called the "prayer drill," which Martin Hall demonstrates in this video.

In this drill you simply grip the putter handle between your palms without using your fingers at all. The putter is held purely by the pressure of your palms pressing together. This tension causes your wrists to lock in place, which creates the shoulder/hands triangle and the pendulum swing that Martin talks about in the video. The purpose of this drill is to teach the pendulum swing that many -- but not all -- instructors like.

Now, the reason for using this putting stroke is to get the shoulders as level as possible during the stroke. It also tries to keep the putter shaft in a straight line with your forearms, which means the handle settles into the "lifelines" in your palms. The combination of the two is supposed to minimize extra angles and nonlinear motion during your stroke.

Of course, if you're going to use this as your normal putting grip, you'll need to get your fingers into the act. Otherwise you'll end up using too much pressure in your arms and shoulders.

That means, first of all, a change to your equipment -- specifically, you'll need a thicker handle. I prefer round grips on my putter rather than the blocky ones most players use, so I use a jumbo round grip. That's plenty big for most putting grips, but I find it's still too small to use with this palm-facing grip. I have to use too much finger pressure to keep the putter from wiggling during my stroke. (Granted, a squarish grip like most players use may enable you to get a firmer grip with less pressure.) So you'll probably need to have a much larger grip installed on your putter.

If you use the very slightly offset grip that Vijay uses, you'll probably find that you can use a smaller grip than if you use the "even hands" grip that Dunne prefers. That's because when using the slight offset, the hands can fit together more easily.

Likewise, the slightly offset grip can use either hand as the high hand, meaning you can use that version of the grip in either a standard or crosshand style.

Regardless of which version of the prayer grip you use, all four of the fingers on one hand wrap around the handle. In Vijay's case, that's the high hand. But if you look at the picture of Vijay's grip, you'll only see three of those fingers. That's because his index finger is covered by the other hand. And you'll only see two fingers of the lower hand wrapped around the thumb of the high hand. That's because the other two fingers are curled loosely around the main part of the high hand.

In the offset grip, the fingers of the high hand provide most of the stability for the putter while the fingers of the other hand just "lock" the two hands together to get that pendulum motion.

In the "even hands" grip that most people will probably associate with the term "prayer grip," the fingers work a little differently. One hand holds the club, with all of its fingers gripping the handle, while the fingers of the other hand don't grip the handle at all. Rather, they just wrap around the other hand -- locking the hands together as they do in the slightly offset grip -- and both thumbs lay side-by-side on the handle. The exception to this is the version that Dunne uses, where both index fingers extend down the handle to add support and perhaps a bit more control to the stroke.

That's basically all there is to say about this putting method. To see if it's something you'd be interested in trying, you'll want to practice with the prayer drill that Martin demonstrates in the video above because, even when you grip the handle with your fingers, you're still applying more pressure with your arms and shoulders than in a normal grip. Using a thicker handle helps minimize the amount of pressure you need, but it's still a matter of trial and error to find exactly what works for you.

But that's the case with all putting strokes, isn't it?

So there you are, Tony. I hope this post gives you the answers you're looking for. And thanks for the post suggestion!


  1. Thanks Mike for such a prompt and comprehensive response. I will study this method further as it will be several weeks before the snow is gone.

    1. Glad I could help, Tony. Let me know how things go and also if you have any other questions or comments about this post. I like writing on topics I know my readers are interested in.