Ordinarily, a season as good as Dustin Johnson’s — with three wins, 12 Top 10s and just a few shots removed from the FedEX Cup — doesn’t prompt such a drastic change. But apparently DJ isn’t happy, so just days before the Ryder Cup, he’s considering changing his putting grip, from conventional to cross-handed (or left-hand low).
DJ actually made the switch midway through his third round at the Tour Championship, though the World Number One didn’t really reveal much beyond that in his post-tournament press conference:
Q. When did you switch to the cross-handed?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yesterday on No. 6.
Q. Had you practiced it before?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: For a little bit.
Q. When is the last time you switched putting grips mid-tournament?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Never.
Q. When is the last time you putted cross-handed?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Never.
The funny thing is DJ hasn’t even been putting that poorly. He finished 30th in SG: Putting, a level he’s maintained basically all season. Nevertheless, DJ is considering a change so let’s consult the tape.
On the left is footage of DJ putting on Sunday at the Tour Championship; on the right, DJ hitting a similar-length putt from earlier in the year.
GOLF Top 100 Teacher Dave Pelz has long been a proponent of left-hand low putting, for a few reasons:
First, it eliminates forearm rotation for most golfers (therefore making it harder to push and pull putts).
It also minimizes wrist breakdown, which helps with distance control.
And crucially, it levels-out the shoulders, which promotes a squarer, pendulum stroke. You can see Pelz demonstrate that element below.
And you can already see some of those elements in DJ’s stroke.
If we draw a line from shoulder to shoulder, we can see they’re more level at address than with his conventional grip setup.
And by keeping his more dominant right hand and wrist locked in a position at the top of the putter, there’s less chance of his right hand becoming active and manipulating the putter face.
Your takeaway: DJ was using left-hand low once again during his practice round at Le Golf National, but who knows if he’ll stick with the style for the Ryder Cup. But if you’re struggling pushing and pulling your putts, left-hand low may help improve your stroke. If you’re not ready to use it on the course, just try spending a few minutes practicing with it on the putting green before your round to get a feel for it.
As Pelz says, it may look a little different, but there are some built-in elements that can easily help you produce a more consistent, more square stroke.