Rules Guy: Is it legal to use a hockey-style grip while putting?
The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.
I was putting on the practice green at my club when an idea struck: Hold my right hand on the shaft down low — like, 10 inches from the clubhead — while keeping my left hand on the grip. Works for hockey slapshots, right? Sure enough, I start draining them from everywhere. At this point, another member came over to me and said this was illegal, that both hands must be on the grip. True? What if I didn’t want any grip on my putter? And didn’t Happy Gilmore putt this way? I don’t recall anyone giving him a hard time. — Joe Lahaye, Brick, N.J.
Rules Guy seems to recall that Bob Barker gave Gilmore a hard time. But we digress.
There’s nothing that RG can find in the rules that requires both hands to be on the grip. You do, however, have to be careful not to (a) push the ball with this hockey stick grip, or (b) create an anchor point by anchoring the hand on the grip against your body and create a pendulum that way. (In hockey terms, a slapshot would be okay; a wrist shot wouldn’t.)
Either of those mistakes would be a breach of Rule 10.1, either Rule 10.1a for the push or Rule 10.1b for the anchor. Plus, two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.
For more grip-related guidance from our guru, read on …
I have made three prototype grips and use one on my putter. I read the definition of a conforming grip, contacted the USGA, and it conforms. Is it legal to play in competition? — Jim Thompson, via email
Readers of a certain age will remember the old ad: “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”
Well, the same goes for the USGA. In conjunction with the R&A, it sets golf’s rules — equipment and otherwise. So, if your Super Duper Wowie Zowie grip conforms to its regulations, then it is legal to use in competition and more generally. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
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