What shots does Matt Fitzpatrick hit cross-handed — and why?
Anyone who has watched Matt Fitzpatrick around the green over the past couple of years has probably noticed something odd: the U.S. Open champ uses a cross-handed chipping grip. While it may appear strange, it’s something that has (generally) proven effective for Fitzpatrick.
Fresh off his RBC Heritage win this past weekend, Fitzpatrick was asked about his cross-handed chipping, being told by reporters that it was a conversation piece amongst the commentators on the TV broadcast.
Despite the result, the 28-year-old didn’t exactly give it rave reviews. “I didn’t think I was very good at it today, to be honest,” he said.
Good enough, though. On a tense Sunday when he came from behind to beat Jordan Spieth in a playoff, it didn’t deter Fitzpatrick from winning.
He expanded on when and how he utilizes the unorthodox grip while chipping rather than to a more normal grip.
“Normally, if I’ve got to land it inside 30 yards, I’ll chip cross-handed,” Fitzpatrick said. “Outside of that, I tend to go normal grip just because I can’t really get the speed.
“I also can’t get the spin from anything outside of that, or if I have to play a high shot. I can’t get the spin, either, going cross-handed. That’s when I might have to go normal grip.”
So is Fitzpatrick’s cross-handed chipping grip something more amateurs should try to incorporate into their own short game?
Understanding the cross-handed chipping grip
In an interview with Sky Sports prior to 2022’s Open Championship, Fitzpatrick was asked more about his cross-handed chipping.
After winning his first major title just months prior (2022’s U.S. Open), the host joked about golfers around the country trying to replicate the same grip. While Fitzpatrick nods and smiles, he did described the origin of the idea.
“It’s a drill that I’ve done with my coach, Mike Walker, for for a long time. Just in the full swing,” said Fitzpatrick. “Then [we] kind of messed around with it with the chipping, did it out of the rough, probably, for the last three years.”
The reason behind the switch was simple: Fitzpatrick wanted to improve his chipping stats.
“My stats chipping from the fairway weren’t that good, and I always felt comfortable doing it [the cross-handed grip] from any lies. So he [Walker] said to give it a go this year; and it’s paid off.
“Every now and again, there are shots I’ll hit conventional — awkward lies tend to be difficult going [cross-handed], or where the ball’s above my feet or something. But, yeah, I’m going to carry on using it while it’s working.”
Why Fitzpatrick prefers the cross-handed chipping grip
For Fitzpatrick, the cross-handed chipping grip has been a game-changer.
Overall in 2023, he ranks 22nd in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green and 5th in scrambling (getting his ball up and down 68.27% of the time). By comparison, just three years ago, Fitzpatrick ranked 138th in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green and 99th in scrambling (58.79%).
Given his success, is the unorthodox grip something more amateurs should consider? In Fitzpatrick’s words, it has allowed him more control of his shot, with because “the ball comes off the face much more consistently,” according to a 2022 interview with PGATour.com.
“I just found it more consistent,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s the same every time. You know what’s coming.
“When I was chipping normally, it’s not like I had the yips. I was just getting a lot of inconsistency in the strike, and the release. I started doing it a couple of years ago in the rough, because I felt the technique really got the (club)head out.
“To me, I can’t drag my hands across, because I’ll shank it if I go cross-handed. It helps me throw the head in, and I feel I have way more control over it. … I just got so comfortable with it, and now I really like doing it.”
While other pro players have used a similar cross-handed grip, the success Fitzpatrick has had over the past year has brought it back into the spotlight. So it might just be something worth giving a go as you practice new game-improvement techniques coming out of the winter.