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Matthew NeSmith during Thursday’s first round of the Valspar Championship.
Matthew NeSmith warns you. He’s been tinkering with it since last July. He also admits it’s been “up-and-down.” But then there are days like Friday.
“We’ve definitely gotten better,” he said. “So I’m excited to see where it goes.”
Ahead of Saturday’s third round of the Valspar Championship, NeSmith was your leader by two shots, and it came in large part to him rolling in putts all over Innisbrook. After 36 holes, he hadn’t missed inside 10 feet. On Friday, during a career-low 61, he dropped 167 feet worth of putts. And all of that came thanks to a grip change he made at last year’s John Deere Classic.
It’s commonly called a prayer grip, and one look tells you why. On NeSmith’s, his thumbs are pressed together on the front of the putter handle and his palms run along the sides — or, looked at another way, it appears like he’s pleading to the golf gods. From there, the shoulders rock, and his wrists stay steady.
Matthew NeSmith’s putting grip.
The grip’s benefits? Another player who employs it is Matt Wallace, and during the 2019 U.S. Open, GOLF’s content director of service journalism, Luke Kerr-Dineen, wrote that the move “allows the shoulders to hang level with one another at address. Doing so forms a perfect triangle between both shoulders and the hands, which allows to rock on a pendulum motion more easily.” (Luke’s complete story can be found here, and a breakdown of the grip from putting coach James Jankowski can be read here.)
During Friday’s Golf Channel broadcast of the Valspar, analyst Gary Koch said the grip may also hold a cure for the ‘Y’ word.
“He’s got this wide grip that we’re seeing more and more out here on the PGA Tour,” he said. “I call it, you end up with like what I call a prayer grip. Because your thumbs are together and both index fingers are down the sides of the grip. Of course, when a pro sees something like that, I messed around with it a little bit. … It really locks the hands in together. Takes the wrists out of the stroke.
“Now watch how the hands work together. There’ll be no breaking of the wrist. You’ll just rock the shoulders. Kind of takes the hands and wrists right out of it. Very simple way to putt. If you’re having trouble, you know, a little yippity-do, that might be something worth trying.”
Below is another explanation of the grip:
Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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