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|The broad, flat leading and trailing sides of the PalmBird Putter Grip align with your palms. (Courtesy of PalmBird Putter Grips)|
Lost in all the hullabaloo about anchored putting strokes over the past several years is another equipment change aimed at improving putting. Close observers of PGA Tour players will notice that even many of the best players in the world have installed oversized grips on their flatsticks.
The theory behind oversized or jumbo grips is that they help take the hands and wrists out of the putting stroke.
Nearly all oversized grips are basically round, often with a flattened strip along the top on which to rest one's thumbs. A few models are more paddle-like, flattened on the horizontal plane (the plane running along the line of the putt).
There is just one oversized grip that flattened along the vertical plane (the plane running from the player to the ball): The PalmBird Putter Grip.
The idea behind The PalmBird is the same as with all jumbo grips, though -- put the main point of contact in the palms, rather than the fingers to reduce tension and lessen the effect of the small muscles.
Phillip A. Jaffe, inventor of The PalmBird, was cutting birds of paradise flowers in his garden when he noticed how comfortably the stalks, which are convex on the topside and tapered on the underside, fit in the crook of his hand.
Jaffe's inspiration led to The PalmBird, whose broad, flat leading and trailing sides align perfectly with the palms of your hands.
I installed The PalmBird on a putter I trusted, so I would know that any problems that may have arisen could be attributed to the grip rather than the club. Then I went to the golf course.
I must admit that the first words out of my mouth when I first set up to a putt with The PalmBird were, "Well, that's weird." And it did indeed feel weird. At first I wasn't sure if I was lined up properly, or precisely how to best grip it.
But a dozen putts or so later, I began to get used to it. The main difficulty was getting a feel for speed, as the big grip really forced me to rock my shoulders and rotate through the stroke. As a result, I had to put forth a lot less effort to strike the ball firmly, so I had to dial my stroke back a bit -- then I overcompensated, and everything came up short.
After nine holes, and a few good putts, I handed my putter to Jason Troyer, a member of an area community college golf team, for his opinion. "I sort of like it," he said immediately. After a couple strokes with The PalmBird, he said, "You can feel the putter face stay square all the way through the ball. It takes your hands completely out of the stroke."
If you put The PalmBird Putter Grip ($20) in your hands, you will almost certainly think it feels odd at first. But if you're experimenting with various ways to get your hands and wrists out of the putting stroke, it is worth a try.
The unique shape will force you to relax your fingers and putt with your large muscles. It just takes a while to learn to trust both the alignment and the stroke.
For more information, visit palmbirdputtergrips.com.
June 11, 2014
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Illinois. Read his golf blog here.
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