image of pencil grip putting - AEC info

Pencil grip putting

Sometimes golfers create names for how they set their hands on their putter. Someone will find a way to make a more consistent stroke, which turns into a new putting method.

The pencil grip is a variation of the Claw grip. For golfers that are looking for something that is not a conventional grip, the pencil grip could be a good choice.

Let’s look at how to hold a club with the pencil grip, who this grip is for, and whether or not it’s worth making the switch in your game.

Pencil grip putting stroke

The pencil grip putting stroke is a split-handed design where the dominant hand holds the putter like a pencil. The pencil grip ensures the player’s dominant hand is just along for the ride. With a pencil grip putting stroke expect improved wrist action and control of the left hand (for right-handed players).

The pencil grip gets its name from the shape of the fingers on the right hand. You will grip the club with the right hand the same way you would grip a pencil or pen. This typically means the right pinky and forefinger are not attached to the putter grip.

The pencil takes a little time to get used to; it’s not quite as straightforward as the reverse overlap grip. However, if you are looking to calm down the dominant hand in your stroke, you may want to look at the pencil technique.

Pencil grip putting technique

Although many golfers talk about the pencil grip style being the same as the claw, it’s not. The positioning of the right hand is different, and in some cases allows for even less control by the right hand. Remember that with all golf grips for putting, there is some variation in the exact position of the fingers.

You can see a more thorough description of Claw grip putting here. 

Here is how a right-handed player can properly position their hands on the putter for a pencil grip stroke.

Step 1: Left-hand positioning

image of left-hand positioning picture - AEC Info

The left hand is situated at the butt end of the putter grip like you would position it in any other grip. Right-handed golfers use the left hand to grip the club more in the fingers, with the thumb pointing down the center of the shaft.

Ensure that your left index finger is wrapped around the club, but some players will point it down the shaft, which is acceptable.

Step 2: Pencil positioning

Do you remember working on the proper way to hold a pencil in elementary school? If you paid attention, then it’s going to pay off now when working on your golf game.

Before placing your right hand on the club, make a position with your fingers as if you are going to hold a pencil. For most people, the pencil is gripped with the thumb and index finger, and the rest of the fingers wrap underneath.

This is exactly what you need for the grip!

Place your hands in this pencil position, then hold the thumb and index finger on the side of the grip and the rest of the fingers underneath.

Step 3: Spacing of the hands

Some golfers like to create a lot of space between their hands in any type of claw grip or variation. With the pencil grip, most golfers keep their hands relatively close together. The pencil grasp does not require you to interlock or overlap your hands in order to get a proper grip on the club.

Step 4: The stroke

The first thing you will notice when you start to make a stroke with the pencil grip is the fact that the right hand has very little control. This is exactly the point!

The left wrist should stay stable and conduct the stroke. Keep your pinky finger on the right hand out of the way, and don’t let it grasp onto the club and start to change the grip technique.

At first, this weaker position of the right hand can be a problem for golfers on longer putts. You will need a more extended stroke; for some, it’s not a personal preference. However, when you focus on consistent wrist movement and keeping the putter on the proper path, there is plenty of power here for the amateur golfer to make long putts.

Benefits of the pencil putter grip

Now that you know how to use the pencil putter grip and your fingers and hands are in the correct position, you may wonder why this is a good method.

Less action in the right wrist

For right-handed players, even professional golfers, one of the issues that come up is the use of the right wrist and hand to control the putting stroke. This is common because it’s the player’s dominant hand. To avoid the control of the dominant hand, grips like the cross-handed grip, pencil, arm lock grip, claw style, and even the prayer have been created.

With the left hand in control, it’s easier to focus on the larger muscles and the golf ball and forget about the right hand.

Consistency on shorter putts

Short putts make a big difference in scoring, and on both slow greens and fast greens, it’s crucial to have a stroke that engages the upper body and keeps players consistent. The pencil grip improves the overall feel and stabilizes the putter shaft on the shorter putts.

Arc style or straight back and straight through

The pencil grip can be rigid enough to work for the straight back and straight-through style golfer, but it also has enough feel for a player to swing in an arc-style stroke. This versatility is essential.

image of prayer grip image - AEC Info

What is the difference between the prayer grip and the pencil?

The prayer grip (sometimes known as the palm-to-palm grip) takes both hands and holds them parallel to each other on the putter. The left hand and right-hand face each other in the stroke. The pencil grip has a separation in the hands where the lower hand grips the club as if it is a pencil.

You can see AEC Info’s recent post on the Proper putting grip which includes further explanation of the Prayer putting grip.

Final thoughts

What I love about the claw method and any of its variations, like the pencil, is that you can quickly adjust hand positions and see results on the course. Grip methods throughout the rest of the game and with the full swing take a longer adjustment period.

If you always had messy handwriting as a kid, stay away from the pencil grip! However, if you know the exact positioning and want a grip that allows you to control excess manipulation by your dominant hand, the pencil grip is undoubtedly one to try.