Why One-Handed Putting Is Better Than Two: History, Benefits, and Drills

Colin McCarthy

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Golfers are always on the hunt for techniques to improve their game, and one-handed putting is gaining traction as a surprising yet effective method.

While it may seem unconventional, many have found that putting with just one hand can offer greater accuracy, especially for putts within 10 feet. This technique isn’t just a novelty; it has proven results on the course.

In fact, professional golfers have experimented with one-handed putting and noted significant improvements. The simplicity of the pendulum stroke with one hand minimizes unnecessary movements, leading to more consistent and precise putts.

So, why is one-handed putting potentially better than the traditional two-handed approach? Let’s delve into the mechanics and benefits of this intriguing method.

History of One-Handed Putting

The history of one-handed putting in golf is a fascinating journey that showcases the sport’s constant evolution and the innovative approaches of its players. Here’s a closer look at how one-handed putting emerged and evolved over time:

Early Adopters and Their Influence

Early adopters of one-handed putting, emerging in the mid-20th century, experimented on practice greens before using the technique in competitive play.

Sam Snead, known for his unorthodox approaches, brought attention to this style in the 1960s, aiming for better control and consistency by minimizing complex hand movements.

These pioneers influenced the golfing world by demonstrating the effectiveness of one-handed putting, encouraging more players to test the method. Their success stories helped pave the way for its gradual acceptance in mainstream golfing.

Evolution in Tournament Play

The adoption of one-handed putting in tournament play has evolved from initial skepticism to gradual acceptance, spurred by golfers looking to improve their short game under pressure.

A notable instance was Ian Poulter’s one-handed putting at the Waste Management Open, which drew significant attention and discussions. By the 21st century, the method saw periodic professional use, with golfer testimonials highlighting performance improvements.

As tournaments increasingly showcased innovative strategies, one-handed putting gained credibility for its precision and reduced stress on shorter putts, eventually being recognized as a legitimate competitive strategy.

Advantages of One-Handed Putting

One-handed putting offers several advantages that have made it an intriguing option for golfers looking to enhance their putting performance. Here are some key advantages of this technique:

Increased Precision and Focus

One-handed putting improves precision by reducing unnecessary movements. When golfers use only one hand, their strokes become more streamlined and consistent.

The dominant hand naturally guides the direction, reducing variability. In high-pressure situations, this method aids in maintaining focus.

By simplifying the putting motion, golfers limit distractions, allowing for better concentration on the ball and line.

Enhanced Feel and Control

Using one hand provides superior feel and control over the putter by allowing the dominant hand to directly influence the club’s motion, leading to a more intuitive connection with each stroke.

Ian Poulter supports this technique, noting it offers a better sensation of the putterhead. This enhanced tactile feedback helps golfers manage the pace and rhythm of their putts, leading to smoother, more confident strokes and improved performance on the green.

Incorporating one-handed putting can refine golfers’ techniques, potentially becoming a key part of their game strategy.

Comparing Techniques: One-Handed vs Two-Handed

Comparing one-handed putting to the traditional two-handed approach provides insights into their respective strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a breakdown of both techniques:

Grip Techniques and Their Impact

Grip variations significantly impact putting performance in golf. One-handed putting, where the dominant hand alone grips the putter, can reduce interference from the non-dominant hand, providing a more direct path for cleaner contact, as demonstrated by players like Ian Poulter.

On the other hand, the two-handed grip, with one hand placed above the other, offers more stability but can introduce variability if the hands are not synchronized.

Although some believe the two-handed grip provides better control, practiced one-handed techniques can equally enhance precision.

Psychological and Physical Benefits

One-handed putting offers both psychological and physical advantages. Psychologically, it can boost a player’s confidence in short putts by simplifying stroke mechanics, thus enhancing focus on aim and alignment.

Physically, it reduces tension and misalignment between hands, which often leads to missed putts, and provides a more natural feel that improves overall rhythm.

On practice greens, it encourages a smoother stroke, contributing to better consistency and performance, as demonstrated by golfers like Poulter.

How to Transition to One-Handed Putting?

Transitioning to one-handed putting requires a deliberate approach and consistent practice to adapt to the new technique effectively. Here are some steps and tips to help golfers make a smooth transition:

Training Exercises and Tips

Practicing one-handed putting involves specific exercises to refine technique. Start by rolling putts with the dominant hand only. Focus on maintaining a relaxed grip and smooth stroke. Use alignment aids to improve aim and consistency.

Mirror drills help. Set up in front of a mirror to observe posture, ensuring shoulders remain level. Incorporate distance control exercises by placing tees or coins at varying distances and aiming to stop the ball at the markers.

Mental visualization is key. Visualize successful putts to build confidence. Incorporate breathing exercises to reduce tension.

Adjusting From a Two-Handed Grip

Switching from a two-handed grip to a one-handed technique requires gradual adaptation. Begin by slightly loosening the non-dominant hand’s grip until it’s essentially passive. This reduces its influence on the stroke.

Experiment with grip pressure. Hold the putter lower on the shaft for more control or keep your standard grip for familiarity, ensuring it’s relaxed.

Practice short putts initially. As you gain confidence, gradually increase the distance. Maintain focus on mechanics—short backstroke and follow-through. Regular practice and incremental adjustments lead to a smoother transition.

When to Use One-Handed Putting

Knowing when to employ one-handed putting can be advantageous for golfers seeking to optimize their performance on the green. Here are scenarios where one-handed putting can prove particularly effective:

Specific Situations and Course Types

One-handed putting is particularly effective on fast greens, severe slopes, and tight lies, offering better control and touch. Short putts reduce unnecessary movements. Practicing one-handed putting drills enhances muscle memory and precision.

On windy links courses, it provides a steady hand. Golfers often use it during casual rounds to improve green reading and ball control. Mastering this technique benefits golfers across different course types and situations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the advantages of one-handed putting?

One-handed putting provides precision, reduces stress, and can improve stroke mechanics, particularly on short putts. It allows for a more direct path to the ball compared to two-handed grips.

When should I use one-handed putting?

One-handed putting is effective in various situations, including fast greens, undulating terrains, tight lies, and short putts. It can offer better control and accuracy in these conditions.

How can I transition to one-handed putting?

Transitioning to one-handed putting can be achieved through specific training exercises like mirror drills for posture, distance control drills, mental visualization, and gradually adjusting from a two-handed grip.

Are there specific drills to practice one-handed putting?

Yes, practice drills on different course types, including links courses with challenging winds, can be beneficial for developing muscle memory and precision in one-handed putting.

How does one-handed putting compare to two-handed putting?

One-handed putting often offers a more direct path to the ball and can enhance precision and control, especially on short putts, compared to two-handed putting.


One-handed putting has emerged as a valuable technique for golfers seeking precision and consistency.

By focusing on the benefits such as improved stroke mechanics and reduced stress, players can gain a competitive edge, especially on fast greens and undulating terrains.

Transitioning to this method through targeted practice drills can significantly enhance muscle memory and accuracy.

Embracing one-handed putting allows golfers to navigate various course types with greater confidence and effectiveness, making it a worthwhile addition to any golfer’s skill set.

Additionally, this technique can lead to better control over putt distance and direction, minimizing common errors associated with two-handed putting.

As golfers refine their one-handed skills, they often experience a boost in overall putting performance, contributing to lower scores and a more enjoyable game.

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Colin McCarthy

Golf is about mastering your misses and learning from them. I seek answers on the how and why of the golf swing, gaining experience even when answers elude me. With over 11,000 hours of teaching and a hunger for learning, I welcome any questions. My goal is to introduce golf to as many as possible, simplifying the game for all to enjoy. Passionate, eager, and ambitious, I'm here to teach, listen, and learn. LinkedIn

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