The late, great Billy Casper was -- and will always be -- one of the best putters in the history of golf.
Among one of the many simple philosophies he taught about the putting stroke, Casper emphasized the importance of your lead hand.
Paraphrasing Casper, he often said something to the effect of: Keep the back of your left hand square to the blade at impact. The idea is a simple one. Your left hand is your guide hand in the putting stroke, getting the putter face where it needs to go. The right hand is your speed hand, determining pace. So, if your left hand is pointing the same direction as your blade at impact, the putter head should send the ball where you've lined up.
However, it can be tough for golfers to feel that connection. Flat Cat aims to change that with their line of putter grips.
Offered in four sizes, Flat Cat grips are, well, flat. They're installed on the putter shaft so that the grip lays flat in a player's palms in a traditional or left-hand-low stroke. If a player uses a saw or claw grip, the Flat Cat will lay flat in the palm of one hand. The idea is to connect the feeling of a square putter face to what you're holding in your hands.
The Flat Cat grips look a little gaudy. The bright green and white combo is a little loud and the branding is all over it. Chalk that up to this being the first generation of the product and trying to use the grip to draw in a lot of eyeballs. However, using the actual product isn't distracting. Your hands cover up the branding, and, since the grip is flat, you won't see it anyhow.
I spent some time working with the Flat Cat grip on the putting green at Argyle Country Club, using an Anser-style blade. I really like the idea of the grip. It makes sense. There's a feeling of security that I can imagine a lot of users would develop with the Flat Cat, knowing they could keep their hands quiet and that their blade would be on line (assuming they lined it up right, which is an entirely separate issue). The Flat Cat grip seems to promote very little face turn, which means the grip should not twist the face and keep the ball on target through impact.
That said, I'm not entirely certain that this grip will work for every kind of stroke. I think the Flat Cat works very well for golfers who take the blade straight back and through, or even pull the blade back a little closed.
I'm not sure it'll be great for players who take the blade inside, open it up and square it with arc at the end. A player could develop mistiming, worrying about the hand-blade system and the timing required to get back to square. That shouldn't happen for a good player, but it's possible.
I'm also concerned for players who use a forward press to putt. I know they're a dying breed, but those players may get psyched out. For them, they don't necessarily want the left hand square to the blade, depending on their stance and the amount of press.
Perhaps more than any other putter grip, the Flat Cat has to be installed properly. If it's not, then it kind of defeats the purpose of the grip. My pro put on the Flat Cat, and he nailed it, getting it square to the blade. Point your pro to Flat Cat's online guide, or, if you're doing it yourself, read the directions.
While I'm a fan of a traditional tapered grip, the Flat Cat grip would be a great answer for a player who's looking for some confidence in getting the ball started on their intended line.
As mentioned, the Flat Cat comes in four sizes -- Slim, Standard, Fat, Big Boy -- ranging in size and weight, from 45-104 grams. The grip, made of foam, costs $28.