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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dave Stockton... 'Nuff Said

Dave Stockton has been making the rounds on GC plugging his new book Unconscious Putting. So I'm going to give him a little space as well. Here's a clip he did for Champions Tour Learning Center a few years ago. Some advice never really changes:

A lot of what he says here echoes what I wrote in a post called Why Tiger Can't Putt a few months ago. If you use the "gravity swing" I talked about in that post (and in my book Ruthless Putting) you probably won't have problems with the back of your lead wrist breaking down either. That'll make it even simpler to putt than Dave says.

And Dave says it pretty simple, folks. If you won't listen to me, listen to him.


  1. What are your thoughts on practice strokes? Some teachers say take a few practice strokes to get a feel for the distance. Some teachers like Dave Stockton don't take any practice strokes at all. Do you feel that it is good to get a feel for the distance or does it put more thoughts than we need in our mind as we make the putt.

    Currently, I take two practice strokes but I have noticed that some of the better putters on Tour do not. Is it just a matter of what is more comfortable for the individual?

  2. I'd go for what's comfortable. I usually take several strokes to get a feel for the distance, although that's hardly a rule. But I figure that's how I judge distance to throw a ball underhand, so I use the same technique to feel the length of my putt.

    Will practice strokes put extra thoughts in your mind? When I judge how far to throw a ball underhand, I don't really think; I just do. It works the same way when I putt.

    The more you think mechanics, the more you think, period. If you don't "think distance thoughts" when you toss a baseball or shoot a basketball, why would you think them when you putt? It's the same process. Just look and feel, the same way you do in other sports.

    Like I keep saying, Dex, we make this game too difficult. If you don't think anything special when you throw or hit in other sports, you shouldn't when you stroke your golf ball either. ;-)

  3. Gotcha. I think it's because it is like a free throw situation. In both of these situations, there is time to think while we are taking our practice strokes or taking a few dribbles before taking the shot.

    When I played basketball, there was no time to think in the heat of competition. Just time to react and like you said "do." There is time in between each free throw and each putting stroke, so that is where the thinking happens.

    I'm getting there, and my putting is improving. I'm trying to get all of the mechanical "stuff" out of the way so that I can just "do it" naturally and without much thought.

  4. That's the real trick, isn't it? It's not that there are no mechanics involved. A well-made free throw requires a minimum amount of mechanics in order to be repeatable. However, you only want to think about mechanics when you practice, and making the shot doesn't really "count." You don't want to be thinking about them in the heat of the game.

    It's about purpose. Practice time is about learning and perfecting, so it's ok to think about mechanics then. But the game is about playing and scoring, so you just do what you already know and don't worry about it. If you don't have your mechanics in decent shape when you go into the game, you won't figure them out during the game.

    At least, not if you play worth anything. ;-)