I’m moving to the Dave Stockton putting method

I haven’t read Dave Stockton’s new book Unconscious Putting, but during a recent appearance on The Golf Channel the guru piqued my interest while plugging his paperback.  He reiterated tips from his earlier manifesto, Putt to Win, which I had read and most of the content sounded very similar.  Not sure if there’s a whole lot of difference in the two books, but in Putt to Win, I thought the tips on pulling the left hand towards the target, not taking a practice stroke, and putting over a spot just in front of the ball were too mechanical, however I managed to incorporate his tip of reading break from the lowest point along the putt to my benefit.  During The Golf Channel appearance, his explanation for not taking a practice stroke (allows you to stay better focused on your target) finally registered and I committed to try this last Sunday during my short game practice.  Wow!  At first putting with no practice stroke felt weird but the ability to zero in on the target improved my feel for distance incredibly.  I putted nine holes in 16 strokes and banged in a couple of long ones but still felt a bit awkward.  I also incorporated the recommended pre-shot routine of placing the putter in front of and then behind the ball, ala Nick Price, to ensure I was fully bought in.  One more practice session with this method on Saturday, and I’ll be ready to game test it in my Sunday round.  Has anyone out there fully converted to the Stockton method?  Send me your feedback please!

I have experimented in my short game practice of hitting shots without rehearsal strokes and it’s worked well, but I’ve worked so hard to develop a repeatable pre-shot routine for short shots using two practice swings and I hesitate to abandon that.  The lie of various short shots can vary greatly, as can your club selection and practice swings allow you to feel the shot before pulling the trigger.  Ultimately, whatever routine I use for putting or short shots will be successful if I keep it consistent from shot to shot.

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About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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9 Responses to I’m moving to the Dave Stockton putting method

  1. I haven’t “Fully” committed to the Stockton method, but I have taken a bunch of his tips and incorporated them into my putting. I take a few looks at my putts from behind the ball, pick a target, get up to the ball and let it roll. It is amazing how much more you commit to the shot when you don’t over analyze it. My putting stats have been getting better all season long and I have noticed that I drop in a long to mid range putt at least once or twice a round where before I never did. Short putts are also finding the cup much more often. I think it takes away the second guessing on the short knee knockers. I would say keep practicing with this method and you will make tons of progress. Keep us updated!

  2. brianpenn says:

    I will give this a try and I like the left hand pull move on the short putts but cannot figure out how to work that in on the long strokes. The follow through on a bigger swing feels unnatural. Maybe the solution is to hit it close 🙂

  3. brianpenn says:

    Temps were in the 40s and it was cold and wet from heavy overnight rains but my first round with the Stockton method is complete and I’m very satisfied. After three practice sessions I found putting with no practice stroke not to be an issue. In fact this seems to allow for better concentration because I was not trying to judge line and pace during my practice strokes and just taking two or three looks at my target and rolling the putt. I did need a mid-round adjustment for speed because my greens had just been aerated and uphill putts were running extremely slow. I began targeting spots four and five feet past the hole with good success. One thing I’m still not comfortable with is which target to sight on putts breaking outside the hole. After I line up the putt, do I take my final look at the target line spot or the hole? Any recommendations? Today, I tried the hole and that worked well. Looking forward to next Sunday’s round at Maryland National because I usually putt their greens well and I’m hoping Stockton can get me to the lights out level.

  4. Ellen says:

    Do you remember which show he was on and when? My husband saw it and began using his method, and wanted to show me the video but had not saved it and now I cannot find it (he’d thought he was a guest onf School of Golf). Can you link me to the clip from that show or let me know where you saw him?

    Thanks.

  5. brianpenn says:

    Hi Ellen, thanks for the comment. Yes, Stockton was a guest and I believe it was with Michael Breed on The Fix. Here’s a great video from The Golf Channel 12 Nights with the Stocktons that has all the techniques and a detailed information. Good luck!
    http://208.78.125.42/media/12-nights-academy-dave-stockton/

  6. Ellen says:

    Thanks Brian, I will watch it!

  7. brianpenn says:

    Update: The past three rounds with this putting method have been ineffective. I know the fundamentals that make it work are correct, however I had to jettison the preshot routine of no practice stroke and placing the putter in front of the ball after five holes of my last round. The reason: I had lost all feel for distance. During the first of the three bad rounds, I had taken a practice stroke, out of habit, before a 15 foot birdie putt and made the putt with confidence. After that, nothing. Admittedly, in the past, when something stops working, I’ve found it beneficial to change it. Perhaps the change helped me to stop thinking of the mechanics of Stockton, but when I started taking practice strokes my feel immediately returned. I suspect this works not just for various putting methods, but for any part of the golf game. So for now, it’s back to the tried and true.

  8. I think the key to putting is confidence and guts. Dave Pelz in his putting books states that for 6 foot putts the average on the PGA tour is 50%. if he is right and I do not dispute it then here is how this average is misleading. Anytime in the fourth rnd of a PGA event they post up the putting statistic of one of the leaders it will say something like from six feet in this particular player has made something like 29 out of 30 putts. Well if Pelz is right that means that probably somebody who missed the cut made just 1 out of 30 6 foot and there is your 50% average. So here is what Ithinki is a good philosopy of putting. From less than 6 feet be aggressive. Bang that sucker in. Sure you may 3 putt from 6 feet now and again but when you get hot you get really hot. From 6 to 30 feet try to get the ball appoximately 18″ past the hole. From over 30 feet get into the lag mode. On course its easy,2 paces or less agressive. 2 to 10 paces 18″ past the hole and over 10 paces lag it. Good luck on the putting.

  9. brianpenn says:

    I love your under 6 feet philosophy. I was briefly in that mode a couple years ago right after I finished “Putting out of your Mind” by Bob Rotella. Had total confidence and didn’t care if I missed, which was the key. Now my problem is that I care if I miss. I’m trying to just execute my routine, but missing is always in the back of my mind and I can’t seem to banish the thought. Somehow, I need to get more process oriented and less results oriented. Always working on it and never giving up. Thanks for the comment!

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