Who is the top short game guru? I’ve received a lot of inquiries on the subject and my choice may surprise you. I’ve read many books, watched many tips, and practiced enough techniques (mental and physical) to establish a ranking. These are based solely on my positive long lasting experiences.
Top billing goes to sports psychologist Bob Rotella. I’ve read several of his books, and Putting Out OF Your Mind really hit home and was a total paradigm shift for me. Rotella teaches a total mental approach to putting and short game and provides no actual physical techniques. Inside is a treasure trove of anecdotes from real tour players to illustrate his methods, and his approach is designed to relax you, build confidence, and leverage all your natural ability. My first round out after this read, it was if a new person had possessed my body. A bit strange at first but imagine the confidence rush when all those knee-knocking five to six footers were getting rammed in the back of the cup.
Runner-up is Stan Utley who’s less well known, but who’s technique is best for feel players like myself. Utley’s two gems The Art of Putting and The Art of The Short Game simplify the approach one can take on and around the green. The consistency of a few minor fundamental changes makes digesting and replicating easy. Again, very important for feel players that find overly mechanical instruction counter-productive.
For the technicians, you can have the rest. Dave Pelz has his cadre of touring professionals and instructional segments on The Golf Channel but every tip I’ve read, or show I’ve viewed is loaded with mechanical jargon and technical details that would take hours and hours of practice to perfect and store up so much mental baggage, you’d need a caddy to haul it to the course. Some may be able to deliberately line up putts on the toe of the putter for fast downhill left to right sliders, but that thinking is disastrous for those of us who need a more simple approach like, “get committed, rehearse, pull the trigger.”
Dave Stockton has a lot of disciples in putting circles; kind of like the Bill Walsh of the PGA Tour. I experimented with his putting techniques and while I found his information on reading greens helpful, his techniques were again way too mechanical and screwed up my feel for distance. Want a lot to think about on the greens? Go with Stockton. Need to simplify; head with me to the Stan Utley camp.
Again, I read the Utley books over the winter and have experienced good results with the changes. The best change/tip I’ve discovered for feel on long putts resulted from discontinuing the Stockton practice of pulling the putter with my left hand. Instead I feel the distance with my right hand after a right hand-only practice swing.
Who is your favorite short game guru? K.I.S.S. and good luck!