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My Book Review for “Unconscious Putting” by Dave Stockton

April 15 2013 Golfing Tips


Unconscious Putting by Dave Stockton & Matthew Rudy

Dave Stockton’s number one concept is to have a player discover their putting “signature” and learn how to stay committed to that natural unconscious signature. You don’t need to think about how to sign your name…you just instinctively do it. Mr. Stockton believes any too deliberate of a process for a player to follow before putting should be discouraged. It literally becomes a counter productive effort as their focus becomes the ball itself instead of where they want the ball to go. He also demonstrates the “unconscious” example with the experience of suddenly being followed by a police officer on the road. You’re driving with a very natural process unaware of the gas/brake pedal but when you notice the patrol car in your rear view window you suddenly switch over to a much more rigid or deliberate process filled with fear or caution. You start questioning if you are doing things “right” and you become too self-aware vs driving. Player’s should try to find a signature or pre-shot routine that is simple and not meant to be a time consuming strict ritual that distracts them from the ultimate goal and not allow the process to become the focus. You want to unlock your natural, free flowing, athletic stroke that we all have innately. A player’s focus needs to be on the line and speed of the putt only. Not the mechanics. Once a player has learned the basics or fundamentals it is now time to “play” the game. He states that when we are concentrating on what our hands are doing, how far back to take the putter, straight or with an arc or any other mechanical thoughts then we are diverting our focus from where it should primarily be with putting…on speed and line.

A better thought for the player would be to rely on feel more and realize that they aren’t machines and that there isn’t only one way to set up or approach a putt. A player should trust their feelings more and find their comfortable set up for that given moment and know that it is okay if it changes slightly from day to day. An exercise for a player may be focusing on simply rolling their ball over a spot one or two inches in front of the ball. We just want to start the car and put it in gear and not be worried about driving or steering yet…we just want to get it started. A player must also improve their visual interpretation of speed for better distance control, as this is the paramount skill when it comes to being a good putter. Speed is most important when it comes to avoiding three putts and scoring better. Players should be encouraged to walk more so they can approach a green from the front and gather important information more naturally. Then they will see and feel what the contours and surface changes are more innately and be able to make a more unconscious decision when it comes to the read of their putt.

Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 8.18.27 PMI loved Mr. Stockton’s visualization key of seeing a ball falling into a specific part of the hole by identifying it as a curve and time on a clock for a player. I also loved his suggestion to approach a putt from it’s low side and to visualize an “open book tilted towards you” to illustrate how we will see things more clearly from this perspective. As golfers, we must learn to manage the things we have some influence over but we must also learn how to react to the things we do not have any control or influence over. The author’s analogy that success i.e.; the ball dropping in the cup is simply a by-product of the process and not a direct result of “trying” to make a putt reminded me of Emerson’s quote and refreshed my self-awareness to this very healthy philosophy when it comes to the challenges we face in our day to day life as well as on the golf course.

“Life is a journey…not a destination” – Emerson




© 2019 Christine M Reuss