Dave Stockton needs no introduction. Today, he is best known as the elite putting and short game instructor to Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and others. Given his impressive track record as an instructor, it’s easy to forget that Stockton is also a two-time major winner on the PGA Tour with a total of 10 tournament victories to his name. He is also the founder of Stockton Golf, which he runs with his sons Ron and Dave Jr., and he is the author of the new book Unconscious Scoring (click here for our review), which focuses on the short game. We recently caught up with Mr. Stockton to get the lowdown on his new book, as well as some insights into putting. Following is our exclusive interview:
The line that jumped out at us in your latest book is that you can simply think of your short game as either a high shot or low shot. Can you elaborate on how the average golfer can simplify their life with that mindset?
You’re hitting it right on the head. You hit the most important part of this book, and it’ll be so simple for people when they realize it’s one routine to go high and one routine to go low, and your lie dictates it. That’s the first thing we look at. In the book, we talk about letting your lie dictate whether you’re high or low. And about 80 percent of the time, you’re going to want to go low.
A lot of golfers think they’re terrible putters because it’s the last thing they remember when they miss the last putt and go onto the next hole. They forget that it was a miserable chip shot, that instead of chipping it within a foot, they chipped it to five feet or 10 feet away, and they didn’t make the putt. And they blame the putt, when in reality they should blame the chipping. The book is going to help people fix that problem.
What’s your favorite putting drill for the average golfer?
Putt with your left hand (speaking to right-handed golfers). I believe that the left hand is your direction hand in putting. It’s my weakest hand, but I’ve been doing this drill since I was a kid, and I can do it in my sleep. My right hand can’t overpower it.
Also, putt with just two balls, because it constantly keeps you in motion. I don’t like drills where you circle the hole with balls, or where you place balls three, six, nine feet out in a straight line. I’d much rather have a few three footers that break left, then pick my ball up and go to the other side of the hole and hit a seven footer that breaks the other direction. I’m doing exactly what I’m going to have to do when I get out there on the course. I’m not going to get 10 straight four footers in the same spot. That doesn’t make sense.
You helped Rory McIlroy with his putting. Can you share some insights on that?
I didn’t change much with him. I thought he was one of the few people on this planet who walked into the putt way too fast. Most people are very slow. He didn’t take practice strokes, and I think that’s fantastic. The last thing I told him is that ‘I want your left hand to go to the hole, I don’t want you coming up.’ And I had him practice the drill that we use with most people, the left-hand drill. So with Rory it was very simple. Give me an extra second or two walking from six or seven feet yards behind the ball. You’ve looked at it, the low side, you see where that line is going. But now enjoy that walk up there. Because he’s going to put the putter down behind the ball, look at the hole and, bam, he’s going to let it go. And I think that’s great.
What’s the latest with Stockton Golf?
We are in the process of doing outings with TaylorMade throughout the country, where we do morning and afternoon sessions with 15 to 20 people. We just came back from Texas, and Florida is coming up. On our site at StocktonGolf.com, you will find my two books and new DVD. The DVD is good, because a lot of people learn better visually. And look for the Spot Putting Secret putting device soon, it’s going to be one of the best putting devices ever because it’s simple. It’s not a mechanical thing that you’re going to have to re-train yourself to use. It’s small, it will fit in your bag, and will give you precise feeling.
Thank you, Dave Stockton!