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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Putting Mechanics, Begone!

I really agree with Dave Stockton when he urges the readers of his latest book, Unconscious Putting, to stop thinking and start putting. The putting stroke, he says, is small and simple. Its success depends almost entirely on touch and feel. What a breath of fresh air!

Stockton, a major championship winner on the PGA and Champions Tours, was known as one of the best putters of his day. Today, he coaches some of the top players in the game including Yani Tseng, Matt Kuchar, Adam Scott, Morgan Pressel, and Rory McIlroy. Phil Mickelson credits Stockton's lessons on the simple stroke for his wins at the Tour Championship in 2009 and at the Masters in 2010.

I wonder, though, if he could have helped Lenny, the golfer in my story "Screaming Blue Yips" from Weird Golf. Lenny's problem, you see, was a little blue gnome who showed up one day and insisted on reading putts for him. Talk about too many swing thoughts!

At any rate, the key to good putting, according to Stockton, is to make it an unconscious act, just like signing your name. Don't think about it--do it! He outlines a few simple physical routines that help you identify the target line, wipe your mind clean of swing thoughts, and roll the ball into the hole. It's a beautiful thing. Here, for example, is what he has to say about the big debate over swing path:
"I used to take the putter back a little outside and loop it around, and now I take it back a little to the inside. Ben Crenshaw brings it back in an arc to the inside. Loren Roberts brings it back straight. We've all made a ton of putts over a lot of years, doing it with different mechanics."
Of course, it wouldn't be an instruction book without some instruction, so Stockton includes some easy-to-understand common sense suggestions about keeping tension out of your grip, consistently keeping the ball centered under your eye line, and stroking with the intention of making solid contact. There are also plenty of clear photos some drills to help you develop confidence. What there isn't is a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo.

Ball--hole. It's simple, really.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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