by Jeff Skinner
Like many golfers, professional and amateurs alike, I am always searching for that tip to make my game better. I am willing to try any lesson, technique or suggestion that has a chance at lowering my score. Unfortunately, most of my efforts with the Big Dawg go wasted but when it comes to the short game I can incorporate changes successfully.
Maybe it is because I don’t take that violent rip at the ball with a wedge as I do a driver but chipping and putting tips always seem easier to try and execute.
And of course as we all know the way for us hackers to improve is to take less strokes around the green. How many times do you chip twice and then go and three putt? Those are wasted strokes that kill a scorecard.
But there is hope for all of us to knock off a few strokes with our short clubs and that comes in the form of Dave Stockton. Stockton won two PGA Championships and eleven PGA tournaments during his career but has become better known to this generation of golfers as a “short game guru.” And the title is not misplaced.
Stockton’s first book Unconscious Putting concentrated on putting and his tips and techniques worked wonders with millions including Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy. His latest book Unconscious Scoring attacks our wedge game.
The brilliance of Stockton is in his simplicity. He breaks the short game, where you hit most of your shots, into two type of shots: high and low. He recommends using one club for both and uses setup and subtle swing thoughts to play the different shots. The low shot is more left hand at the hole, high shot the right hand dominates the shot. It’s simple.
He covers trouble shots, bunkers shots and of course the most essential, mental game. And as important as all his swing techniques are he says “I believe my mechanics are secondary to what you think and see.”
That’s Stockton, simple is better and it reflects in the short, concise chapters that make up this brief but enlightening book. That’s one of the differences between Stockton and Dave Pelz. Pelz, another short game guru, drowns you in stats and numbers that make your head spin. Pelz’s books are 600 pages. Stockton’s Unconscious Scoring clocks in at 126 pages. That’s the beauty of Stockton: you get the message in clear, understandable terms and can implement the tips right away.
Both Stockton’s books are must reading for anyone trying to improve their short game. I read Unconscious Scoring with the book in one hand and my wedge in the other. I can already see those wedge shots rolling to kick in range and maybe a few dropping in.