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Golf: How Does Donald Do It?

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Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland

Luke Donald’s putting prowess was mentioned during the telecast of the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship. The world’s number one has gone something like 283 greens without a three-putt. Making it approximately 15 rounds of golf.

The average golfer struggles to go 15 holes without a three-putt. So how does Luke do it?

The anonymous Golf Magic correspondent writes, ‘Luke Donald believes most amateur golfers would become better putters if they followed a few basic fundamentals and took more notice of the mentality of this game within a game rather than purely technique.’

‘Mentality of his game’ rings a bell. John Newport at the WSJ recently reviewed Dave Stockton’s latest book, ‘Unconscious Putting’ and writes. ‘He (Stockton) advocates minimal attention to mechanics, no practice strokes and rolling the golf ball smoothly, like an artist applying paint to a canvas. His most successful early student was Annika Sörenstam. She credits Stockton for helping take her from a two-win 1999 LPGA season to 24 wins over the next three years.’

Add to that the successful outcome of Rory McIlroy’s visit to Dave Stockton, post his Masters meltdown and pre his win at the US Open and Dave’s book looks like it’s worth a read.

Dave attributes his thinking and methodology to his father and John writes, ‘Only recently did Stockton discover that his father, Gail, had been a student of Alex Morrison, an influential instructor in the 1920s and '30s. Morrison's star protégé was Hall of Famer Henry Picard, who subsequently taught Jack Grout (Jack Nicklaus's mentor) and worked with Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. When a friend sent Stockton a copy of Morrison's 1940 book "Better Golf Without Practice," he was bowled over. "I thought, 'Oh my God, this is exactly what my dad taught me 60 years ago,' " he said. “The long game has obviously changed since then, but the short-game stuff is still 100% relevant."

The mention of Morrison’s book brought back memories of having read about him in some kind of self-help (not golf) book and how Alex advised his readers to use visualization. Something that Jack Nicklaus is attributed to have brought to the game of golf. And perhaps it’s no coincidence that ‘Morrison's star protégé was Hall of Famer Henry Picard, who subsequently taught Jack Grout’ who it would appear passed on Morrison’s thoughts on the importance of visualization to the young Jack Nicklaus.

Keeping in mind Alex’s book was published in 1940 it’s a measure of the man’s innovative thinking when he writes, “You must have a clear mental picture of the correct thing before you can do it successfully.” Something that Jack Nicklaus pioneered and has perfected and in technicolour when preparing to play a shot.

As for putting mechanics and not the mental side. Luke says the grip on the putter is vital and, "It's very different to hitting normal shots where the feel is more in the fingers. With putting it's more in the palms. They help keep the club face square to the target.”

Here’s the link to Golf Magic and to John at the WSJ  

Quote of the Day

"Everybody, and I mean everybody, tries to get too technical with putting. They put too much effort into the mechanics," – Dave Stockton

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