Pros: good summary of short game technique and approach.
Cons: Writing was a bit confusing in some sections, which caused me to re-read to understand.
I've read Dave Stockton's Unconscious Putting and use a lot of the set up he suggested from that book, so I was eager to see if his short game technique. The book is a fairly easy read. I did find my self re-reading sections on set up, as they were a bit confusing at first. But after a quick review, they are straight forward. I am not posting any pictures from the book, which you can easily get with a Google search, because it may be a violation of copyright. Google, "Dave Stockton Unconscious Scoring" for images.
Stockton approaches the short game with a very simple analysis, low shot or high shot. He states that in all situations, a player can determine was is the best shot by the lie and the flag position. A low shot is a chip and a high shot is a pitch. The low shot is used when the player can make good contact with the back of the ball and the flag position allows the player to run the ball up to the hole. The high shot is used when contact with the back of the ball is blocked by grass or in sand or when you need to fly the ball close to the hole. Stockton prefers the chip to the pitch in most situations.
In chapters 1 and 2, Stockton describe the essence of scoring and your awareness. In chapters 3 and 4, Stockton describes the set up for both of the low and high shot. Chapter 5 is bunkers and 6 trouble shots. The remaining chapters are drills, equipment and a review of putting.
The Chip - Low Shot
Stockton's chip set up is a bit different than Utley's, which I have been using. His set up has the player stand taller and closer to the ball than with the putter so that the heel of the club is off the ground. The player should not choke down on the club. Both feet are a foot apart angled toward the target with knees slightly bent and slightly open to target. Stockton states that this set up allows the player a relaxed set up that will be less likely to catch the ground first (heel up) and promote weight staying on the front leg. Leg action is similar to Utley's in that the legs drive the shot.
Stockton emphasizes that the chip is a left hand controlled shot. The right hand is just along for the ride. The left hand initiates the back swing and the back of the left hand should continue toward the target after contact. Obviously, Phil Mickelson, a student of Stockton's, talks of this in his short game DVD and book as well.
The ball position is more toward the right big toe. Height can be varied by the loft of the club or by shifting the position forward or backward.
The Pitch- High Shot
The pitch is a right hand controlled shot. The lower body set up is similar to the chip with the feet angled toward the hole and the ball closer to your front heel. The right hand initiates the back swing and after contact, the right hand palm should face the sky similar to tossing a rock underhanded in the air ten feet high in front of you. The left hand should almost stop at the set up position after contact.
Stockton emphasizes that the pitch uses the bounce on the head of the club and leaves margin for error. He uses the same technique in the sand but focuses more on where the club will contact the sand. For sand, he also uses a 30 degree open stance, which is different than Utley. He recommends not to open the club face very much, similar to Utley.
Evaluation of the Techniques
I have been practicing these techniques to see how they feel and work. I really like the thinking of a chip as left hand controlled and a pitch right hand controlled. It makes it much easier to focus on what you are doing and is a good swing thought.
The pitch is very similar to what I have been using with the addition of angling the right foot toward the hole, which does help weight from shifting back. The chip technique works pretty well, but will take time to get used to the higher body position if you currently choke down and lean over. I tend to stay more square to my target than Stockton recommends for both the chip and pitch/sand shot.
One issue I have been having is the pitch shot with grass behind the ball. If the ball is down in the rough, I generally use a chip because I fear that I will not be able to get the head to contact the ball in the right position. The leading edge of the head gets stuck in the grass. I will have to keep practicing this to see if I am just doing it wrong. Perhaps relying more on my right hand to do the work will help.
I recommend TST members to get this book and check it out for yourself. Stockton has a lot of good advice and you will pick up better ways to approach the short game. If you get a Kindle edition, you may want to read it on an IPad instead of a black and white Kindle because the pictures and copy will be easier to read.