Six Steps to Unconscious Putting


Learn the Six Steps to Unconscious Putting, a key part of the pre-shot routine that Darren Clarke used so effectively at Royal St Georges in wining the Open Championship.

Unusually for me, there are no instructions here about using any formal self hypnosis technique before following these six steps. You’ll usually be using this technique as you transition from the conscious process of planning your putt in your pre-shot routine to the, hopefully, unconscious process of stroking the putt in your shot routine. Having said that, if you’re an experienced user of the “Finger Breathing technique, you’ll only need a couple of deep breaths at this point to get into just the right state.

Step 1: When you approach a putt, start following your normal pre-shot routine and doing whatever you would normally do to read and visualise the putt.

Step 2: If you haven’t already marked the ball, then mark it now, clean it and replace it ready to putt. I suggest that you avoid making any particular conscious effort to line up the markings on the ball with the target. If you normally draw a sighting line on your ball, either ignore it or don’t do it for now.

Step 3: Now stand 2-4 yards behind the ball on the line to your target. Face straight at the target, so that both your eyes are seeing the ball and the hole using your binocular vision.

Step 4: Recall your visualisation of the putt and do your best to imagine the feeling and/or picture of the ball rolling along your expected line before hearing it fall in the hole.

Step 5: Now, keeping that feeling and/or picture in your mind and, while maintaining your gaze at the ball and the hole, take your stance for a practice swing. Take a couple of practice swings while still looking simultaneously at the ball and hole.

Step 6: As soon as you feel the practice swing is a good rehearsal for the putt you want to play, move as quickly and smoothly as you can and take up your stance to the ball. Only roughly align yourself to the hole – your unconscious will automatically allow for any misalignment. Then take one slow look at the hole and as soon as your eyes return to the ball, notice how you automatically and unconsciously start your putter stroke and then stroke the putt. It really is that easy!

So why does this work? Well, the object is to get all the conscious thought and analysis out of the way before handing over to your unconscious mind to finally assess the shot and hit the putt. Looking at the hole with both eyes while you get the feel of the putter stroke allows your unconscious mind to take in all the information it needs to deliver the putt that you saw and/or felt in step 1. Finally, the faster you can smoothly take your stance, look at the hole and start your swing, the more of that unconscious information you’ll retain and the less time there is for the conscious mind to step in and start analysing things again – and potentially sowing the seeds of doubt.

Remember that you can use a similar technique for chips and, with practice, for longer shots as well. It’s also a good technique for helping overcome the Yips for both putting and chipping.


  1. Andrew Fogg says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I really liked that interview with Dave Stockton and I’ve just ordered myself a copy of his Unconscious Putting book – I’m always open to new ideas!

    I really like Dave Stockton’s ideas, and the 6 steps you summarised include some really important points. However, I’d rather do all that conscious work in the pre-shot routine, rehearse it then just step in and trust my unconscious mind to hit the putt.

    It’s like driving a car. You start by thinking consciously about where you’re going, when you need to get there, what the weather and traffic conditions are going to be, do you need fuel, etc. However, once you start the car, you just drive – without another conscious thought. You learned how to drive years ago; you don’t need to consciously think about how to do it.

    With my best regards,


  2. Hi Andrew,

    Love all your focus on unconscious putting and the pre-shot routine.

    Came across Dave Stockton being interviewed by Charlie Rose on his new book “Unconscious Putting”. See from around 6:00 minutes on pre-shot routine

    My summary:

    1. From 4ft behind ball, visualise the putt and practice stroke with RH to get feel whilst looking at the target.

    2. Walk up to ball, place right foot and ground putter in front of ball .

    3. Line up body while looking at target line for 6,7,8 secs and place left foot last for alignment.

    4. Remembering alignment point on target line and last half of the putt, settle and move putter behind the ball.

    5. Look at the hole once and, visualising the target line, return eyes to a point 1” to 2” in front of the ball (don’t even notice ball as focus is on alignment point and target line).

    6. “My whole world is the back of my LH not breaking down and rolling the ball over that spot (the alignment point)”.

    Kind regards,


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