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The Power of Observation

At age 13, Stockton was the note taker on the practice range as his father, Dave, a two-time PGA Champion progressed through his own hours of lessons. With the passing of Dave’s lone golf instructor, his father Gail, young Ron inherited the role as observer.


“They weren’t detailed notes – after all I was 13,” says Stockton, “but they were notes based on basic concepts that we later would discuss in greater detail to decipher what was fact and what was theory.”


 My Dad would take 5 balls and make every one of them do something different.  I found myself observing that if the ball did one thing his finish would look a certain way.  And if he did something different on the next one his finish would look unique to that shot as well. From that, I learned the importance of how to shape shots.  From a putting perspective, I learned that it wasn’t about having “linear perfection” in a stroke. As a perfectionist at heart this was a hard lesson to learn.”


By 1991, when Dave Stockton reached the Champions Tour, Ron had become a full-time coach for him and other Tour professionals. As Ron said, “I wasn’t making any money with the other guys but I was giving away good advice, and advancing my experience. It’s fair to say that I hadn’t figured out the importance of what was to become the Signature Approach.®

I took what I had learned and ovserved from my grandfather and


Above:  Ron's grandfather, Gail Stockton was an accomplished Golf Pro, at Arrowhead Country Club in San Bernardino, California. Ron learned from him "that he catered instruction to the individual, rarely teaching the same thing to every player."

father and effectively applied it to new clients and it was met with success." 

The power of observation can never be underestimated. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes popularized it in literature and later film, but we are talking about the game of golf and what observation can do to enhance one’s lifetime enjoyment of the game.


Those notes helped form a teaching philosophy for Ron Stockton’s more than 25 years as a golf instructor. During that period, he is credited with coaching his father to 14 victories on the Champions Tour. In addition, he has brought top PGA and LPGA Tour players to victory with his distinctive instruction.


Stockton developed his coaching by answering what he calls “a burning question.”


Why were we so effective with players who had such a wide range of mechanical techniques?

Stockton’s curiosity resulted in exploring the theory of “Process Coaching,” which opened up studying the four stages of learning:


1) Unconscious incompetence

     You don't know what you don't know.

2) Conscious incompetence

     You know what you are doing wrong.

3) Conscious competence

     You know what to think about to

     perform the shot.

4) Unconscious competence

   You don't even have to think about

   it anymore - you trust yourself to

   simply react.

Most approaches to coaching, says Stockton, “only get you to stage 3. The player knows and understands how to do it, but often requires a conscious checklist to accomplish the task.”


"The Light Bulb Moment"

“You’ve done it enough that it becomes second nature, i.e. unconscious. There is an element of complete trust that allows you to perform the tasks unconsciously.” Stockton said this advancement to Step 4 enabled him to better understand why his father’s technique was so effective.


“It had little or nothing to do with 



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Ron Stockton

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