Q&A with ’64 alumnus and professional golfer Dave Stockton


Dave Stockton graduated from USC in 1964 with a bachelor’s in general management. In 1964, Stockton won the Pac-10 men’s golf individual title and was an All-American golfer. Stockton is a two time PGA Championship champion.

In 1996 Stockton wrote Dave Stockton’s Putt to Win: Secrets for Mastering the Other Game of Golf and has since helped professionals golfers, including Phil Mickelson. He recently became involved in the Chevron Educational Program, an auxiliary education program sponsored by Chevron to increase science, technology, engineering and math in schools across the country.

Photo courtesy of Gary Leonard

As part of the Chevron Educational Program, Stockton taught “The Science of Golf” at the Wallis Annenberg Building for Science Learning and Innovation at the California Science Center in Exposition Park on Thursday.

 

Daily Trojan: Why did you choose to attend USC?

Dave Stockton: Both my mom and my dad graduated from USC. I only applied to two schools, Arizona and USC, where I ended up with a golf scholarship. My son went to USC also. That’s three straight generations of All-Americans involved in USC golf.

 

DT: Who did you look up to while in school?

Stockton: My dad. He and I became the first father-son to both be All-Americans in the same sport at USC. We both won the Pac-10 individual titles — some 30 years apart. I also really looked up to [fellow golfer] Al Geiberger. I followed him to USC. Al was unbelievable and practically unbeatable in college. He was four years older but we became fast friends on the tour. It was a great friendship.

 

DT: How did your experience at USC impact your career?

Stockton: A lot of my classes have come in handy, especially the public speaking courses since I do a lot of motivational speaking nowadays. My education at USC definitely prepared me for what I came on tour to do. Yes, I play golf, but there are lots of problems traveling and dealing with people. It’s not as glamorous as most people would believe it to be.

 

DT: How did you get involved with the Chevron Educational Program?

Stockton: I was asked a couple weeks ago. I’m looking forward to doing work with the kids; this is right down my wheelhouse. I’m really looking forward to the task of motivating these kids to think outside of the box and have math and science mean something to them.

 

DT: Can you explain the science behind a golf ball?

Stockton: You can absolutely buy a good golf game — as long as you’re still mentally in it. For example, when I played my best on tour, I averaged less than 245 yards off the tee. Flash-forward 35 years and I’m averaging over 255. I didn’t change — the clubs did. If you have a shaft and a little wrench, you can whip a club together in about seven seconds. If the ball goes too far to the right, you change the screw in the toe. Too far to the left and you change the screw in the heel. If the face isn’t quite right, you can change the sole on the bottom of it — there are so many different ways to improve.

 

DT: How are you staying involved in the golf world?

Stockton: I’m basically stopping my career. I played at Newport Beach last year and will probably play again next year. I enjoy teaching now. I was just listed by Golf Digest as the 13th best teacher in the world. After only teaching for a year and a half, to be ranked that well made me feel pretty good. I wrote a book that’s out now, Unconscious Putting: Dave Stockton’s Guide to Unlocking Your Signature Stroke and it’s sold well [more than] 50,000 copies in a month — 20,000 more than expected. For just turning 70 a couple weeks ago, I think I’m doing rather well.

 

DT: Any words you’d like to share with the Trojan Family?

Stockton: I take a lot of pride in the fact that my family is made up of Trojans. I spend a lot of time going to all of the football games and visiting the museums. I live and die with the football team and all the other sports. … I’m very proud to be a Trojan.

  • Sharon Hulbert

    Great questions even though I am not a golfer the infomation was very interesting. Did not know you could do things with a club to help your game. The information about his family history was a nice touch for the readers.
    Thank you for the details.