Just Phil Being Phil - 2013 Open Champion at Muirfield

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , | Posted on Monday, July 22, 2013

Phil Mickelson is in the winners circle for the second week in a row after a brilliant final round to win the 2013 Open Championship held at Murfield. As the rest of the field scratched their heads on how to play the extremely fast greens, Phil hit shots that defied the imagination.

Phil is one of those players who will always go for broke. If there is a chance he can reach a green when every other player would lay up, he's going to go for it. He may be the gutsiest player currently on the PGA Tour.

His maverick style of play has thrilled us all but it has also left us as fans shaking our heads as to why he would try to pull off some of the shots he attempts. But that is why we love Phil. This is why we go to the golf course and try to pull off the same shots. This is why golfers play the game. It may not always be the smartest way to play but it definitely makes a round more exciting.

Here's the thing about Phil. When we try to pull off the impossible shot, it is probably our first time trying that shot. Phil puts himself in situations during practice rounds that have him ready for the moment if it arises. Phil and caddy Jim "Bones" MacKay walk every inch of the course, throw down balls in awkward positions and lies, and then have at it. Some of these shots may never come up during a round but if it does, he prepared.

The following video clip gives us a glimpse into the mindset of Phil as he prepares for a round. I've seen him attempt (and pull off) this shot before, but the fact that he doing it during a practice round proves that he leaves no stone unturned. I've tried this shot and have been very unsuccessful every time. There's a reason why we say, "These guys are good."

Photo found here.


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The Rugged Outdoor Woman

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I received this little gem in my email the other day. Thanks Larry.

The Rugged Outdoor Woman:

During her physical examination , a doctor asked a retired woman about her physical activity level. The woman said she spent 3 days a week, every week in the outdoors.

"Well, yesterday afternoon was typical; I took a five hour walk about 7 miles through some pretty rough terrain. I waded along the edge of a lake. I pushed my way through two miles of bramble. I got sand in my shoes and in my eyes. I barely avoided stepping on a snake. I climbed several rocky hills. I went to the bathroom behind some big tree. I ran away from an irate bear and one angry elk. The mental stress of it all left me shattered. At the end of it, I drank a scotch and three glasses of wine.

Amazed by the story, the doctor said, "You must be one heck of an outdoors woman!"
"No," the woman replied, "I'm just a really, really horrible golfer."


Photo found here.
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KOOOOOOOCH!!! Matt Kuchar...Positively Consistent

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , | Posted on Sunday, June 2, 2013

Matt Kuchar is quickly becoming one of my favorite players on the PGA Tour. He may be bit bland. He may be a little goofy with his signature ball between index and middle finger wave and silly smile that never seems to leave his face. There is nothing about him that screams "look at me" like the colorful attire of the Rickie Fowlers and Ian Poulters of the golfing world. But after notching his sixth win at The Memorial, his first major win may be right around the corner.

Kuchar persevered on a course which humbled many of the game's top performers. World's #1, Tiger Woods, shot a 44 on the back nine on Saturday. His highest since turning professional. World's #2, Rory McIlroy, struggled just to make the cut. Muirfield Village Golf Course is one of the toughest tests in golf, and if this weekend is any indication of what is to come in two weeks at Merion Golf Club for the playing of the 113th U.S. Open, the Georgia resident is high on my list as one of the favorites.

The now six time PGA Tour winner does not have the text book swing that is being taught today, but as Golf Digest said in an article back in June of 2011, his swing is consistent and repeatable. Being that I have an unorthodox swing myself, I can relate to trying to own my swing as Kuchar has. Every swing is different. Finding a way to get the desired results consistently is our challenge.

The following video is on how to hit a better pitch shot. This tip is one that I can benefit from since I struggle with greens in regulation. The tip about pitching is great but what his father speaks to is what really got my attention.

He and Kuchar discuss visualizing the shot and going to a place that you have been to before. They advise us to remember a time when you were in a similar position and you executed the shot perfectly. We need to have this picture in our minds and then make it happen. I hit a lot of bad shots but I have also hit a lot of good shots that I can draw upon to put me in a positive state of mind.

This is not new to golf. It has been said many times by many instructors, but all of it usually goes out the door after hitting that first bad shot. So for me, I guess in order for me to gain consistency with my golf swing, I need to to be consistent with my thoughts as well.

Try it out. See if it helps you. I'll give updates after I have given it a go for few rounds. Feel free to share any techniques that you use to put yourself in positive mind frame on the golf course. This game is challenging enough. We need to give ourselves any advantage we can. Have a great round and always hit your target.

Photo found here

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All Play And No Practice

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , | Posted on Wednesday, May 29, 2013

As we all know, golf is not an easy sport. What makes it worse, is that we as amateurs, tend to make it even harder than it has to be. Without steady practice, it is difficult to make drastic improvements. Such is the current state of my golf game. I'm not getting any worse, but I'm also not getting any better.

My schedule has it that I am not able to practice as much as I would like to. I still play at least two times a week, but the time I used to put into my game is not what it used to be. It is rare that I even warm up before a round. For me, it's from the car to the first tee with just a few stretches in between.

I am currently trending at a handicap of 7.3, which is great, but I want to go even lower. Having coached basketball at the college level, I of all people understand how important practice is to improving ones skill in any given sport. With golf being a game of inches, a week of no practice sets a golfer back 3 months.

Looking at my last few rounds, it is quite evident that I would benefit from at least twenty minutes of warm up. In a recent round at Club West Golf Club, I shot a nine over 45 on the front nine, but followed it up with a three over 39 on the back for an 84. The round prior to this one at Ken McDonald Golf Course saw me shoot a four over 40 on the front with a two over 38 on the back for a 78. The point is, it usually takes me nine holes to warm up before I start to see a little consistency in my swing.

The only aspect of my game that is keeping me from shooting in the 90's is my short game. I still struggle with my greens in regulation, but am able to get up and down at a rate of about fifty percent. Also my putting has improved dramatically, eliminating many of the three putts which used to sneak into my rounds. I'll let you know how I improved my putting in a future post.

The bottom line is that I need to find a way to sneak in some more practice or else frustration will start to set in as it did during my round today at Lone Tree Golf Club. I never throw tantrums on the golf course(see video for some classics), but I definitely thought about throwing my pitching wedge into the water after a terrible tee shot on a short par 3. I shot a 43 on the front but thanks to a chip in birdie on the par 4 10th and a thirty foot birdie putt on the par 5 18th, I was able to salvage an 82 shooting a 39 on the back.

Getting off to a good start to begin a round will make all the differences in lowering my handicap. I set a goal of getting down to a 5 but it's not going to happen if I continue showing up to the course right at tee time. I just need to get those bad shots out of my system before I step up for my first drive. If I can be consistent with this, par to the course on a regular basis will soon follow...Hopefully...Have a great round and always hit your target.


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Bethpage State Park...The Black Course

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , | Posted on Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My wife and I traveled to New York City this past weekend to surprise my mother for her birthday. My sister had been planning a surprise party for her for quite some time but the original plan was to go to Cincinnati, OH where my parents live, but at the last minute, my mom wanted to bring my niece to meet my Grandmother who just turned 80. This meant that we had to switch venues, and we were on our way to The Big Apple.

I mentioned the trip to my buddy SBTU(Swing Better Than You, formley Scratch Better Than You when he was a part-time D.J.) whom you met in this post and later in this one and he immediately suggested that we try to get on to the Black Course at Bethpage State Park. The Black Course has hosted the 2002 and 2009 US Open Championships and will welcome the top 125 PGA players Aug. 21-26 for The Barclays as they vie for the 2012 FedExCup Championship.

Of course I got excited with the thought of taking on one the hardest tracks in America. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and others suggested that no one with a 8 or higher handicap could break 100 on US Open layout. I am currently an 8.2 so I was anxious to see how I would fare. But first things first. Getting a tee time.

It is well documented that The Black Course is one of the toughest tee times to get in golf. It is akin to Pebble Beach and Torey Pines in that golfers camp out the night before in hopes that someone cancels their tee time or that they win a lottery of sorts. Bethpage allows for a certain amount of walk-ons per hour but they go quickly. I was advised to get there the day before, but under the circumstances, the earliest we could get to the park was 7:00am that morning.

I had no expectations of getting a tee time. The park has four other courses, so if we didn't get on The Black, we were still guaranteed 18 holes of golf. We walked up to the ticket area and checked the times that were available. It kind of reminded me of the booths at a horse racing track where you place your bets. Much to our surprise, there was a 9:51 tee time available. I could not believe it. This almost seemed to good to be true, but it was happening.

The day was hot and humid and there was a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. After taking a picture in front of the famous "Warning Sign", we stepped up to the first tee, which has an elevated tee box to a dogleg right fairway. 

It was a bit nerve racking as there were a bunch of people watching as they waited for their tee times to arrive. With palms sweating and heart thumping, I took my swing. Pop up. I didn't even reach the fairway. Here we go, I thought.

We played from the white tees which measures 6684 yards on the score card. We figured there was no reason to torture ourselves trying to play the full 7468 yards from the blues. Maybe I will try it if I get another opportunity to play it again, but for now, let's just give ourselves a chance to break 100. They had already started setting up for The Barclays which was still two months away and the skeletal base of the grandstands were being put in place so we had a semblance of what it would look like for the tournament.

The course was not set up for US Open conditions, and to be honest, I don't know how it could get any worse. I'm used to resort golf. Living in Miami and now in Phoenix, many of the courses are set up so that vacationers have a good time, score well, which prompts them to return with memories of a good round. Wide open fairways funnel everything back to the middle, and even if you end up in the rough, you still have a great chance to get up and down. 

This is not the case on the Black Course. The first cut is gnarly and twisted. The ball disappears quickly, even just off the fairway. Then there is the fescue grass. If you are lucky enough to find your ball in this foot and half mess, successfully getting it out is somewhat of a miracle. There were times when it took me three hacks just to get it back into the fairway. which led to two nines on my scorecard.

I forgot to mention that golfers have to walk The Black Course which is all hills. No carts are allowed. Along with the heat, the constant up and down, and the thunderstorm which later caught up with us, I was beat down mentally as well as physically. I truly have a new found respect for what the pros do. Very humbling to say the least as I finished the round with a 101.

Despite this, I had an excellent time. I can say that I have walked where the pros have. You can actually feel the history in the air. All the buzz that lead up to playing the round lived up to its billing. This is one of those courses that all true golf fanatics have to play at least once. Just to see how you stack up.

I have improved a lot over the past year but this was a reality check on how good golfers have to be to compete on the professional level. The Golf Channel commercials do not lie. These guys are good. After playing The Black Course, I would say, "These guys are freakin' amazing!" Have a great round and always hit your target.

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Anything That Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong...Especially On The Golf Course

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , | Posted on Sunday, June 17, 2012

I'm pretty much addicted to the game of golf. There is rarely a moment in the day when I'm not thinking about teeing it up. Even when I am at work and working with customers, I am practicing my swing. Luckily, for me, I work in an environment that allows for this sort of behavior.

While I may be a certified golfaholic, my golfing buddy, J.B. may be the biggest fan of the sport. We had mutual golfing friends on Facebook and once we realized that we live in the same area, if our schedules coincide, we are playing golf.

J.B., who hits the ball a country mile, is a resource for all things golf related. He always has the latest facts or the latest gadgets. When it comes to finding the best deals, he's you're man. When the local Phoenix golf courses and major retailers like Lamkin Golf Grips have a "pick the winner" contest, he has an uncanny gift, and has won on many an occasion. I'm not a gambler, but if he went with me to Vegas, I might be tempted to play a few hands of Blackjack.

While checking out my Facebook news feed, I noticed the following which J.B. had posted on his page. Murphy's Law states that "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong" and this is true in golf as well. I felt like this during one of my recent rounds. No matter what I did, my ball ended up in a bunker. Fairway and greenside. Needless to say, I spent my next practice session in the "dirt" as my wife calls it.

Here are some scenarios(observations) that I'm sure we have all been faced with. Let me know if some of these sound familiar to you or if you have any others to add to the list. I know I can think of a few more. Have a great round and always hit your target.

* A two-foot putt counts the same as a two-foot drive.

* The odds of hitting a duffed shot increase by the square of the number of people watching.

* Never wash your ball on the tee of a water hole.

* The stages of golf are Sudden Collapse, Radical Change, Complete Frustration, Slow Improvement, Brief Mastery, and Sudden Collapse.

* The only sure way to get a par is to leave a four-foot birdie putt two inches short of the hole.

* Don't play with anyone who would question a 7.

* If your driver is hot, your putter will be ice cold; if you can hit your irons, you will top your woods; if you are keeping your right elbow tucked in, your head will come up.

* Progress in golf consists of two steps forward and 26.6 miles backward.

* One good shank deserves another.

* It takes 17 holes to really get warmed up.

* One birdie is a hot streak.

* No matter how badly you are playing, it's always possible to play worse.

* Whatever you think you're doing wrong is the one thing you're doing right.

* Any change works for three holes.

* Never try to keep more than 300 separate thoughts in your mind during your swing.

* The less skilled the player, the more likely he is to share his ideas about the golf swing.

* It's surprisingly easy to hole a 50-foot putt when you lie 10. 

Photo found here.

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So Dex...What's Next???

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , , , , | Posted on Wednesday, June 13, 2012

After my last post, Mike Southern who publishes Ruthless Golf reminded me of the fact that I had achieved the goals I had set for myself in 2011. Since I had achieved them, his question was, "What's next?" Since this blogs slogan is, "...because golf is all about getting better and having fun!, I thought my new goals should be based on this idea.

Getting Better

The next logical step for me as far as my golf game is concerned is to shoot par which means I have to get better. Or better yet, be more consistent. I have had rounds which I know I should have shot par but because of some of the inconsistencies in my game, I have failed to do so. I need to get to a point where all facets of my game are working together.

There are days when I hit 12 of 14 fairways but I can't find the green with my approach shots. There are other days when I miss every fairway but I am able to scramble to get up and down. Then there are day in which nothing is happening right except for my putter. Somehow the 10 to 15 footers start dropping. In all of these scenarios, I am left with a score between 78 and 82.

My best round of 75 came as a result of hot putter. I had 9 one putts and 27 overall. I only hit 4 of 14 fairways and 7 of 18 greens in regulation and I didn't chip very well, but I holed a bunch of clutch par putts and mixed in a couple birdies. The putts that I did miss, which resulted in bogeys, were burning the edges. So many shoulda-woulda-couldas.

To shoot par, I am going to have to set out a specific game plan. As I get closer to par, it is getting harder to go lower. When I was trying to break 100, once I did so, I made tremendous progress. Once I broke 90, I was able to get down to the low 80's relatively quickly. Now that I have broken 80, I am understanding that nearly everything has to go right during the round to break even. Once I eliminate the majority of my mistakes, par will be realized.

Having Fun!

I am competitive by nature. I grew up playing baseball, basketball, and competed in x-country and track and field as well. As much as I liked to win, it was never my main focus. I was more interested in the fundamentals of the sport. When I watch golf, while everyone else is just watching the results of the swing, I am paying attention to what the golfer did to make the shot possible.

To satisfy my desire to compete and my continued study of the fundamentals, I am planning on entering the 2013 Golfweek Amateur Tour. I was going to sign up now, but there are only a few events left in the 2012 season and I probably would not be able to accumulate enough points to qualify for the National Championships held in Hilton Head, SC. Here's a little bit about The Golfweek Amateur Tour as it reads on their website.
"Established in 1995, the purpose of the Tour is to provide amateurs of all ages, sexes, and handicaps the opportunity to compete in stroke-play golf tournaments on a regular basis in their local area. The Tour concludes with a National Tour Championship in which top players in each flight test their skills against other amateurs from around the country. Through this competition, the Golfweek Tour promotes the sport of golf by providing an atmosphere of friendly, fair, and well managed competition for amateur golfers in the pursuit of excellence."
You can find a tour near you and the events are broken up into five flights. Depending on your current handicap you will compete in the Championship Flight, 0-3.9, A Flight, 4-8.9(which would be me as of the writing of this post), B Flight, 9-13, C Flight, 14-18.9, and D Flight, 19 and above. I want to get my handicap as low as possible and then sign up at the beginning of the year in my appropriate bracket.

As I looked at the scores for my current handicap, I would be right in the mix. The average score of the winner of a given event is about an 82, which is exactly what the low golfer posted to take home the last event. I know I can shoot those scores under normal conditions, but I want to see how I would fair with a little pressure factored in.

So it begins. Over my next few rounds, I will be paying close attention to my stats so that I can pinpoint the areas of my game which need the most work. From there, I can formulate a game plan going forward. Feel free to share some of your goals whether accomplished or still in the works. I would love to hear what other golfers are doing to improve their game. Have a great round and always hit your target.

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So Dex...What's Up With Your Blog???

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , | Posted on Saturday, June 9, 2012

This was the question posed to me during a recent rounds with one of my golfing buddies Bryce. It has been a while since I submitted my last post and much has happened within that time. Let me fill you in.

Work Life

On June 12th of 2011, I started working for NIKE as a part time athlete(sales associate). As some of you may remember, I got married last April and moved to Phoenix, AZ from Miami, FL. I basically had to start over work wise and after my savings began to dwindle, I began searching for part time work. I had experience working in athletic retail so I decided to see if NIKE was hiring. As it would have it, they were and after a successful interview, I started training the very next day. In December, I was asked if I wanted to do a stretch position as the Footwear Coach, which would put me in charge of the entire footwear department, which accounts for the majority of the business. I accepted and if you take a look into my archives, you will notice that this also around the time my posts start to become less frequent.

The stretch position (which is kind of like a try-out period to see how I would perform) was supposed to last for three months, but I was offered the position full time after only a month and a half. I officially started the position on February 1st and because of my new responsibilities, I have not written a post since. As of this past Sunday, my position has changed again. I am now in charge of the Back Of House. This means that I am responsible for every item that comes into the store. I can't talk numbers, but trust me, there are a lot of units to keep track of. It will be a challenge, but I'm all about learning as much as possible about all facets of the company so that I can be a true asset.

Personal Life

My wife and I celebrated our one year anniversary on April 1st. We were married at The Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort in Arizona, and as a part of the wedding package, couples receive a free night on their one anniversary. Of course we took advantage of this, and enjoyed the day at the pool and acted like tourist, visiting some of the local hot spots in the Old Town area.

Last month we took a trip to New Orleans with my wife's parents, her brother and his girlfriend, and The Doctor and his wife. New Orleans, or at least Bourbon St., is like Las Vegas for me. Two or three days is all you need. After that it is just sensory overload. But, if you are into people watching, this is the place for you. After living on South Beach, I thought I had seen it all, but New Orleans just may have topped it.

The plan was to get in at least one round of golf, but it rained a few days while we were there, so we opted to take advantage of the weather when it was good to see some of the sights. The food was so good and in a culture that has a strong European influence mixed with its own southern flare, any appetite is sure to be satisfied. The music scene is of course legendary and we sat in on a few jam sessions which we happened to stumble upon. Some of which were right there on the streets.

Golf Life

Despite being busy at work, I have been playing golf at least two times a week. If I'm not working then I'm golfing. Every time I play a round, I think of something I can write about, but after a round, I just want to get some rest before I go back into work. But I'm hoping to change that. Bryce reignited a fire I had for writing about the game and my progress and amazingly, I have been receiving comments despite the fact that I have not been active.

My game is improving. I am averaging around 81 per round which currently has me at an 8.7 on the handicap index, and after my last three rounds, I am on pace to be at an 8.2. I shot a new personal best of 75 at Viewpoint Golf Course and have shot sub 80 rounds several times so far this year. The challenge now is to play well enough to shoot par.

My biggest improvement has come with my putter. I am getting much better with my lag putts and have been able to drain some big 5-10 footers to save pars. While I am happy with my putting, I realize that it will be hard for me to shoot par if I don't continue to improve in other parts of my game. My focus over the next few months will be on my chipping. I'm driving the ball pretty well off the tee. I still revert to bad habits from time to time by coming over the top, but for the most part my misses have not been too detrimental. Another area that has improved is with my approach shots into the greens. My GIR percentage isn't where it needs to be, but my misses are now good misses.

This brings us to my chipping. If I can become more consistent with getting the ball to within tap in range, I will be giving myself a better chance to score well. Chipping actual used to be one of the stronger parts of my game, but I think I know I lost focus on that as I worked on my driver and irons.

Moving forward, I will be playing more golf and writing about it. It's hot again in the Valley Of The Sun, but that means cheaper tee times. I already made it through my first summer in the desert so I am well prepared to play in triple digit weather. Thank you to those of you who continued to leave comments here and on my Facebook page. That just lets me know that there are a lot of golfers like myself who are working hard to get better at this crazy game. This alone is encouragement for me to keep, keeping on. Feel free to tell me what you have been up to for the past couple of months. I feel like I have missed so much. Have a great round and always hit your target. 

Photo found here.

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My First Round Of Golf Walking A Full 18 Holes

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , , , | Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012

I finally got to one of the courses I have been wanting to play since I moved to Phoenix in Aguila Golf Course. Not because it is famous or well known, but rather because one of my Stracka buddies, Pete-HEFF-L has been trying to get me to play it for a while now. Ironically, I didn't play it with him and I am a little hesitant to let him know that I did without him.

As I said in my last post, none of my regular golfing buddies could make it so I went out solo. As always I am paired with interesting people and this round was no different. I had the good fortune of playing with a family originally from Denver Colorado. I met John first and he introduced me to his wife Vickie and their son Brandon.

They were pleasure to be with on the course. They cracked jokes the entire time which took off a lot of the pressure that is sometimes felt when playing with strangers. They all played really well. John, while never hitting a driver off the tee, was an ace with his 3-wood. Straight as an arrow. Vickie stayed in the fairways. I think she hit all but three. And when Brandon got a hold of one, he sent his ball booming down the fairway.

I played pretty well, posting an 82 despite hitting only 3 of 14 fairways. Most of my misses were to the right. I wasn't really slicing it, but it made some of my approach shots into the green a bit more difficult than they needed to be. I'll be working on remedying this problem. Fortunately, my short game was on point.

Most of the nine pars that I recorded were due to great chipping around the greens. When I missed a green in regulation, I was able to chip it to within gimme range. It was a warm day, so I didn't have the same problems I have when starting early in the morning. If I had made a few more putts, it would have been a record breaking round for me. Not worried. That will come as I play more.

So back to the title of this post. I always book my tee times with Golfnow.com and Aguila is one of the few courses that allows golfers to walk the course. So it was either pay $51 to ride or pay $29 to walk. Always looking for a deal, I decided to walk it just to see how I would fair.

Many of the courses in Phoenix, or at least the ones that I have played, wind in and out of the mountains and walking them would be a chore. The drive between some holes can be nearly half a mile and then there are the elevation changes. It would take up to six hours to play some of these courses if one decided to walk them.

I consider myself to be in pretty good condition but I definitely felt it after the round. Let's just say, I slept really well last night. I have a new found respect for the pros that walk courses day in and day out. Granted, they have caddies carrying their clubs, but to do it for four rounds and with extreme pressure, I understand why they are flanked with a support team which includes personal trainers and nutritionist.

Aguila Golf Course is definitely recommended if you visit the Phoenix area. The staff was very friendly and I soon discovered that this may be a good place to practice. They have a driving range, chipping and pitching area, along with several putting greens. This course also has a par 3 nine hole course, which I'm told really tests your short game.

Aguila certainly gets a thumbs up from me. Pete-HEFF-L was telling the truth when he said it is a great place to play. Now that I have my first walking 18 under my belt, I'm looking forward to my next. It certainly is good exercise and I actually felt at one with the course. I had time to take in the scenery between shots which actually calmed me down after a poor effort.

Two days off in a row next week will hopefully yield two rounds in a row. Until then I may have to pay a visit to Aguila before or after work for a little practice. One thing is for sure. I'll be looking into a good push cart so that I don't have to carry my bag during my next walking round. Maybe that will keep my shoulders loose and help my putting;-) Have a great round and always hit your target.


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Let The 2012 Golf Season Begin

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , | Posted on Thursday, January 12, 2012

Now that the pros are back and playing, it's time for me to get back on the course on a regular basis. Or as regular as my schedule will allow for. I was able to play two rounds last week and I was definitely a little rusty. Golf is a sport that requires that you play with some consistency if you want to get better. Because I had not played for about a month, the first few holes of each round were a bit of an adventure.

My buddy J.B. and I played at San Marcos Golf Club for my first round back. To be honest, my poor play on the front nine was due to the fact that I couldn't feel my hands. At the start of the round it was about 48 degrees and breezy. It wasn't until the 10th hole that I could actually feel my fingers. I shot a 47 on the front and a 40 on the back for a total of 87.

Despite not being able to feel my hands, I drove the ball really well, hitting five of seven fairways for the front. Where I had trouble, was around the greens. I consider my self to be a "feel" player and when my hands are frozen, chipping and pitching becomes very difficult. I sculled a few. Hit a few fat. It was very frustrating. Once it began to warm up, my touch returned and my short game immediately improved.

The second round was played at Camelback Golf Club(The Padre Course). This was my first time playing this course. I have visited Camelback before, but played the Indian Bend Course. The Doctor had played it the week before, and thought that I would enjoy it. While the Indian Bend Course is mostly flat, the Padre Course, has fairways with more undulation, which made for many uneven lies on approach shots.

Case in point. I came to the the short par 4, 16th and hit a great drive. I was left with only 65 yards into the green for my second. The only thing was that I had a down hill lie and there was a bunker guarding the pin which was on the front of the green. I proceeded to hit my worse shot of the round, hitting it fat, and advancing the ball about 30 yards. I turned a potential birdie hole into a double bogey. Ouch!

Despite this, I managed an 84. Not my best, but it was a step in the right direction. I plan on playing tomorrow. None of my regular golf buddies can play, so I'm going solo. Since it is peak season in Arizona, I know I won't be alone. I like getting out there and meeting new people on the course. For the most part, the golfers I'm paired with, are interesting and diverse. It will be a late morning start so I know I will be properly thawed out before starting. Hopefully this will allow me to get off to fast start. Have a great round and always hit your target.


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Finding Trouble Off The Tee

14

Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , , | Posted on Thursday, December 1, 2011

Arizona Grand Spa & Golf Resort is one of my favorite courses to play here in the Phoenix area. That is...it's one of my favorites when I am playing well and hitting the ball straight. My last round proved to be, not-so-fun due to the fact that I couldn't find the fairways for the life of me.

Arizona Grand has a gorgeous layout with elevation changes that showcase a beautiful desert style course nestled into the rocky ridges of South Mountain. While the scenery can be breath taking, ending up in the desert after a golf shot spells disaster for any chance at scoring well.

Trouble for me started on the first. The tee shot calls for a blind shot up and over a hill. At the top of the hill, on the right hand side, sits a little pond, that if it is your first time playing the course, you have no idea it's there. I aimed way left of the pond but ended up slicing it right into the drink which led to a double bogey.

I actually hit two great drives on holes 2 and 3 which lead to pars. Again, if you keep it in the fairway on this course, you give yourself a great chance to do well. I only managed to hit two more fairways for the rest of my round and found myself having to drop because of multiple unplayable lies. Instead of playing for birdies and pars, I was often playing for bogeys and doubles.

Looks like I need to get back to working on my long game again. Mike Southern of Ruthless Golf wrote an article about which is more important, the long game or the short game. We often hear teachers say that amateurs need to work on their short game because that is the part of the game in which the pros excel. Mike, however, has a different take on it.

In my case, Mike would tell me to work on my long game. Off the tee, I did not give myself a chance at getting onto the green in regulation(if you don't know what this means, Mike explains it fully in his article). The short game is a very important part of golf, but if I'm still off the green after my third shot on a par 4, now I have to chip in just to save par.

So, for me, I'm going back to the beginning. I only had three pars during this round and no birdies. When I was able to play more frequently, I was averaging nine pars and at least two birdies a round. My greens in regulation had climbed from 17% to around 45%. This is why I was shooting in the high 70's-low 80's.

I'm not too worried. It will come back to me. Whenever my game gets a little sketchy, Mike gives me a little advise and reminds me that "I am close." In recent weeks, Tiger has been saying this a lot, because he knows, now that he is able to practice like he used to, it's the subtle tweeks in his game that are getting him back to the player he once was. Like Tiger, I'm close and now that I know what I need to work on, I'm even closer. Have a great round and always hit your target.

Photo found here.


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