It's Hip To Be Square


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, July 30, 2010

In the late 50's, if you were not hip, the kids of the day would call you a square. Being a square meant that you were out of the loop. Not cool. When I was growing up, that is how I viewed golfers. It was not a cool sport, and only nerds played it. So the kids that played it were a bunch of squares.

Now that I play the sport, all want to be is square. At impact that is. It is the coolest thing you can do for your swing. I was practicing the other day, and I was hitting it alright, but towards the end of my session I started pushing a few too many balls to the right. Sometimes I get into a funk and I make the same mistake over and over. I could not figure out how to fix this push.

Just as I was about to pack it in, I remembered a drill I saw that emphasized squaring the back of the left hand(for right-handed golfers) at impact. I took a few swings keeping this in mind and it made all the difference. The ball jumped off the club face and my shot were straight.

I ended up spending another hour just working on this impact position. I am learning that golf is a sport in which you have to pay attention to every part of the swing. The slightest swing flaw will send your ball hurtling in every which direction.

I am about to go out for a quick session to get ready for my round tomorrow. The plan is to continue to work on squaring up at impact. I want to improve my greens in regulation so that I have chances at birdie putts.

I have been hitting my irons to the right distances but I am still missing shots left and right of the green. I am constantly trying to get up and down to try to save par. If I ever want to shoot in the 70's, I know that I must improve my ball striking.

Here is a video about being square at impact. The instructor shows us what positions we need to be in to become a better ball striker. Hopefully this will help me break the elusive 80 barrier. Have a good round and always hit your target.

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Phil Mickelson Gives Us A Chip Shot Tip


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , | Posted on Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I played a lot of golf over the past week on Hilton Head Island. I played pretty well averaging an 89 per round. Not my best. I want to be shooting in the mid 80's. That would put at around an eleven/twelve handicap. My goal from the start of the season is to get to a twelve on the handicap index.

My buddy said that we were at a disadvantage playing new courses. I kind of agreed but deep down inside I know that that was not the real reason. The real reason is that I did not chip and putt well. I hit the ball well off the tee and improved my ball striking with my mid-irons. When I missed the greens I still left my self in good positions to save par.

Unfortunately, I could not chip for the life of me. I had a tough time dialing in my wedges around the green. Usually that is a strong point for me, but not this week. I left a lot short. I ran a few by. Others, I shanked. Instead of having tap-ins for par, I left myself with a lot of longish putts. The four to five footers that we all anguish over.

Despite all my mishits, I am still encouraged. I was only a few good wedges and a few missed putts away from playing in the low 80's. I want to keep all my scores in the 80's from this point forward. In order to this I have to get rid of the double bogeys that creep onto my scorecard. Which means I have chip better.

I will be working on this aspect of my game for the next week or so. I have to become comfortable again around the greens. I am always amazed at how well the pros get up and down on a consistent basis. That's why they are pros and I'm an amateur(for now).

Check out Phil Mickelson and his chipping tips. Mickelson is considered to be one of the greatest short game players ever. We can all learn from him(even if you are not left handed). Learning these techniques will definitely help to improve your/my short game.

Have a good round and always hit your target.

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Playing Golf On Hilton Head Island


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , | Posted on Monday, July 26, 2010

I spent last week on vacation on Hilton Head Island. This is truly a golfers paradise. There are so many great courses to choose from. All of the courses are in great condition and the people are very friendly.

I played four rounds at three different courses. I love playing new courses. If I could play a different track every day, I would be in heaven. Hilton Head offers all types of courses to challenge the ardent golfer. And the scenery is quite breathtaking.

I took a lot of pictures of my time on the island. My favorite are the photos that I took of the golf courses. If you ever get a chance, take a trip to Hilton Head. You will not be disappointed. Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite and if you have any Hilton Head stories feel free to share.

Have a good round and always hit your target.

Shipyard Plantation Golf Club - George W. Cobb Design

Approach into the green.

Narrow fairways.

Not much room for era.

Hitting out of the shadows.


Tee shot on a par 5. The hole is way over to the left over the bunker and behind those trees.

Par 3, 5th hole, just 10 steps away from my back door.

Tradition National Golf Course - Tommy Fazio Design

Driving range first thing in the morning. We were the 1st group out.

How could you not want to play golf when you have scenery like this? Beautiful!

Wide open fairways.

Split the goalpost and you're sitting pretty in the fairway.

First time I've ever seen an armadillo in person. I thought it was a rabbit at first.

Tradition National Watchtower.

Port Royal Golf Club (Robber's Row) - George W. Cobb Design

The steps leading to the driving range.

This course was pretty tight off the tee.

This is what I faced after the tee shot from the last picture. Water left. Narrow on the right. And to make it worse, a bunker in front of the green.

Keeping a watchful eye on the golfers passing by.

One of the most visually intimidating tee shots I have ever faced. Can you find the fairway?

You must be precise with this tee shot.

Who's that?

It's Al E. Gator just in time for the 19th hole.

Sneaking onto the 18th hole at Harbour Town Links Golf Course. Home of the Verizon Heritage Tournament

Looking over the 18th hole.

The 18th fairway.

The 18th green. I didn't realize it was right up against the water. Don't miss left!

The winner of The Verizon gets one of these jackets. This display was inside the lighthouse.

Getting closer.

Made it! The 18th green. Now it's time to get out of here before I get caught.

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Going Low & Oh No!!! (The Ups & Downs Of Golf)


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , , , , | Posted on Monday, July 12, 2010

Going Low

Steve Stricker had a record setting tournament at the John Derre Classic. On a weekend that saw Paul Goydos shoot a 59 at TPC Deere Run, Stricker defended his title giving himself a boost of confidence going into the Open Championship at St. Andrews.

Stricker nearly matched Goydos' effort with a 60 in the first round. He went on to post a 66, 62, and 70 to finish with a four round total of 258, four shots clear of the previous mark set by J.P. Hayes in 2002. Goydos also bested Hayes' mark by a two shot margin, but it was not enough to catch the red hot Stricker.

Stricker and Goydos displayed superb ball striking. They were both dialed in. Every shot into the green was spot on. This course normally plays a little easier than some of the other tour stops but these two professionals were on a mission to make history.

As always putting was a factor. Goydos only needed twenty two putts to finish the first round. When his ball striking faltered a little bit in the second round, he had much tougher putts and the ones that he holed the previous day did not fall.

It was an amazing display of golf. With his second place finish, Goydos earned his way into the Open Championship. Many of the experts think that he could do well there if he continues his stellar play. Stricker was already on his way to the third major of the season. St. Andrews demands good ball striking. Errant shots find deep fescue grass and nasty pot bunkers. Precision golf is needed to win this tournament.

Oh No!!!

With the ups in golf there has to be downs and the downs came in the form of Charles Barkley at the Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic. Barkley made his way across the boarder to take his game to the beautiful Georgian Bay Club in Clarksburg, Ontario, Canada and frankly, I don't know what to say.

It seems as though the announcers did not know what to say either because after every shot attempted by Barkley, there was silence for about fifteen to twenty seconds. Sir Charles has not improved at all since his time with Hank Haney. He still has the hitch. He still drops his head. He still lets his club fly after every shot and yells, "God bless my mother!" Ms. Barkley has to be the most blessed person on the face of the planet. I wouldn't be surprised if she calls her son and says, "I need a blessing from God today son. Are you playing golf?"

I can't understand it. Haney kept on saying that it is a technique problem but I'm leaning toward the other opinion that it is all mental. They showed side by side frames of Barkley on the driving range and on the first tee. Polar opposites. On the range, he swings freely. He looks like a golfer. Once he steps onto the course, he loses everything. It is as if he has never swung a club before in his life.

Barkley needs to improve or he is in danger of not being invited to any more Pro-Am events. His slow play surely held up the groups behind him and it is probably even tougher to be in the same group with him. It has to be an uncomfortable situation for his playing partners.

I really want Barkley to get his game together. Charles was known as an in your face basketball player. No one had more confidence in himself than "The Round Mound Of Rebound." His ego could not be checked. After his first round this weekend, I have never seen someone so humbled.

I give him all the credit in the world for sticking it out. I believe perseverance always wins out in the end. is so hard to watch. Good luck Sir Charles. To the rest of you, have a good round and always hit your target.

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Golf Is Really Hard!!!


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , | Posted on Monday, July 5, 2010

I just finished viewing the latest episode of The Golf Fix with Michael Breed and this is what I learned. GOLF IS REALLY HARD! I mean, I already knew this, but after watching tonight, it is easy to see why so many people struggle to improve their handicap. Golf is really really hard.

Breed explained how to play a variety of shots around the greens using his wedges. As we have discussed before, most of the shots during a round happen from 100 yards and in. It is important to learn many different shots around the green in order to be successful.

Golf is really a game of inches. There are so many variables that can make a difference from stroke to stroke. If your ball rolls one more inch it can go from being a good lie to becoming a bad lie. That inch changes everything about your next shot. The club selection. The trajectory. How hard you hit it. Where you want to land the ball. How far will it run if I hit that spot.? If I miss the spot, then what? Then, depending on the weather conditions, everything changes.

My goal for 2010 is to break 80. I have come close, and yes it was a matter of inches. I missed a few putts during a round in which I shot an 81, but those putts were not the reason I did not break 80. It was the ugly chip shot the only went a foot. It was the shank out of the sand bunker that ended up in the bunker on the other side of the green.

The difference between me and the pros is that they make mistakes but they do not compound their mistakes. They may hit an errant approach shot into the bunker, but more than likely they get it up and down to save par. Myself on the other hand...Like I said, sometimes the balls ends up clear across the green and now I am hoping for a two-putt to save double bogey.

I was a fan of the last Haney Project with Ray Romano because Ray and I have similar games and similar goals. Breaking 80 for a double digit handicapper is difficult. Everything has to go perfectly. When I shot my 81, I definitely got lucky with a few chip-ins and a couple of long putts. I want to get from shooting lucky 81's to shooting consistent 81's.

According to Tinou Bao, Ray and I have no chance. Just substitute my name for Ray's name and you will get the idea. This is what he had to say:

Romano(Dexter) claims to be a 15-18 handicapper(I'm currently at 13.7). The odds of 15-18 scoring 79 ranges from 1 in 1,138 to 1 in 37,000. On a typical course (say 71 rating/125 slope) Romano would need a net differential of 8-10 to score 79. Base on this USGA chart the odds of that happening are not good.

I think the biggest misconception about the golf handicap index is it represents some kind of average or typical score. But you only shoot to your index 20% of the time. So if Romano's index is 15 he scores 87 only 20% of the time. If Romano averaged 87 then breaking 80 wouldn't be that big of a deal. But when he only scores 87 20% of the time taking 8 strokes off (even for just a single round) becomes very unlikely.

So should I just give up? I don't think so. I believe anything is possible if you put your mind and heart into it. Just like with anything else in life that one wants to get better at, it takes practice. Practice is the only way to reach your goals. We may get lucky from time to time, and while it's good to be lucky, I would rather be consistently good. But until then...GOLF IS STILL REALLY HARD!

Have a good round and always hit your target.

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Is Justin Rose The Best Player In Golf?


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , , | Posted on Saturday, July 3, 2010

Well...I don't know about the best but he is certainly the hottest player on the tour right now. Justin Rose goes into the final round of the AT&T National with a four shot lead. Barring a meltdown like the one at the Travelers Championship, Rose could notch his second victory on the PGA Tour.

What has impressed me the most over this stretch of good play is the skill he has showed on the putting green. Rose has not had a three-putt in over 250 holes. I average three, three-putts a round. This is an unbelievable stat.

Three-putts are round killers. Hank Haney said of Ray Romano during filming for the Haney Project, "...the day Ray breaks 80, will be the day he looks at his scorecard and doesn't see any three-putts." Lowering your putts per round is one of the quickest ways to improve your handicap.

Tiger Woods, host and defending champion of the AT&T sits at three over par after shooting a second consecutive even par round. Woods has been struggling since his return but is showing glimpses of his old play. His ball striking has improved and he said that he "found something" during the third round.

With that being the case, Tiger still knows what it takes to win a tournament. He had this to say about his play. "I'm driving it on a string right now, and that's fun," Woods said. "But if you don't make putts, no matter how good you hit the golf ball, you're not going to shoot good scores."

Back to Rose. He is putting lights out. This may be due to the fact at how much work he has dedicated to his short game, both with the wedges and his putter. Rose was on the practice greens two hours before his third round today working on his chipping and putting. It was reported that he just hit chip after chip out of the tall rough in preparation for what he might encounter on the course. His hard work is definitely paying off.

Rose always gives himself a chance at par. If he misses his birdie putt, he lags it up to a comfortable position for a tap-in. Even when he is in trouble, his solid wedge play has bailed him out.

So, is Justin Rose the best player in the world? That remains to be seen. There are a lot of golfers who will be doing everything in their power to make that answer a resounding "no". All of the players are gearing up for the (British)Open Championship. Nick Faldo has already eluded to the fact that the players will be facing thirty foot birdie putts at St. Andrews. Good lag putting will be necessary to post a good score on this difficult links style course.

Say what you will, Rose has impressed me this season. The golf world has been waiting for him to fill the expectations that were placed on him as a youngster. His time has arrived and he is taking advantage of the moment. With a money list exemption looming for Rose, it looks like the hottest player in golf may get a chance to make a putt to win and have his name etched into the Claret Jug.

Have a good round and always hit your target.

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