Using A Basketball To Make A Better Shoulder Turn


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , | Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2010

It has been raining a lot here in South Florida over the past week. Makes it very hard to get any practice in. I was stuck inside all day yesterday and I had the itch to swing the club. I could have practiced in the rain, which I have done, but after so much rain, my laboratory is certainly flooded.

I need to practice because I want to work on making a better shoulder turn. I have a feel for the one-piece takeaway but I feel like I am not making a full turn. When I hit poor shots, I can feel that it more a turn with the arms rather tan with the shoulders.

I know that a full turn makes a difference, because when I do it properly, the ball jumps off the club face. I also feel like I am hitting through the ball instead of hitting at the ball when I make a good turn.

While browsing YouTube, I found this video from Chris Ruiter for a drill on making a proper shoulder turn. It caught my eye because he was using a basketball as a prop. Before discovering golf, I was a basketball fanatic. For me it was eat, sleep, basketball. Now it is eat, sleep, golf like these guys.

Chris is a former player on the collegiate level turned golf coach and he came up with a way to use the basketballs that he had laying around as teaching aides for golf. The drill is easy to perform and it helps to pass the time when it is raining cats and dogs outside.

Hope this drill helps to improve your game so that you can have more fun on the golf course. Have a great round and always hit your target.

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Healthy Again And Working On Hitting The Hybrid Club


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , , | Posted on Saturday, September 25, 2010

I finally got out to practice again. I had been sick for the past week. It seemed like all of Florida came down with the flu at the same time. I have not wanted to do anything but lay in bed. But that is all behind me now and it is back to work.

I only hit my hybrid today. I ended up having a great practice session. Last week, while practicing with my 6-iron, I was having problems with my alignment. I was hooking everything left. I could not get comfortable over the ball. Because I was not confident over the ball, I was struggling.

Today I started off the same way. Pulling everything left. If I made an adjustment I would push it way to the right. Finally I took my other club and used it as an alignment aid. Should have done it from the beginning as it made an immediate difference.

Once I got warmed up I began to gain a little consistency. I used to hit fifty balls in a row. I would start of well, but by the end I would start thinking too much, plus get tired, and all of a sudden I would lose it.

Today I shortened it up and only hit twenty balls. The good thing about having my own private practice course is even though I have to pick up the balls I have hit, it give me a chance to work on my pitching with the balls that missed the green. I hit a lot more quality shots today and I got in some good short game work.

I did this routine five times. Hit twenty balls and then short game. I end up getting in a lot of swings and it is good because I get to work on multiple parts of my game. I feel this works out better because I do not tire myself hitting all those balls in a row. The chipping and pitching gives me the time to rest and clear my head.

My buddy Marc and I will be playing at Miami Springs Golf Course tomorrow and as I said in this post, I will be leaving the driver out of the bag. I struggled with the driver during my last round and my virtual swing coach advised that I focus on my 6-iron and hybrid in practice. Even from the blue tees this course is not terribly long so using a 3-wood or hybrid off the tee will not hurt too much.

With a good practice session today, I am feeling better about my hybrid. I will probably have to use it a lot tomorrow for my approach shots being shorter off the tee, which is just fine. That is why I practiced.

After my round tomorrow I will be able to look at what I need to work on and take it from there. I just have to remember not to put too much pressure on myself and just have fun. You do the same. Have a great round and always hit your target.

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Dexter's Laboratory (My Own Private Practice Golf Course)


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , | Posted on Friday, September 17, 2010

A couple of days I posted about leaving my driver out of the bag for now while I get used to the swing change I am working on. In that post there were a few pictures of a golf course. These were of my own personal practice course. My laboratory.

I am fortunate to live near a former par 3 that is now open to the public for free. Apparently they used to charge six or seven dollars to play there, but since the city of Miami Beach gave part of the land to the two neighboring schools, they stopped charging. I hop on my bike with two or three clubs and I am there in 10 minutes.

There are six holes remaining on this track. It is "somewhat" maintained by Miami Beach Golf Club (MBGC), which neighbors it. Basically you are hitting out of the rough on every shot. It is never perfectly manicured, but it is not hard to find a decent patch of grass from which to hit from.

There is no drainage system so when it rains it gets flooded which makes it look like the course has lakes. A little added incentive to hit good shots in practice or else I lose the ball.

I get to work on every part of my game except putting. The greens are not kept in good shape, so for that I simply go MBGC to practice. I am lucky that I have this course available to me so that I can experiment with my swing. My friends have to plan to go to the driving range. They have to load their clubs, drive to the course, pay for balls, and then finally they get to hit some balls. Not me. I have my shag bag and I am in my laboratory in no time. I can stay there all day if want(sometimes I do).

The following is a short slide show of Dexter's Laboratory. You will see what I am talking about when I said every shot is from the rough. I will never complain though. If I did not find this course, I would not be where I am today. Now that I have a virtual swing coach, I will only continue to improve. And...I do not have to pay to practice. Which makes practice even more fun.

Have a good round and always hit your target.

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I Am Taking The Driver Out Of My Bag...For Now


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , | Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2010

After reading my post, Taking My New Swing Out For A Test Drive, my virtual swing coach, Mike Southern suggested that I take my driver out of the bag for a while. He said that the driver is like no other club in my bag and it requires a different technique to swing it properly.

Since working on the one-piece takeaway, my wedges have really improved. I am hitting them straighter and much farther than ever before. My divots are right at my target instead of left of it because I used to hit across the ball.

Mike's other suggestion is that I start practicing with my 6-iron and hybrid. He said that although it is great that I have improved with my wedges, I will actually see the least improvement for practicing with them. They are the shortest clubs in the bag so as a result it is the shortest swing with any club.

Basically he wants me to practice with my hard to hit clubs. So that is what I will do. According to Mike, "any progress with this iron is going to make hitting the other clubs easier." He warned me that it will be tougher mentally, but assured me that if I get over this hurdle, my scores will improve.

I practiced for about two hours today with mixed results. This is the plan that Mike set out for me...

1) Use a mid-iron for most of your practice. Start with the ball teed very low if possible; if not, hit it off the ground (or mat). Use slower swings at first, focusing on your takeaway, position at the top, and swinging the club through the ball on line. Then work your way up to a normal speed swing off the ground.

If you can't get up to full speed and still hit good shots, stick with the slower speeds. It will come in time if you're patient.

2) After you get warmed up and are hitting the mid-iron pretty well, switch to your 3-wood and follow the same procedure. Again, be patient.

3) Finish your practice by going back to the mid-iron. I bet you hit it much better this time! And if you want, you can hit a few wedges at the end, just to leave a good taste in your mouth!

At first I was hitting behind the ball. I soon figured out that I had to stand a little taller to compensate for the longer shaft. I continued to struggled for a while. I could not hit the ball more than 120 yards because I kept getting stuck behind the ball. I was beginning to get really frustrated.

I stepped back and did the drills that Mike had originally given me to practice the one-piece takeaway. I hit a few good ones after that but still it did not feel right.

I stepped away again and then it clicked. My right elbow was still bending a little to early on the takeaway. After I made that adjustment the ball was flying much straighter and much further. It's amazing how such a little fix could make such a huge difference.

I think we are on the right track towards success. Mike was right. It was tough mentally. There were a few times that I wanted to throw my club, but I have to remember that every defeat brings me closer to a victory. Before I left for practice I posted this quote on my Facebook profile page...

"Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired." Martha Graham

I do not think anyone can perfect the game of golf, but I love to practice. Hopefully the perfection that I desire will walk in the door sooner than later. Have a great round and always hit your target.

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Can Somebody Give Me A Ruling On This One?


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , | Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yesterday I shared that I took my new swing out for a test run. If you have been following this blog, you know that I have been working with my virtual swing coach Mike Southern on fixing my coming over the top swing(my loop, as I like to call it).

I was struggling with my driver, barely getting drives out to 215 yards on average. My other clubs were much improved but there was nothing with my driver. Mike said that he was not surprised that I had my struggles. He explained...

"The driver swing uses slightly different technique than any other club -- the ball is on a tee, it's placed more forward in your stance, and you swing more upward to hit it. That's just enough difference to confuse your muscles at this point."

So why do I need a ruling? When I got to the par 4, 16th hole(that's a picture of the hole from the tee box just below), I was a bit nervous. If you clicked on the link, you would have noticed that the drive calls for a carry over the water to get to the fairway. It is only about a 150 yard carry, but I was anything but confident.

I have had some great drives on this hole in the past. Sometimes for fun, we see if we can carry the green from the tee. It is about a 275 carry to get to the landing area in front of the green. I have come close but never made it. I was not even thinking about going for it today. Not the way I was swinging the driver.

My first drive took off like a bullet, but it was very low and went about 125 yards and into the water. I teed up again and did the exact same thing. Two balls in the water. What am I shooting now? I went back to the cart and pulled out my 22 degree hybrid. I only needed to drive it 150 yards. Should have done this in the first place. I hit a good drive just on the edge of the fairway and the rough down the left hand side.

I had about 135 to the pin, 115 to the front, and I mishit it and the ball went into the front bunker. Disappointed by my shot, I drove up to the green. As I was walking towards my ball, I looked back out to the fairway. I noticed two balls sitting there. Huh?

There was no one behind me. The closest group was about four holes back. I continued to look back at the tee box to see if anyone was there. No one. What is going on? I left my ball in the bunker and hopped in my cart and drove to the fairway.

When I got to the first ball I could not believe my eyes. It was my ball. I walked over to the second ball and again, it was my ball. I mark my ball with three dots so I know they were mine. But I saw the splash. Twice.

Apparently they had both skipped along the water and into the fairway. The sun was setting so I guess I could not see the end results because of the glare coming off the water. Insane!

I played what I believe to be my first ball(the first drive went a little further left so I played that ball). I hit a beautiful shot to within 15 feet. I missed the birdie putt and tapped in for par. Since there was no one behind me, I played the ball out of the bunker, and then two putted from there.

So...what's the ruling? Which score do I keep. Should I have recorded the score that I finished from the bunker, or do I keep the par because I did not finish the hole before finding my original ball. there some other ruling all mixed up in this mess of a hole.

Calling all golf rules gurus. This is a tough and unique situation. I wasn't really keeping a tally so it will not change my score. I would just like to know. Get your rule books out. Have a great round and always hit your target.

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Taking My New Swing Out For A Test Drive


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , , | Posted on Monday, September 13, 2010

I took my new swing out for a test round today. Overall I am pleased. There were some ups and downs. I hit some great shots and I hit some shots that I would like to forget. I was not expecting too much considering the new swing and the fact that I have not played a round in over three weeks.

Since I started working with Mike Southern on fixing my coming over the top swing, I have just been practicing. And with that, I have only been hitting wedges. I wanted to work on the one-piece takeaway and ingrain the movement into my swing.

During practice, I am swinging the wedges really well. I am much more consistent and the ball is flying fifteen, sometimes twenty yards further than what I was used to. Going into the round I was a little concerned about the other clubs in my bag. Since I have been only hitting wedges, I had no idea what to expect from my irons and woods.

On the driving range my concern grew. I could not hit my irons and I did not feel comfortable with the driver in my hands. I hate hitting off of mats, and on Mondays, Miami Beach Golf Club only have the mats available for practice.

My wedges were okay, but I could not hit the 7-iron. I kept on hooking it. Hook after hook after hook. I then hit a few hybrids which I kept on slicing. I was not looking forward to my round. I tried to hit a few with my driver but they only have those rubber tees which are always too tall, so the few swings I did take were useless.

My first drive was in the fairway but only went about 215 yards. This was a common theme throughout my round. In the fairway but not long. For some reason I kept on pulling the ball left. Not a big hook, but the ball would take off with a very low ball flight and go a little left. I will have to get some footage of my swing with the driver so that I can see what is going on.

Like I said before, my wedges are flying a lot further and so now are my irons. Once I got onto the grass, I started hitting them better. I rarely have a good warm up before a round anyway for some reason.

I will have to figure out my new distances over the next few rounds. I hit an 8-iron into a green that was 140 yards away. That is what I used to hit to this distance. I flew the green by 15 yards. All of my irons were longer. I hit some really good 6-irons which I used to be apprehensive about. It felt good today. Once I make these adjustments, I think my scores will start to come down.

I fell in love with my hybrid again. I have a 22 degree which I use instead of the 4 or 5-iron. I used to hit it to about 170-175 yards. I had a shot into the par 4, 4th hole. The pin was 204 yards away after another lack luster. I hit the best shot I have ever hit with this club. It was straight as an arrow, landed just short of the green, and it actually rolled past the pin. I was stunned.

The driver continued to give me trouble which left me with a lot of long approach shots. It is a good thing I was hitting the hybrid well. If I can get my drives back out to 250-260, everything will start to come together.

Now it is time to get back to practicing chipping and putting. These aspects of my game were lacking today simply because I have not been practicing in these areas. I have a good foundation from which to work from now. My swing was broken down and now I can build a better game from this point on. Can't wait to get back in my golf laboratory. I think I will be up early to practice tomorrow. Have a great round and always hit your target.

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All Eyes On Dustin Johnson At The BMW Championship


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , , | Posted on Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dustin Johnson is back in the winners circle. After a whirlwind of a season, Johnson kept his composure down the stretch at the BMW Championship to take home his second win of the year. Johnson finished with a birdie and a par on the final two holes, fending off a hard charging Paul Casey.

I'm a big fan of Johnson. I like his style of play. He is a big hitter and he has great touch around the greens. He has putted well this season and it seemed as though his name was always in the mix at the end of a tournament.

Johnson has experienced a lifetime of lessons in just this one year alone. He had the collapse at the U.S. Open in which he was within a few shot of winning his first major. There was the incident at Whistling Straits that cost him a chance at capturing the PGA Championship.

A lot of other golfers would have faded into the obscurity after going through what Johnson has. Not Dustin. It looks like he is going to be a contender for years to come. He has made his first Ryder Cup team. He has four wins already on the PGA tour, and he came very close to winning two majors in 2010. This guy is the real deal.

With Tiger failing to make it to the final stage of the FED-EX Cup Championship, and Phil seemingly not wanting to take over the number one spot in golf, Johnson may sneak his way to the top of the ladder. But there is nothing sneaky about Johnson. Everyone stops to look when he has a driver in his hand. With his continued good play, all eyes will be on Dustin Johnson for some time to come.

Have a great round and always hit your target.

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Mr. Perfect Charley Hoffman Body Slams The Competition At The Deutsche Bank Championship


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , | Posted on Monday, September 6, 2010

I was watching the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship with my buddy Jay and he remarked, "that dude looks like Mr. Perfect Curt Henning." He was talking about Charley Hoffman. From the back he really did, and he did play a perfect final round. Even the PGA Tour website had their title story as Playoff Perfection.

Hoffman started the day four shots back but took over the tournament with a string of birdies early in his round. He continued his birdie barrage with six on the back nine, one of which was a hole out from the bunker on the 13th, making that the shot of the day. Hoffman was truly firing on all cylinders.

The man with the golden locks played the course aggressively. On the par 3 16th, Hoffman was comfortably ahead and the announce team said that Charley should play it safe and aim at the right side of the green where there was more room to work with. Hoffman took dead aim at the pin which was on the left side of the green. A miss left would leave him short-sided and staring at a bogey. Hoffman stuck it left of the pin and made the putt for birdie. Nail in the coffin.

United States Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin will make his captain's picks tomorrow morning and some are saying that he has to give Charley Hoffman serious consideration. Hoffman style of play would be a great fit for the American team. He has a great demeanor about him, and he never seemed to get up or down, handling the pressure of his competitor nipping at his heels.

Hoffman did all the things he needed to do to win down the stretch. He hit his fairways and greens, and made all the important putts. No one is perfect at the game of golf, but Charley came really close today.

Maybe he has peaked at the right time and has caught the eyes of the right people. Some think so and some are saying "Sorry Charley". We will find out tomorrow. I would give him the nod. When it is time to go into competition, who better than Mr. Perfect Charley Hoffman to have in my corner to tag in and finish out the match. Have a great round and always hit your target.

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Have You Ever Had A Hole In One?


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , | Posted on Thursday, September 2, 2010

Today marks the 24th anniversary of one of the amazing events in golf history. Arnold Palmer made a hole in one on a par 3 with a 5-iron. Amazing enough even for the King of golf. What makes the story even better, is that he repeated the same feat, the very next day, on the same hole, with the same 5-iron. Unbelievable.

I have been playing for three years now and I have yet to record a hole in one. Every time I go out for a round, I say to myself, "This is the day. Today I am going to get a hole in one." Nothing yet though. Probably because I am thinking about it too much when I am on the tee box.

I have come close. Really close. It came on the par 3 12th hole at Miami Springs Golf & Country Club. This the description of the hole:

This par 3 is one of the longest par 3's you will ever play. A fairway wood or driver is required for you tee shot. The green slopes left to right and the there are no bunkers surrounding the green. A par is a great score.

The hole was playing all of the 278 yards that is posted on the tee box. I took out my driver and hit a dead straight drive right at the pin. It never left it the entire time. The ball landed about 15 feet short of the green and ran up towards the back right hole location.

The whole time I was still holding my follow through, saying out loud, "Just disappear." Just disappear." The ball kept on rolling and it got near the hole and stopped just six inches short. SO CLOSE!!!

I actually never got to see how close it really was. I was riding with Marc and he pulled his tee shot, so we had to go find his ball. Kevin and Hurchell were in the other cart. They got up to the green before we did.

As Marc and I were driving up to the green, Kevin was standing over my ball. He looked at me, looked at the ball, and then hit the ball back down the green towards me. WHAT ARE YOU DOING MAN!?!? At least let me get a look at it. Let me tap it in. Something like that doesn't happen often.

The only reason I know it was within six inches was because Kevin told me it was. So close. I can't wait for the day I finally net my first hole in one. I am not going to put pressure on myself though. The only thing I am thinking about now is grooving my new swing. It will come. I know it will. And when it does, Arnold Palmers on me. Have a great round and always hit your target.

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