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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Comments (7)

  1. September 15, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    Funny - I removed my driver and it took over a decade to put it back. Not sure if you saw my post today, but it was about that exact topic - interesting coincidence. Let's hope yours makes it back to your bag a bit sooner!

  2. September 16, 2010 at 9:31 AM

    Great minds think alike;-) A decade + without the driver huh? I hope it doesn't take me that long to get my other clubs in order.

    That's good to know about Dick's having a PGA professional in every store. I knew they boasted club fitting at the store, but I was always a little hesitant to go to them because they are a chain.

    BTW, I feel old now. I can't believe it's been 12 years since the final Seinfeld episode. It feels like yesterday.

  3. September 16, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    Dex, what happened? I wrote a long comment last night and it showed up on your blog... and today it's gone!

    Check your email and see if it sent a copy there. If not, I'll have to try and reconstruct it all for you.

    Boy, that's confusing...

  4. September 16, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    That is confusing. I did get it in my email inbox though. I'll re-post it for you. It will certainly help any readers who might be going through the same problems. Thanks.

  5. September 16, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    Mike said...

    Forgive me for making such a long comment, but I wanted tell you how great you're doing and maybe head off some problems before they pop up.

    I see you found out exactly why I want you to work with the longer clubs and not just the wedge! As you said...

    "I soon figured out that I had to stand a little taller to compensate for the longer shaft."

    That short shaft is part of the reason wedges are easier to hit. As I said, I didn't mind you focusing on the wedge at first -- using the easiest club to hit allowed you to focus on the new movement. But every club has a slightly different length shaft, and you have to be able to adjust "on the fly." As you get more comfortable, you'll find it easier to make this adjustment with each shot.

    But you have to use different (and longer) clubs to get comfortable!

    And what was your first problem when you tried to use the longer clubs? "At first I was hitting behind the ball." Wasn't that the same problem you told me you had with your driver? It's the same reason -- you need to learn to hit longer-length clubs. Because there are additional technique differences with the driver, it's a smart move to take it out for a while until you get a better handle on the length adjustments.

    About that bent elbow: I want you to be clear why this has been such a big deal for you. A little flex might not be a big deal for some players, but your bent elbow causes you to move your hands backward too soon in the backswing... and that puts you in the position that causes you to come over-the-top. Some players might not have this problem, but for you it's big. Because of that, you have to pay more attention to your elbow than some other players might.

    Don't get paranoid about it; I don't want you to hold that elbow stiff like a stick. Keep it as relaxed as you can while still keeping it reasonably straight. It sounds like you're doing fine right now -- I only mention this so you don't start over-correcting yourself. It's our tendency as human beings to find a balance... and then push it to an extreme because "if a little is good, a lot is better." You're taking a balanced approach right now, so just stick with it.

    You might be wondering why I haven't asked for a video to check your position. This may sound strange, but it doesn't really matter. I'm not trying to get you into a "specific position" that can be defined in inches or degrees; as the wise man once said, "Down that road lies madness." Many Tour players destroy their games trying to find the perfect position, the perfect angle, the perfect swing. Trust me, Dexter, it doesn't exist! All that matters is that you swing through a position that lets you make a solid consistent swing to the top. As you have already learned, getting in the wrong position results in coming over the top; as long as your divots go straight toward the target, your "position" is probably good. Just relax and swing the club!

    You're also handling the mental part just fine! You're struggling with a mental plateau right now because you're still getting used to the new takeaway as well as adjusting to the different shaft lengths. I think you're going to be shocked very soon -- you're going to literally leap from that plateau and see a massive improvement. This isn't something hard you're learning, only something different; you're entirely capable of performing this action properly RIGHT NOW. You've already seen this -- just look at the number of good shots you've already hit, as well as your increased distance throughout the bag.

    However, physically simple doesn't mean mentally simple, as you have already learned; but once your mind completes its adjustment to this change, you'll see a quantum leap in your consistency. Just stay the course -- you're doing GREAT!

  6. September 16, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    Thanks, Dexter. I hope it encouraged you too! ;-)