Taking My New Swing Out For A Test Drive

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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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Comments (6)

  1. September 14, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    I'll be interested to see some video myself, Dexter -- just to see how my star pupil is doing! But I can give you a couple of tips right now that might help.

    First, let me say that you're doing pretty doggone good! To see such an increase in distance with most of your clubs (the driver is the hardest to make changes with, even for Tiger) means that you are hitting the ball more solidly... which means you're hitting much straighter down the line instead of making the glancing blow that a pull causes. That's a major accomplishment with any swing change, and you should be proud of your success.

    I understand why you chose the wedge for practice, and one advantage of using it is that it will quickly show you if you're pulling the shot. However, because the club is so short, it also means your swing is the shortest of any of your clubs. Between the two, it means your wedge is the least like any other club in your bag (other than the driver, of course). While wedge work helps, it actually gives you the least improvement.

    If you want to focus on only one club during practice, I'd choose either your 6-iron or hybrid. You said these clubs were the hardest clubs for you to hit originally, which makes them ideal for practice.

    Yes Dexter, I want you to use a hard-to-hit club for practice now!

    It's going to be tougher mentally, but you can do it. Any progress with the iron is going to make hitting the other clubs easier.

    And for the time being, I'd like you to just take your driver out of the bag and ignore it. The reason? 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 use your 3-wood for tee shots when you play for a while, and tee the ball low so you can use the same swing you use with the iron.

    So here's the plan for the next few practice sessions:

    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!

    I think your bad warmups come primarily because you have no confidence in your ability to hit the longer clubs. This practice routine should help you develop that confidence. I suspect that within a few weeks you'll be able to score better without the driver than with it. Once you reach that point, we'll know your swing is ingrained enough to start working on the big stick.

    As usual, keep me informed about your progress. I've said it before, but maybe you'll believe me now:

    You're close, Dexter... really close. Be sure to celebrate your success!

  2. September 14, 2010 at 7:10 PM

    Thanks for the encouragement Mike. You know I heard Tom Watson say that he always starts his warm up with his 3-iron. He said that if he was hitting that club well from the start, he knew it would be a good round.

    I guess it is time to step it up. Maybe I was kind of hiding behind my wedges. I'll start working on the new routine tomorrow. I would have thought, and I thought I heard that I should just stick to wedges, but I'll trust you. You haven't steered me wrong thus far.

    My mid-irons are what I wanted to improve anyway. I was so short on my approach shots. I often had to layup on par 4's and hope to hit a good 3rd shot and have a short putt at par. While I only hit 4 greens yesterday, at least I was around them.

    When I first started playing 3 years ago, I never used my driver. I couldn't hit hit. I waited about a year and half before I started using it. I'm going to miss the big guy for the next few weeks.

    I'll see if I can get some more footage. I'm anxious to see what my swing looks like now. Thanks again.

  3. September 14, 2010 at 8:04 PM

    Hitting the ball too far is almost always a good problem to have. ;-)

    Once you develop a little comfort and consistency in your swing, I suspect you'll figure out your new yardages pretty quickly and start hitting lots of greens.

    And you didn't do anything wrong by initially learning the new swing with your wedge... but you know what to do now. It's time to master the problem clubs. I know the pros say that short game is the key to scoring...

    But they assume you can use the long clubs well enough to get the ball to the green in the first place. ;-)

  4. September 14, 2010 at 8:14 PM

    BTW, I sacked my driver for about a year after Carl straightened out my swing. I kept sticking it into the ground... and since I was hitting my 3-wood around 240 yards (this was back in 1990), it didn't hurt me any.

  5. September 14, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    That's exactly what happened to me. I hit the ground a few times. I always felt like I was making a descending blow like I'm supposed to with my irons. Probably the cause of my low ball flight.

    Okay, so no driver for a while, but I still wonder why I didn't have the same problem with my hybrid. That's club with a longer shaft too. When I used my hybrid on the long par 3's, I hit them well. I suspect you'll tell me after I practice my mid-irons first.

  6. September 15, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    It's not so hard to understand, Dex. Why do you suppose the PGA has a "Driving Accuracy" stat but not a "3-iron Off the Tee" stat? Everybody has some trouble with the big stick because of its length and technique differences.

    Also, bear in mind that shafts are longer now than they used to be. Back when Bobby Jones played, a driver was actually just a bit shorter than a modern 3-wood. Tiger used a shorter shaft on his driver for a long time; I suspect that's part of the reason his driving stats now seem somewhat worse than they used to -- he's searching for more distance, just like everybody else.

    Once you get comfortable with your other clubs, it won't be too hard to adjust to the driver.