Playing Golf In The Desert


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , | Posted on Sunday, October 31, 2010

I'm in Arizona and that means great golf and no rain like we get in Miami. I haven't been able to play or practice like I normally do because of the showers we experience on what seems like a daily basis. My swing coach has been writing some great articles and I haven't been able to put them to use.

The last time I was able to get out I used the "one-thousand-one" drill to help with the rhythm and tempo of my swing. It worked really well for me. If you read any of my post in the past, you know that I think way too much during my swing. Thousands of thoughts tend to swirl in my head during this short space of time.

What I noticed is that I didn't think about mechanics or technique as I counted one-thousand-one to myself. Instead of worrying about positions during my swing, the only thing in my head was the cadence. It produced better shots and I didn't come over the top as much which is my main swing flaw.

I wanted to get in some more practice before I got out here because I will be playing golf with "The Doctor" (he's a pediatric emergency physician) a college buddy from The "U". He was the one who introduced me to the game when he still lived in Miami, and whenever I go out to visit, we get in a few rounds.

I love the golf in Arizona because of variety. The courses in Florida are basically flat. I have played par 3's in Arizona that have a 100 feet in elevation change from tee to green. Although the courses in Florida are beautiful, the scenery of the mountains and cactus is awesome.

This is the best time to be in Arizona. No humidity with highs of 85 degrees. Absolutely perfect for golf. I'm not going to worry about my score. The focus will be on making good swings. Life and golf is so much easier when we learn how to keep it simple. Have a great round and always hit your target.

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Thinking About Absolutely Nothing During My Golf Swing


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , | Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2010

After reading this post by Mike Southern and this post by David MacKenzie, the game plan for practice today was absolutely nothing. Absolutely Nothing meaning, I didn't think about anything during my swing. It ended up being one of my best practice sessions to date.

I was actually supposed to play at Normandy Shores Golf Club but my buddies back out at the last minute. I had to get out there so I made use of the nice day and worked on my game. I played at Crandon Golf Club on Wednesday and I found myself thinking about my swing too much. Even after promising myself not to get too technical, I still had a million thoughts swirling around in my head.

The negative thoughts began as soon as I got up that morning because I knew that I was going to have to swing driver because a few of the holes have long carries over water just to get to the fairway. I haven't hit driver in about a month at the suggestion of Mike while I work on my swing change.

When I got on the driving range I started with my 6-iron which is what I have been working on. After that I went to my wedges and then hit hybrid. I pulled out the driver and it felt foreign to me. I hit a few balls wildly and I thought for sure I was going to have a horrible round.

I finished my warm-up with a few wedges to try and build my confidence up. As I drove the cart to the first tee with Kevin(that's Kevin in the picture with Iggy The Iguana) and Kyle, who I met at my laboratory, I didn't know what to expect off the first tee which is a par 5 that starts with a tee shot over water.

Kevin teed off first. I was hoping he would hit a good one to give me a good visual, but he duck hooked it into the water. We let him re-tee since it was going to be a slow round anyway and he hit his second one about 20 feet in front of him. In his defense, he has been running his business and hasn't played since July. Anyway, I heard that if you own a business and you are shooting in the 80's, then you need to worry about your business. After witnessing these shots, I'm confident that his business is doing very well:-)

I stepped up next and by that time, there were two foursomes waiting behind us so I had a nice little audience. Great. Now I have people watching as I hit a club I have no confidence in. The pressure.

I stepped up to the tee and I could feel the eyes on me. I took my backswing and ripped one down the right side of the fairway and it just trickled into the rough. Safe and with good lie for my next shot. Phew! I could feel my hands shaking as I picked up the tee.

I put away my driver and 3-wood after the 5th hole as I couldn't hit either one for the life of me. Mike is going to show us how to swing the driver properly down the road, and had advised me to hit hybrid for now. I actually hit it beautifully. It made the course a lot longer, but I was happy to be in the fairway.

The only time I got into trouble was when I was thinking too much, and about the wrong thing. I literally talked myself into a slice into the woods on one shot. I was telling Kevin that every time I played this hole, I ended up in these woods. I told myself, "don't put it into the woods...don't put it in the woods." And what did I do? You guessed it. Lost ball in the woods.

I always liked the quotes, "Focus on what you want instead of what you don't want," because "what you think about most becomes reality." Basically I was thinking about what I didn't want to happen and that is exactly what happened. I was so focused on a negative outcome, there was no chance of me hitting a good shot.

Instead of saying, "don't put it in the woods", I should have visualized myself making a good swing and making a good shot. Basically I'm asking for the same thing. A good result. But my focus and the feelings behind my thoughts are different.

In the first my focus is on the woods. I can't even imagine hitting it on the green because I have convinced myself that I always put it in the woods. The thoughts are negative. The feelings are negative, thus, the result is negative.

I have found that when I visualize a good shot, it usually happens. In my mind I have convinced myself that I can make the shot so that is what happens. The thoughts are positive. The feelings are positive, thus, the result is positive.

Which brings us back to practice today. Before every swing I visualized myself hitting good shots and left it at that. I didn't think about positions, tempo, or anything else. I have been practicing all of this for the past few month and the new swing is becoming more and more natural everyday.

The only time the loop sneaks back in is when I say to myself, "no loop". Bad focus and bad thoughts. By thinking about absolutely nothing during my swing, the last thought I have in my mind is a positive one, with the ball landing softly on the green.

I'm not going to lie. I did lose it a couple of times, but it is a work in progress. As I went along I remembered some words that Mike told me in one of his comments...

Here's a little "mind game" you might try playing with yourself when you get upset over a bad shot. Remind yourself that Ben Hogan allowed himself seven per round, so you're not even allowed to get upset until you've hit seven bad shots... and then, when you start to get upset over the eighth (or the ninth or...) ask yourself, "Since when did you get better than Ben Hogan? If he expected to hit seven bad ones -- and he's Ben Hogan, for Pete's sake -- how many do you think you should expect to hit?" If that doesn't make you bust out laughing -- and thus avoid getting upset -- then you just aren't paying attention. ;-)

If Ben Hogan didn't allow himself to get mad until he hit his 8th bad shot, who am I to get mad over my 1st bad shot. By the time I was done reading Mike's comment I was laughing at myself. Just who do I think I am? Have a great round and always hit your target.

Clear Your Mind image
Oops Slice image
Focus image

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Introducing The Newest Member To Team Dexter...Mental Golf Coach David MacKenzie


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , | Posted on Monday, October 18, 2010

Professional golfers are surrounded by a team of people who take care of the things that take place outside of the ropes. They have swing coaches, fitness coaches, equipment managers, financial advisers, publicists, and mental coaches to name a few. Everything is taken care of so that they can concentrate on their golf game.

As amateurs, we do not have access to all of these resources, or do we? I began to think to myself that if I wanted to become really good at golf, I need to start doing the things that professional golfers do and have to make a better golf game possible.

I have been fortunate to have Mike Southern from the blog Ruthless Golf as my Virtual Swing Coach for the past few months. My game has improved tremendously because of his teachings. I encourage you to browse around his blog. There is an abundance of great tips on how to approach the game of golf from an easy to understand and practical manner. He is a former tour pro* and an accomplished author with a knack for writing clever limericks.

Today I am happy to announce the newest member to Team Dexter, David MacKenzie, my Virtual Mental Golf Coach. David publishes Golf State Of Mind, a blog which "teaches the mental game, emotional and spiritual side of golf and will show you techniques and drills to most effectively get you on the path to your potential."

I was especially intrigued to read more of David's work when I read this description of his approach to golf...

"There is no perfect golf swing. Yes, you need to continually work on the fundamentals of the game, but your performance will always be determined by how you control your mind and your emotions. Learning the mental game of golf is the most effective way to improve."

This is something that Mike has told me in the past as well. Mike isn't trying to get me to make the perfect swing. He wants me to make more effective swings, but in order to do that, I need to believe that I can make one.

The great thing about cyberspace is that we have access to a wealth of knowledge. No matter what you want to do in life, it can be found on the internet. The information is out there. It's up to you what you do with it once you find it. I want to keep getting better so I will make the most of the knowledge that I have found.

As long as these fine gentlemen keep sharing their passions through their written words, I can continue to learn from them. Team Dexter is growing and as a result, I am confident that my game will continue to improve, one good thought and one good swing at a time. Have a great round and always hit your target.

*Editor's note. After reading this post, Mike wanted me to let the readers know that while he has competed in some mini-tour events, he was never a member of a tour. It was a mistake on my part as I misunderstood and reported incorrectly. Still good enough for me. I never played in a tour sanctioned event so therefore he still qualifies to be my swing coach. Also...the fact that he quickly pointed this out to me lets me know that I am working with an honest person:-)

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The Golden Bear Shares Some Of His Golden Rules - Jack Nicklaus Quotes


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , | Posted on Sunday, October 17, 2010

~Confidence is the most important single factor in this game, and no matter how great your natural talent, there is only one way to obtain and sustain it: work~ Jack Nicklaus

~A kid grows up a lot faster on the golf course. Golf teaches you how to behave~ Jack Nicklaus

~I'm a firm believer that in the theory that people only do their best at things they truly enjoy. It is difficult to excel at something you don't enjoy~ Jack Nicklaus

~My ability to concentrate and work toward that goal has been my greatest asset~ Jack Nicklaus

~Resolve never to quit, never to give up, no matter what the situation~ Jack Nicklaus

~Sometimes the biggest problem is in your head. You've got to believe you can play a shot instead of wondering where your next bad shot is coming from~ Jack Nicklaus

~Success depends almost entirely on how effectively you learn to manage the game's two ultimate adversaries: the course and yourself~ Jack Nicklaus

~Focus on remedies, not faults~ Jack Nicklaus

~Ask yourself how many shots you would have saved if you never lost your temper, never got down on yourself, always developed a strategy before you hit, and always played within your own capabilities~ Jack Nicklaus

~Achievement is largely the product of steadily raising one's levels of aspiration... and expectation~ Jack Nicklaus

Images courtesy of

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Trying Not To Get Too Analytical With My Golf Swing


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , , | Posted on Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I just finished watching last week's episode of the Big Break, Dominican Republic. This season features former contestants from prior Big Break competitions. It is a team competition. A battle of the sexes for a chance at $50,000.

The one thing that stuck out in my mind was the mindset of Brian Skatell and how it hurts his game. The other players call him "The Ticking Time Bomb." Brian calls himself "the most intelligent and analytical" of the group and ironically his smarts gets in the way.

Brian is the "analytical" golfer. He analyzes every shot and every situation. On top of that, he is a perfectionist. When things do not work out in his favor, he self implodes. Whenever he hits a bad shot, he gets so down on himself, it ruins any chance of hitting a good one on his next shot.

I find my self doing the same time when I am practicing and during a round. When I hit a bad shot, I get really angry. I do not throw clubs or start offering up a series of expletives, but I can definitely feel the blood starting to boil in my veins.

I guess it is because I know I can hit the shot. I have done it before, so why can't I do it every time? The fact is, even the pros have mishits from time to time. If the pros do it, why should I, an amateur who has only been playing for three and a half years, put so much pressure on himself?

The answer, I am a perfectionist like Brian. I want to be good now and if I am not then I am trying to figure out why. I feel like the guy in the picture above. Way too much thinking going on for only 1.5 seconds. Way too many expectations.

Most pros, when asked what they are thinking about during their swing will say, "nothing." I guess they know and understand that the only one that can get in the way of a good swing is their own negative thoughts.

Sometimes we have to learn from other peoples mistakes. Watching Brian get so frustrated with himself reminded me not explode after a bad shot. Bad shots are going to happen. What matters most is what I do next. I can choose to let my frustrations simmer in my belly, causing another bad shot or I can let it slide and move on.

Ben Hogan said, "the most important shot in golf is the next one." I have to be ready physically and mentally for the next shot at hand. What happened on the last shot no longer matters. I can't change it, so why worry about it?

David MacKenzie, who publishes Golf State Of Mind has this article about the best swing thoughts to have during your swing. He gives the reader great advice on how to clear the mind of useless thoughts that deliver unwanted results.

I have received some valuable instruction and now it is time to commit to what I have learned and trust it. My mind can be my own worst enemy if I allow it. My mind can also be my greatest asset. I like assets. The more assets you have to more you can build and grow and right now I'm trying to build a better golf game.

Have a great round and always hit your target.

Image courtesy of Swingology Golf Schools

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Working On Swing Tempo(Boom-Boom Baby)


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , | Posted on Sunday, October 10, 2010

I have been working on the knockdown shot for the past few days and the hardest thing for me is keeping a good tempo throughout my swing. Because of the shortened swing, I found myself decelerating into the ball and pushing everything to the right. After reading my last post, my swing coach Mike pointed out a few things that might be causing my struggles. This is what he had to say.

"...that push sounds more like you're jerking the club a little to get more speed from your shortened backswing, and since you're just trying to hit the ball harder, you shorten your followthrough." He went on to say, "I'd be willing to bet you've got a short followthrough after you hit the ball, don't you? That's why you think you're decelerating."

I feel like he has a camera at my laboratory because he is always dead on. That is exactly what I was doing and it now makes sense why I had a severe case of the "pushes". To remedy the problem, Mike says to "make sure your followthrough is at least as long as your backswing. You don't need to swing harder, just keep the club moving so your finish is at least as long as your backswing. This will smooth out your swing and make it easier to square the clubface."

I was still struggling during practice yesterday with tempo and then I remembered reading this post from Heather Anderson Jones who publishes an excellent blog called Real Women Golf. Heather often records her exploits on the golf course with her girlfriends as well as keeping us informed about the golf world from her point of view. It is always entertaining and on this occasion very educational.

Recently Heather was out with her golfing buddy "Wilbur" and they gave us the Boom-Boom tip to help keep a consistent tempo throughout the swing. Worked for me. Once I had this thought in my head I began to hit the ball a little better.

Take a look at the video. See if it helps you. If anything, it will put a smile on your face. It's always better to be smiling on the course. This means your playing well and if your not playing well, it means that you are still enjoying yourself, which is most important. Have a great round and always hit your target.

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Learning How To Hit The Knockdown Shot Into The Wind


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , | Posted on Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It is soooooo windy. Perfect conditions to practice hitting into the wind. The weather can change at a drop at a hat here in South Florida. One moment it could be sunny. The next, you are in the midst of a thunder storm. The wind can pick up quickly as well and it is important to be able to adjust to the elements on the fly.

Before I went out to practice today I reread this post about the knockdown shot by my online swing coach Mike Southern. The thing I like about Mike's writing is that he explains why we do certain drills and the situations we use them in. This helps me truly understand the drill and everything that encompasses it.

Mike wrote this post to expand on a tip that Hank Haney gave the viewers during the playing of the Deutsche Bank Championship. Haney gave us these three tips.

1. take a longer club
2. make a shorter swing
3. shorten your follow-through

I happened to be watching the telecast when Haney gave us the tip but I was still a little confused. Mike does a great job of explaining each point so that the amateur golfer can make sense of it. I especially like the analogy he uses for #3.

I hit the ball pretty well today. I used my 6 and 7-irons directly into the wind from about 130 yards out. It took some getting used to. Whenever I made a full swing, the ball would get caught up in the wind and come up short. With help from Mike, my 7-iron goes about 160-165 yards now. A 10 to 15 yard improvement. That is how strong the wind is right now for my ball to come up short.

The toughest thing was keeping the club face square at impact. Because I had to use an abbreviated swing, I sometimes decelerating into the ball instead of swinging through it. I pushed a lot of my shots to the right because of this. Once I corrected this, the ball flew at a much lower trajectory, cutting through the wind.

The weather people are predicting more wind for the rest of the week so I will continue to work on the knockdown shot. It is a crucial shot to have in windy weather and if you find yourself under low hanging tree limbs as Mike points out.

Take a moment to read Mike's article if you have been struggling under windy conditions and then get out there and practice. Having this shot in the bag will certainly help to lower your scores. Have a great round and always hit your target.

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In Golf, The Fun Is In The Journey


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , , , | Posted on Saturday, October 2, 2010

I have a problem with too many swing thoughts in my head when I am practicing. The thoughts multiply when I am hitting the ball poorly. Once I get to this point, it is hard for me to calm down and get back into the groove.

Today I went into my practice session with only three thoughts.

1. Make a good full shoulder turn.
2. Swing through the ball.
3. Have fun.

I realized earlier this week that making a full shoulder turn adds distance to my shot. I had heard this before and I thought I had been making a good turn, but discovered that I was making more of a turn with my arms rather than with my shoulders.

The basketball drill helped me keep my hands away from my body as I made my my takeaway which gets my back facing the target at the top of my swing. It felt a little awkward at first but the results are great. I can feel that I have more power in my swing as I get to impact.

When I had my loop, I had to have perfect timing in order to get to the right position at impact to hit the ball straight. I actually got pretty good with the timing but I was losing out on distance, thus the need for the swing change. Now that I am making a better takeaway and shoulder turn, I am in the a good position at the top to let gravity do its job and simply swing through the ball.

I still have a lot of work to do. I have some pretty bad misses, but they are coming less frequently now. My main mishit is a hook to the left. I think it has to do with my address. I have to become better at making sure I have the proper alignment before hitting the shot.

It was fun out there today which is the last thing I wanted to focus on(this should be the first thing actually). Ever since I set my goals for 2010, I think I may have been putting too much pressure on myself. I want to break 80 so bad that it has almost become a job. 80 will come. I know it will. And when it does, it will be a celebration. Until then I have to remember to have fun along the way.

One of the analyst from NBC(I can't remember which one right now. Maybe Paul Azinger) made a comment that Colin Montgomerie and the European team were putting too much pressure on themselves during the opening stages of the Ryder Cup because they were so focused on the result. On winning. Corey Pavin and the American side had jumped out to an early lead after the lengthy rain delay leaving Monty a little bewildered.

The analyst said that in golf, you have to remember the steps it takes to win a team event of this magnitude. Looking past these steps makes you lose focus on the task at hand. Maybe Monty heard a replay of this statement and changed his game plan for the third stage as the host team held the lead in all six matches that were out on the course before play was called because of darkness.

I think I will heed the lesson as well. The results will come. The fun is in journey. Have a great round and always hit your target.

Image courtesy of Trading Phrases.

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