How "About That!" Finding My Swing Tempo


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , | Posted on Monday, November 15, 2010

The first sport I ever played was baseball. I started when I was 6, playing with the 7 and 8 year old kids, and continued until I left for college, playing for American Legion team Post 10. I dreamed of playing for the New York Mets and can still name every player from the 1986 World Series Championship team.

During the baseball season I would watch Mel Allen every Saturday morning on This Week In Baseball. Allen, the long time Yankee announcer, is famous for coining the phrase, "How About That!" As it turns out, my baseball roots are leaking in to my golf game. How about that?

A few post ago I talked about finding a repeatable tempo that produced a good swing. While on the putting green during one of my rounds, I came up with the idea to ask myself an easy question which had an easy answer. I asked myself, "How hard would I have to throw it to get it to the hole." And then I answered myself as I made the stroke, "about that." "About" started the takeaway. "That" is when I made impact with the ball.

During my last few practice sessions, I started applying the same swing thought to my full swing. I have been practicing with my 6 and 7 irons as well as my pitching wedge. Before every shot I ask myself, "How hard would I have to swing this club to get it to the hole." And then I answer myself as I swing, "about that." "About" started the backswing. "That" is when I made impact with the ball.

It doesn't matter what shot I am hitting, that is my tempo. Half shots. Three quarter shots. Full shots. It is all the same. "About that." The same now goes for my chipping and pitch shots. All I have to focus on is getting a good visual in my head of how hard I want to toss it, and then simply do what comes naturally.

My virtual swing coach Mike Southern asked his readers to experiment with the "one-thousand-one" technique. What I am using is about the same tempo, if not exactly the same as Mike's. I think the important thing is that each individual golfer finds something that clicks with them.

I am continually trying to make this game as simple as possible. The pros make golf look simple because they spend an insane amount of hours practicing, but also have a firm understanding that over-complicating things only leads to disaster. Mike left me this comment after I had my "aha" moment of keeping it simple...

Excellent, grasshopper. You are finally attaining enlightenment...

(Translation: This is just a stupid game, and uses moves not so different from the ones you normally make as you go through life. Relax and have some fun! You already know how to do most of this if you just stop making it so difficult. ;-)

Hmm...I already know how to do most of this huh? I guess I do. How About That! Have a great round and always hit your target.

Tempo Logo found here.

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Comments (5)

  1. November 16, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    "I think the important thing is that each individual golfer finds something that clicks with them."

    Exactly, Dex. You can't buy a swing, and you can't borrow one from another player. If you heard Sean Foley's interview on Golf Channel Monday night, you heard Foley say that no player does exactly what his (or her) teacher says, but rather takes the lesson and adjusts it to his own understanding, focusing instead on just getting the proper results.

    Your "about that" tempo key is the same sort of thing. Court jokes about how I say "one-thousand-one" to keep my tempo, but it's how I feel the tempo correctly. The phrase doesn't determine my tempo; it just reinforces the rhythm of my swing when I do it properly and helps me do it consistently. I didn't choose the phrase to set my tempo; I chose the phrase to match my correct tempo.

    The phrase isn't the key; the key is how you feel the rhythm of the phrase you use while you actually swing the club. Pick a phrase that matches the tempo you want and. when the two match, you're in sync.

    When you're out of sync, you have a bunch of thoughts in your head because you're trying to consciously coordinate your movements. And when you're in sync, you just think about swinging; it all happens naturally and the game is easy.

    Any learning expert will tell you that people learn more quickly when they can attach the unfamiliar info they want to learn to something familiar they already know. That's the reasoning behind memory tricks... and behind the best swing thoughts. You're starting to understand that... and you're on the way to finding out how simple this game really is.

  2. November 18, 2010 at 7:23 AM

    I guess you can't buy a swing. I know that now thanks to you. When we first met I wanted to by the Medicus Driver, essentially buying myself a new swing.

    I'm glad you didn't have me go that route. I think learning how to swing the club through traditional means has given me a greater appreciation of the game. After all, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan never used all these different gadgets and modern players still aspire to be as great as them.

  3. November 18, 2010 at 7:16 PM
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  4. November 18, 2010 at 7:16 PM

    Just for the record, Dex -- there's nothing wrong with using training aids. The problem I have with most of them is that they don't give you an understanding of what you're trying to do. Remember the old Schoolhouse Rock cartoons? "Knowledge is power!"

    I always think about Seve Ballesteros. Seve was naturally talented and he used that talent in a marvelous way... but eventually (as happens to all of us) he ran into some swing problems. I don't know all the details, but the most common explanation I've heard from teachers is that Seve simply didn't know enough about his swing mechanics to fix it. He went from one person to the next, looking for a solution, but he never found one that lasted.

    To borrow a thought from Hogan and Trevino, you can own a swing if you dig it out of the ground -- that is, if you work at it until you understand what you need to do and why you need to do it. You can't buy that knowledge; you have to find it yourself. A training aid can help you feel a correct swing, but it can't teach you why it feels correct. And a teacher can guide you in that quest, but never take your place. I'm glad I've been able to help you there.

    And the beauty of it all is this: When you start to understand the whys of your swing, golf ceases to be so difficult. To give you a couple of obvious examples (at least, they're obvious to you now), one simple move -- the one-piece takeaway -- eliminated many swing compensations and the associated swing thoughts you needed in order to make them all happen in sequence. And one simple concept -- "toss the ball toward the hole with your stroke" -- gave you so much confidence over your putts that you no longer agonize over pace.

    Besides, it's more fun to know what you're doing... especially when your friends don't. ;-)

  5. November 19, 2010 at 8:20 AM

    I like understanding the "whys" of the swing. Understanding why I was coming over the top was huge. When I get sloppy with my takeaway, I can feel myself doing it wrong and am able to stop myself mid swing. Then I can go back to my drills and correct it quickly.

    I like the challenge of finding my "authentic" swing. It's frustrating at times because I want it to be perfect right now. But I think it is also more satisfying going through the frustrations and then finally figuring it out. It is such a good felling.