Finding Trouble Off The Tee


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , , | Posted on Thursday, December 1, 2011

Arizona Grand Spa & Golf Resort is one of my favorite courses to play here in the Phoenix area. That's one of my favorites when I am playing well and hitting the ball straight. My last round proved to be, not-so-fun due to the fact that I couldn't find the fairways for the life of me.

Arizona Grand has a gorgeous layout with elevation changes that showcase a beautiful desert style course nestled into the rocky ridges of South Mountain. While the scenery can be breath taking, ending up in the desert after a golf shot spells disaster for any chance at scoring well.

Trouble for me started on the first. The tee shot calls for a blind shot up and over a hill. At the top of the hill, on the right hand side, sits a little pond, that if it is your first time playing the course, you have no idea it's there. I aimed way left of the pond but ended up slicing it right into the drink which led to a double bogey.

I actually hit two great drives on holes 2 and 3 which lead to pars. Again, if you keep it in the fairway on this course, you give yourself a great chance to do well. I only managed to hit two more fairways for the rest of my round and found myself having to drop because of multiple unplayable lies. Instead of playing for birdies and pars, I was often playing for bogeys and doubles.

Looks like I need to get back to working on my long game again. Mike Southern of Ruthless Golf wrote an article about which is more important, the long game or the short game. We often hear teachers say that amateurs need to work on their short game because that is the part of the game in which the pros excel. Mike, however, has a different take on it.

In my case, Mike would tell me to work on my long game. Off the tee, I did not give myself a chance at getting onto the green in regulation(if you don't know what this means, Mike explains it fully in his article). The short game is a very important part of golf, but if I'm still off the green after my third shot on a par 4, now I have to chip in just to save par.

So, for me, I'm going back to the beginning. I only had three pars during this round and no birdies. When I was able to play more frequently, I was averaging nine pars and at least two birdies a round. My greens in regulation had climbed from 17% to around 45%. This is why I was shooting in the high 70's-low 80's.

I'm not too worried. It will come back to me. Whenever my game gets a little sketchy, Mike gives me a little advise and reminds me that "I am close." In recent weeks, Tiger has been saying this a lot, because he knows, now that he is able to practice like he used to, it's the subtle tweeks in his game that are getting him back to the player he once was. Like Tiger, I'm close and now that I know what I need to work on, I'm even closer. Have a great round and always hit your target.

Photo found here. – Book Your Tee Time Today!

Comments (14)

  1. December 1, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    I started marking my card with an S or an L based on my shot in regulation. I count anything within 100 yards as S.

  2. December 1, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    I keep 3 stats. Putts, fairways hit, and greens in regulation. I was thinking about adding a couple more. Sandies and up & downs. I don't want to get too technical with the stats though. When I do I worry about that too much instead of worrying about the next shot at hand.

    The most important stat for me would be G.I.R.'s. When I hit the green in regulation, I average 1.7 putts which means I'm going to make a par at the very least.

  3. December 1, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    Yes, I, too, keep putts. I'm not as good as you, I average 2.1 (a few more 3 putts, a few less 1 putts).

    I also keep fairways hit, but that's more of a rarity some days, and GIR.

    I sometimes do sand saves but not often. We talked about this a while ago, but I found a course that has an area to practice your bunker shot and I've spent time on the beach. I'm still not the pro from Dover, but at least I have an idea of how to hit a long bunker shot now.

    My resolution for this year is to be more diligent about logging my card after a round.

  4. December 1, 2011 at 10:11 PM


    Golf can be a funny and feel odd when you haven't been playing or practicing much. Seems like you are taking the positive from this by becoming aware of what work is needed on your game, well done!

    From keeping stats you can identify the areas that need work. This analyzing can help lots of golfers find out the areas that need work. Sometimes stats can be misleading in terms of GIR and fairways hit. That's why it's more beneficial to look where your strokes are going to waste and where you end up like Mike mentioned in his post.

    No sense focusing on the short game if it takes 5 or 6 shots to get to the green.

  5. December 1, 2011 at 11:31 PM

    @Lefty - That's awesome that you found a course to practice the long bunker shot. This is a shot that I still need work on. I had a shot out of a fairway bunker during this round from about 60 yards out and I thinned terribly. The ball ended up over the green and you guessed it, in the desert. Took a triple. My best defense with this shot is still to try and avoid it if at all possible;-)

  6. December 1, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    @Jordan - When playing golf, one has to stay positive if they have any chance at improving. I've played with people that I know are better than me skill-wise but not so much mentally. After a bad shot, these types of players take themselves out of the round by ranting and raving about one missed shot. A bad attitude can definitely ruin a round. You talked about this in one of your recent posts.

    As I stated in this post, I will continue to work on my game off the tee. The other area that got me shooting better scores was improving my accuracy with my approach shots into the green(G.I.R.'s). Once Mike and I figured out my "miss" tendencies, and he watched a few videos of my swing, we were able to make the necessary changes. Like you said, we were worked on the areas that needed the most attention and my scores began to reflect it.

  7. December 2, 2011 at 6:36 AM

    Of course, I have to be sure that no one is around when I practice it because I'm not quite as accurate with a club and soft sand as they are on TV.

    I want to avoid yelling "Fore" on a practice range.

    Yes, you have to be positive on the course.

    One of my buddies will spend the exact five minutes looking for a lost ball each time and then be out of it for several strokes because he's still thinking about finding it. I could understand if they were Pro Vs, but they are not.

    Another buddy, when he gives up, usually at the final holes, will start putting with the club in his hand. He doesn't break 100 often.

  8. December 2, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    LOL!!! Yelling FORE might upset a few people on the practice range. I can never understand how people can hold onto a memory of a bad shot for so long. Now, I'll be honest, I do get upset when I hit a bad shot. I'm only human. But I've learned how to let it go a lot more quickly. I now understand the reasons why I hit the bad shots. I rather turn my focus to remedy rather dwelling on what just happened.

  9. December 2, 2011 at 7:40 PM

    There's no doubt all parts of the golf game are important. If you're not hitting fairways then a great short game will only get you so far.

    Conversely a great long game is no good if you keep 3 putting and duffing your chips around the greens.

    Personally, I try to work on all parts of my game with a little more emphasis on the short game.


  10. December 2, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    Hey Troy. I love working on my short game. I think it's the best part of the game of golf. There's nothing like hitting that perfect chip shot over a mound landing it just in the fringe and having it trickle right into the hole.

    The most exciting shots happen around the hole. These are the shots we remember. Tom Watson's chip-in at Pebble. Tiger's chip-in at Augusta. The putts tiger made to keep himself in contention against Rocco Mediate at the U.S. Open. These are memory makers.

    For me, hitting great shots around the green are so much more satisfying that hitting a good drive. But like you said, if I don't hit the fairways, chipping in for triple bogey is not so exciting.

  11. December 3, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    Laughing, I just finished one of those games where I scored OK but didn't hit one fairway.

    It's just what happens.

  12. December 3, 2011 at 10:38 PM

    That's awesome. Golf is truly a crazy game. Sounds like you were a scrambling machine.

  13. December 4, 2011 at 7:08 PM

    Isn't it amazing how much different your mindset is once you understand your game? All of you know players who don't know their games... and they waste their energy fretting over shots they can't change.

    Dex, you and Lefty and the other players who know your own games play with the mindset of pros. You learn what you can from the bad shots, then put them out of your mind and play on. And after the round is over, you make a plan of attack to eliminate those bad shots the next time.

    I do have a thought about the stats:

    The key is to keep only the ones that are most helpful to you. Fairways hit and GIR are always helpful. I like to keep a "short game" stat -- just a record of how many shots I use once I no longer need full shots. That covers sand saves, chips, pitches, and putts, but it also tells me something else that's useful.

    Remember, par 72 for 18 holes assumes you'll take 36 strokes to hit the green (long game) and 36 strokes after you're on (short game) -- a 50/50 split. That's a good "down and dirty" way to find out where you need to focus most of your practice. It's on the part that takes more than 50% of your strokes.

  14. December 4, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    I'm supposed to go out on Tuesday Mike, so I'll keep that stat and see how close to a 50/50 split I can come.

    More than anything, the mindset that you're talking about just makes the game more fun. Instead of getting upset over a bad shot, the challenge becomes remedying the problem rather than how I'm going to get my 7-iron down from the tree. While I'm out there to do well, I realize that I am not a pro and my life does not rely on this next putt.