Bouncing golf balls for distance

By Frank ThomasJuly 16, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from GOLF CHANNEL's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Every week we will select the best question and Frank will send one lucky golfer a personally signed copy of 'Just Hit It'. Last week's lucky winner was Jim, with his question about 'toe up' on putters and drivers.
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Bouncing Golf Balls for Distance
Hi Frank:
Is it possible to determine if one golf ball will go farther than another, when hit at moderate club head speeds, by dropping them from shoulder height and watching which one will bounce higher ? Thanks.

Unfortunately there are only two things you will find out about a ball, by bouncing it from a height of about 5 feet. One is, how high it bounces from this height and two, how fast it will come off a putter.
The COR (Coefficient of Restitution) of a ball (click here for an easy to understand explanation of COR) is dependent on the speed of impact. The lower the impact speed the higher the COR. The COR of a putt will be about 0.90 or more but when using the same ball off a super driver at 110 mph the COR will be about 0.83
All balls do not have the same fall-off rate as impact speed increases so bouncing balls from five feet is not a good indicator of how fast the ball will be projected off a clubhead at a swing speed of 90 mph. We also need to recognize that ball speed alone is not enough information to predict how far a ball will travel.
The aerodynamics of a ball are extremely important. For example, a ball without dimples will travel about 130 yards compared to an otherwise identical ball with dimples ' launched at the same speed, spin, and launch angle ' which will travel 260 yards. The dimple configuration and the spin rate therefore play a very important role in distance and you will not be able to determine how a ball will spin or its aerodynamic lift and drag properties by bouncing it.
However, I would like to assure you most balls today are very good and the selection of a ball should be based on your swing speed, control around the green, and what you can afford. But in the end the differences in performance between the most popular brands is minimal and certainly smaller than our ability to take advantage of the subtle design differences. Most manufacturers of premium balls have, a ball in their line designed for slower than tour swing speeds and these are not only good balls but cost considerably less than the premium balls which do a lot for our ego but little to enhance our performance.
For example the new NXT Tour ball from Titleist, the Bridgestone E6, the Nike Ignite, the Callaway HX Hot, and the Srixon AD 333 (to name a few) are all very good balls for most -- 99%-- of us and not at premium prices.
If you looking for more information or trying to unlock the secrets of club selection you may want to get a copy of my book Just Hit It.
Werner, bouncing balls is fun but is of limited value in deciding how they perform off a driver.
Hope this helps
Exceeding USGA MOI Limits?
I recently put expanding foam inside a high MOI driver head, and am now wondering if this might increase the MOI past the USGA limit?

This is a very interesting question, which I dont believe the USGA carefully considered when adopting the MOI rule. Please bear with me for a minute while I give you some background.
First understand that the MOI is the resistance to angular acceleration or simply, twisting during impact. The higher the MOI (within practical limits) the less it will twist during impact and the more forgiving the club will be of miss-hits.
If you hit the club in the center of the face -- on the sweet spot and opposite the center of gravity -- it will not twist during impact and the need for a high MOI becomes unimportant. Therefore, a high MOI is for us mortals, who miss the sweet spot more so than the superstars. The elite spend all their time perfecting their swing and are able to adjust to hit the ball on a particular spot, high, low, center/high, center/low or any where else on the face they wish. Whereas most of us are lucky to hit the ball somewhere close to the center every now and again.
With this in mind, you may ask; why has a limit on MOI ' which helps the average golfer more than the super stars 'been adopted? Is this really a conspiracy against the rest of us who love the game and need as much help as possible?
The real concern is that the first MOI proposal from the USGA was to limit it to 4,800 gm-cm. This was then adjusted up ward to 6,000 gm-cm after the manufacturers pointed out that the original proposal was inappropriate.
After careful consideration of the comments received from equipment manufacturers, the USGA has approved the implementation of a clubhead moment of inertia (of 6,000 gm-cm which includes a test tolerance)
The justification for the change of heart -- tap dance -- was that the difference between 4,800 and 6,000 was not significant.
Why, we may ask is there any need to set a limit at 6,000 if the difference between 4,800 and 6,000 has little to no real effect on performance? Surely then anything above 6,000 is just as insignificant. The logic behind adoption of this rule is very questionable.
BUT now that the limit has been adopted, reaching it has become something of a challenge to the manufacturers, especially because there are dimensional and volume constraints which were also adopted a year or two earlier.
The closer the product is to the USGA limit the better it is ' or so manufacturers imply and many golfers believe. This is just not true.
Wow! Tom this is quite a journey to get to your answer but I hope it gives you some background about the club you have, the silly restrictions you have to live with and what the USGA is doing for you ' or should I say to you.
If you fill your club with foam it will certainly increase the MOI and if it was right at the limit of 6,000 gm-cm before the foam job, you will now have a non-conforming club. Similarly, if you add lead tape to the back of the club you will increase the MOI. So it all depends how close to the limit the club was in the first place. This is quite a nightmare for you but just imagine how a USGA official will react on the first tee when you tell him you have foam in your head.
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Tiger's Drug Test: Revisited
I received so many comments about my answer to Jerry re. drug testing, that I feel obliged to revisit it one more time.
My answer to the question about Tigers Drug Test last week, was in essence suggesting that an adopted rule, which states that performance enhancing substances are not permitted (or something similar), should be enough without the need for testing.
I maintain that the essence of the game based in part on a code upon which the game is built, is at stake. Once we turn over the responsibility of self-monitoring of any rule, to a referee, we are fracturing the very foundation of our game.
It is the responsibility of the golfer alone to call any infractions on him/herself. Introducing a second party ' which implies 'we dont trust these guys' ' is a personal affront to the profession and it in turn relieves the individual of a fundamental responsibility unique to our game .
Why cant we treat this drug rule like any other rule in the book?
If there are drugs which truly enhance a golfers performance -- which is still in question -- then surely the best golfers in the world will know this sooner than anybody else. However, without a rule, there is no violation but with a rule ' where the intent is unambiguous -- the golfer knows, and soon his fellow golfers will learn of any intentional violation. Peer pressure has proven to work very well in resolving intentional and/or repetitive rules violation problems.
If I tightly close my eyes for a few moments, maybe when I open them drug testing will be something that has gone away and we can again trust our elite golfers.
Patrick, Scott, Clyde, John and many others,
I cannot thank you enough for your thoughtful e-mails. It is very clear that you too want to protect the integrity of our game but find it difficult to come up with the right formula.
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to Helping Golfers. Frank is Chief Technical Advisor to The Golf Channel and Golf Digest. He served as Technical Director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN System and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email
Frank Thomas

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.