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

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Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.

11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.

11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.

1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

The reward now?

''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

And not the Masters.

He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

Except for that first week in April.

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The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

Yeah, you heard that right.

“I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

“I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

Here's two more just for good measure.

Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.

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Spieth selected by peers to run for PAC chairman

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 6:43 pm

Jordan Spieth may still be relatively young, but he has gained the confidence of some of the PGA Tour's most seasoned voices.

Spieth is one of two players selected by the current player directors of the Tour's Policy Board to run for Chairman of the Player Advisory Council (PAC). Spieth will face Billy Hurley III in an election that will end Feb. 13, with the leading vote-getter replacing Davis Love III next year on the Policy Board for a three-year term through 2021.

Last year's PAC chairman, Johnson Wagner, replaces Jason Bohn as a player director on the Policy Board beginning this year and running through 2020. Other existing player directors include Charley Hoffman (2017-19), Kevin Streelman (2017-19) and Love (2016-18).

The 16-member PAC advises and consults with the Policy Board and Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on "issues affecting the Tour."

In addition to Spieth and Hurley, other PAC members for 2018 include Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Chesson Hadley, James Hahn, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Geoff Ogilvy, Sam Saunders, Chris Stroud, Justin Thomas, Kyle Thompson and Cameron Tringale.