Do your clubs conform

By Frank ThomasJanuary 21, 2010, 9:43 pm
Hello Frank,

Loved your book 'Just Hit It' and I read the Q and A every week. I too am appalled at the new groove rule. I want to know if there is a list of irons that do not conform to the new rule and a list of irons that do.

I currently play the Titleist 735 CM Stainless irons. I'm a single digit handicap and really like the mixed set of cavity back and muscle back irons. While I know I'm not skilled enough to enter the large USGA tournaments, I'd like to make sure I conform in case a local tournament decides to follow the new USGA specs.

Incidentally, I purchased these clubs brand new, but a couple years after they were first introduced as a way to save a few dollars, and I don't have the funds available to change irons on a regular basis to conform to the whims of the USGA. I'm hoping these clubs conform, but I'm afraid they may not.

Thanks for the help,

– Mike

Thank you for the kind comments about my weekly column and I am pleased you enjoyed my book “Just Hit It”.

With regard to the new groove rule change, I have tried to get information and evidence to justify the change without success. You can view our groove rule archive to read some more of my opinion on this issue. And to the question, why such a disruptive change was not first tested at the elite – PGA and US Open – level to confirm that it would solve the problem, I have been lead to believe that political ramifications may have affected this decision.

Mike, we need the wisdom to recognize that there are some things in our lives that we cannot change even with great courage and the serenity to accept this. Trying to get the governing body – now with its heels firmly dug in to an unpopular decision it has made – is one of those things we cannot change at this time.

The new rule is now in effect as a “condition of competition” for the PGA and LPGA Tours around the world and the US Open and British Open (The Open) events. You and I don’t have to worry about this change, with regard to violating the rules, until 2024, unless we decide to enter an elite amateur competition which may adopt the “condition of competition” in 2014.

The fact that this is a performance roll back – the first in the history of the game – why should we think that golfers, who only buy equipment which will enhance their game, will buy new equipment with more restrictive grooves, and certainly if they are not required under the rule to do so for 14 years.

There may be a rush to load up on the better performing clubs presently in production, with the less restrictive grooves – while the manufacturers are still making and shipping them – before the end of 2010. For this reason, 2010 may be a good year for manufacturers of those clubs affected by the change, but the following 12 years may be very lean. While we, 35 million golfers who didn’t cause the problem, hang on to what we’ve got.

Mike, your 735 CM set of irons features a very good concept of cavity back (forgiving) long irons morphing into blade like short irons and wedges. These clubs were introduced about four years ago.

It was only several weeks ago that the R&A and USGA announced a searchable data base listing of irons over 25 degrees in loft, which have been tested and conform with the new rule.

This listing may be found at ( and may be of some help to you and others in the future. I searched for your Titleist 735CM's. First of all I couldn't find a listing for your clubs until I typed in 'Acushnet' as the manufacturer (parent company of Titleist). Upon finding the listing I am a little confused because the full set of Forged 735 CM's meets the new groove specifications but the735 CM FSS has had the 4 iron, 7 iron and wedge tested. The 4 iron meets the new groove specification, but the 7 iron and the wedge have an 'ATR' next to them which means 'additional testing required'. I think you can appreciate my confusion.

I hope that your set is the Forged 735 CM but I doubt that it is based on your description. If your set is the 735 CM FSS then at the present time only your 4-iron conforms, so practice hard with that!

I don’t think you need to be concerned for a while, so enjoy your clubs and hang on to them.

Thanks again for your kind comments

– Frank


Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email


Frank Thomas

Getty Images

After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

Getty Images

Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Getty Images

Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



Getty Images

Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”