Interchangable Driver Shafts

By Frank ThomasJanuary 23, 2008, 5:00 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
This spring a couple of manufacturers are introducing drivers that you can change shafts for different conditions. First, is this going to be allowed by the USGA? Secondly, if it is legal, would I be able to use Conex shaft adapters to do the same thing?
-- Steve

The USGA is making some changes to the equipment rules with regard to adjustability but not telling us what they are. They say that some forms of adjustability, in irons and woods -- a few of which are already allowed in putters -- will be permitted but to find out what these are you need to submit the product to the USGA and they will deal with each submission on a case-by-case basis.
Some interchangeable shaft mechanisms have already been approved and Nickent, Callaway and others will have these in the line soon.
In a forum discussing 'adjustability' at the PGA Show last week, the USGA haughtily opened the discussion justifying the seemingly popular move, by stating that this will help the average golfer and is a win/win situation for all. Some manufacturers in the forum then lauded the change and suggested that this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg in that grip changes, loft changes, lie changes, and bounce changes are all things that will now be possible. At every new suggestion, the USGA representatives became visibly more uncomfortable. The USGA is opening a can of worms that will soon get out of hand and be difficult to monitor.
There are some problems associated with this apparent windfall, which is perceived to be a needed stimulus, in an environment, where coming up with something new and meaningful to sell equipment has become a real challenge.
First, manufacturers are going to charge more for a set of clubs or just a single club with adjustable features, which allow for interchangable component parts. However, there are not going to be any interchangeable standards so your ZOO-Zoo club heads will only fit with ZOO-zoo shafts and ZOO-zoo grips etc.
The USGA also has some 'tiger-by-the-tail' problems. When training grips and non-conforming shafts and heads with unacceptable moving parts are able to be interchanged with other conforming parts making the final assembly either non-conforming or conforming, things start getting sticky. The number of permutations are enormous and an absolute nightmare for a tournament director to make a call on the first tee or to keep track of and help advise the players as to the conformity of their equipment. We do need rules, but not silly rules or those which have the potential to complicate interpretation.
Another downside is that the consumer will become even more confused than they now are about equipment. How can new equipment suddenly lose its ability to perform as promised soon after the introduction of a new model? What components need to be included with every new purchase? How am I going to cope with the changing conditions that my swing presents during a season or a round? It is somewhat like buying multiple sets of tires -- one for each season or weather condition-- for your Ford only to find the weather changed soon after you put them on but more worrisome is that they will not fit your new Chevy.
Yes, some manufacturers are already thinking about developing adapters which will soon become as complex as finding a set of adapters to get your electric razor to work in every country in your round the world trip.
Steve, there are some, benefits for the pro who is fitting clubs, but for the rest of us, don't get caught up in the this mess. You may be tempted to start changing things without knowing the effects or just because you can -- being your own doctor -- or even in the middle of a round because your swing seems to be off kilter and you have the specially designed wrench to make this change in your bag and a few extra shafts in your bag. You may not know or just decide to ignore the fact that this is a violation of the rules.
I don't think the USGA has thought this out to the extent it should have and instead jumped on something, which in the short term is going to please the manufacturers who are looking for something to stimulate their lagging sales. There are some manufacturers who have decided not to enter this arena and instead offer a sound product customized to your needs without the interchangeable bells and whistles which are not going to improve your game but rather confuse you.
Steve, choose whatever segments of this answer fit together and/or interchange them until you feel it works well for you.
-- Frank
I really enjoy your Q&A. I think it is some of the best information available. Thanks for providing it. My question is about high-priced graphite wood shafts. As an 18 handicapper, will I really be able to tell the difference between a $80-$120 shaft as opposed to a $20-$50 dollar shaft, assuming I get fitted for the correct length, flex, etc? I'm sure there is more technology in the higher-priced models, but, as a weekend hacker, will I be able to appreciate the difference? Will it be worth it to me to spend the extra money?

This is definitely a case where you have been lead to believe that very expensive shafts must be better (much better) than the affordable ones, only because they are so expensive.
There is no doubt that as long as the shaft actually suits your swing it will probably be more consistent in flex and twisting properties than the less expensive models. Does this really make a difference to your game as an 18 handicapper? The answer is probably NOT.
If you are going to drive in the Indie 500 at 250 mph then the super high speed balance is a must, but if you are driving back and forth to work you really don't need to get the wheels tuned to 250 speed levels.
Most manufacturers provide very good shafts in their standard sets.
I suggest that you spend your savings on a lesson or two.
Glad you are enjoying the column and be sure to sign up as a Frankly Friend by clicking here.
-- Frank
Frank Thomas new imageFrank 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
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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.