Leave Your Lob Wedge

By Frank ThomasApril 29, 2010, 6:56 pm

Frank,
With Tom Watson almost winning the Open Championship and still successfully competing at the Masters, do you think more of us should look more closely at ending our bagged clubs at the 56 degree sand wedge?
How many times in a round do you have to throw the ball straight up in the air on most non-pro tour layouts?

–David
Calgary, Canada

David,
For more than two generations our sand wedge has had a loft of about 56 degrees.

When manufacturers tried to prove that their irons hit the ball farther than their competitors, they not only strengthened the lofts by as much as four to five degrees but increased the length by a half-inch and kept the same number on the bottom of the club.

This was one of the many reasons (another being it was very difficult to hit) for the extinction of then 1-iron. The loft being reduced to about 13 degrees, just to stay in line with the loft progression in the set, made it impossible – not just difficult – to hit. It was just a waste of space in our bag as the lob wedge has become for some of us.

While the lofts of all the other irons were changing, the sand wedge didn’t move from its 56 degrees and this created the gap between the PW and SW. Thus, the need for another pitching wedge called the gap wedge – because the pitching wedge name had already been taken.

It was Phil Mickelson’s display of extraordinary skill in being able to lob a shot almost straight up or on occasions backward that made us aspire to do the same. All we needed, to be like Mickelson was to get a lob wedge.

David, you are right, we don’t need this club and even some of the greatest players don’t carry them in the bag. For the rare occasion when you need to throw a shot straight up open your gap wedge – which has less bounce than the sand wedge – and hit the shot with confidence. From the rough the SW, with its 14 degree bounce, will work as well by opening it to have the effective loft of a 60+ degree lob wedge. What we need to do is a little more practice trying to perfect this shot using the wedges we have in the bag.

As a side note, I have been a strong proponent of a “Ten Club Rule” for pros which would make it more interesting to watch them display their true skills. Rather than changing the club specifications – such as grooves – which will affect all of us (99% of golfers) for the sake of trying to control the performance of 150 of the world’s best.

The 14 club rule was only introduced  into our game in 1938 to prevent professional golfers from selecting a club for every situation rather than skillfully using a limited set, also to reduce the load on caddies. If we want equipment rules to be the same for all golfers then the least disruptive way to deal with it – without requiring that all golfers change their clubs – is to adopt a “Ten Club Rule” for professional events. The only problem this would create is the ability to count to ten.

David, leave your lob wedge at home unless you really work hard getting it to perform on the practice range. See how to use a lob wedge by clicking here.

– Frank

Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. 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 letsbefrank@franklygolf.com


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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.