Lets be Frank

By Frank ThomasMarch 31, 2009, 4:00 pm

Be Wary of the Launch Monster

I'm hoping you can give me some direction. About a month ago, I got on a launch monitor for the first time to see if I could get fitted for the right equipment. I'm 57 years old and carry a 7.1 (traveling) USGA Handicap index and have been playing golf for 35 years. For the last five years, I've been playing a Cleveland Launcher driver (10. 5 degrees, regular flex) and Cleveland Ta7 irons (stiff flex, 1 degree upright lie). After being evaluated on the launch monitor, I was told my swing speed was between 85 and 90 mph and my ball speed between 125 and 130 mph. My spin rate was within acceptable limits, not extreme. It was recommended I go to a senior shaft (light) in my driver, with a loft to 12 degrees. My irons needed to be senior or light steel. I ended up purchasing a Cleveland Launcher Comp with an A shaft and 12 degrees of loft, and changed my irons to Mizuno X-25s (light steel, 2 degrees upright lie).
Now, my problem: I have lost 25 to 35 yards (down from 235-240) off the tee and am hitting my irons one club shorter than my old Ta7's. Did I get taken by a sales pitch, or do I need to struggle through an adjustment period with the new clubs before I start seeing better results?
So far, I have played three rounds with the new equipment and posted scores of 82, 79 and 92. At this point, Im not sure I did the right thing by changing. What do you think?

With your 7.1 handicap and a set of good friends you should be wary of such a drastic change. Going from 10.5 degrees of loft to 12 degrees is not recommended for someone with a 90 mph swing speed, nor is moving from a regular shaft flex to an A-flex shaft. Both of these moves will increase the spin rate on the ball by as much as 1,000 rpm (up to approximately 4,000 rpm), increase your launch angle by a couple of degrees and decrease your overall driving distance (carry and roll) by about 20 yards.
What your GPS system is telling you is probably not far off.
As far as your irons are concerned, unless the grooves were worn out there would be no good reason to change. Good friends are hard to find. The irons you bought are fine, but they may not be as forgiving as the original set. Unless the lofts are very different, you should not be losing too much distance unless you are fading or slicing your irons. When the shaft is more flexible the toe will droop more just before impact and to compensate, you need to adjust to a more upright lie angle. That might be enough to get you back on track, or return to a stiffer shaft.
I am afraid that in an effort to get a few more yards out of your equipment ' where there is little room to move in your case ' or just to upgrade and get fitted better, you have become a victim of the Launch Monster in the wrong hands.
Struggling through an adjustment period with a new set of clubs is not a good thing, as it may detrimentally affect you swing. It's like struggling through this economic crisis hoping it will soon get better. What I suggest is that you go to the garage and apologize to your old friends and put them back in your bag.
' Frank

Lie Angle on Fairway Woods

Dear Frank,
Thank you for writing Just Hit It! It is one of the best and most honest
books on golf I have ever read.
I'm a 62-year-old man with the physique of a medium-sized LPGA player. I
have been told by teaching pros that I have a very good setup and
swing. I use irons that are 2 degrees flatter than normal, and whenever I
buy a set of irons I need to have them bent. I have noticed from TV that
many shorter LPGA players also seem to have flat lies on their irons based
on their posture at setup. My problem is that I have not been able to find
fairway metals or hybrids that are flat enough for me to swing consistently.
In my normal setup with a driver, the clubhead rests on its heel and the toe is
angled several degrees above flat. That's OK because the ball is teed up,
but I can't do that with my woods or hybrids without catching the heel
and hooking the ball. Do LPGA pros have custom-made fairway metals and hybrids with flatter lies, or do my eyes deceive me? Why don't manufacturers make such
choices available to the general population?
John from Ohio

Thanks for you kind comments about my book Just Hit It. You might want to share these thoughts with your friends so they too can enjoy what I have written.
If your fairway woods have a radius on the sole from the toe to the heel, and you have a standard length set, you should not have to worry about the heel catching the turf and affecting the flight of the ball. You may, however, want to check the lie angle. This must be done by hitting balls, not looking at how the club sits on the ground at address. During your swing the club will droop and the lie angle will flatten out.
The way to check the lie angle of your woods (or your irons) is to stick some pressure sensitive tape on the sole of the club and hit a few balls off a lie board (generally made of hard plastic or wood). The board will leave a scuff mark on the tape. If this mark is on the heel section then the lie angle is too upright and an adjustment should be made (similarly if the mark is toward the toe section of the tape).
Making a lie angle adjustment on your fairway woods is not recommended as it may damage the club if not done by an expert, and if the loft is relatively low the exact lie angle becomes less important.
If, however, you find that the ball flight is too far left AND the lie angle test shows it is too upright, AND you are of a smaller physical stature than the average person, then it might be better to order a shorter set of clubs which will bring you back to the correct lie angle without the need for adjustment.
But don't make an adjustment unless both your ball flight and the lie board indicates there is a problem.
' Frank
Please note: By submitting your question to Frank you will automatically become a Frankly Friend so you can stay up to date with his golf equipment Q&A. You may unsubscribe at any time.
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to helping golfers. Frank 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 the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
Frank Thomas
Getty Images

Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

Getty Images

Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

Getty Images

13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

Getty Images

McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.