Lets be Frank

By Frank ThomasDecember 17, 2008, 5:00 pm

Launch it Higher!


Dear Frank,
 
After reading your book and your column regularly and loving your very insightful explanations I just couldn't hold back my questions.
 
How does altitude affect the optimum launch conditions for a driver? Let me explain my situation. I live and play golf here in Ecuador at an altitude of 9000 feet, so the aerodynamic conditions are completely different than at sea level. From what I can deduce: due to the lower lift and drag properties of the thin air a driver would have to generate more spin and have a higher launch angle to achieve optimum conditions but I was wondering if you can shed some light into the matter.
 
And a following more specific question: As Ecuador is not known for its abundance in golf stores, let alone launch monitors I wanted to take advantage of a future trip to the U.S. to test out some new clubs and I wondered: How should I choose a driver loft for 9000 feet once I have found my optimal value at sea level?
 
And as all good things come in three: Can you please recommend a loft/shaft stiffness to start testing for me (Have those 9000 feet in mind). Swing speed is 90 to 100mph, at the moment I play with 9.5 (I know now it's low, but two golf pros suggested it) stiff shaft driver. I hit 200 to 230 yards with a fairly low trajectory and relatively lots of roll (if I hit the fairway).
 
Thank you for your time and keep up the good work,
-Michael

 
Michael,
 
You are correct. Due to the lower density of the air at an altitude of 9,000 feet, the ball needs to spin a little more and be launched a lot higher compared to sea level to give you maximum distance (optimum launch conditions).
 
At 100 mph head-speed you will gain about 40 yards in total distance at 9,000 ft compared to sea level, if you launch the ball at about 16 to 17 degrees compared to 13 degrees at sea level. A spin rate of 3000 rpm is good and for your head speed get a driver with a stiff shaft and loft of about 15 degrees (which is about the max. available).
 
You should understand this assumes the temperature remains the same. Unfortunately, as you increase in altitude you decrease in temperature, which will have a detrimental effect on distance because the air is more dense at colder temperatures but not enough to be of major concern. Just keep your body warm and hit it high in warm humid weather at altitude (9,000 ft) and you will gain about 35 yards over your 240 yards at sea level drives.
 
Just a reminder when the air becomes humid, at any altitude, it will be less dense because water vapor molecules made up of hydrogen and oxygen have a lower molecular weight than nitrogen and oxygen molecules, which they are replacing. Nitrogen and oxygen make up about 90% of the air we breathe so replacing these with lower weight molecules will make the air less dense.
 
Humid air is therefore lighter, not heavier and this results in less lift on the ball but also less drag. So on high humidity days launch the ball a little higher.
 
Hope this helps...if you want some to read some more answers to golf equipment questions, click here to order a copy of 'Dear Frank...' my new book which is a compilation of answers to golfer's questions that I have answered over the years.
 
-Frank
 

Special Balls for Putters


Hi Frank,
 
First let me say that I am a new owner of a Frankly Frog putter! I have used both blade and mallet style putters in the past [most recently using a ' TMMC (full name redacted) putter] and am your stereotypical 'feel' putter. I have avoided sight lines and the like on a putter for a very long time. However, after reading some of the testimonials on your site, I thought I would take a chance and, wow, am I pleased! I am consistently hitting my putts along the line that I want (although I still need some green-reading prowess!!) and my distance control is good on putts of any length. In addition, my pulls and pushes seem to be reduced...new club'itis? Perhaps, but my confidence on the green has increased many-fold thanks to the frog.
 
Now my question.....
 
Based on today's designs, is there an optimum ball for the Frog (or for any style putter)? Meaning, based on the materials used and machined faced qualities, is there a particular type of ball that would get the most out of the design? Hard cover? Soft Cover? Three piece? Two piece?...etc.
 
Thank you for sharing your ideas and your technology!
 
Best Regards,
-Kevin

 
Kevin,
 
Thank you for the kind comments about the Frog Putter. You can request a download of a free putting guide by clicking here and make sure you take advantage of the putting tips provided. This will really keep you on track; give you something to practice and enhance your success and confidence on the green.
 
With regard to a special or optimum ball to be used with the Frog, please remember that you are not permitted to change balls during the play of a hole unless it is so damaged as to be declared unfit for play. With this in mind select the ball type you feel most comfortable using tee to green and make sure you use this ball type during your putting practice.
 
There was no specific ball which I had in mind when designing the Frog.
A suggestion which will help your putting, is when you get onto the practice putting green to calibrate your stroke before a round during your warm up - this is not practice but getting a feel for the green speed and building confidence - take only one ball onto the practice green. Read each putt using your pre-shot routine and hole it out every time - no matter how short the putt may be. This will remind you to follow a plan and stick to your pre-shot routine when you are on the green during your round.
 
Kevin, becoming a good putter takes a little work but by following good instruction to improve, will help the rest of your game because you build more confidence on the green and carry this to the next tee. Of course, it also helps to have a good putter.
 
I am pleased you have discovered how well a good putter works.
 
-Frank
 
To reserve your own copy of 'Just Hit It', please Click Here We are now shipping!
 
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

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.



Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.