Lets be Frank

By Frank ThomasNovember 19, 2008, 5:00 pm

Straight Talk on Shafts

Frank, Your column is the bomb! Love it. Here's the question.
Is the high end shaft used in an OEM club the same as the high end shaft sold at the component companies? Why do I have to pay almost $200.00 for a shaft as a component when I can get the complete club for not much more? Are they cutting corners on the high end shafts used in OEM clubs or is the volume of shafts that they sell to the big OEM companies so great that they can use an expensive shaft without driving the price through the roof?
I cannot tell any difference in performance between an expensive shaft pulled from an OEM club and the component version of the same expensive shaft and I am in the clubfitting business
I appreciate any light you can shed on this problem

Thank you for the kind comments about the column.
Your question turned into three questions very quickly and I will try to answer them all together.
Many golfers believe that, the more they pay for something the better it is. This may be the case in other walks of life but not necessarily in golf. If the performance differences between a really expensive shaft and the high'end standard, provided by the OEM are not noticeable then it doesnt make too much sense to go for the very expensive component unless it feeds your ego.
None of the major manufacturers would assemble their high'end clubs with a shaft, which did not compliment the club. After many years of experience, reputable manufacturers have found that certain shaft properties work well for the majority of golfers. As a club maker, you of all people should be able to detect minor differences in performance between shafts. Trust what you know and feel because in this case you are right.
For some very picky golfers, there are a variety of shaft types, offered by the manufacturer, from which he or she can choose when ordering their new set. When I say picky I mean a golfer who knows the differences in performance ' or thinks he knows the difference. Manufacturers do get volume discounts but nowhere near the difference between what they pay for a good shaft and what the expensive components cost
The very best golfers can detect very small differences in shaft properties, which may affect their performance but these golfers play golf for a living and need to tweak their equipment every now and again. In some cases they tweak for the sake of tweaking or use bad days as an excuse to make changes.
Most of us are unable to tell the difference between a $30 shaft and a $300 shaft other than by looking at the price tag. However, buying the most expensive product often makes us feel good and feeling good always helps the psyche. If you believe strongly that something new will help then it probably will as long as it is not too far from the norm ' the placebo effect.
It has taken us about 400 years ' through the evolutionary process ' to arrive at a point where the combination of shaft flex, length and head weight really work well. New materials dont change this much and the standard equipment is very good for 90% of us, however it is important to select the correct shaft flex.
Dont get suckered into buying distance because there is not much more of it available, no matter what some ads claim. Steve I hope this helps

More Distance From Your Irons

Like so many others I have truly enjoyed Just Hit It and always look forward to your weekly e'mail. I appreciate your contributions to the game.
The question I have is this:
While I usually get pretty good distance from my driver and woods (230 yards average for the driver and about 200 for my three wood), my iron distance is, proportionally, not as good, say 135'140 for a 7 iron. At the age of 65 and playing for only six years I feel I need every advantage I can get. So I lengthened my irons by about an inch and now find Ive added some distance to them and also have the option to choke down for more control when needed.
It seems to work, but I wonder if I should have been satisfied with the shorter distance. Lengthening the irons almost works like having an extra club or two in the bag.
What do you think?
' Bill

Thanks for the kind comments and I am pleased you enjoyed the book Just Hit It.
In lengthening your irons, about an inch you have done several things:
First, you will be getting a little increase in head speed, which will give you at least 5 to 10 more yards. You have also increased the swing weight about six points, which will make the club feel a little heavier and slow your swing a little as the MOI (Moment of Inertia) of the club as a whole ' when swinging about the grip axis ' has increased. All of this assumes you used the same heads and did not remove any weight by grinding them down or drilling holes in the head ' not recommended but you dont know what to expect when a GET (Golf'Equipment'Tweaker) gets a drill in his hands or has access to a grinding wheel.
Second, you have decreased the stiffness of the shaft, assuming you used the same shaft type. The combination of this and the fact that the shaft is one inch longer than the original club will make the club feel different.
Normally the manufacturer would make a six iron about 37.5 inches long, with a loft of about 30 degrees and a swing weight about D0 to D2. You, however, now have a 38.5'inch six'iron with a loft of 30 degrees and a swing weight of D6 or so, and a shaft stiffness approaching an R'flex if the original was an S'flex.
The lie angle ' assuming no adjustment is made ' will be a little more upright than the new length calls for and so you will be tending to draw the ball slightly more than usual. If you choke down an inch then you will have the original specs and it should perform in a similar manner to the original.
Yes, you do have the flexibility of choking down but I dont think that it is worth the effort to install an extra length shaft, because when you grip it properly, everything gets a little out of whack and you have in essence a dysfunctional club. Manufacturers have ' in the most part ' taken care of the variables of length, lie, effective stiffness, and weight for the clubs in your set.
So, my advice is, if you are not getting the distance you like out of your six'iron then; a) go to the gym and become more flexible and/or b) take out you five and then Just Hit It.
Hope this helps

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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
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Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.

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McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.