# Lets be Frank - COPIED

By Frank ThomasJanuary 2, 2009, 5:00 pm

### Launch it Higher!

Dear Frank,

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.

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

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

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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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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.

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# Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth.

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.

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# Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129.

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.