Long Belly or Conventional Putter

By Frank ThomasJune 3, 2009, 4:00 pm
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Dear Frank,
I purchased a 2-Ball Odyssey belly putter and, after using it and reading your advice column, would like to cut it down. How do I do this? Do I need to go to a pro shop or a hardware store?

My feeling is that the long and belly putters are an alternative choice for those golfers who have putting problems. I prefer to try and fix the problem rather than apply a brace to it. In some cases, a brace is the only way a golfer can participate and enjoy the game and build the all-important confidence in his or her stroke.
I recently had a middle-aged golfer ' an advocate of the long putter ' visit our Putting Studio in Orlando. He was struggling with the shakes, so I suggested he try a standard-length putter. He was certainly as good with a short putter as with the long version, but didnt feel comfortable using it, so we went back to the putter he had the most confidence in ' the long putter.
We were able custom-fit him to the correct length in a Frankly Frog Putter and then fine-tune his stroke, to where he was sinking almost all his putts. Both the video analysis and the kinematic analysis confirmed that the new stroke we developed was superior to his older style. We then worked on his pre-shot routine ' a little bit of sports psychology was required ' and this reinforced his confidence and gave him another degree of comfort on the green.
I am not as comfortable working with a belly putter because it is a hybrid swing pivoting about two axes ' one for the putter, centered about the belly axis, and a second for the hands centered about the neck axis. This allows for unwanted errors and does not allow the body to swing in its natural manner.
For this reason, Steve, I endorse your decision to cut down your belly putter to a conventional length. Make sure, however, you cut it to the correct length, which should allow you to keep your arms reasonably straight and relaxed when you are in your normal address position, eyes directly over the ball.
I would recommend this not be done at the hardware store, which will not have grips available (the friendly hardware man may try to substitute a section of garden hose); rather, go to a professional club fitter or a pro who has the equipment to cut and re-grip.
You do understand that close to 45 percent of your score is generated on the putting green? So it is important to select a good putter. We can help you make the correct selection and walk you through the fitting process on the phone. Give us a call at (407) 396-4004 or visit us online. I think you'll be surprised how a well-fitted putter and the personal support of our Frog Specialists can reduce your scores and allow you to have more fun on the green.
Hope this helps.
' Frank

Are Your Clubs Too Long?

I have enjoyed your questions and answers column for some time. You have mentioned choking down on the driver an inch or two for control, much as Anthony Kim does. I have tried this and it works great. However, I find that I slowly go back to holding the club at full length without realizing it. What is the effect of me shortening the shaft?
I should say that I have always been fitted with irons that are 1-plus inch over standard length, as I am very tall. I went with standard-length shafts in my most recent set and find my accuracy has improved without any noticeable loss of distance.

Thank you for the kind words about my column.
First, let me tell you that I carry a 5-handicap, stand almost 6-foot-3 in my golf shoes, and am reasonably well proportioned ' i.e., my arms are not extraordinarily long ' and find that a standard-length set of irons works well for my accuracy and control. Many years ago, I tried a half-inch longer iron set, but this didnt set off any fireworks in my game.
We know that with shorter clubs we have greater accuracy and better distance control. You have probably experienced this when comparing the performance of a fairway wood to a hybrid with identical lofts. In general, the fairway wood (about 42.5 inches long) will hit the ball a little farther with a slightly higher trajectory but with less control than the hybrid (about 40.5 inches long).
One of the major reasons for the differences in control is the length of the two clubs. The fairway wood is about two inches longer than the hybrid. The comparably lofted iron is about 39 inches in length, not very forgiving and hard to use for most of us mortals.
Because the hybrid is so much more forgiving than the iron it is the preferred club ' even though it is a little longer ' both for control and a little increase in distance.
When it comes to drivers, we have been suckered into buying 45-plus and 46-inch long clubs ' some of which should come with a snake-bite kit. Some of the claims of increased distance are confirmed by the occasional super long drive ' this comes with bragging rights for a week or so ' but this can hardly make up for the loss in control and the frequent trips into the woods for most of the other strays.
Tour players seem to select drivers which are, on average, a little shorter than 45 inches. In Anthony Kims case, he chokes down even more to get the combination of distance and accuracy he finds is most effective.
The reason why I suggested that you choke down on your long driver was to get more control, but at the same time, remind yourself that that you are not trying to hit a home run. This will allow you to keep your swing under control and get better-than-average distance.
By shortening your driver, you will not be able to feel any significant differences in the dynamics of the club compared to when you choked down to the same point. The swing weight scale will reflect the change as will the frequency because of the shorter club. The only concern I have is that you will always be gripping the driver at the end, and will have nothing to remind yourself not to give it that wicked 110-percent Full Monty.
Good luck and 'swing easy.'
' 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
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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.

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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.