Masters Course Set Up

By Frank ThomasApril 16, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from GOLF CHANNEL's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Every week we will select the best question and Frank will send one lucky golfer a personally signed copy of 'Just Hit It'. Last week's lucky winner was Boris with his question about the impact of body mass on clubhead speed.
 
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Masters Course Set Up
 
Frank,

Watching the Masters this weekend, I noticed that many of the commentators were making mention of the changes the course has undergone over the last few years. What do you think about the changes and have they done enough to harness technology? Thanks for all you do for the game.
 
Bob

 
Bob,
 
Thank you for your question. First of all congratulations to Trevor Immelman, a fellow South African, for his excellent play. What a true champion.
 
And congratulations also to Augusta National. I thought that the course setup was one of the finest I have seen for many years. The first cut (or rough) was longer than usual and there was more of a premium on distance with accuracy, which is something I have been advocating for many years.
 
I would like to believe there would be no need for any significant changes in the future from what was presented to the players last week. The ball and club have now peaked and as a result driving distance has stabilized for the tour players as predicted.
 
We are fortunate that advances in technology with regard to distance will no longer be a major topic of discussion and Augusta National can rest assured that there will be no further need to increase the length of the golf course for many years to come.
 
Distance and technology are two of the subjects I address in my new book 'Just Hit It.' I am sure you will find it very informative. Click Here to learn more about the book.
 
Frank
 
Gripping Down
 
Hello Frank,
 
When putting, a short putt, I often 'choke down' on the putter, so that one or more of my fingers, are on the shaft, below the grip. Some players claim that it is against the rules, to grip a putter, in this matter. I have searched the USGA Rules and have not been able to find any such. rule. What say you??

 
Bob,
 
First let me tell you that there is no violation if you grip the club with one hand on the shaft.
 
When I was proposing new rules or modifying existing rules the object was to make sure the intent of the rule was unambiguous. If we could get away with this alone then it was better to leave it right there and not be too specific.
 
Being too specific invites people (innovators and others) to find a loophole around the intent. If people understand the intent then they generally know when it is being violated and self policing leads to better adherence than introducing specifics, which are never sufficient to cover every situation.
 
Once a putter has been approved, then you can use it almost any way you want to. The limitations are that you hit, not push, the ball with the head of the putter. You must also have both feet on the same side of the putting line. This both feet issue does not apply to any other stroke. You can make a chip shot between your legs if you find this easier than a conventional stroke in certain circumstance. Clubs are not designed for this type of stroke and it is awkward but it is not a violation.
 
A grip, as we know it, is not required on a club. That portion of the shaft designed to be held by the player is considered to be the grip and any material added to it for the purpose of obtaining a firm hold. So the grip, as we commonly know it, is not an essential part of the club.
 
You can be assured that you can grip the putter how ever you wish and hit the ball, dont push it.
 
Frank
 
Not a 'Purist'
 
Frank,
 
Does puring work? Theoretically, it makes sense, but after I paid to have my shafts pured I didn't notice that much difference in performance.
 
As the inventor of the graphite shaft, youre surely the best person to give me some insight on this process.
 
Brad

 

Brad,
Im no purist. To my mind, a shaft that needs to be pured is a bad shaft to begin with.
 
The problem lies in the manufacturing process. The first graphite shafts were filament-wound, which means that a continuous bundle of resin-impregnated graphite fibers were wound onto a rotating solid core or mandrel, creating a woven pattern of material resulting in a constant thickness of material on the mandrel. This becomes the wall thickness of the shaft when the mandrel is removed after curing. The flex properties are thus very consistent in all directions, independent of the axis about which it is bent. These shafts were as good as steel shafts with regard to the consistency of bending and twisting properties, so none of them needed to be pured.
 
Today, however, graphite shafts are flag wrapped (a much less expensive process than filament winding), which means that sheets of graphite fibers, oriented in a specific direction, are rolled onto a mandrel. If just a few layers are used to make up the shaft wall thickness, then there is a good chance that an overlap will cause a thick section, or a high concentration of fibers up the side of the shaft which will create something like a spine. This would cause the shaft to bend differently in different bending modes. For example; an R-shaft bending about one axis may become an S-flex when the shaft is rotated 90-degrees and bent again under the same load. This is not good.
 
Some of the more popular shafts (Aldila NV for instance, and others) have many layers, and this reduces the potential inconsistency problems. Other shafts that are not as well produced may need to be oriented to a specific position to reduce the effects of their inconsistent bending properties ' the so-called puring process, which only underscores the fact that the shaft is impure to begin with.
 
If you were making a decision about what to put into your club, Id suggest that youre better off getting a shaft that does not require 'puring' in the first place. A better quality shaft may give you more peace of mind but since youve already had your shaft 'pured', and cannot detect any difference in performance then my advice is not to worry too much about it.
 
For more on shafts Click Here.
 
Hope this helps.
 
Frank
 
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to Helping Golfers. Frank is Chief Technical Advisor to The Golf Channel and Golf Digest. 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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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

Goodbye and good riddance.

The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

“What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.

Amen.

The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.



Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

But at what cost?

The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

“What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

Amen again.

We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

This is good governance.

And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”