Is Newer Really Better

By Frank ThomasMay 21, 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 Bob, with his question on clubhead sole width.
 
To reserve your own copy of 'Just Hit It', please Click Here We are now shipping!
 
Please also note new international shipping options for those outside the US. Thanks to all who have ordered over the last few weeks!
 
Is Newer Really Better?
 
Frank, I read your book 'Just hit it' and I loved it. But, I have a technical question. I own a Taylor Made R580 driver. It was introduced in 2002. It has a 400 CC head. I have had a new shaft put in to 44.75 and I hit it fairly well. You stated in the book that if I own a driver that is five years old it should be as good as any new one. Does the R580 fit into this statement? Does it have a competitive MOI and COR?
 
RJ

 
Dear RJ
 
If you are hitting this driver well I would be very cautious before you decide to take advantage of a newer model. The driver I personally use is almost the same age as yours and it has as high a COR as is allowed as is the case with your driver. However the MOI is not at the limit but I dont feel that there is any particular advantage to me in going to this particular limit.
 
I would suggest that you look at some of the most recent models not because of the higher MOI but rather because of the more efficient COR face spread meaning a more efficient impact over a wider area that many of the recent drivers have.
 
Unfortunately because relatively few significant technical changes have been made over the last few years manufacturers are increasing the length of their drivers which is not doing most golfers any favors with regard to staying in the fairway in spite of the higher MOI.
 
If you are launching the ball with your present club close to the optimum launch conditions (click here to view) then I would not lose too much sleep over worrying about a new driver, but rather spend the money on a hybrid, a wedge, and most importantly a good putter. Then youll have more change in your pocket than purchasing a new driver on its own.
 
Frank
 
Damaging Shaft Dings
 
Frank,
I enjoy reading your informative column regularly. Keep up the great work.
I have a question about my drivers graphite shaft. When I play, I take off the head cover for the entire round. Others take off and put back on after each shot with the driver or other fairway woods. Ive been told that perhaps the banging of the iron heads in the bag against the shaft of the driver 3-4 inches above the head will weaken the shaft. Should that really be a concern? It seems that the shaft survives a great deal of stress and shock through normal use anyway.
 
Thanks,
Burke

 
Burke
 
If you play most of your golf in a cart and you remove the head covers unfortunately there will be some contact between the iron heads and the graphite shafts of your woods. Unless there is some visible damage you should not be too concerned however I do recommend that you leave one or two head covers on your woods and hybrids which will generally cushion any potential damaging blows.
 
If you are going to carry your bag then make sure that the clubs are in the designed compartments in which case iron heads will be away from any contact with the graphite shafts. If you have removed the head covers you will start sounding very much like wind chime on your way down the fairway due to the synchronized contact between your wood heads and the cadence of your stride.
 
I do recommend you walk whenever you can and keep one or two head covers on your woods to avoid undue noise pollution on the course.
 
Thank you for your kind remarks and hope you continue to enjoy the column. If you havent signed up as a Frankly Friend you may do so by going to www.franklygolf.com/signup.html to receive regular e-mail updates.
 
Frank
 
Alcohol and Your Grip
 
Frank-
 
If anyone can answer this question, you can.
 
Florida probably isn't the best state for me to live in- I sweat profusely, including my hands. My glove is usually pretty well saturated at the end of a summer round here.
 
Would I do any harm to my grips (or be breaking any rule) by wiping them down with alcohol during the course of a round? Just a thought I had as I scrubbed them down the traditional way last night.
 
Thanks for your expert opinion.
 
JJ, Florida

 

JJ
First let me thank you for your confidenceIll try to do it justice.
 
I agree that Florida is not the best place to live in the summer. Second, I suggest that if you are going to insist on playing summer Florida golf that you carry several gloves with you. Third, cleaning your grips with alcohol during a round would not be a violation of the rules as the playing characteristics are not being changed.
 
Next time you find yourself in Orlando, come and visit our air conditioned Frankly Frog Putting Studio. Well fit you for a putter and give you a state of the art lesson using the latest technology and kinematic analysis.
 
See you soon
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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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''


Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.

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Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

1. Stay healthy

So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

2. Figure out his driver

Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.


Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

That won’t be the case at Augusta.

3. Clean up his iron play

As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

4. Get into contention somewhere

As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

“I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

“It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.