Open QA Charting Greens

By Frank ThomasJune 13, 2007, 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
Tiger Woods is preparing for this year's U.S. Open by charting the greens at Oakmont. How does one go about 'charting' the greens at a golf course? Is there any information you can share with me on how to do it? I know my home course but wouldn't mind knowing it even better.Thank you.
Sincerely yours,

Dave Eichelberger
Dave Eichelberger asks about faster ball velocity in 'Ask Frank,' Monday, June 18 at 11:00 p.m. ET on GC. (Getty Images)
The best way to chart your home course greens is to survey them to determine the exact elevations and slopes and develop a topographical map of the green. I dont think this is what Tiger did at Oakmont. This survey technique will tell you the break from any location based on the change of slope, giving you an idea of how much break to expect. I dont recommend you do this on the weekend.
Most of us have played most of the normal hole locations on our home courses, so we have a general idea of what to expect from different spots on the green, but sometimes we forget. We also rely on our caddie, if we have one, to help read the green. (We somehow put a lot of faith in the caddie even if this is his first job for the summer; it may even be the first time he has seen the course!)
If you are serious and want to chart your home greens, I would suggest that you select zones where the hole locations are most often cut. Roll the ball across these zones many times in different directions (also not on the weekend) and watch how they break. Youll want to record this in some detail on a representative sketch of the green for future use. Referencing your notes is not a violation of the rules. You may also want to roll a ball across the full length of the green in a few directions and record how it breaks as it approaches the zones youve already charted.
Theres no substitute for experience, seeing the breaks on a day-to-day basis like a good caddie does, but you can learn a lot from a little creative visualization. As you approach the green, try to picture how water would drain off the green after a sudden heavy downpour. This will help determine the general breaks, which will follow the water flow. I find this to be helpful. Unfortunately this doesnt work well on a flat green with subtle breaks, which I find are some of the hardest greens to read.
I believe Tiger spent some time putting to various locations on each green at Oakmont while he (or Steve) made some good notes. Well see if it helped him this week.
Frankly Speaking, first let me thank you for the information you provide on your website and through the questions you answer weekly. They are great. My question is about the US Open. From what I read, this event is going to cost the USGA about $16 million to conduct. Does that sound right? And how do you think the course is going to be set up?
Thanks and keep up the good work.

Joe, thank you so much for your kind remarks. I would like to let you know that the website has just been upgraded to make it even easier to navigate and find the fun stuff you are looking for. Check it out here. You can also see my brief answer to you on our new video feature by visiting the Q&A section on my site.
As far as the cost to put on the Open, I dont have the numbers but I do think you are in the ballpark. But dont feel sorry for the USGA, as it will make about $40 million on the event, showing a net of about $25 million. The US Open is one of the better-organized sporting events in the world, and in the past there have been more cameras on site than at the Olympics. The USGA does a very good job of running the Open and so it should. It is the golfing highlight of the year.
As far as course setup is concerned, I think it will be very fair but tough. The rough will be long enough to cause the long hitters a few moments of concern before using their drivers with abandon. The greens will be fast. The greens at Oakmont are always fast: When I introduced the Stimpmeter in 1977, I used green speed data from 35 states to develop a guide-line table for average weekly play. I had to discard Oakmonts data from the analysis because it was what we call an outlier, an anomaly. It was about four feet faster (10.5 on the Stimpmeter back then) than the other clubs that had been measured.
For a championship such as the US Open it will not be difficult to get the speeds up to 13, 14, or more. I think the problem will be to figure out how to slow them down from what the club members would like them to be. It can be a problem to prevent the club members from influencing the course setup. They want it as tough as possible.
I dont think we will see a 63 at Oakmont this year.
Thanks again Joe for your comments, and make sure you check out the newly made-over site.
Your column and your answers to questions posed are a great benefit. My question is, can you explain the concept of placing weights on the driver in multiple positions and how they may help in controlling ball flight?

There are several reasons one would change weights and their location on a driver or other club head.
The first is to change the overall weight, which changes the swing dynamics and balance of the club. Increasing the head weight will increase the swing weight, and also the systems MOI (Moment of Inertia) about the swinging axis. The swing axis changes throughout the swing, so its a complex engineering problem to try to determine how to modify the weight for maximum efficiency through the entire swing.
Generally, in measuring the system MOI one uses the axis of rotation as the point about which the club head is rotating when its at its highest velocity, which is during the last foot or so before impact. This axis point is about 4 inches above the end of the grip. This is only important if youre trying to make the swing dynamics of the club feel the same for each club in the set. Its a little better than using swing weight for this purpose, because weighting the club at the grip (even if just by wearing a wrist watch) changes the swing weight but doesnt affect the MOI very much.
A lot of golfers and manufacturers are talking about MOI these days, but what theyre referring to is the MOI of the head only, with the center of gravity (c.g.) as the axis.
The MOI is generally understood to be a measure of forgiveness of the head. The farther the weight is from the c.g., the harder it is to start the club head rotating, so off-center hits arent as badly affected as with a club with a lower MOI. (For more information and an easy-to-understand explanation of MOI, click here
Changing weights in the head -- which has become popular, or at least advertised, in the last several years -- is not generally done to change the overall weight or the MOI of the head, but rather to change the location of the c.g. This is done to affect the spin on the ball. If you move the c.g. toward the heel of the head and still hit the ball on the same spot on the face, then the club head will twist around the c.g. and give the ball a slightly different spin.
Lets take an example. Youve seen how an impact toward the toe will give you a slight draw spin because of the gear effect. So if you shift weight to the heel, which moves the c.g. toward the heel, then at impact the club head will twist around this inside c.g. and center impact on the face may react just like a slightly toed impact. This is what is called a draw biased weighting; you can get the same effect in reverse (fade bias weighting) if you shift the weight toward the toe.
In addition, relocating weight to the toe will make it a little more difficult to close the face, adding to the fade. Thats why, even apart from the c.g. effect, building an open or closed face creates a further fade or draw bias.
My suggestion is not to mess with weight relocation until you are hitting the ball consistently in one spot ' ideally, the center of the face. If you have a swing flaw, it is better to visit your teacher rather than tinkering with weights to try to solve it.
Quite a weighty subject, isnt it? Hope this helps
Click to purchase the Frog PutterFrank 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
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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.