Persimmon vs Titanium

By Frank ThomasMarch 26, 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

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 Paul with his question about golf balls.
To reserve your own copy of 'Just Hit It', please Click Here We are now shipping! The first 25 copies ordered this week will received a signed copy, direct from Frank.
Please also note new international shipping options for those outside the US. Thanks to all who have ordered over the last few weeks!
Persimmon vs Titanium

I truly enjoyed the honesty you imparted in your book, it was refreshing to read straight forward comments such as the 'the barn door being open a little'.
I was wondering that in all your years of testing equipment was there ever a test of actual performance between titanium and persimmon? As a student of physics, I always wondered if loft, shaft flex, face angle and mass were constant, how much could the actual material of construction matter?

Thank you for your kind comments about the new book, Just Hit It. I am really pleased you enjoyed it. I hope it will help you and others the next time you are ready to select new equipment but more important, to help us make the game more enjoyable by encouraging change to help save our game.
Your question about persimmon vs. titanium is interesting and requires a little discussion. Even though the weight, head speed, loft, and shaft flex were identical in both cases the results of collision will be different.
The reason for this is that todays titanium driver has a higher Coefficient of Restitution (COR) than a persimmon driver and the face acts like a trampoline which gives it a spring-like effect. The face of a persimmon driver does deform a little at impact but not very much and the resulting ball velocity off persimmon is dependent on the resilience of the ball ' head mass and head speed being the same ' and not the spring in the face. See Understanding COR
The ball will stay in contact with titanium driver face for longer ' by approximately 0.000035 of a second ' than it will with a persimmon driver face and will be launched, not only faster because of the spring like effect ' high COR ' but a little lower and with less spin.

These differences, of lower spin and increased ball speed will, by themselves, result in at least 10 -11 yards increase in distance. Because of these differences one can use a higher lofted titanium driver and launch the ball higher with less spin than its persimmon counterpart giving one another 5-8 yards.
Add to this, a ball which spins less off the driver, than it did in the persimmon days, with a little higher speed, one can add another 8 -10 yards. This assumes you have been able to reach or closely approach the optimum launch conditions by proper fitting for your particular ball speed. This is exactly what the increase in average distance has been on the PGA Tour since the introduction of titanium and has nothing to do with improved skill or head speed of the golfers on tour.
So, there are a number of things at play when you switch from persimmon to titanium, and we have not even discussed the forgiveness factor (MOI) when you miss the sweet spot.
The sad thing for those of us who believe that technology will continue to advance ' as measured by increased distance ' is that we are going to be disappointed. We have reached the limits in distance improvement, despite what the advertising implies, as long as you hit the sweet spot of your driver and launch the ball optimally.
There is, however, still a little room left for our belief in magic. If we believe that we will get an extra 20 yards with a new driver, we will probably make our best swing and actually get somewhere close. Unfortunately, this increase in distance will soon fade ' five or six rounds if we are lucky ' as soon as our habitually forced swing kicks back into its rightful place.
Hope this has helped and thanks again for the comments about the book in which I discuss these and many other interesting issues. I will be signing the first 25 books ordered this week. Click Here to order.
Swing Weight Made Easy
Can you explain the term swing weight and whether or not a golfer can
distinguish the difference between a D3 and D4 swing weight. I am going to purchase a new #3 hybrid club to accompany my #4 and # 5 hybrids. I was going to purchase the older version which matches my existing clubs but was considering purchasing the newest version. I have to admit, I am a sucker for the latest and newest gear! Anyway, the older version has a swing weight of D3 and the newer version D4. I have tested the newest version and it feels heavier. Is this 'feel' difference have anything to do with swing weight? Thanks much for your insight!


First, if you really like your existing #4 and #5 hybrids and they seem to be working well for you then it is advisable to get the matching #3 hybrid rather than a new model. You don't want to introduce other variables which may exist between clubs if you don't have to.
On the other hand, if you have tested the #3 and it is doing really good things then go for it. Some good golfers have different models or even different manufacturers' clubs at either end of the set; not often in the middle, i.e. wedges or 2-irons but rarely a maverick 5- or 6-iron mixed in.
In your case having, a different model for your #3 hybrid is not a big deal especially today where any significant performance differences between last and this year's model is highly unlikely. For example, this year's driver is not going to make a measurable difference in performance compared to last year's model -- assuming both have been fitted correctly. If this was the case then claims that last year's model which was, 'state of the art' when introduced is suspect. 'State of the art' does not change that quickly.
Yes, this year's model is better -- and probably measurably so -- than a five year old driver but still not good enough to cure your wicked slice. This will require a lesson or two and is probably a lot cheaper than a new driver.
Now to your question -- sorry but I was distracted in trying to make sure you understood that there is not too much magic available between models from one year to the next -- which is the easy part of this answer. Very few people can tell the difference between two clubs which have a difference of three swing weight points i.e. D0 to D3.
A club, e.g. a driver, will change by one swing weight point if you added a 2 grams weight to the club head. This is equivalent to two one dollar bills or two hundred dollar bills -- they both weigh the same, its just that your wallet feels heavier with hundred dollar bill in it.
Swing weight is a static balance which was introduced about 80 years ago based on balancing Francis Ouimet's -- US Open champion 1913 -- clubs. It was found that the same weight could be added to the butt end of each club in his set and they would balance on a fulcrum 14 inches from the grip end of the club. This is still the system used to swing weight clubs.
I hope this get you into the swing of things.
Finding a Wedge
First of all, you rule Frank!
Ive changed my iron set (4 iron to gap wedge) last year to one of the Super Game Improvement suggestions. Although I am quite happy with my new irons, I have been desperately searching for that one perfect sand wedge to complement the rest.
Ive looked at several wedges but there are so many choices in loft, bounce, swing weight and other options theses days I havent a clue as to which one is the right for me. Also, to add to my misery, I do not have an outdoor place where I can test my choices before purchasing one.
My question probably has been answered previously in one of your many useful Q & A but it will be very helpful to know:
1. What is the standard loft for sand wedge and bounce?
2. Do manufacturers really have to offer that many choices to weekenders such as myself?
Thank you in advance for your wonderful articles and hope to hear a response from you!


You really dont have much of a choice or the need to be concerned when it comes to the selection of a Sand Wedge (SW). Even though you may find some more aesthetically pleasing than others, because of, for instance, a curved leading edge rather than a straight one etc., they are all very similar. The differences in Sand Wedge design is relatively small compared to the choices you have in irons which, run the gambit for Ultra Game Improvement (extreme cavity back) to classic (blades).
Sand wedges are almost all blade-like in design and about as forgiving as a wedge can be. I have said on numerous occasions that almost all of us can use Tigers sand wedge with some degree of success but few ' very few ' of us can play with his three-iron, which requires a great deal of skill.
For about 98% of us the specs of our SW should be a loft of 56 degrees and a bounce angle of 14 degrees. These may vary by a degree but 56/14 is a good choice. I recommend you stay with the above unless you are an accomplished player and through experience know a loft of 56 and a bounce of 14 degrees does not suit your sand game.
The lie angle should be checked but it may not need to be different than standard. The sand shot will require that you open or close the face depending on conditions and the type of shot you want to play, and this will alter both the effective loft and bounce, which you should be aware of, especially when using your sand wedge from shots outside of the bunker.
I would save my SW for all bunker shots and look for a Gap Wedge and may be a Lob Wedge ' if your are prepared to practiced with it ' for the rest of your short game.
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
Frank Thomas

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.