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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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.