Q A 44 vs 45 Driver Shafts

By Frank ThomasMay 23, 2006, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from The Golf Channel's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com
 
Dear Mr. Thomas,
I am 20 years old, 6 feet tall, have a 12 handicap and a swing speed of 120MPH. My driver is 45 inches in length and I hit the golf ball all over the course. However, during my last round I decided to choke down on the driver about an inch and started to hit more fairways. Do you recommend I cut the shaft to 44 inches, or keep it at 45 because I know I am capable of hitting it when my game is on? -- Robbie L.S.


Robbie,
I dont think you have an option but to shorten your driver. I have been suggesting this move, from 45 to 44, to many golfers if they want to enjoy visiting the fairway more often.
 
I am pleased to say that I am seeing a trend to do this by golfers like you. Golfers can be told what to do only for a certain amount of time. After a while they will find that the game is not as much fun being in the rough. Manufacturers have been making drivers longer in an attempt to get a few extra yards out of that perfect shot. This has, however, decreased the efficiency of the use of the driver. Golfers are not able to keep a 45 inch driver in the fairway as well as the 44 inch driver.
 
Well done and YES, shorten your driver and you will not be tempted to try to rip it. On average you will have longer drives because the ball doesnt roll much in the rough. Also you will make a better friend of this shorter club.
 
Frank,
I own a set of 1977 Wilson Staff irons and was wondering if today's shaft technology would help improve them. I currently play Tommy Armour 845 V 31 RO EVOs, and though they are a game improvement iron the difference in my scores has not been that dramatic. I have always liked the Wilsons and plan only to do PW to 7-iron. Also, which would be better, steel or graphite. I am a 16 handicap who hits driver about 245 and 5 iron about 160. Look forward to your advice. -- Kevin.

 
Kevin,
I too have a set of Wilson blades from the mid 70s. These were blades even though cavity backs were being introduced in this time frame. Wilson didnt have a cavity back and did what every manufacturer did prior to this date i.e. change models every 4 to 5 years with some very subtle changes which most consumers wouldnt even recognize and certainly not considered radical enough to buy a new set for. We changed when clubs wore out.
 
Your Tommy Armour set are listed on our Maltby Playability Factor listing as Conventional (see www.franklygolf.com/MPF/index.asp for club listings for club playability factor comparisons).
 
This list identifies clubs in the Ultra Game improvement, Super game improvement, Game improvement, Conventional, Classic and Player Classic categories. So you can select which set type will suit you best.
 
If you want to change shafts from your originals in your Wilson set then there are some very good light weight steel shafts. I note you want to keep only your Wilson 7-iron through the PW and re-shaft these. This is OK but be careful to make sure the lofts in your new set makeup are progressing such that there is about 4 degrees difference in loft between the consecutive numbered short irons and three degrees in your long irons.
 
Using the blade style in short irons is not a problem if you like them as there is not very much difference in the actual forgiveness between club sets in the Super Game Improvement, all the way to the Classic categories for the wedges and short irons. What this means is that average to high handicap player can use Tigers wedge and 9-iron but dont try to use his 3-iron.
 
This is where hybrids, to replace the long irons have made significant inroads.

Frank,
I have scuffmarks at the top of my driver. Its obvious that I am not striking the ball on the face of the club, is it my swing plane? How do I correct the swing? -- Michael


Michael,
I am not in a position to give you advice on your swing as this is not my area of expertise but even if it was it would not be very smart of me to do so without seeing what you were doing. I would suggest two things: first tee the ball a little lower to see if this works then if it doesnt find a good teacher to look at your swing.
 
Frank,
I learned to play and practiced in my back yard as a kid, and if I took a divot my Dad would have had my hide-therefore I learned to 'pick' the ball cleanly and I do OK. I hear you should 'hit down on the ball' ad nauseum. Could you explain the benefits/logic behind this and maybe suggest a drill that I might use to overcome 35 years of ingrained muscle memory.
 
Every time I try to contact the ball on the downward swing and take a divot I hit I hit it so fat the divot is big enough to carpet the golf cart and the ball goes 12 feet. -- Blake A. Boardman

 
Blake,
Dont change because someone says you are doing it incorrectly certainly if the results are good. What would you think of telling Jim Furyk that he needed to change his swing because it didnt look like a good swing.
 
For a ball to be struck well you must not have any outside interference between the ball and the club for a distance of travel of about of an inch during impact which is the distance the club and the ball are in contact.
 
Obviously also you dont want any outside interference from the ground before impact. Ideally the divot should start in line with where the front edge of the ball was prior to impact. To do this with a descending blow is not easy and takes a lot of practice. Good golfers do it today whereas many golfers of the old school didnt take much of a divot at all. It was more of a sweeping stroke like the one you were brought up with.
 
The odds that there will be interference between the club and the ball (fat shot) are greater with a descending blow than a sweeping one. This is when the club head path is not traveling parallel to the ground surface just before and during impact. A sweeping stroke by not taking a divot or a very small divot minimizes the chances for the error associated with a descending blow. The sweeping stroke was most popular until the mid 50s and some of the greatest golfers we know performed reasonably well using it. Now that we have softer turf and what is considered more of a power game technique we seem to be taking larger divots. The bad side of this is that we also hit more fat shots and there is greater potential for this to happen.
 
So dont get too concerned as even some of the greatest shots performed today dont result in having to replace a divot after the shot.
 
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@thegolfchannel.com
Getty Images

Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

Getty Images

Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

Getty Images

Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

<
Getty Images

DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”