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

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''