Q A Dont Give Up on Your Driver

By Frank ThomasApril 11, 2006, 4:00 pm
Frankly GolfEditor'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
 
Frank,
I have given up on drivers and find I can be competitive and almost adequately long using my Callaway Hawkeye VFT 3 wood. I am now searching for a replacement club that will add distance without sacrificing accuracy. I understand there is no COR limit for 'fairway woods' so nothing prevents a manufacturers from producing fairway woods with a COR exceeding their drivers. Do any manufacturers make woods with COR's exceeding 0.83? Is there any data showing which clubs are the high COR 'fairway' woods? -- P. Hoefler

 
Mr. Hoefler,
There are a number of people who are moving in your direction because they are not getting the manufacturer's implied rewards from their new drivers.
 
Don't give up yet, but try a driving club with a 15+ degrees loft. They are now available from some of the major manufacturers and other smaller lesser known companies. This is about the same loft as your 3-wood so should give you as much and more off the tee than your 3-wood. Make sure this is shorter than the drivers presently being sold i.e. it should be about 43 to 44 inches long. The head should be reasonable big (about 400+ cc) to give you the forgiveness you need and the shaft flex should be an R-flex or more flexible if your swing speed is about 75 mph and especially if you feel you are fighting the club i.e. having to hit it hard to get it to work.
 
Unfortunately I think that the USGA is going to apply the same COR restriction on all clubs so don't look for any advantage from a higher COR from more lofted clubs than is available from drivers.
 
For your information a higher COR up to approximately 0.86 from the limit of .830 will probably not give you a noticeable advantage in distance increase unless you are a very skilled player, or believe it will. Believing is always an important ingredient in getting more distance.
 
Once you get your new 15 degree 'driver' 43 inches long I am sure you will notice improved performance and then keep your 3-wood for the fairway shots. Thereafter the only way you will increase your distance is by doing some strength and flexibility exercises to increase your range of motion. This will allow you to swing easier with a lot more control and add yards to your drives.
 
Frank,
Love your column. Recently you answered a question about marking a line on the ball and the problems this may cause. I am concerned about the answer. Please elaborate. -- Dale, Hawthorne, CA

 
Dale,
You and a few other friends have the same concern and in reading my answer again I can see where there may be some confusion. For this I apologize and will be a little more careful next time. Let me clear up the confusion:
 
There is no problem with marking a ball with a line or any other markings.
Also you may align the line on the ball with the target line while on the putting green or on the teeing ground.
 
My concern about a line being a circumferential one (all around the ball) was not about a possible rules infraction but rather the psychological effect it might have on you as a golfer when looking down at the ball in the fairway (which you are not permitted to move) only to see the line on the ball pointing to the left OB stakes. This is what I meant by: 'If it is not distracting when the ball in the fairway and the line is not aligned with the intended line of flight then placing a stripe all around the ball is not a problem with the rules,' which is certainly confusing.
 
I hope I have now cleared this up. SORRY about this.... I will be more careful in the future. To compensate for this lack of attention on my part I will give you some inside scoop and let you in on a secret about what is 'Frankly the Best' ball.
 
Go to my Newsletter http://www.franklygolf.com/ffnewsletter_april_06.asp and see how 3,697 of our Frankly Friends rate golf balls they use. Any of which you can mark a line on without concern.
 
Frank,
I am an 11 to 12 handicap player, age 63, and hit a fair ball. I feel as though I should be playing to at least an 8 or 9 handicap, not more than a 10. My biggest problem is that I tend to hook my iron either off the fairway or off the tee. I have tried to weaken my grip with some success. I was wondering if the lie of my clubs could be the problem. Do I need a flatter lie or a new swing? -- Larry Turi

 
Larry,
If you hit a 'fair ball' as you say then in most cases I would first look at the lie angle which if it is wrong needs to be flatter than you have it. A more upright lie will tend to make the shot go left as well as draw the ball slightly. If you find the lie angle is correct (using a lie board) then my next suggestion is to try a stiffer shaft. Sometimes a flexible shaft will tend to make the ball go left is your timing is slightly off. If none of the above work then get someone to look at your swing as it may not be an equipment problem.
 
Mr. Thomas,
I will assume this is a commonly asked question. People always tell me that the golf balls I use at the range don't go as far as 'regular' balls. I too find this to be true, especially with my woods. The two ranges I go to use Top-Flite and Pinnacle range balls. I know these balls are constructed differently. Is there a general rule of thumb for determining how much yardage I might be losing? I've found it to be almost one club difference. ' Todd, Akron, OH

 
Todd,
The range balls are generally slightly different in construction in that they will have a more durable cover and paint layer. A combination of these differences will affect the distance slightly but not more than the 10 yard difference between clubs. Some manufacturers will make balls specifically for the range which are shorter by as much as 20 to 30 yards than a standard ball. This is done with a less resilient core and a change in the aerodynamics properties. These balls don't feel very good but do serve a purpose of range length limitations.
 
I think that the racing stripes on the range balls make them play so much better. This is the only plausible explanation as to why I seem to hit balls so much better on the range than on the course.
 
Frank,
Can you tell us amateurs how to tell the difference between a 90 and 100 compression ball? For instance, when attempting to purchase the Titleist ball, what is the difference between the ProV1 and the ProV1x? Or the Nike Platinum and the Nike Black? This all too confusing and is this a marketing ploy by the manufactures? The Callaway HX models too are confusing. Settle this ambiguity once and for all. -- Steven Gee

 
Steven,
Don't worry about compression... it no longer means what it used to when balls where made with a liquid center and rubber windings and a balata cover. Compression was then related to ball speed and distance but no longer. Manufacturers don't use it anymore and it is not a distance related property.
 
Those days are long gone but for your information balls such as the Titleist ProV1 and ProV1x are right up there in the 90+ range but balls which are better performers for most of us such as the NXT Tour have very soft cores and a compression gage will register about 60 to 70 for these balls. So the word 'compression' when it comes to balls is now extinct.
 
If you are interested in finding out more about the golf balls on the market today and how other golfers rate them, I would urge you to check out the link I gave you above http://www.franklygolf.com/ffnewsletter_april_06.asp to find out what other golfers consider to be 'The Best Ball'. You can also help us rate what are 'Frankly the Best' wedges! Thanks in advance for this support.
 
Hey Frank,
I put in many hours of practice at a local driving range (Astroturf). About two months ago, I thought I was pretty good with my Sand Wedge. I always felt a sense of pride when I hit the balls with my SW because I could get good air and good aim.
 
Now I've been less confident hitting my SW. When I hit the balls, 80% of the time, there's almost no air and it takes a sharp turn to the right. I really don't know what I'm doing wrong, 'Frankly' it's frustrating. Please help me out. ' Adrian

 
Adrian,
Hitting balls off artificial mats is inclined to give you a false sense of confidence simply because you are not able to take a devastating divot which on natural turf immediately tells you that you made a mistake. May I suggest that if you are going to practice off artificial mats, which in some cases is your only option, then make sure you hit the ball at the same time or after you hit the mat not the mat first. Generally you can hear which comes first. This will at least make sure that you are making good ball contact when practicing. This should help and you will probably do a lot better when you take your game to the course. I don't think this has anything to do with your wedges.
 
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
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.