Q A Frequency Matching

By Frank ThomasMay 2, 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
I have a set of irons I want to put new shafts in. I like the way the irons setup. I just want to put Rifle shafts in them. I have been researching the 'frequency matched' issue and I am more confused now than I was. I have also spoken with two club builders and I received two different answers. Is it better to have the irons set to a 'single' frequency from 3 iron through the wedges? Or, should it be the 4.2 cycles between each club?
Thank you for your help. -- Chad

Frequency matching, in conjunction with overall weight and even swing weight, have been methods used to balance (match) clubs for some time with the intent to make each club in the set feel about the same as the rest of the set when you swing it. Because the clubs vary in length as they progress from the long (3-iron length club) to the shorter (PW), to match these clubs the shorter they get the heavier the head should be when matched by swing weight. This will increase the overall weight of the clubs making the shortest clubs the heaviest in your bag.
The swing weight method uses a fulcrum positioned 14 inches from the butt. When the club is positioned in a swing weight measuring device weight is added to the butt end of the club to get it to balance. The amount of weight will establish the 'swing weight'. If all the clubs need the same amount of weight added to the butt end then all the clubs will swing weight the same. This method of matching has been found to be most acceptable to good and novice golfers. This is a static balance beam method.
The frequency method clamps the club at the butt end. It is plucked and the device measures the vibrations (oscillations) in a short period of time and this number is converted to the number of oscillations per minute. These vibrations are influenced by the shaft stiffness, weight of the head and shaft as well as the length of the club. It has been found that most golfers want a frequency which increases as the clubs get shorter, going from the woods to the short irons and an acceptable difference between clubs is about 6 to 8 cycles per minute.
I don't think that anybody has found that a constant frequency throughout the set is a good idea only because this does not feel properly balanced. It has been introduced many times without success.
My swing speed is about 90 mph. In your opinion, how fast does a player need to swing to benefit from the tour performance balls (Pro-V1, Hx tour, etc) with a driver off the tee? Do the newer balls for recreational players such as the e5 and e6 allow the weekender the ability to check the ball up on the green? -- Israel Pea

The differences in performance are very small but generally the higher swing speed golfers on tour will trend to the ProV1x, the ProV1 and Hx Tour as well as the Bridgestone B330-S balls which are all good balls and your game will not be compromised by using them only your wallet.
The NXT, NXT Tour and Bridgestone e5 and e6 are designed for the slower swing speed golfer, and this would be the direction I would suggest for the weekend golfer like most of us.
The e5 will allow you to get a little more spin with distance whereas the e6 will spin less off the driver and tend to reduce the effect of a slice or hook (or should I say a fade or a draw) as no piece of equipment will correct a slice or a hook which is an operator problem.
Balls are all so good today that most of us find it difficult to tell the difference. The thing is to make our selection assuming we will have our A-game and with this in mind hope the above will help.
I asked visitors to my website to help us find out what they consider to be the best ball. Visit FranklyGolf.com to see the results of this survey we conducted to find out what other golfers enjoyed!
What does an insert or grooves on the face of a putter actually do? Is it all about feel, or will an insert/grooves change the force needed to move a golf ball. I read an article on 'dwell time', and it seemed to say the addition of the insert/grooves did not make a statistical difference. Also, is my balata insert putter from the mid 90s still legal? You rarely see them anymore. -- Mark R.

The dwell time does affect the way the ball comes off the putter and also how it feels. A really hard insert will tend to reduce the dwell time and it will feel as if the ball jumps off the face. If this is combined with a hard covered ball then it will also increase the distance of the putt, given the same impact speed.
This feel is after impact but what the golfer detects is an impact with a softer cover ball when using a softer insert. There have been trends back and forth with regard to inserts and this will continue. Your soft insert (balata or equivalent) will continue to conform if it conformed when you bought it.
Overall performance is not dependent on inserts but will affect feel for certain putters which need to have some additional help to make them feel good. Putter performance is based on putter design which should focus on weight distribution, center of gravity location and certain physical dimensions and shapes. These will affect balance, stability and overall feel. Face balancing will also help eliminate some operator errors.
I am 65 years old and took up golf about 6 years ago. I have only played about 6 rounds per year and maybe a dozen trips to the range each year. I now find that I am going to have more time to play and wonder if lessons, at my age, would do any good. I hit the 7-iron about 145, and driver 190 (when I'm lucky). I would like a small improvement and some consistency, but dont want to waste time and money. I would appreciate your honest answer. -- Gord Thompson

If you want to improve your performance you need to do a couple of things. First you need to visit the practice range and the course a little more often as I think you have implied you intend to do. Secondly, definitely get a lesson to make sure the most of the parts are working and you are reasonably coordinated and not practicing the wrong moves. The third thing is to make sure you don't let lack of a good range of motion interfere with your game. So check with your doctor and then get involved in a simple strength and stretching regimen. Walking a couple of miles every day also does wonders. This will not only increase or maintain the distance on the course but allow you to play all 18 holes without getting tired. Also your entire quality of life will improve. It doesn't take much time or effort unless you intend to enter for Mr. America.
Only after you have got back into the game should you think about a different set of clubs because your game will change and the specifications for your clubs may also be affected by your new swing. So look for a new set next year.
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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McIlroy gets back on track

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

He is well ahead of schedule.

Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

Everything in his life is lined up.

Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.