Q A Inside the Two Driver Debate

By Frank ThomasApril 25, 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,
Did Phil win because he had the best game for the week or because had the most tricked out bag for the week?

In baseball they are talking about asterisks on Maguire, Sosa, and Bonds home run records because of performance enhancing substance that gave them enhanced performance, should their be an asterisk on Phil because of equipment enhanced win? Remember, there was no official ban against these substances when the baseball guys were juicing. Do you think enhanced equipment to help you draw or fade to defeat the added length and angles was what Augusta had in mind with all the changes? Was the goal to identify the best player or the best equipped player for the week? -- Frank S.

 
Frank,
What you saw at Augusta is an example of how technology has changed the game. A golfer like Phil Mickelson has taken advantage of this technology and decided to substitute one of his other clubs for a second driver. It is true that he did not have to change his swing very much to get two different results using different drivers. To do this successfully requires a great deal of skill -- something many of these pros have -- and a clear knowledge about how each driver works. I do think that Phil has the ability to pull off these shots without having to go to two different drivers but it just makes it a little easier for him to do it and it was obviously worth sacrificing one of the other 13 clubs.
 
I do certainly think we are entering a phase of the game when we should start thinking about how to decrease the gap between the long hitters and those who have other skills which are part of the game. Golf is not only a power game but one of finesse. Power is certainly a skill but should come with accuracy which would better define this as a skill.
 
Please read my article suggesting a proposed solution to some of our concerns. Specifically, how to better expose all the skills of our superheroes. This was published on April 6th 2006 in the OP-ED section of the NY Times, a copy of which you will find at www.franklygolf.com.
 
This proposal does not imply that the ten club rule or the change to course set-up should be adopted at all levels of golf but only at the pro level as an alternative for other recent suggestions which will tear the game apart.
 
Thanks for your concern.
 
Dear Frank,
I recently purchased a used TaylorMade R7 Quad. I love it! Now I am wondering about the configuration of the weights. I am told the current configuration is neutral.

When I am swinging well the shot that hurts me most is a big swinging hook. Lots of distance just too much right-to-left to keep the ball in the fairway. How would I change my configuration to soften the hook without causing a drive that would have been straight to move right? When I am not swinging well the shot that hurts me most is a straight push. Is there a configuration that will help me bring the ball back to the left?

Are the two of these configurations mutually exclusive of each other? Also, I would love a general description of how the different configurations will affect flight path! ' Tim

 
Tim,
First you have a major problem which I don't think adjustments to equipment can help.
Nothing will help a big swinging hook other than a swing change. Your problem sounds like a sporadic one which comes without notice. The only thing that seems to be predicable is that when you are swinging 'Well' you fear the Hook and when you are swinging 'Badly' you fear the Push. So let's start from here:
 
There isn't a single club which can solve both problems so do what Phil doesput two drivers in your bag and heel weight one for when you are swing badly and toe weight the other one for when you are swinging well.
 
To explain; the heel weighting will allow you to rotate the club more easily and bring the club to square or beyond square to closed a little and this will minimize the chances of a push. Also this weighting will move the center of gravity (c.g.) toward the heel which, if you hit the ball on the sweet spot will tend to give the ball a little draw bias because of the gear effect. You know about this gear effect because when you hit the ball toward the toe of the club under otherwise normal conditions it is inclined to draw and go a little farther because the toe is traveling faster than the heel at impact.
 
The reverse is true for toe weighting.
 
Maybe you can start a new trend and put three drivers in your bag a neutral for when you are swinging well but don't feel the swinging hook coming on, the heel weighted for when you fear the 'push' and toe weighted for when you fear the 'hook' shots.
If you get really driver happy, you could always add a couple of different lofts as well. That's another topic for another time.
 
Frank,
I'm perplexed, I look at the what's in the bag segment of golf digest and find that my average carry distance is very similar to most of the pros from 3 wood down, however I certainly don't average 300 yards per drive like most of them claim, 280 maybe. Could it be my driver? It's a new name brand with a stiff flex shaft 9.5 degrees of loft. My average club head speed ranges from 110 to 115, my ball speed peaks at about 164, my launch angle is usually 11 to 14 degrees and my spin rate is usually around 3000. Those are all good numbers right? I do find its the only club I use that I struggle with losing it to the right. Could I possibly need a stiffer shaft? -- Matt Hendon, Greenville S.C.


Matt,
First, most pros don't claim 300 yard average drives. In fact, the PGA TOUR average is 288 yards and the average head speed is between 100 and 115 mph.
 
It is only when the head speed gets to 115 mph AND the launch conditions are optimum will the drives approach the 300 yard mark.
 
So don't get depressed but do try to keep your launch angle down to between 12 and 13 degrees and the spin rate at 2,000 to 2,500 rpm and you should get a few extra yards with your driver.
 
If you are losing your drives to the right I think a more flexible shaft is needed not a stiffer shaft.
 
I have some PGA TOUR stats in a nice, easy to read format which I have been tracking over the years. Check them out at www.franklygolf.com.
 
There is still hope!
 
Hi Frank,
I am a 28 years of age business professional who is struggling to find time in my life to play the game. I used to play frequently as a younger man and even had my handicap down to the low single digits for a period of a few years. Life has not meant that I don't play or practice as much as I used to although I still find myself able to get around the course with an average score of usually 80. I have spent the last two years trying to find a driver for my game. I really like the technology in Taylor Made R7 clubs but am having trouble finding a shaft that will work for me. With a swing speed of around 98 to 102 (average) I find myself in between shafts and flexes too often. Are there things I need to look for in some of the higher performance after market shafts? I can't seem to find something that works for me; perhaps you have some suggestions of shafts you've used that may fit my profile? -- David McCutcheon

 
David,
For your swing speed you should be able to use an S-flex shaft and I suggest a driver length of 44 inches. This will give you more control with your driver and build confidence. This is so important because when you step up to the ball and the little voices in your head are saying YES then you will perform well. If you are uncomfortable with your driver the little voices are saying all sorts of things you shouldn't be listening to. If you find the S-flex only performs when you swing hard then definitely go for the R-flex and enjoy what the voices are saying to you.
 
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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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x