Q A Lifespan of a Driver

By Frank ThomasMarch 7, 2006, 5:00 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
Hi Frank,
Love your column, great info. My question is how long would the C.O.R. of used brand name clubs hold up under normal playing conditions. I would like to purchase a used driver, but am leery. What else should I consider when shopping for used clubs or demos? Their cost could be 50% or more lower than new. -- Joe DiFruscio, Ontario, Canada.

I do know what you mean when if comes to the cost of new drivers. What I would like to suggest that you try to buy a model a year or two old as these will perform almost as well as the new ones. Technology is moving slower than it has been over the last ten years when we saw some significant changes. A club without any visible damage or a face which still has roll and bulge and not a flat spot in the center of the face (test this with the edge of a credit card) should be OK.
I would like to suggest that you click on to this link http://www.franklygolf.com/tgc/spring2.html to get a very easy to understand explanation of COR and also recognize that the Laws of Physics are starting to play a role in governing how much further technology can go. We are nearly there so last years model should be fine.
In the Whats In The Bag section, I often see references to players using prototype clubs. I believe years ago Greg Norman was disqualified in a tournament because he was using a prototype ball. If I remember correctly it was an update to a model currently on the approved list but the new ball had not yet been tested. If the equipment the pros are using are prototypes, what is done to ensure that they are conforming? Are they tested before each tournament? ' David

With regard to Greg Normans ball you are referring to, it was a ball which was about to be introduced by Maxfli and one Greg was testing. The product itself conformed but the identification number on the seam was different from that on the ball which was on the list. This was the issue. Greg called me and we discussed it at length and he then disqualified himself. His major concern was whether or not the ball conformed to the standards not the fact that it was not on the list and had to disqualify himself. Prototype balls are generally submitted for approval if there is any chance that they will be used in competition. The list of conforming balls is updated frequently and on the USGAs website. One must make sure if the conforming list is in effect (i.e. a condition of the competition) that the markings on the ball you intend to use are the same as those on the list.
Ever since I have switched to a large-headed driver I have cracked each one I have owned (total of 3 & counting) along the top where the face appears to be joined to the crown. The crack runs along the edge of the face. A number of golfers I know have had similar experiences. The make of club doesn't seem to matter. The clubs are most often under warranty but that's not the issue.

Why are the clubs failing and what's the answer? I play 1/week and practice at the range 2 - 3 times a week. I practice my irons way more than the driver. Is this the nature of the beast with 460cc or do the manufacturers still have some work to do? -- Geoff Whitehead, Delta, BC

I dont know how many impacts you usually make with your driver each month or your club head speed but in most cases at average speeds one should be able to make at least 10,000 impacts before there is any sort of deterioration of the face. The number of impacts obviously depends on the quality of the product, the material used and the method of construction. Generally if you are using a driver from reputable company a face collapsing should not be a problem but if this is some form of unknown flaw which results in a breakage the company will generally take care of the problem for you.
I do think that as club heads get bigger some of the challenges relating to the integrity of the head are increased. This is because, to maintain the light weight of the head (about 200 grams) the shell needs be reduced in thickness and this can create some design problems. Most of these have been overcome.
National brand named clubs, such as Callaway, Ping, etc., use the most advanced technology in clubs. Can similar technology be found in lesser known club manufacturers and if so what should one look for in terms of material. Some claim to make an exact clone of name brands. What is your take on these claims? -- Gil Little

There is no doubt that there are lesser known companies with clubs as good in performance and design as some of the big names. They may not have the promotional dollars to become as well known but there are many good small companies producing some very good quality and well designed products.
I would become very suspicious if told by someone that they are making an exact clone of a name brand. First they will probably be in violation of some patent laws and secondly it is probably of considerable lesser quality. This rings of knock offs to me. If it is a price issue which drives one to buy a knock off then I suggest that you just buy last years model and be comforted in knowing that it is the real thing. In most cases the difference in performance between last years model and the new version will be hard to measure.
You've probably already addressed this issue several times but I missed it. Could you please tell me if there is any performance difference in the Pro-V1x's and their X-out counter parts? I've been told that the only difference is cosmetic. I've been given a couple of boxes of the X-outs and am leery to use them. ' Erik, Milwaukee, WI

I am absolutely sure that the only reason that the ProV1x is marked as an X-OUT is because of cosmetics. You dont have to worry about it when it comes to performance. If a ProV1x is found, during the manufacturing process, to be faulty in performance it will be discarded immediately. There is a problem, however, if you want to use this ball where the List of conforming balls is posted as a CONDITION OF THE COMPETITION. In this case, as the ball with these X-Out markings has not been submitted for testing and inclusion on this list, you would be disqualified for playing with an X-Out ball, even though it may conform. This list is used in major competitions so unless you intend to play in the Masters or the U.S. Open or some State events etc. dont worry.
On Saturday, February 18, I was watching the ACE Tournament on the Golf Channel. On the 17th green, Hale Irwin missed a ten foot putt which went by the hole about six inches. Hale walked to the hole. With his feet and shoulders facing the hole, Hale reached across the hole and tapped the ball back into the hole.
Did Hale violate the Sam Snead rule against croquet putting? That rule prohibits putting when the ball is on a line between the player's legs. The spirit of the rule is intended to prevent a player from croquet putting the ball forward, but the rule does not seem to make an exception for putting towards a player's body. -- Jerry Hogan, Reno, Nevada

The line of the putt does not extend beyond the hole but it does extend from the hole to the ball and behind the ball along the line and if you stand on or astride of this line when making a stroke it is a violation of rule16-1e. But as the line does not extend beyond the hole (see definition Line of putt) Hale Irwin did not violate the rule. This is close enough to an equipment question as it has to do with striking a ball with a putter that I decided to answer it.
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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Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

The reward now?

''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

And not the Masters.

He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

Except for that first week in April.

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The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

Yeah, you heard that right.

“I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

“I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

Here's two more just for good measure.

Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.

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Spieth selected by peers to run for PAC chairman

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 6:43 pm

Jordan Spieth may still be relatively young, but he has gained the confidence of some of the PGA Tour's most seasoned voices.

Spieth is one of two players selected by the current player directors of the Tour's Policy Board to run for Chairman of the Player Advisory Council (PAC). Spieth will face Billy Hurley III in an election that will end Feb. 13, with the leading vote-getter replacing Davis Love III next year on the Policy Board for a three-year term through 2021.

Last year's PAC chairman, Johnson Wagner, replaces Jason Bohn as a player director on the Policy Board beginning this year and running through 2020. Other existing player directors include Charley Hoffman (2017-19), Kevin Streelman (2017-19) and Love (2016-18).

The 16-member PAC advises and consults with the Policy Board and Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on "issues affecting the Tour."

In addition to Spieth and Hurley, other PAC members for 2018 include Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Chesson Hadley, James Hahn, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Geoff Ogilvy, Sam Saunders, Chris Stroud, Justin Thomas, Kyle Thompson and Cameron Tringale.

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Florida golfers encounter python-wrapped alligator

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 6:29 pm

Alligator sightings are pretty common on Southern golf courses - see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Also, here. (RIP, Timmy the Turtle.)

But here's one that deserves distinction.

Those images come from the Golf Club at Fiddler's Creek, down in Naples - in case you're booking a vacation to Southwest Florida or just looking for a Hot Deal this week. Hit 'em straight, folks.