QA Adjusting Lie Angles

By Frank ThomasJuly 25, 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
Hi Frank,
You have helped golf so much; thanks.
I was told that by golf retailers, I should not try to adjust the lie angles of my driver or fairway woods. Some pros say they have done this. Why can you adjust irons but not woods? -- John

Woods have less loft than irons and as a result the lie angle is not as important as it is for the lofted irons so you dont really need to adjust the lie angle. If you have the correct length, then dont worry about lie on the driver or long fairway woods. But another reason for the recommendation not to adjust the lie, is because the hosel is very short and in most cases a bore-through shaft, (a shaft which goes into the cavity of the head and/or through the head to the sole). You will probably damage the club if you attempt to make a lie angle change. Some woods can be adjusted a little and this should be done by someone who knows what they are doing, but it is not recommended.
Some pros have made some slight changes to their woods but they dont pay for their clubs and these changes are just tweaks. Hope this helps.

Hello Frank,
If you are to err on grip size, which is better, larger or smaller?
Thank you for your help, LK

I dont recommend you err at all. It is easy enough to get the correct grip size and most important is that you are comfortable. Only you really know what feels good and comfortable for you. Some of the best pros on the tour have smaller than recommended grip size even though they have fairly large hands. So if you are having a problem turning the club into impact then err on the side of a smaller grip.
The recommended size is, when gripping the club with the left hand (assuming you are right handed) the middle fingers are making contact with the meaty portion of the base of the thumb. This is a guideline and a starting point. Remember, feeling comfortable is always a good recommendation.

Firstly, your columns and opinions are excellent and a must read. No one offers such an informed and balanced perspective. I could read your material all day long.

This spring I purchased a 460 cc driver (last year's model) from a very well known brand and am hitting it a ton. At 53 years of age, 270 yards in the air places me at heaven's door. I thought I'd try the fairway woods from the same model year, hoping to find the same gains there too. My problem is that I can't get anywhere near the improvement with the fairway woods as I can with the driver. At $250 per club Canadian, that's a lot to shell out for little in return.

I understand the technology gains that are built into today's modern drivers. The proof is clearly there. But I wonder whether the fairway woods have really improved that much. Amazingly, my old titanium fairway woods from the same manufacturer look almost identical, even though they are 5-7 years older. The head sizes are about the same and the shape is very close.

Am I right? Have improvements to fairway woods been much less significant? If I hit a 5-wood 200-210 yards, a new model has to give me all of that and more. Otherwise I'm better off saving my money.

Are improvements in fairway woods mostly hype? Are buyers getting taken for a ride?

Thanks Frank. Keep on writing!
Phil Burden
Vancouver, B.C

First, thanks for the kind comments. Second you are right; technology has not affected fairway woods as much as it has drivers. The reason for this is relatively easy to understand. If you read my simple explanation of COR (Coefficient of Restitution) on my site - - you will better understand that this is the advance in technology which has given drivers such a boost in distance.

One of the reasons why this has been possible is because of large heads and the size of the face which acts like a trampoline. The larger face (a little more than two inches in height) the more efficient the trampoline. And because the sweet spot is in the middle of the face, to make good contact with the ball it must be teed up.

As it is not permissible to tee up the ball in the fairway (for most of us) the face height is smaller to make sure that sweet spot and the low center of gravity are in line with the contact point on the face. For this reason it is hard to design a very efficient trampoline in the smaller profile on fairway woods. Also there is less reason to seek more distance off these clubs. With your drive of 270 + yards you should be able to reach most par 5s with your existing 3-wood.
Dont be sucked in with promises of significant improvements in distance with the fairway woods.
Fairway woods and irons have not changed significantly in the last ten years other than the introduction of the hybrid.
Glad you have found a good driver but even technology in these clubs has almost come to an end so hang on to what you have and use the extra cash for lessons.
Do you feel that average golfers 12-24 handicap would be better served by graphite shafted irons? I am puzzled by the slow acceptance of graphite in irons. Since pros and low handicappers overwhelmingly choose steel, are higher handicappers following their example to their own detriment? Or is it that the advantages in irons are not enough to offset the extra cost. -- Pat Gilmore from Omaha

Graphite shafts have a place in your bag as they are lighter and will allow you to swing the club at the same speed with less effort.
If we swung a little easier with our steel shafts we would probably perform better anyway but the physics is there, which will allow us to benefit from using a good set of graphite shafts. I think the pros will be moving toward graphite in the future but slowly. They are so good that they dont need too much more help. I believe that Scott Verplank is using graphite shafts in his irons as are a number of senior players.
Having said this I must warn you that any major improvement will be a result of a comfort thing more than a major advance in actual distance from the physics point of view. So dont expect to lower your handicap by five strokes just because you change to graphite. You may improve because you have more confidence in your swing rather than a performance difference because of shaft properties.

The swing feel is all important and graphite may improve this.
I suggest that you try this out for your self if you have the opportunity to test two similar flex shafts one of graphite and the other of steel with the identical head. You should also know that most graphite shafted club sets are about to an inch longer than their steel counter-parts.
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
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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.