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

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."