QA Band-Aid Drivers Grooves

By Frank ThomasMarch 28, 2007, 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
Hello Frank:
Like many other golfers, I've struggled with a slice off the tee, so I bought an offset driver. Initially, this worked well to improve my drives. However, I also took a series of lessons and worked on my swing throughout last season. By the end of last season, I had to aim well right of center, as nearly every shot from the tee was left (and occasionally look-out left). Given that the distance and ball flight off the tee were generally good, and after talking to one of the local PGA pros, I think my swing has improved to the point where I can change back to a non-offset driver.
One item that has caught my attention about the new drivers during my research is the face angle set-up. Most of the current drivers generally have faces that are 1 to 2 degrees closed, which I assume helps to square the face at impact (and maybe impart a slight draw bias). The Tour versions of the same drivers, which are advertised to provide enhanced workability and ball flight control, have face angles that range from 0.5 to 3 degrees open. Why is a set-up that seems more likely to impart a fade bias considered to have greater workability? Do the manufacturers assume/know that people playing those clubs will have a higher swing speed and need the club to start slightly open to end up square at impact? Or is a slight fade considered to be a more desirable ball flight by better players?

You are a wonderful example of what Ive been warning against for years now. Manufacturers have been producing clubs for the higher handicap player with the face angles so closed that when they correct their swing it is 'watch out and FORE left'.
This is a shame, but I think the reason is that many golfers are not prepared to take a lesson and work on their game and therefore try to correct their problems with a band-aid club. The band-aid approach locks you into a bad move and doesn't give you any incentive to improve, because if you do youll need to buy another driver. This is costly, as you are experiencing.
One of the reasons some of the better players use a square to slightly open face is that they are inclined to draw the ball, and the slightly open face at address sets them up properly. If you want to work the ball, you really don't need any particular bias (draw or fade) built into your club.

Congratulations on getting the swing corrected; I know you are going to have a lot more fun and your scores will definitely improve. Yes, you should get a new driver with a square face. The offset will be inclined to increase the launch angle as well as close the face, but you don't need any more face closing help.
Enjoy your new swing and congratulate your teacher from me. Well done. If you are looking to buy some more equipment be sure to read my 8 Simple Rules for Buying Equipment by clicking here.
Thank you for your service.
My irons are 6 months old. They are cast. Despite a fair amount of play, the grooves continue to shred golf balls, even very hard ones. I can't use a high-spin ball, because I have to replace them too often. What can I do to make the grooves less sharp?

I assume that this is happening with all the clubs in your set. First you need to understand that if the club cuts the cover, you are taking something away from the efficiency of impact and spin. The reason is similar to a situation where you stretch a sling shot with rubber bands, and before releasing it you cut it the bands. The projectile (stone) will remain in your hand without anywhere to go. Similarly, the elastic cover of the ball will not do its thing as effectively as it would if the cover remained intact for the full duration of impact, allowing it to stretch during the windup phase and spring back during the recovery phase.
So cutting (shredding) the cover of the ball is not good, both because of the reduced spin and because the feathers caused by the shredding will have a detrimental effect on the aerodynamic properties of the ball.
So how do you fix this? You must be careful, because the minute you try to soften the radius on the edge of the groove you will very likely increase the size of the groove. If the grooves were initially designed to be at the legal spacing limit -- no less than three times the width of the adjacent groove -- and you increase the size of the groove, you may render these clubs non-conforming with the Rules of Golf.
If, however, the edge of the grooves became rounded due to wear, then there would be no violation -- see Rule 4-1b: A club that conforms with the Rules when new is deemed to conform after wear through normal use.
So I suggest that you spend some time hitting balls on the range ' ideally one with sandy soil conditions -- until your clubs wear down a little and stop shredding the cover of the range balls. This exercise will probably do your game some good anyway. Practice never hurt anybodys game.
Dear Frank,
My question is about grip size, I routinely grip all my clubs at least 1' down, but I grip my driver with my left thumb on the lower edge of the grip (Im left handed). Would I do better cutting 1 ' off the butt and playing with a standard size grip? What are the consequences of playing with a small diameter grip? My current driver is a Callaway 454, 10.5 degrees, swing speed 100 MPH, carry 260, total 275. The 'gripped down' habit started when I played a lot in windy/rainy conditions, and it stuck. As you can see, distance is not an issue. I gave up about 20 yards when I started gripping down, but I still have the length to challenge most 5-pars.

As long as you consistently grip your driver at this location on the grip, dont change anything. You are doing very well with the distance youre getting with 100 mph head speed.
Some experiments have been performed on the effect of grip size as it relates to performance. In the extreme, a large grip will tend to restrict the wrists from rotating and leave the face open at impact. Conversely, a small grip will tend to allow the rotation to take place more effectively and square or close the face a little. This small grip may even result in a slight draw. I must advise you, however, that these are in the extremes, and I would not suggest that you try to affect your flight by changing your grip size beyond that which feels comfortable. (Click here for a series of questions about grips)
Consistency is one of the most important ingredients in golf, so do whatever you do consistently and feel comfortable doing.
Hope this helps.
Click to purchase the Frog PutterFrank 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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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”

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Rory almost channels Tiger with 72nd-hole celebration

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:11 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy’s final putt at the Arnold Palmer Invitational felt awfully familiar.

He rolled in the 25-footer for birdie and wildly pumped his fist, immediately calling to mind Woods’ heroics on Bay Hill’s 18th green.

Three times Woods holed a putt on the final green to win this event by a stroke.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy was just happy to provide a little extra cushion as the final group played the finishing hole.

“I’ve seen Tiger do that enough times to know what it does,” McIlroy said. “So I just wanted to try and emulate that. I didn’t quite give it the hat toss – I was thinking about doing that. But to be able to create my own little bit of history on the 18th green here is pretty special.”

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A performance fit for a King

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:08 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five hundred and 40 days had passed since Rory McIlroy last won, and since golf lost one of its most iconic players.

So much has transpired in McIlroy’s life since then – marriage, injury, adversity – but even now he vividly recalls the awkward end to the 2016 Tour Championship. He had just captured the FedExCup and $11 million bonus, but afterward, in the scrum, he was asked instead to reflect on the passing earlier that day of Arnold Palmer, at age 87.

“Obviously I had a great win and it was a great day for me, but in the big scheme of things, that didn’t matter,” he said. “The game of golf had lost an icon, a legend, an inspiration to so many of us. I probably wasn’t as ecstatic as maybe I would have been if Arnie hadn’t passed away.”

But there was McIlroy on Sunday at Bay Hill, at Arnie’s Florida home, summoning the kind of charge that would have made the King proud. With five birdies in his last six holes, he broke away from a stacked leaderboard to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational for his first victory on Tour in 18 months, since that bittersweet evening at East Lake.

“Kind of ironic,” he said Sunday.

But the connection between McIlroy and Palmer runs deeper than that.

Palmer and McIlroy’s wife, Erica, shared a birthday – Sept. 10.

Palmer wrote letters to McIlroy after each of his many victories.

Palmer had lobbied for years to get McIlroy to play this event, even threatening him. “If he doesn’t come and play Bay Hill,” Palmer said in 2012, “he might have a broken arm and he won’t have to worry about where he’s going to play next.”

McIlroy kept all of his limbs intact but didn’t add the event until 2015, when Palmer’s health was beginning to deteriorate. That week he sat for a two-hour dinner with Palmer in the Bay Hill clubhouse, and the memories still bring a smile to his face.

“I was mesmerized,” McIlroy said.

And entertained, of course.

Palmer ordered fish for dinner. “And I remember him asking the server, ‘Can I get some A.1. Sauce?’” McIlroy said.

“And the server said, ‘For your fish, Mr. Palmer?’ And he said, ‘No, for me!’"

McIlroy chuckled at the exchange, then added somberly: “I was very fortunate to spend that time with him.”

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy has been telling anyone who will listen that he’s close to playing his best golf, but even he was surprised by the drastic turn of events over the past 10 days.

During that 18-month winless drought, he endured an onslaught of questions about his wedge play, his putting, his health and his motivation. Burnt out by the intense spotlight, and needing to rehab a nagging rib injury, he shut it down for four months last fall, a mental and physical reset.

But after an encouraging start to his 2018 campaign in the Middle East, McIlroy was a non-factor in each of his first four Tour starts. That included a missed cut last week in Tampa, where he was admittedly searching.

“The best missed cut I’ve ever had,” he said.

McIlroy grinded all last weekend, stumbling upon a swing thought, a feeling, like he was making a three-quarter swing. Then he met for a few hours Monday in South Florida with former PGA Tour winner and putting savant Brad Faxon. They focused on being more instinctive and reactionary over the ball.

“He just freed me up,” McIlroy said.

Freed up his stroke, which had gotten too rigid.

And freed up his mind, which was bogged down with technical thoughts and self-doubt.

“The objective is to get the ball in the hole,” he said, “and I think I lost sight of that a little bit.”

All McIlroy did at Bay Hill was produce the best putting week of his career.  

Starting the final round two shots back of Henrik Stenson, McIlroy made the turn in 33 and then grabbed a share of the lead on the 11th hole.

Tiger Woods was making a run, moving within a shot of the lead, but McIlroy answered with a charge of his own, rattling off four consecutive birdies – a 16-footer on 13, a 21-footer on 14, a chip-in on 15 and a two-putt birdie after a 373-yard drive on 16 – that left Woods and everyone else in the dust.

Then McIlroy finished it off in style, rolling in a 25-footer on the last that was eerily similar to the putt that Woods has holed so many times at his personal playground.

“I know what the putt does,” McIlroy said, “so it was nice to make my own little bit of history.”

Justin Rose has played plenty of meaningful golf with McIlroy over the years, but he’d never seen him roll it like he did Sunday.

“He turned on the burners on the back nine,” he said. “He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

It’s little wonder McIlroy pulled ahead of a star-studded leaderboard, closing with a bogey-free 64 and winning by three shots at 18-under 270 – he led the field in driving distance, proximity to the hole, scrambling and strokes gained-putting.

“It’s so nice that everything finally came together,” he said.

Over the next two weeks, there figures to be plenty of conversation about whether McIlroy can channel that fearlessness into the major he covets most. The Masters is the only piece missing from a career Grand Slam, and now, thanks to Faxon’s tips, he’s never been in a better position.

But after a turbulent 18 months, McIlroy needed no reminder to savor a victory that felt like a long time coming.

There was a hug for his parents, Gerry and Rosie.

A kiss for his wife, Erica.

A handshake for Palmer’s grandson, Sam Saunders, and then a fitting into the champion’s alpaca cardigan.

The only thing missing was the King himself, waiting atop the hill behind 18 with his huge smile and vice-grip handshake.

“Hopefully he’s up there smiling,” McIlroy said, “and hopefully he’s proud of me with the way I played that back nine.”