QA Can Girls Play Boys Clubs

By Frank ThomasOctober 3, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from GOLF CHANNEL's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
 
Frank,
 
Your response to a female this week inspired me to ask a question of my own. I have three kids: two boys, ages 12 and 9; and a girl, 7. I have been thinking that as they get older the younger ones will be able to use the hand-me-down clubs previously used by the older sibling(s). So far, this seems to be working pretty well. Is there any reason to think that my daughter would need something different in the way of clubs from what her older brothers used when they were her age?
 
Thanks so much for your columns!
--John

 
John,
 
There is no reason that your daughter shouldnt be able to use the same clubs her brothers used at her age. Generally, girls develop a little faster than boys in the early stages, but need to recognize that the boys will soon catch up, so dont try to take advantage of this phenomenon as the tide will turn.
 
However, there have been many changes in kids clubs over the last ten years or so, so if your daughter is 7 and is using the same clubs your son used five years ago, she may be at a slight disadvantage. Fitting clubs to the stature of smaller people specifically for kids has improved significantly over the last several years rather then retro fitting by shortening existing designs. She may benefit from those advances in the design of kids clubs -- or should I say, clubs for the young aspiring golfers we need so badly.
 
In adults clubs, the march of technology that can truly affect performance has slowed to a crawl, even though manufacturers would have you believe otherwise. Each years new driver cannot possibly increase our distance 20 yards. We are suckers and we buy hope, which is one of the charming things about golf.
 
A new young golfer like your daughter needs as much help as you can give her, so look around for some newer clubs that may suit her (smaller people) better. I would say the same thing for your next child, whether its a boy or a girl.
 
I suggest you look for courses that have been modified for play by younger and beginner golfers, not necessarily those designed for the scratch male golfer with forward tees for the rest of us. An abundance of hazards and forced carries to the greens can take the fun out of the game for the beginning player, and fun should be what its about for your children. Fortunately, architects are starting to recognize that only 0.55% of the golfing population are scratch or better, and theyre giving more consideration to and developing courses that pose an appropriate challenge for a wider segment of golfers.
 
John, you may be interested to check out the results of our extensive research project covering preferences of over 14,400 golfers. You can find this report at www.growingthegame.org .
 
I urge you to do what you can to allow your daughter and sons to become addicted to this wonderful drug we call golf.
-- Frank
 
Frank,
 
I play golf with a guy who puts some type of goo or petroleum jelly on his driver face. Im sure its against the rules -- but does it really give you more distance and less slice and hook?
-- A Frankly Friend

 
Dear Frankly Friend,
 
First, thank you for signing up to be a Frankly Friend, so we can advise you every week when we our fresh Q&As are posted, as well as receiving alerts to other interesting and helpful equipment information as it becomes available. For those reading this who aren't Frankly Friends yet, you can sign up by clicking here.
 
Now, to answer your question about whether putting goo or Vaseline on the face of a club helps. Vaseline is meant for babies bottoms, not for the face of a golf club. Applying it to the face of a golf club is a violation of the rules: Rule 4-2b, Foreign Material, states that foreign material must not be applied to the face of the club for the purpose of influencing the movement of the ball. The penalty for this violation is disqualification.
 
So first, get back all the money this guy has ever won from you while violating this rule. Then suggest that he stop doing this if he wants to continue to play with you, unless you are thinking about doing it yourself.
 
Does it really work? The answer is that almost anytime you can reduce the coefficient of friction between the ball and the club you will reduce the spin. The problem is that this isnt consistent, and the practice may result in less backspin than you actually need to get the ball to fly as far as it should. You cannot be selective about which spin you want to reduce -- i.e., only the sidespin component.
 
My suggestion is dont do it, especially since the rule deals with intent. When you know it is a violation, then any time you attempt to do this -- even if you do it by making your practice swing through the rough on the edge of the teeing ground in the hope that enough grass juice will stay on the face of the club to influence the movement of the ball -- you are acting improperly. An ex-friend of mine used to do this on occasion before he became an ex.
 
The wonderful thing about golf is that as long as a rule exists and you are aware of it, then you know when you are in violation. This is one of the reasons I believe that if we adopt a rule thatsays a golfer is not permitted to use any performance-enhancing chemicals, then this in itself should be sufficient to stop it from happening. In golf, you and only you know when you are violating a rule. Theres no need to give a referee the responsibility that should be yours alone. Sometimes only you know if the ball moves at address. Yet you are expected to call such a penalty on yourself, and players generally do. Golf distinguishes itself from almost all other sports in that we call ourselves on violations, and if we dont our peers will suggest we do as long the rule exists and its intent is unambiguous.
 
Leave the Vaseline to babies.
-- Frank
 
Frank,
 
Do graphite shafts in irons get soft over time and use?
--Thomas

 
Thomas,
 
Graphite shafts do not change their flex properties over time. The phenomenon of changing flex properties is known in steel and other metals as work hardening. Even though this is not of any consideration in steel golf shafts, if it did happen it would result in a stiffer shaft over time, not a softer shaft.
 
To make a graphite shaft, very thin fibers (fifty of them will make up the size of a human hair) are surrounded in an epoxy resin and then wrapped around a mandrel (steel rod) in different directions to provide the required flex properties and resistance to torsional loading (twisting) commonly known but not technically correct as 'torque'. Each of those fibers is fourteen times stronger than steel for the same weight. This mix of resin and fiber is put in an oven to cure, and then the mandrel is withdrawn to leave a hollow composite shaft. The properties of this graphite shaft are very stable and may change very slightly over a wide range of temperatures, -- beyond what most humans can stand -- as most materials will, but not noticeably so. Otherwise the shaft, as long as it is not damaged, will hold its properties for a long time, longer than you are likely to keep using your clubs.
 
When I developed the first graphite shaft in 1969 I found that the fatigue properties were as good as if not better than steel shafts. Thomas, Im afraid to say that we will decay and get soft long before our graphite shafts do, so don't blame the shaft for any change in performance.
 
Hope this helps and gives you a little insight into the graphite composite shaft.
-- Frank
 
Fall for the FrogFrank 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@franklygolf.com
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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.