QA Distance is No 1

By Frank ThomasNovember 7, 2007, 5:00 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
Dear Frank,
I have lost distance with my driver as I approach 60. My swing speed is 90-92 and I am using a Ping G5. Am I swinging too slow to benefit from the trampoline effect, and if so, is the softer face hurting my distance? Should I be using an old-fashioned 'hard-faced driver? Thank you
-- Craig

It seems the number one thing we all want is distance. Some manufacturers are now increasing the length of drivers to help give golfers what they want, without concern for the effect this may have on accuracy. I have suggested that a snakebite kit should be included with these new $500 drivers, just in case we encounter a vicious reptile while looking for our stray-but-tremendously-long drives.
One straight big boomer gives bragging rights for some time, and we seem to treasure it more than a reasonable score. We also treat our best drive (or five-iron, for that matter) as our normal distance for the club. How many times do we pull the five when we should be using a four or hybrid, just because one time in the past we hit the five 170 yards? Thereafter every 170-yard shot sends a message to our ego-befuddled brain to pull the five.
Sorry about this, Craig, but I had to get it off my chest. Now for the real answer: You are certainly not swinging too slowly to benefit from the spring-like effect. At your swing speed of 90 to 92 mph, you are a very good candidate to take advantage of this phenomenon to its max. All the big titanium drivers you will find in any retail store have the maximum COR (Coefficient of Restitution) and almost as much forgiveness (MOI) as is available. (Go to my site and click on Equipment and then Useful Articles to find an easy explanation of COR, MOI, and all sorts of other fun stuff at While youre there, sign up as a Frankly Friend to get alerts when other good stuff is available.)
When you start losing distance, in most cases it has nothing to do with equipment other than the kind you were born with. Stretching and flexibility exercises will increase your range of motion and increase head speed (not yours but the club heads) by as much as 5 mph. This will give you more distance than any new club you can buy.
Even if your swing were substantially slower, the thin-faced drivers wouldnt cost you distance, they simply wouldnt help you as much as they would at higher speeds. Theres no need to move backwards in technology as you lose speed; give yourself all the advantages that physics allows, both in distance and in forgiveness. The Model T Ford was great in its day, but it just wont hack it now. Dont even think about it.
Have faith and stretch a little every day; you will be surprised what it will do for you and your game. Sixty years old is not good for football, but not at all bad for golf. You still have a lot of time for fun on the course.
-- Frank
The rules for conforming equipment are not always crystal clear. Nor is the reasoning for them. Why is it a big deal for there to be a minimum of 1 1/2' between grips when using a putter with two grips? It seems much ado about nothing. But I could be mistaken.
Thanks for your column too, Frank.
-- Glen

I am glad you enjoy my column. The issue about the spacing between putter grips is interesting and relates to another part of the same rule in Appendix II, Section 3 Grip.This states in part that '(t)he grip must not be molded for any part of the hands' and '(g)rip must not have any bulge or waist.'
Unfortunately, when I rewrote the rule in 1984 I did not contemplate two grips on putters. In 1992, I added that two grips were permitted for putters, and used as a guideline a separation of 1.5 inches. I considered this sufficiently large not to create a waist into which you could place (wrap) your finger to assist in exactly positioning your hands on the grip ' i.e., to keep it from being 'molded for the hands.'
Subsequently this guideline has been incorporated into the rule, and without it we would be allowing a waist and perhaps eventually have to accept molded grips as well. I don't think molded grips (really molded) are good for the game, though they are good for beginners to get the feel of a specific recommended way to hold a golf club. Sometimes the rules don't make sense and we need to address these from time to time, but this one ' even though it seems odd by itself -- can be considered a block in the road to prevent other bad things from happening.
I hope this makes some sense.
-- Frank
Is there an advantage to using a heel-shafted versus a center-shafted putter other than personal preference? I have been told that it has to do with which eye is dominant to the golfer. Any putting help is greatly appreciated.
-- Larry

Ive heard suggestions that there is a difference between using an offset putter vs. a non-offset putter, depending on left- or right-eye dominance, but Ive never seen any real evidence to demonstrate that it makes any measurable difference. From my experience, the shaft location -- center or heel mounted, offset or non-offset -- is very much a matter of personal preference.
In some offset putters, you might see more of the orthogonal aiming line along the full length of the head (if there is one), but with a center-mounted straight shaft, the shaft itself will help in lining up. It is all about personal preference. In one of the center straight shafted configurations of the Frankly Frog Putter, there is a 10-inch line up the shaft which is a very subconscious reference line making alignment a little easier.
When it comes to shaft fitting, I have found that shaft length is the most important aspect for putters. Most golfers use putters that are too long for them. This adds to the source of error associated with the up and down movement in the stroke, resulting in inconsistent results.
If the putter is face balanced, it does not matter where the shaft is mounted in the head. If it is not face balanced, and the straight shaft is mounted in the heel or center, the rotation speed of the sweet spot may vary. However, once impact starts, the inertia about the various axes of the putter head takes over, influencing the movement of the ball on a mis-hit. The shaft plays no role.
If you are ever in the Orlando area, you may benefit tremendously by making an appointment to visit our Frankly Frog Putting Studio.
Hope this helps.
-- 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
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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x