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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Frittelli fulfilled promise by making Match Play field

By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 8:40 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Dylan Frittelli attended the University of Texas and still maintains a residence in Austin, so in an odd way this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is a home game for the South African who plays the European Tour.

Frittelli actually attended the event last year as a spectator, when he watched the quarterfinal matches on Saturday afternoon, and made a promise to himself.

“I told a lot of people, I was running into them. I said, ‘I'll be here next year, I'll be playing in this tournament,’” said Frittelli, who climbed to 45th in the world ranking after two victories last year in Europe. “People looked at me, you're 190 in the world, that's hard to get to 64. It was a goal I set myself.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Frittelli’s next goal may be a little payback for a loss he suffered in college when he was a teammate of Jordan Spieth’s. Frittelli is making his first start at the Match Play and could face his old Longhorn stable mate this week depending on how the brackets work out and his play.

“We had the UT inter-team championship. Coach switched it to match play my senior year, and Jordan beat me in the final at UT Golf Club. It was 3 and 2,” Frittelli said. “So I'm not too keen to face him again.

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Match Play security tightens after Austin bombings

By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 8:06 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – A fourth bombing this month in Austin injured two men Sunday night and authorities believe the attacks are the work of a serial bomber.

The bombings have led to what appears to be stepped-up security at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

“I was out here [Sunday]; typically that's the most relaxed day. But they had security officials on every corner of the clubhouse and on the exterior, as well,” said Dylan Frittelli, who lives in Austin and is playing the Match Play for the first time this week. “It was pretty tough to get through all the protocols. I'm sure they'll have stuff in place.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour told The Associated Press on Monday that it doesn't comment on the specifics of its security measures, but that the safety of players and fans is its top priority. The circuit is also coordinating closely with law enforcement to ensure the safety of players and fans.

Despite the bombings, which have killed two people and injured two others, the Tour has not yet reached out to players to warn of any potential threat or advise the field about increased security.

“It’s strange,” Paul Casey said. “Maybe they are going to, but they haven’t.”

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Rosaforte Report: Faxon helps 'free' McIlroy's mind and stroke

By Tim RosaforteMarch 19, 2018, 8:00 pm

With all the talk about rolling back the golf ball, it was the way Rory McIlroy rolled it at the Arnold Palmer Invitational that was the story of the week and the power surge he needed going into the Masters.

Just nine days earlier, a despondent McIlroy missed the cut at the Valspar Championship, averaging 29 putts per round in his 36 holes at Innisbrook Resort. At Bay Hill, McIlroy needed only 100 putts to win for the first time in the United States since the 2016 Tour Championship.

The difference maker was a conversation McIlroy had with putting savant Brad Faxon at The Bears Club in Jupiter, Fl., on Monday of API week. What started with a “chat,” as McIlroy described it, ended with a resurrection of Rory’s putting stroke and set him free again, with a triumphant smile on his face, headed to this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, and Augusta National in two weeks.

The meeting with Faxon made for a semi-awkward moment for McIlroy, considering he had been working with highly-regarded putting coach Phil Kenyon since missing the cut in the 2016 PGA Championship. From “pathetic” at Baltusrol, McIlroy became maker of all, upon the Kenyon union, and winner of the BMW Championship, Tour Championship and FedExCup.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

As a professional courtesy, Faxon laid low, respecting McIlroy’s relationship with Kenyon, who also works with European stars Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson. Knowing how McIlroy didn’t like the way Dave Stockton took credit after helping him win multiple majors, Faxon let McIlroy do the talking. Asked about their encounter during his Saturday news conference at Bay Hill, McIlroy called it “more of a psychology lesson than anything else.”

“There was nothing I told him he had never heard before, nothing I told him that was a secret,” Faxon, who once went 327 consecutive holes on Tour without a three-putt, said on Monday. “I think (Rory) said it perfectly when he said it allowed him to be an athlete again. We try to break it down so well, it locks us up. If I was able to unlock what was stuck, he took it to the next level. The thing I learned, there can be no method of belief more important than the athlete’s true instinct.”

Without going into too much detail, McIlroy explained that Faxon made him a little more “instinctive and reactive.” In other words, less “mechanical and technical.” It was the same takeaway that Gary Woodland had after picking Faxon’s brain before his win in this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Sunday night, after leading the field in strokes gained-putting, McIlroy was more elaborative, explaining how Faxon “freed up my head more than my stroke,” confessing that he was complicating things a bit and was getting less athletic.

“You look at so many guys out there, so many different ways to get the ball in the hole,” he said. “The objective is to get the ball in the hole and that’s it. I think I lost sight of that a little bit.”

All of this occurred after a conversation I had Sunday morning with swing instructor Pete Cowen, who praised Kenyon for the work he had done with his player, Henrik Stenson. Cowen attributed Henrik’s third-round lead at Bay Hill to the diligent work he put in with Kenyon over the last two months.

“It’s confidence,” Cowen said. “(Stenson) needs a good result for confidence and then he’s off. If he putts well, he has a chance of winning every time he plays.”

Cowen made the point that on the PGA Tour, a player needs 100-110 putts per week – or an average of 25-27 putts per round – to have a chance of winning. Those include what Cowen calls the “momentum putts,” that are especially vital in breaking hearts at this week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Stenson, who is not playing this week in Austin, Texas, saw a lot of positives but admitted there wasn’t much he could do against McIlroy shooting 64 on Sunday in the final round on a tricky golf course.

“It's starting to come along in the right direction for sure,” Stenson said. “I hit a lot of good shots out there this week, even though maybe the confidence is not as high as some of the shots were, so we'll keep on working on that and it's a good time of the year to start playing well.”

Nobody knows that better than McIlroy, who is hoping to stay hot going for his third WGC and, eventually, the career Grand Slam at Augusta.

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Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same

By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 6:25 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.

According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.

The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.

The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.