QA Distance Weight and Speed

By Frank ThomasJanuary 30, 2007, 5:00 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 letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
 
Hi, Frank:
I need help! My swing speed is around 125 mph with the driver (460 Adams xstiff), yet I have never hit a drive over 310 yards. Most of the time when I hit it good off the tee Im around 285 (bone-straight 12-degree launch). How is this possible? I play about 150 rounds a year, so I know Im not missing the sweet spot every single time. I read somewhere that you should get 3 yards for every mph your club head is traveling. If this is true, what is stopping my drive from traveling 350?
 
Thanks for any info, Frank. Hope all is well.
Billy
Michigan

 
Billy,
First of all there are a lot of us (millions, including a few pros on tour) who would love to be in your shoes with most of your drives going 285 yards bone-straight!
 
With 125 mph head speed and impacting the sweet spot every time, you should be able to drive the ball about 330 yards now and again under ideal launch conditions. These are 12 degrees launch angle and about 2,200 rpm spin rate and a fairway in average conditions (i.e. 25 yard roll). If you are not at these launch conditions, then try to get there by hitting the ball a little higher on the face. This will reduce the ball speed a little but bring you closer to the optimum angle and spin. The other thing to try is a different ball. For more on optimum launch conditions please Click here
 
If I were you, I would settle for the drives you have and concentrate on the rest of your game, as there is nothing wrong with what youre getting from your driver, especially since youre hitting it both long and straight. Then the next step is to apply for your PGA TOUR card if you dont already have it.
Frank
 
Hello Frank,
Last year I finally got fitted and learned that I needed to be +1/2' long (or 36' for a 6 iron). I decided to use Project X 5.5 rather than DG S300s due to the weight advantage of the PX. The swingweight of the new clubs with the PX shaft are D-6, which makes sense due to the 1/2' increase in length.
 
My question is, if I add 4-8 grams of lead tape weight to the grip end, thus reducing the swingweight by 1-2 points, will this allow me to swing the club with more control, faster, and be able square the club head better at impact?
Sincerely,
The Mat Slicer!!!

 
Mat,
By changing out these shafts -- going from the Dynamic Gold S 300 (a good shaft, by the way) to a Pro X 5.5 and making it 1/2 inch longer -- you have not only added weight to the shaft but increased the length. These two changes will increase the swingweight by 3 points for the increase in length and about 1 swingweight point for the slightly heavier shaft. This, as you have discovered, takes you from your former D2 to a D6.
 
If you are hung up on swing weight and want a D2 because it feels better to you, then shorten the shaft back to its original length and accept a D3 or decrease the head weight (not easy).
 
DON'T add weight to the butt end of the club to achieve a certain swingweight. This is done sometimes in club fitting to make the customer happy, but it does absolutely nothing for you.
 
Consider the following: putting on a heavier grip or adding weight under the grip reduces the swingweight. Wearing a glove might do the same thing. The glove might just as well be part of the grip (especially for those of us who have a death grip on the club), so this too will reduce the swing weight by as much as six points. A wristwatch will also be part of the club/hands/glove system and this would, if taken into account in measuring swingweight, affect the numbers. Wearing a watch adds weight to the grip section or axis of rotation. (The grip is not truly the axis for the entire swing, but certainly is for the final segment of the swing.)
 
We both know that the club feels almost exactly the same irrespective of whether we wear a glove or a watch. It might slip on occasion without the glove, but that's the only difference. The flaw is in putting too much stock in the measurement of swingweight.
 
Swingweight is a static balance, and its a useful measure of the balance of a club only when its used in combination with overall weight and natural frequency. The more weight in the head of the club and the distance this weight is from the grip, the heavier it will feel and the harder it will be to swing no matter how much weight you add to the grip.
 
Try holding a club at the head end, and swing the grip of the club. Then compare this to holding at the grip end and swinging the head. This is the feel that swing weight was designed to control. Just adding weight to that portion you are holding is not going to affect anything very much, and certainly not when it comes to the weight we are talking about (bearing in mind that a glove will affect the scale number by six points or so).
 
The head weight and the distance it is from the grip are most important for balancing purposes. So bottom line is, don't get hung up on swingweight too much. If the newly shafted club feels OK, then youre in good shape; if it feels too heavy, go back to the original length or get a lighter head. Most important is to keep swinging.
 
Frank
 
Hi,
 
I am 61 and have a slow swing speed, but I think I swing better with heavier clubs. I am stronger than young people and women who hit the ball farther than I do. More swing weight gives me more feedback and 'feel, but the general advice is that I should get lighter clubs. Why? I dont think I could swing faster with a club that has no weight at all. So my idea is to get longer shafts (I am 6'3' and measure 38' from my wrists to the floor) to get more distance. I think I am strong enough to handle more swingweight without losing speed. Longer shafts will produce higher club head speed, given the same 'rotation speed,' right? What do you think?
 
I mean, nobody ever examines the cause of the slow swing speed. The solution must be different if the muscles are weak or the body is slow or the technique is poor. This is a question I have thought about for several years.
I am relatively new to golf and my handicap is still improving, slowly.
Any comments, please?
Best Regards,
Nils

 
Nils,
It is true that a heavier club head at the same speed will generate more ball speed, but you would be better off increasing your club head speed with the same head weight, which is more effective. The head will have more kinetic energy, which is what you are looking for.
 
Increasing head speed can be done by increasing the club length, but this probably hurt your accuracy. Or you can decrease club weight. This too will increase head speed and in turn ball speed, but not the way I suggest.
There are two more things you can try that will increase head speed and distance. First is to increase your range of motion through a strength/flexibility (stretching) regimen. You may be strong, but you may not be transmitting that strength efficiently to the club head. Check with your doctor before you do this, but it is a good way to improve your general quality of life as well as your distance on the course.
 
The last thing to do along with the improved range of motion is to take a lesson. This will cost a lot less than a new set of clubs and will do a lot more for you.
 
Hang in there, but be warned that you have taken up a very addictive sport so beware that you might very well get hooked.
 
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 letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
Rory McIlroy at the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Getty Images

McIlroy making big statement in first start of 2018

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 3:40 pm

Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.

So much for easing into the new year.

So much for working off rust and treating these first few months of 2018 as a warmup for the Masters and his bid to complete the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy, 28, is poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

With back-to-back birdies to close his round, McIlroy put up a 7-under-par 65, leaving him just one shot off the lead going into the final round.

“It’s good,” McIlroy said. “I probably scored a bit better today, short game was needed as well, but I hit the ball very well, so all in all it was another great round and confidence builder, not just for this week but obviously for the rest of the season as well.”

McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday.

If he claims the title in his first start of the year, he sends a message about leaving all the woes of 2017 behind him. He sends a message about his fitness after a nagging rib injury plagued him all of last year. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game’s best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.

After his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro, McIlroy is eager to show himself, as well as everyone else, that he is ready to challenge for major championships and the world No. 1 title again.

“It feels like awhile since I’ve won,” McIlroy said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


A victory would be all the more meaningful because the week started with McIlroy paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning European Tour Player of the Year Tommy Fleetwood.

McIlroy acknowledged the meaning of that going into Saturday’s round.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy,” he said. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and one of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

It’s worth repeating what 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman said last month about pairings and the alpha-dog nature of the world’s best players. He was talking about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge, when Immelman said pairings matter, even in off season events.

“When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Immelman said. “They want to show this guy, `This is what I got.’”

A victory with Johnson in the field just two weeks after Johnson won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in an eight-shot rout will get the attention of all the elite players.

A victory also sets this up as a January for the ages, making it the kind of big-bang start the game has struggled to create in the shadow of the NFL playoffs.

Johnson put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Hawaii and the confident young Spaniard Jon Rahm is just a shot off the lead this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is just two off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open. Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines next week.

To be sure, McIlroy has a lot of work to do Sunday.

Yet another rising young talent, Thomas Pieters, shares the lead with Ross Fisher. Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.

McIlroy has such a good history at Abu Dhabi. Over the last seven years, he has finished second four times and third twice. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year.

“I have never won my first start back out,” McIlroy said.

A strong start, whether he wins or not, sets McIlroy up well for the ambitious schedule he plans for 2018. He’s also scheduled to play the Dubai Desert Classic next with the possibility he’ll play 30 times this year, two more events than he’s ever played in a year.

“I’m just really getting my golf head back on,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”

A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.

Getty Images

Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.

Getty Images

McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

Getty Images

Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''