QA Does Plumb-Bobbing Work

By Frank ThomasAugust 15, 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
Does plumbing a putt really work? Some pros do this and some of my playing partners claim it works. I tell them that if they think it works, it works, but they are wasting their time. What is the truth?

I am glad you asked this question, as I have had the same conversation many times.
The answer is that plumb-bobbing a putt only works if you meet the following conditions:
1) First, the ground you are standing on and the entire surface between you, the ball, and the hole are on exactly the same slope (incline).
2) Second, that you plumb bob correctly.
The correct method of Plumb-bobbing is to make sure that the extended line from the hole to the ball is directly below the eye you are sighting with when standing with your legs apart as if to form an isosceles triangle from your two feet to your sighting eye. The putter is then supported at the butt end and allowed to swing freely, then viewed from the position where it is seen to be in a vertical plane. The hand supporting the putter is then moved so the ball is hidden by the lower end of the shaft. The hole will appear to be left or right of the upper portion of the shaft depending on the slope of the green. If right, then the ball will break to the right. The amount of break is indicated by how far away the hole appears to be from the shaft.
This method is not used very often even by the best golfers in the world. They do, however, see something that might help by holding the shaft up in a vertical plane. In some cases its simply the establishment of a vertical line that provides a reference to judge slopes and undulations on the green rather than just the hole-ball relationship. In other cases it may only be a pre-shot routine to calm them down. I recall seeing a golfer who won many majors holding both ends of the putter, presumably to provide a straight line between the ball and the hole and identify tufts of grass or blemishes on that line at which to aim.
Fred, you are right that if your buddies think it helps it probably will, but dont ask them what theyre looking at, as youll probably get a different answer each time.
Hope this give you a different perspective on this subject.
When the women had their (British) Open at St. Andrews, the 17th Hole was changed from a Par 4 to a Par 5. Was this done for this tournament only, or will it apply when the men's (British) Open is played there?
In tennis, women have to win 2 sets in order to win a Singles Championship, while men need to win a third set to get that title. If similar changes are made in golf, do you feel it is fair when a woman wants to play in a men's tournament, such as the Masters?

You ask a very good question and one which could be very provocative, so let me tread lightly.
The 17th on the Old Course at St. Andrews has always been a par 5 for women.
One piece of information that not every golfer is aware of is that if a man and a women play from the same set of tees and shoot the same score every day, they will not have the same handicap. The man will have a handicap approximately 5 strokes higher than the woman.
This is because the course rating is different for men and women not because different tees are being rated. This does cause a problem when one is trying to compare skill levels between men and women based on handicap. It is a statement of fact that the average woman does not hit the ball as far as the average man, so the course rating system tries to take this into account by assigning different values by gender for the same tees. (Remember that your handicap is based on the difference between your score and the course rating, not the courses par.)
The most important thing about golf is that we enjoy our game and to do this we need to choose an appropriate challenge. In many cases, this means selecting the correct set of tees to play, which will not only allow us to attack the hole with some confidence but to return a respectable score, rather than fearing every hazard as a near-insurmountable problem. I believe you should play from a set of tees where par is a reasonably attainable score on every hole.
People played golf for hundreds of years before anyone thought to assign a par to a hole. Some of the best and most famous holes in tournament play are really half-par holes that can lead to dramatic swings with birdies and eagles as well as pars and bogeys. Think about the two par-5s on the back nine of Augusta National, or drivable par-4s like the 10th at Riviera or the 17th at Oakmont; their real par value for the pros is about a half-stroke less. At the Road Hole, 4 is a good score, whether you call it a par or a birdie.
Keeping track of scores above and below par is just a way of judging whos ahead in a tournament when the players havent played the same number of holes. At the end, all that matters is who has the lowest total. Lorena Ochoa shot a wonderful 287 for four days on the Old Course. It doesnt really matter if we call it 5 under par (with the 17th as a par-5) or 1 under, does it? The only important thing is that it was four strokes better than anybody else.
In the case of the 17th hole on the Old Course at St. Andrews, this is one of the most challenging and famous holes in golf. Changing the tee location would absolutely ruin the hole, so they decided to call it a par-5 ' which is how it played at some mens Opens, too, as late as 1960.
Referring to the last part of your question, I think that if a woman has the appropriate skills to compete and potentially win, she should not be discriminated against because of her sex. She should have an opportunity to play in any golf event she chooses once she fulfills the skill requirements. First, however, and most important to the woman herself who seeks this opportunity, she should be properly qualified and avoid being exploited.
I hope I have scored Par with this answer.
Is there a weight restriction on drivers?

Thanks for the question. It is probably the shortest question I have had for a long time.
The short answer is NO. There is no restriction on the weight of a driver or any other club in the bag -- YET.
I say yet only because the USGA has not yet considered it something to control in an effort to show that they are doing something. There seems to be a movement to limit all sorts of dimensions and properties because they can, rather than providing any evidence that these limitations will be good for the game.
I have repeatedly asked for a definitive explanation of the problem the USGA is trying to solve by introducing new limits on equipment, and more importantly for some evidence that the game will be better off after they adopt these new restrictions.
Here are some of the things theyve restricted lately: height of a tee; size of the club head; MOI (Moment of Inertia) of the head of a driver; length of a driver (but not a putter). Theyre also considering a regulation on changing the size of the groove in the club face. All these proposals have their roots in an attempt to control the performance of Tiger Woods and his colleagues. Theyve been undertaken without any evidence that the hardship and undue effect each would have on the average golfer is justified. Specifying a limit on the weight of a driver would be equally pointless and equally unjustified.
We need to support the USGA and hope that it will review some of these rulings and provide some evidence that they will make our game better.
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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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.