QA Driver Blues Divot Talk

By Frank ThomasMay 8, 2007, 4:00 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
Mr. Thomas,
I am a relative beginner to the game and a 15 handicapper. My natural shot is a slight draw, except with my driver, which is completely unpredictable. I hit everything from push slices to snap hooks with it, and I rarely hit a fairway. I have had it for about a year and have still not figured it out. Do you have any suggestions?

With a 15 handicap and a slight draw on your shots you are on your way to a lower handicap soon. It seems that only your driver is holding you back. There could be a number of problems I cant judge without seeing you, but I think what youre experiencing is the same thing many of us have gone through.
When it comes to pulling out the 'big stick' we are inclined to apply the big-stick mentality at the same time; GRIP IT AND RIP IT. This is most likely what is contributing to the erratic behavior of this club (bad shots are almost always blamed on the club, not the way we swing it). So first you should make sure youre swinging with the same power and tempo you use with the other clubs ' no less, but no more. If the driver continues to misbehave, then I would suggest that you try two things; check the shaft flex for your swing speed (it may be too flexible), and check the shaft length (it may be too long).
I have advocated the use of shorter drivers for some time. We have all been sucked into using longer drivers by manufacturers who know that we only remember the occasional long good shots -- distance is marketing magic ' and not the more frequent wild ones. For this reason, many of the standard drivers, 'The Big Sticks,' come with shafts that are as long as they can get away with. A longer shaft means more club head speed, but it also means less control. Think about it: You probably have all the control you need when you hit your 3-wood, because this club is a manageable length, not because it has attended a good behavior school.
Scott, try a stiffer shaft, and while youre at it shorten up on it about an inch or so. You may have to add a little lead tape to the club head, but try it first and then adjust for the weight. If you want to find out approximately what to expect, choke down on your current driver the next time you hit balls on the range and see if this fixes your 'big stick' problem.
Everyone talks about how one needs a high bounce angle in soft conditions and a low bounce angle in firm conditions, but no one defines high bounce and low bounce. Consequently, my questions are, What is the range of bounce angles that would be appropriate for...
...a sand bunker?
...the fairway?
...a lie where the grass is an inch higher than the ball?
Also, is there a way of estimating by about how much the bounce angle is increased if the club face is opened a moderate amount?

Thank you for this question. It seems that we become so engrossed in talking about these things that we forget to define our terms so that everybodys operating from the same base of knowledge.
The bounce angle is the angle the sole makes with the horizontal when the club is in the normal address position and the shaft is in the vertical plane. This bounce on the club sole acts like a wedge (not the golf club) between the club and the ground, preventing it from digging in after the club first makes contact with the ground.
The bounce is generally only pronounced on the shorter irons. It will be about 1 degree for the three-iron, gradually increasing to 7 or 8 degrees on the PW. Some larger soled clubs that are designed to be especially forgiving of potential fat shots from the fairways -- so-called Ultra Game Improvement clubs -- have a radius on the sole that does almost the same thing as bounce.
I would recommend for most golfers that they have 14 degrees of bounce on the Sand Wedge, and about 8 degrees on the PW and Gap Wedge if you are going to be playing average firmness fairways, but no more than 6 to 8 degrees of bounce on the lob wedges. Too much bounce on the lob will cause problems off hard fairways or short firm grass around the green. For this shot you dont need bounce, which will literally make the club bounce off the ground and belly the ball over the green or into the cart girls soda collection on the next tee.
From 1 inch rough you should use the club you feel most comfortable with to cover the distance you want to hit the ball, taking into account that the grass will decelerate the club reducing the distance. Because the ball will generally be sitting on a cushion of grass instead of directly on the harder ground, bounce is not much of a factor either way.
When you open the clubface of a wedge, you increase the bounce effect by the same amount as the increase of the loft of the face. This is another reason its not a good idea to have much bounce on the Lob wedge, which is often used in an open position creating more loft(and even more bounce) than the degrees stamped on the sole.
Hope this helps and you are now ready to bounce into action with your wedges.
After another terribly frustrating round, my buddy lamented (among other things) the fact that he does not take a proper divot. After explaining the basics about hitting down on the ball, I also added that we both play with wide-sole super game improvement irons that are designed to resist digging. For this reason, I myself have been pondering switching to irons designed for mid-handicappers. Is my reasoning correct, or was I just trying to console a dejected partner?

I dont think the type of the divot is as important as how the ball leaves the club face. Launching the ball well is all that counts. Taking a divot is more dangerous than not, because the chances of hitting the ground before you make contact with the ball is a real potential problem if you are taking any sort of significant divot.
Dont worry about the divot as many good golfers do not take much of a divot with the long irons. The irons you have should fit your needs so dont change unless you feel you are being held back-- not because of the quality of the divot.
Hope this helps,
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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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.