QA Finding Extra Distance

By Frank ThomasJuly 7, 2006, 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 letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com
 
Dear Frank,
I have been playing golf now for approximately one year and my average score is right at 100. Like most golfers I am looking for a driver that is easy to hit and yet can carry the distance off the tee box. I average 220 ' 235 yards with my present driver. Please help me find a driver to improve my distance. Thanks, Alan Bullock

 
Alan,
You are now hitting the ball about 30 yards farther than golfers of average ability i.e. 27 handicap golfers. The average male golfer hits the ball 192 yards but believes he hits it 230 -240 yards. Obviously there are some golfers in this skill range which hit the ball a lot longer than the average as there are some who hit it shorter.
 
Unfortunately if you are using one of the larger titanium drivers produced in the last couple of years there is little you can do to gain much more distance other than optimize your launch conditions.
 
If you are getting about 230 yards but not launching the ball at the optimum conditions then there is some potential to gain distance.
 
If you review my article covering this subject I am sure you will be able to gain a few extra yards. The article is published in this months Newsletter at www.franklygolf.com. I hope this will help you and others with the same question. Unfortunately there is no magic bullet: it is now all a matter of basic physics.
 
Spring to ball from shaft
 
Dear Frank,
Does the shaft flex or the kick point of the shaft affect the amount of spring imparted on the ball? If so, how? Thanks! - Juan Gmez-Canseco

 

Juan,
The answer is no and let me explain why.
 
It only takes about .00045 of a second from the time the club first makes contact with the ball to the time the ball leaves the club face, the two bodies have traveled only of an inch.
 
During this time about 1500 lbs of force is being applied to the ball and it will accelerate from 0 to 160 mph.
 
During impact the shaft may as well not be connected to the head. It is the mass, velocity and MOI (Moment of Inertia) of the head which dictate what happens to the ball and how it is launched. The shaft plays no part in how the ball leaves the face of the club.
 
Most of the twisting or vibrations you first feel from the collision between the club head and the ball are long after impact has occurred and the ball has already left the face and is about 1 foot away from the club.
 
The only thing that is important just prior to contact with the ball is the club head velocity, direction and orientation and the golfer controls this through his only connection to the head i.e. the shaft. The shaft is very flexible and deflects very little during impact.
 
It is the face of the club head only, with a little help from the frame of the face, which imparts the spring-like effect to the ball. This phenomenon is most often exhibited when using a large titanium driver.
 

Progressive sets
 
Frank,
What are your thoughts on iron sets that gradually change from cavity-backed to blade as loft increases? I have been told that this is the new trend, does it really work. - Christian

 
Christian,
This is a very good new trend because in a traditional set of clubs the longer and less lofted irons are more difficult to hit well, than the shorter irons. The reason for this is that the MOI (Moment of Inertia) is lower on the less lofted and lighter iron heads. To learn more about MOI visit my website by clicking here
 
In the past 25 to 30 years club makers have discovered that increasing the MOI of clubs makes them more forgiving of miss hits and have designed this into clubs designed for the average golfer. The pros hit the ball on the sweet spot more often than the rest of us and therefore dont need this forgiveness as much. We have listed about 300 types of clubs on my website into five categories of forgiveness or playability. This is the Maltby Playability Factor listing.
 
The thing is that as traditional iron head designs become more lofted in the short irons they get heavier and a little bigger and become easier to hit and are more forgiving and playable.
 
It is quite possible that most of us can use the same wedge Tiger uses but very few of us can use his 3-iron. So designers have made the longer irons as playable as possible and have progressively morphed these to a traditional design head for the wedges.
 

What to look for in wedges
 
Frank ,
I am a 15 handicap golfer and a little confused about wedges and what to look for. I am told by one friend that I need a Gap wedge and other golfing buddy that I need a Lob wedge. Who is right? - Rob

 
Rob,
I am glad you asked the question as it is something a lot of golfers want to know. If you read my latest Newsletter (click to read) you will not only see what to look for in wedges but also see what how our Frankly Friends have rated the wedges on the market today.
 
Below is a summary of what to look for:
 
LOFT: This is a critical component of wedge selection. It dictates the distances you are capable of hitting the ball with that particular club. So make sure that all your wedge lofts work together so you have a club for the shots you will be presented with on the course.
BOUNCE: Can be your friend or foe! Make it your friend by understanding that if you generally play in soft conditions you require more bounce on your wedges compared to hard conditions. Your Sand Wedge -- or that wedge you will most often use out of the sand -- definitely needs bounce to assist you in getting out of the bunker and this should be about 14 degrees.
LENGTH AND BRAND: All your wedges should be around the same length (anywhere from 35-35 inches). They should also be the same brand and model if possible. This will assist you with a consistent feel and performance off the clubface.
GROOVES: Make sure that the grooves are not worn down on those wedges you will be using to approach the green and where you need good ball control. The grooves on the Sand Wedge if used only out of the sand are not as important to keep in good shape as the rest of your wedges, because in almost every case sand is the interface between the ball and the club from a bunker and the grooves play only a small part.
 
Hope you find this useful.
 

Frank 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@thegolfchannel.com
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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?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.