QA Forgiving Hybrids

By Frank ThomasJune 20, 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
I started playing with stymies and no cleaning the ball on the green.
With cart trails and watering systems there have been a lot of changes in the rules, but I've never understood this: Why isnt a divot mark considered ground under repair?

Don Pooley
Don Pooley asks about trends in lengthening golf courses in 'Ask Frank,' Monday, June 25 at 11:00 p.m. ET on GC. (WireImage)
This is a question I discussed a few weeks ago and received lots of mail from some very passionate golfers! It is not an equipment question, but I am a golfer and in addition to writing many rules that relate to equipment Ive been peripherally involved in other rules-making issues. Based on this, I can assure you that the divot issue has been considered many times. I think the biggest question that needs to be answered is the same as the one the committees worry about when they consider allowing golfers to tamp down spike marks: How do you enforce it properly?
It is very hard to determine if a 'spike mark' is a spike mark. Before you know it, every blemish becomes a spike mark and golfers start tamping a path to the hole. This will not only alter the conditions you are faced with, but also take a lot of time ' and the last thing we need these days is to add time to a round of golf. When is a divot mark no longer a divot mark? At what stage in the healing process can we claim it is still a divot mark? Would it not be easier and fairer all round for everybody, if we allowed a golfer to roll the ball over anywhere on the fairway for every shot?
You can see where this would end up. I don't think it is fair to find your ball in a divot mark on the fairway or in a footprint in a bunker, but these are the breaks. The alternative in trying to make this fairer is too much of a change in the game. We play the course as we find it, and the game is not always fair.
I have decided to give you the opportunity to speak out. Click here to have your say and tell me whether you think that golfers should be given relief from a divot scar. Results will be published next week.
Love your column and insight on the equipment Q's. Refreshing to hear an expert tell people the truth as oppose to what they want to hear!! My question is this: Why are clubs shafted with graphite longer than steel ones? I guess its because they are lighter, but wouldn't the benefit of added club head speed be offset by drop in accuracy for the average golfer?

There are a couple of reasons why a graphite-shafted club is longer than a steel-shafted club.
First, because the graphite shafts are lighter than steel shafts, the swing weight of the graphite-shafted club, all else being equal, will be several points lighter than the steel-shafted version. By taking the graphite-shafted club longer, the manufacturer doesnt have to change the head weight when shafting with graphite to maintain the same swing weight.
Swing weight seems to be sacrosanct, and manufacturers like to maintain swing weight for men at about D2. If the length is increased by about 1/2 an inch, this solves the swing weight problem ' though, as you note, it can create other problems for the golfer that are more important than maintaining swing weight.
Another but secondary reason to increase the length is that it will increase the head speed slightly, which will increase distance by about 5 yards or more. Anytime you can increase distance, it is good news for sales.
Yes, you will also decrease accuracy a little whenever you increase length, but most golfers prefer a few extra yards and will give up a little accuracy for the extra distance.
We are all the same, aren't we?
How much more perimeter weighting/forgiveness can be designed into hybrid clubs than super-game-improvement irons? I understand how the lower center-of-gravity of hybrids enable them to launch a ball much higher than even a very forgiving long iron, but as ball trajectory and forgiveness are two different issues, how much more forgiving can a hybrid ultimately be?
Thank you,

Your question is about the forgiving difference between super game improvement irons and hybrids.
Forgiveness is a term used to describe the resistance to twisting of the club head at impact when you miss the sweet spot. Twisting decreases the efficiency of the impact in terms of both direction and ball speed.
To increase the 'forgiveness' and decrease the amount of twisting, manufacturers have created clubs with a higher MOI (moment of Inertia) by distributing the weight as far away from the center of gravity (c.g.) as possible. (See What is MOI?). This MOI is measured around an axis through the c.g. from the top of the club to the sole in most cases for irons.
Cavity back irons have the weight distributed toward the toe and heel, which provides toe and heel forgiveness. The sole weighting will lower the c.g., which is good, but the forgiveness up and down is not as good as it could be. To improve the up and down forgiveness, weight should be positioned both up and down away from the c.g. on the club head, increasing the MOI around a second axis through the toe and heel. Irons have a limited amount of room in which to distribute weight up and down, if at the same time you want a low c.g.
Another useful way to increase the MOI in the up and down direction is to move the c.g. backward, away from the face. To do this you need to increase the weight toward the back of the club head, as it is in wood clubs and mallet putters. Having weight in both the forward (face toe /heel) and back positions will do two things: it will allow you to lower the c.g. as in the case of the mallet putters or hybrids, and it will increase the forgiveness up and down on the face.
Drivers have a very high MOI (forgiveness) in the toe and heel direction as well as up and down because the c.g. is far back and the weight is distributed in the shell of a hollow spherical clubhead. To get the maximum spring-like effect, however, the face should be large with the c.g. close to the center.
Because fairway woods and hybrids are hit off the fairway in most cases and not off a tee, the c.g. has to be low and directly behind where the impact point is going to be on the club face, with the weight distributed as far as possible from the c.g. To do this most effectively, the shape should be more like a low profile fairway wood than a big faced spherical driver.
Because the c.g. is farther behind the face in a hybrid than in even the super game improvement irons and the weight is better distributed around the outside, it will be more forgiving in all directions than an iron club can be.
Sorry for such a drawn out answer, but I felt it necessary for you to understand the reason why, so I gave you a super-game improvement answer.
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.