QA Golf Ball Overload

By Frank ThomasJune 20, 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
Hey Frank,
There are several golf balls out in the market that promise to be longer, straighter, and softer. As a new student of the game, how should I know which ball suites me? Do softer balls translate to more feel but less distance? Or do balls with more dimples and more material produce more distance and spin? Please help me with this dilemma so I know which ball to choose. Thank you so much for your knowledge and very generous time. -- Mark Bravante, Woodbridge, Va.

As a new student of the game I can only presume that you do not have a handicap in the single digits. For this reason and the fact that most courses are very intimidating you are probably going to lose quite a few balls during the process of becoming reasonably proficient. While at the same time you don't want to use a ball that will not perform well when you do.
There is nothing worse than hitting your Sunday best and not being fully rewarded for this because you compromised with your ball selection. The premium balls are very expensive, with built in performance properties which are slightly different from those designed for slower swing speeds.
In most cases only the very elite players are able to take advantages of these differences. This is not to say that you should not use a premium ball but rather that you, like the vast majority of us may not be able to take full advantage of what they have to offer.
If you link to you will find the results of a survey we conducted recently to find out what are Frankly The Best' balls. More than 3,600 of our friends told us, based on their usage, how they rated the balls.
The choice of our Frankly Friends with a 20+ handicap would suggest that you look at using a Titleist NXT Tour, a Maxfli Noodle, or a Titleist DT Solo, all of which are very good balls. Other manufacturers also have balls designed for slower swing speeds, with a soft and very resilient core which also perform very well.
In fact you can, without concern use these balls until you get into the single digit handicap range. They are designed for average swing speeds and will perform better than the premium balls for most of us.
Having said this I can tell you that most balls today perform better than most of us are capable of trying to make them perform, and they are certainly not going to detrimentally affect our game.
I cannot reconcile the advice I hear about obtaining maximum distance by high trajectory and low spin. If I use a high lofted driver to get a high trajectory that would put more spin on the ball, wouldn't it? Whereas a low lofted driver puts less spin on the ball but is difficult to get a high trajectory with.
I read that one must put spin on the ball to keep it airborne, and I can see that, but I have a 14* driver that gets the ball up high, but it gets little or no roll to it. It seems to me I can't get both, high trajectory and low spin. What do you suggest? A launch monitor? It seems to me a low lofted driver, with ball teed high and hit on the upswing would accomplish both factors. I see from what pros use that a recent LPGA winner, a rather small woman, uses a 7 1/2* driver while Bjorn, a big man, used a 10 1/2* driver to win the Irish Open. It is all very confusing. -- Neal

I agree it is confusing and you are right, in that more loft increases the launch angle but also increases the spin rate.
Let's assume that you have a swing speed of 85 mph you will need to launch the ball at about 14 degrees and have a spin rate of about 3,000 rpm to get maximum distance on an average fairway. This means that the ball should roll about 16 to 20 yards. If you are getting less roll than this on an average hardness and flat fairway then either the launch angle is too high and/or the spin rate is too high.
The roll is dependent on the angle and speed at which the ball lands on the fairway. To get the launch higher and spin rate down you can use an eleven degree lofted driver with a low spin ball and hit it on the up stroke (which most of us do with a driver) and on the upper half of the face. This will allow you to take advantage of the vertical gear effect which decreases the spin from the top side of the face and increases it from impact on the lower portion of the face. Hitting it a little above center will also launch the ball higher. I do believe that in your case the 14 degree driver is too much loft. These are things to try when finding the best compromise between launch angle and spin rate.
I read every article and have gone on your website which I find very informative. My question is what is the best way to back weight the grip on a driver? I can't get any answers on this and I have done it and it seems to make my drives longer. What are the benefits? -- PB

Thanks for you kind comments. Our mission is to 'Help Golfers' whenever possible.
I must first tell you that I am not an advocate of back weighting clubs as this doesn't effectively change the dynamics of the club. It is as effective as wearing a wrist watch when you normally don't. This weight, even though it is on your wrist is equivalent to being part of the club. If a glove is attached to the grip (which is practically the same as wearing it) it will reduce the swing weight by 5 to 6 points. Based on our experience we know that this has little effect on the clubs performance. If however you insist on back weighting then there are grips with built in weights under the butt-cap. You can also remove the grip, insert a weighted plug into the butt end of the shaft and re-grip it.
PB after 400 years of trying to adjust clubs to perform as well as they can for us we have not found that back weighting is an improvement. This is something golfers try every now and again and the change seems to coincide with a performance improvement from which they gain some comfort. While with the USGA as technical director I had someone come in with an innovative idea (he thought) of removing weight from under the grip by drilling holes in the shaft and swore that this had improved the distance of some lady pros by 20 yards. It was not two days later that another visitor submitting a product for approval told me his invention was to put weight under the grip and this had a significant effect on distance improvements. Whatever works for you.
I WAS a 12 handicap and the fitness craze hit the golf scene. While my numbers on the scale decreased my numbers on the golf course have sky rocketed. At the same time that I was loosing weight I made an equipment change, this did not help either. I am totally lost to what to do. Is it the equipment change or the weight loss that has affected my game, please help? -- Aaron from St. Louis, Mo.

I am very much in favor of becoming stronger and more flexible. Studies have shown that an increase of 5 mph in swing speed can be the results of only three months of strength and stretching exercises. Most of us don't have the range of motion we need and require this form of exercise. I do not believe that this is the problem. Many pros are involved in fitness programs which have improved their stamina and performance. There are a few exercises specifically designed for golfers but as long as you are not involved in a major body building program, an all round exercise and stretching program should only enhance your golfing performance.
I don't know what you changed from or what you changed to with regard to your equipment so cannot be sure that this is the problem. I suggest that you visit a good teaching pro to see what he/she can see you are doing. This may be a very good investment rather that trying to fix what your problem seems to be by changing your equipment - 95% of the time it is you and not the equipment.
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

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.