QA Graphite Shafts Ball Quality

By Frank ThomasJanuary 24, 2007, 5:00 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
Ive heard that some players on tour use graphite shafts in their irons. Do they also use them in their wedges for a uniform feel, or do they use steel in the wedges? If they do use graphite, with people going to four wedges, do they use them in all four wedges or leave steel in their sand and lob wedges?
Thanks in advance,

Dear PS:
There are a few pros on Tour using graphite in their irons, and I think this will gradually increase in number as the graphite shafts come to feel more like steel at their high swing speeds. For those of us with slower swing speeds than the pros, many companies offer graphite in their irons and wedges. If youre going to have graphite in your irons, then theres no reason not to have them in your wedges as well. Even though the wedges -- especially the sand wedge -- may be considered utility clubs, you want them to feel the same as the rest of your set unless you do something very different in your swing with this wedge. If you ever use your sand wedge for an approach shot from the fairway or rough, you dont want that swing to feel different from your other irons, do you? Theres enough to be concerned about in golf without adding that kind of complication. As long as you have the option, put similar shafts into your wedges as you do in the rest of your iron set. To find out more about wedges, click here
Hi, Frank ' I enjoy your column and never miss it!
I play to a seven handicap and Ive dabbled in golf clubmaking for fun and enjoyment. Ive assembled many clubs, from wedges to drivers, and understand the basics about shaft flex, torque, and flex point.
I have had my swing speed measured numerous times with numerous different devices, and I consistently register between 103 and 107 mph with a normal driver swing. As a result, for as long as I can remember, I assembled all of my clubs to stiff shaft specifications.
Recently, I went to my local golf store and tested the Nike SQ driver. I took two 10.5-degree drivers to my local driving range -- one with a regular shaft and one with a stiff shaft. Both were the stock Diamana shaft. At the driving range, I disguised the two clubs and tried to test them to see which one I hit better, without knowing which club was which. To my surprise, while both clubs launched the ball higher than Im used to, the regular-shafted club felt a little better and I tended to hit it straighter. In addition, judging from what I could see, the three longest drives also came from the club with the R flex.
Now to my question: Have I been playing the wrong shaft flex all these years? Is it possible the specifications that shaft manufacturers publish do not apply to my swing? I am considering spending $50 to go to a shaft lab at my local golf shop to get fitted ' is that money well spent?

I think you have already done the lab thing for yourself, so you dont need to spend the $50.
If youre getting better distance with more control -- and most of all, it feels better than the stiff flex shaft -- then the R-flex is for you. At your skill level you are the real judge, so dont worry about what the guidelines are.
You are right, however, about flex standards: There arent any. There are general flex guidelines as defined by each manufacturer, and these are fairly close but are not necessarily the same. So one companys Stiff may be anothers Regular.
Shafts with lower flex points will feel different to those with higher flex points, even though theyre considered the same flex and they bend the same amount when measured at the end where the weight is positioned. This is an element of advanced club-fitting, but most of us should first try the standard shafts offered, changing only the shaft flex. As a guideline (and only that), the faster you load the shaft the stiffer it should be. An established manufacturer would not install the standard shaft if it wasnt going to make the club perform well for most of us as long as we are using the correct general flex.
A more detailed fitting process can be good, but will only confirm what you feel. Dont chase distance if it means forgoing comfort and feel. If the club feels good you will develop confidence and in most cases make a better swing. This will lead to better performance and then all will be well ' at least until you start listening to those little voices that try to tell you what to avoid doing while addressing the ball or on our backswing. Go with what you feel, not what someone tells you what you feel.
Hi Frank,
I received a gadget for Xmas that's supposed to find the sweet spot on the ball. It spins the ball around at high speed, and you mark the equator. Hitting or putting the ball along the equator is supposed to make it go straighter. It also claims Ill get more distance on tee shots. Do you have any thoughts about this product and/or any research?

Many years ago, when the manufacturers quality control for balls was not as good as it is today, it was a good idea to sort the balls by floating them in a cup of salt water (add enough salt to be sure the ball floats enough to have a little of it above the water level), marking the spot that was exposed above the water. This would be the point underneath the heavy side of the ball, which goes to the bottom as the ball floats. Youd then give the ball a spin and let it settle again; if you found the same spot rising above the surface quickly every time, you knew the ball was of balance. To compensate for this, you were supposed to make sure that when you putted the ball, this spot was pointing vertically upward. Otherwise, the ball would veer off line because of the inconsistencies in the ball's balance. You could actually see this slight swerve if you positioned the marked point to the side of the ball and then putted on a billiard table, which was sometimes used to demonstrate this phenomenon.
Today, however, the major well-known balls you buy from any pro shop are of much better quality, and you wont see any swerving no matter how you position the ball, so you don't have to worry about this any more.
If, however, you want to be perfectly sure that its you who is making the mistakes on the green and not the manufacturers of an unbalanced ball, no matter how slight the imperfection, then do your thing and putt it as instructed.
But before you do this kind of marking, consider the psychological effect it will have on you if you look down at the ball in the fairway and find that the spot is not sitting on top. Are you going to try to factor this supposed weight difference into your aim and swing, while also calculating distance, wind, and lie? You might have to close your eyes and hit it, or maybe violate a rule or two. The extent to which this will bother you is much larger than the margin of imperfection youre going to find in todays golf balls.
Frankly speaking, I wouldnt lose too much sleep over this potential problem unless youre buying some really inexpensive balls on special from the grocery store.
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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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.