QA How Long is Too Long

By Frank ThomasFebruary 13, 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
Hi Frank:
Would you mind addressing the 48' golf shaft compared to the 43-44' shaft? I currently use a 50' shaft, and I think that the new maximum length is 48'. I read an article in one of the golf magazines that indicated that the 48' shafts actually hit the ball farther and had better dispersion. I know that I'm 20-30 yards longer with my shaft than any standard-length shafts that Ive tried on the driving range.

I don't know how far you hit your drives now, but Im sure that when you really time your 50-inch shafted driver correctly, hit the sweet spot, and have the face pointing in the right direction, you get that 20 yards youre talking about. My guess, however, is that this is probably not a very common occurrence. If there wasnt such a sizable tradeoff between distance and accuracy in the longer shafts, then every driver sold today would be 48' (which is the maximum length allowed under the current Rules of Golf).
I believe that a 44 inch shaft is close to optimum for distance and accuracy. Tiger Woods used a 43 -inch driver for a long time, and the average on the PGA TOUR is a little over 44 inches long. Some golfers who have very slow swings and excellent timing may benefit from using a longer shaft, but most of us have to choose between bragging rights from the occasional long drive and having to buy the beer after each round.
Greater consistency with a shorter driver will build more confidence and in turn lead to a better swing and generally longer and straighter drives.
Too long is not good for drivers.
Hello Frank:
I have been using hybrid clubs for quite some time. I currently have a 19,- 21-, & 24 degree hybrid, and just purchased a 28 degree Hibore from GolfSmith. The catalogue advertised the club as a 28 degree 6I. When I received the club it was marked as a 28 degree 5I instead.
Apparently I am not the only one confused with this situation. In doing research to purchase the right club, I noticed a great deal of difference in how the companies are correlating the hybrids loft to the equivalent iron it is replacing. I was looking for a club to hit in the 160-to-170 range. This 28 degree hits the mark, even though it is, according to Cleveland, a 5 iron replacement.
What makes for these differences in how companies manufacture and market these clubs? All this drives home the idea that it does not matter what distance anyone else hits their 5 iron; its how far I hit it that counts. Same for each club in my bag, except the putter.
Best regards,

The hybrids are still finding their rightful place in the set. Manufacturers are a little reluctant to replace the irons with hybrids for the standard set, either because they dont know how this will be received or because they want to sell you more clubs by making you buy the regular set and then add the hybrids. Generally the hybrid numbered club has a loft similar to the same numbered iron it is intended to replace. The problem with lofts is that these could vary as much as five degrees --from 23 degrees to 28 -- for different models of 5-irons even from the same manufacturer.
The numbers on the hybrids are just a guideline. I would consider a 19 degree hybrid as a replacement for my 3-iron, with a 24 degree club replacing my 4-iron. If this holds up, then your club with 28 degrees of loft would be a 5 hybrid, even though the average cavity back 5-iron is about 25 degree in loft.
Really, though, what youve discovered is exactly correct: it doesnt matter what the number is on the club, whats important is that you know what that number means for you as far as distance is concerned. The numbering system and the lofts associated with it made up an unwritten rule or code for years, but that changed in the early 70s, when manufacturers started strengthening the clubs to make golfers think they were hitting the ball farther with the same numbered club. Today the numbers are just a personal convenience. Everybody should get out and test how far they hit each club before playing any serious game with a new set.
As far hybrids are concerned, choose the ones that will fill the gap between your woods and the longest iron you hit comfortably and consistently. For more on hybrids please click here.
Mr. Thomas,
Are the Callaway Fusion irons more forgiving than the Callaway X-18 irons? I am a 5 handicapper and have used the X-14's for 5 years with a regular Rifle shaft. I have been pleased with the X-14's, but, like all golfers, I am always wondering if there is something better. Should I switch to the Fusions? If yes, what shaft should I get?

If you are pleased with the X-14s, dont change. Iron technology is not changing very much; its the fashion side thats alive and well. The laws of physics dont change as rapidly as the marketing people would like. The technology of metal woods has made significant advances in the last 10 years, but this too is slowing down. Fashion is starting to take the leading role there as well.
We are close to peaking in terms of performance improvement from equipment; significant advances in equipment performance are fewer and farther between. We all believe in magic, which is fun, but when it comes to a real improvement in performance youll be better off in doing some stretching exercises and spending some of those dollars on a lesson or two. Dont give up on a good old friend. This doesnt mean you cant look around, but dont let your faithful X-14s know youre looking.
Stay with a good thing for as long as you can. Confidence is worth more than any new set of clubs.

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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Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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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.