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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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.