QA Importance of Putter Lofts

By Frank ThomasOctober 17, 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 letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com
 
Frank
I bought a new putter and putting on a recently dressed green, the ball started skipping 10 - 12 inch gaps and skipped 14 times before it made it to the cup. What actually makes the ball roll with less skipping and even though you have your own putter, is there a brand which will prevent this skipping?
Thanks,
Mike in Michigan

 
Mike,
Thank you for mentioning the fact that I do have my own putter, and if I may say so, it is a very good putter but even this will not affect the bouncing on the green which you describe.
 
Let me explain. As soon as the ball leaves the face of any putter with a couple of degrees of loft (essential to get it out of the depression on the green surface in which it always settles) it will first leave the ground just a very small amount with a slight degree of back spin. As soon as contact is made with the green surface the friction will cause the ball to skid and slide for a short period of time, it will then start rolling.
The distance from impact to when it gets pure roll will depend on how hard you hit it. As long as this process of backspin, skidding, sliding and then rolling is consistent for each impact at each speed, you don't have to worry about it.
 
Some putters are more consistent than others depending on the MOI (Moment(s) of Inertia), the center of gravity location and balance. But once the ball starts rolling with a certain speed and direction, nothing about the putter which struck the ball will affect its movement. The surface of the green will dictate the movement of the ball. In your case, the newly dressed green has a lot more bumps and ruts than you can see.
 
The only real chance you have to influence the direction of the ball, once it is in motion, is to talk to it and use a little 'Body English' as it approaches the hole.
 
For more on the Anatomy of a Putt, please visit Anatomy of a Putt.
 

Hi Frank,
Can you give me an easy low tech way to determine if my irons have the correct lie for me. I'm a 48 yr. old 14 handicap lefty. I have a very low shot regardless of the club in hand. It does get hard sometimes to get a ball to stop. My clubs are about 9 yrs. old.
Thanks, Pete


 
Pete,
I must tell you that the method to measure the lie angle is pretty low tech anyway but I will try to help simplify this even further. First the low trajectory you have will not be affected to any measurable degree by changing the lie angle, so don't expect this to happen.
 
You must, however, know that the correct lie angle is very important. If the lie is too flat then the line which is perpendicular to the face which should be pointing toward the target will be pointing to the right and the ball will go to the right and fade a little similarly if the lie is too upright then the ball will go to the left and draw. So lie is important and
probably the most important variable when fitting clubs. The next is the shaft flex, but we can discuss this some other time.
 
Now for the low-tech lie measurement method. Get a piece of 1/4 inch plywood, about 24 x 10 inches in size. Next get some Duck tape and attach a piece to cover the sole of your 6-iron, or the club you intend to measure, (an incorrect lie angle will create more of a directional deviation from the intended line with the short irons than the longer irons). Use a Sharpie
marking pen to color the duck tape so the entire sole is colored. Now using
the heel of the club or a hammer hit the plywood to create a small dent into
which the ball will rest.
 
Next, on the range (not in your living room) hit a ball off the piece of plywood with a full swing and check to see where the scuff mark is on the duck tape (assuming you made contact with the plywood). If this scuff mark is toward the heel then the lie angle is too upright and the ball should be going left if you have not countered this with a special swing maneuver. Do this a few times and if you consistently come up with a ball mark in the same spot (off center), and the ball is flying left for a heel scuff and right for the toe scuff, then find someone who has a bending machine and get it adjusted. A lot of big retail stores have an official lie board (not this Frankly Home Depot version) and a bending machine to make this adjustment for you. On the other hand if the scuff mark is in the center of the sole and the ball is flying approximately where you intend it to fly
then no bending is necessary and you have saved some time and perhaps some money, and can be proud that even you have been able to check the lie angle for yourself. How much more low-tech can you get?
 

Frank,
Thank you for the information you provide on the Golf Channel site and your own website. It is helpful because I am becoming confused with all the new equipment being introduced and all the technical stuff they talk about. My question is; why do some of the new big drivers not have grooves on the face?
Mark Vester

 
Mark,
The reason for this is twofold. First drivers don't need grooves as these markings play no part in the spin off a clean, dry, low lofted surface. Second and most important is the fact that the face is so thin that cutting grooves into the face will weaken it, especially in the sweet spot area where there is maximum flex during impact.
 
You will notice that many clubs have a good size area in the center of the face left un-grooved.
 
The durability of even these new clubs depends on how hard you hit them. A head speed of 120 mph is considered a hard impact and at this impact speed, all on the sweet spot, you can expect the club to last for something less than 10,000 impacts. At this point or earlier the face will start flattening and the COR will start going down.
 
So don't get the face of your driver grooved.
 
Frank,
Let's be Frank about this, is the Driving distance the pros hit the ball
going to continue to increase as it has in the past? And why do I not seem
to be hitting the ball any farther?
Larry Schneider

 
Larry,
The second question is easier to answer than the first. You do not swing the club as fast as the pros do and probably like me, do not hit the sweet spot as often as they do.
It requires at least these two things to get the distance they do.
 
Now for the first question. The average driving distance on tour was 255 yards in 1968 and this kept increasing at a rate of about 1 foot per year for almost 30 years. In 1995 Titanium was introduced because manufacturers were having structural failures in the steel drivers. The heads were getting too big and the shell thickness of this hollow structure was too thin.
 
This change in material resulted in the unexpected bonus of a spring-like effect. (see Frankly Speaking at www.franklygolf.com for more information about COR)
 
Even though I wrote into the rules in 1984 that a club shall not have a spring like effect the USGA (under legal pressure) permitted it. This change allowed the ball to spring off the face faster and with less spin and with the newer ball construction allowed the pros to approach the optimum launch conditions which are high launch angle and low spin. This was never available to Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer with the equipment they had. This in turn increased the average driving distance by about 7 to 8 feet per
year. The driving distance jumped from 265 to 288 yards in less than ten years. I am pleased to say that there are some limiting Laws of Nature which are coming into play and we will only see more distance from increased club head speed. This is a matter of athleticism which needs to be earned not purchased as has been the case in the last ten years.
 
The pros have gained the most from these advances but this is now flattening out. Hard work will now be required to gain more distance.
 
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 letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com
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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.

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Beef's beer goggles: Less drinks = more wins

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

An offseason spent soul searching is apparently paying quick dividends for Andrew “Beef” Johnston, who is in contention to win Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Johnston acknowledged he was “burning the candle at both ends” last year, playing both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, but he told reporters Saturday that it wasn’t too much golf that hindered his efforts.

It was too much “socializing.”

“I'm a social person,” Johnston said. “If you go out with friends, or you get invited to something, I'll have a beer, please. But I probably had a few too many beers, I would say, to be honest. And it reflected in my golf, and I was disappointed looking back at it. I want to turn that around and have a good season.”

Johnston posted a 6-under-par 66 Saturday, moving into a tie for sixth, three shots off the lead. He said he arrived in Abu Dhabi a week early to prepare for his first start of the new year. It’s paying off with a Sunday chance to win his second European Tour title.

“Last year was crazy, and like getting distracted, and things like that,” Johnston said. “You don't know it's happened until you've finished the season. You’re off doing things and you're burning the candle at both ends. When I got back from last season, sort of had time to reflect on it, I sort of said to myself, 'You've got to keep quiet and keep disciplined and get on with your work.’”


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Johnston finished 189th last year in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings. He was 116th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Johnston’s fun-loving personality, his scruffy beard and his big-bodied shape quickly made him one of the most popular and entertaining players in the game when he earned his PGA Tour card before the 2016-17 season. Golf Digest called him a “quirky outlier,” and while he has had fun with that persona, Johnston is also intent on continuing to prove he belongs among the game’s best players.

His plan for doing that?

“Just put the work in,” he said. “I didn’t put enough work in last year. It’s simple. It showed. So, just get down, knuckle down and practice hard.”

Rory McIlroy at the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Getty Images

McIlroy making big statement in first start of 2018

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 3:40 pm

Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.

So much for easing into the new year.

So much for working off rust and treating these first few months of 2018 as a warmup for the Masters and his bid to complete the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy, 28, is poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

With back-to-back birdies to close his round, McIlroy put up a 7-under-par 65, leaving him just one shot off the lead going into the final round.

“It’s good,” McIlroy said. “I probably scored a bit better today, short game was needed as well, but I hit the ball very well, so all in all it was another great round and confidence builder, not just for this week but obviously for the rest of the season as well.”

McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday.

If he claims the title in his first start of the year, he sends a message about leaving all the woes of 2017 behind him. He sends a message about his fitness after a nagging rib injury plagued him all of last year. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game’s best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.

After his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro, McIlroy is eager to show himself, as well as everyone else, that he is ready to challenge for major championships and the world No. 1 title again.

“It feels like awhile since I’ve won,” McIlroy said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


A victory would be all the more meaningful because the week started with McIlroy paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning European Tour Player of the Year Tommy Fleetwood.

McIlroy acknowledged the meaning of that going into Saturday’s round.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy,” he said. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and one of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

It’s worth repeating what 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman said last month about pairings and the alpha-dog nature of the world’s best players. He was talking about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge, when Immelman said pairings matter, even in off season events.

“When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Immelman said. “They want to show this guy, `This is what I got.’”

A victory with Johnson in the field just two weeks after Johnson won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in an eight-shot rout will get the attention of all the elite players.

A victory also sets this up as a January for the ages, making it the kind of big-bang start the game has struggled to create in the shadow of the NFL playoffs.

Johnson put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Hawaii and the confident young Spaniard Jon Rahm is just a shot off the lead this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is just two off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open. Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines next week.

To be sure, McIlroy has a lot of work to do Sunday.

Yet another rising young talent, Thomas Pieters, shares the lead with Ross Fisher. Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.

McIlroy has such a good history at Abu Dhabi. Over the last seven years, he has finished second four times and third twice. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year.

“I have never won my first start back out,” McIlroy said.

A strong start, whether he wins or not, sets McIlroy up well for the ambitious schedule he plans for 2018. He’s also scheduled to play the Dubai Desert Classic next with the possibility he’ll play 30 times this year, two more events than he’s ever played in a year.

“I’m just really getting my golf head back on,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”

A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.

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Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.