QA Judging Distance in the Cold

By Frank ThomasNovember 28, 2007, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from GOLF CHANNEL's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Last week, I answered a question sent in by Jim, asking if the time had come for two sets of equipment performance rules: one for the elite and tour players, and another for the common folk of golf (99% of the golfing population).
Within hours I was inundated with e-mails from our readers -- concerned golfers -- who for the most part support a single set of rules for everybody, but dont want to see restrictions placed on the equipment we use to address real or imagined problems caused by a very few.
If our guardians feel the guys on tour need to be reined in, there are ways to do it that wont change the performance standards of our equipment. However, if they insist on making such regulations, then our readers seem inclined to suggest that a separate set of rules may be required.
Some readers pointed out that there are already different playing rules for the pros. This is true, but most of these are local rules such as: the one ball rule; the conforming ball list; a five-minute grace period when youre late for your starting time; no practice on the putting green just played, as well as relief from T.V. towers and spectator stands which most of us dont have to worry about.
These local playing rules, adopted at the pro events, are different from the conditions of our games, but we dont worry about those. However, when the equipment performance rules are changed because of what the pros can do, and all of us may be affected, then we react differently and seriously consider whether its time to divide the rules. There dont seem to be any good options here for people who believe there should only be one set ' as I do.
It seems to me that if some reining in of the pros is needed, a less intrusive way would be to create a local rule limiting the elite competitors to 10 clubs, while we continue to carry up to 14. Nothing would change in how the clubs perform, but the pros would be challenged to perform similar feats utilizing fewer tools. I would also like to see strategic course setup options that would more appropriately challenge the best in major competition. This seems to be a better alternative than disrupting and rolling back the performance of the equipment and thus inviting us -- the common folk (99% of golfers) -- to call for two sets of rules.
Because this subject has become so provocative, I decided to get your opinions by providing a four question vote.
To participate, click here and give me your votes, and your thoughts if you feel so inclined. Next week I will summarize your input.
Thank you,
I really enjoy reading your column. I have learned much about the science of the game while receiving some practical insights into playing and equipment. My question today revolves around the wedge game and how many wedges to carry. I am currently 52 years old, a traditionalist type player (forged, muscle back irons, pear players-shape fairway metals and drivers) with a 2.8 index. Just this year I switched from only carrying a 48-degree PW and a sand wedge of 56 degrees to carrying wedges of 48, 53, and 58 degrees. This combination seems to work well for me, but I am wondering if I should be carrying a 60 instead of the 58, or even changing my set configuration to a 51/53, 56, and 60. What insight and/or advice can you give me regarding the choices that would give me the most versatility in the short game? Thanks very much and keep up the good work. I hope that I get a chance to meet you in the future.

Thanks for you kind comments.Your question is one many lower handicap golfers ask me and themselves, because loft specs and set makeup have changed quite a bit over the years and the selection of wedges (the scoring clubs) has become more important.
As you know, what used to be a 9-iron (or even a weak 8-iron) is now a pitching wedge. This move away from the unwritten loft standard is about the only way (other than adding some length, which is also done) to create a marketable performance difference between irons. This has happened over the last 30 years in an effort to prove that one manufacturers iron set hit the ball farther than his competitors clubs. They did this by changing the lofts of the set (giving a 7-iron the loft of a 6, a 6-iron the loft of a previous 5, and so on) without advising the consumer -- but the Sand Wedge stayed at 56 degrees of loft, which is a good loft for a SW but now meant a gap of about 10 degrees between the unchanged SW and the reworked PW.
Pitching wedges are generally about 46 degrees today, and in the short irons (wedges), you want about 4 degrees between consecutive clubs. You say that you used to carry a 48-degree PW and a 58-degree wedge. The 58 is presumably your SW, so obviously with this 10-degree difference you have a gap that needed to be filled and the 53 was a good choice.
Remember that the SW is a utility club specifically designed for sand shots. It can be used in other situations but this carries some consequences; its significant bounce (approximately 14 degrees) increases to an effective bounce of 17 degrees if you open the face for a lob shot, and this bounce angle will do what a bounce angles are meant to do, i.e. bounce. Not what you want from a fairway lie.
If you feel the need for a lob wedge and are happy with the wedges you presently have, then get one with a 60- or 61-degree loft but low bounce, about 6 degrees. This club can then be used for the lob shots and do what your SW is not designed to do very well.
My advice is to hold onto the wedge set you have, which you say works so well, and add a proper lob wedge rather than trying to evenly space the lofts in all of these wedges.If you lob this one around in your mind for a bit I think it will land softly.
-- Frank
Dear Frank,
Thank you for you for your straight talk about equipment. It is really helpful to us amateurs to have an unbiased opinion when selecting equipment; otherwise it becomes which vendor has the most convincing salesmen. For example, every driver will enable you to hit it farther than every other driver.
My question concerns cold weather play - how to estimate how much distance I will lose as the temperature drops. If I can hit my # 3 Iron 180 yards in 85-degree temperatures, how far will it go as the temperature drops every 10 degrees?
Thank you.
-- Charles

Before we get to the temperature thing, let me assure you that most of the drivers today have reached the limit as far as MOI and COR are concerned. As a result, they are all good, as long as you are close to the optimum launch conditions for your clubhead speed. So it has become something of a hype issue.
Some manufacturers are now trying to demonstrate improved performance by increasing the shaft length of their drivers. This is not a good move because a longer club is harder to control; this change does nothing for your score but quite a bit for your ego on that rare occasion when you catch it sweet and the club head and direction are as intended.
(See for explanations of MOI & COR and other useful easy to understand technical terms).
As far as temperature is concerned you can expect a maximum difference of about 2 yards in carry for every 10 degrees F change in temperature. Colder air is more dense, so the drop in air temperature will decrease your distance. Ball temperature will also affect distance but not as much as air temperature.
Take an extra club for every 50 degreesdecrease in temperature.Hope this helps. Maybe you should just come to a warmer climate.
-- Frank
Fall for the FrogFrank 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
Getty Images

Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

Getty Images

Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

Getty Images

Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

Getty Images

Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.