QA Length Loft

By Frank ThomasFebruary 6, 2008, 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 letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
 

Frank,
 
If I shorten my driver from say 45 1/2' to 44' will it have any affect on the loft? Would the ball go higher or lower because of the change in length? Thanks for the knowledge you impart!!
 
Thanks,
Gary

 
Gary,
 
If you shorten your driver from 45 to 44 -- which I recommend, if you want to lower your scores and stay in the fairway more often -- it will not change the loft of the driver, but because the shortening will affect the stiffness a little it may decrease the dynamic loft a little. Also a stiffer shaft will generally keep the ball down a little. This decrease in length will definitely affect the swing weight by about nine points so if you have a club head with weight ports, increase the weights to bring the swing weight back partially or if needed, all the way back to your comfort swing weight zone. If the farthest back rear ports are used this may return the dynamic loft back to where it was with the longer driver.
 
What you will find with your shorter driver is that you will start building confidence in your tee shots, stay in the fairway more often and will most likely make a better swing and certainly hit the sweet spot more often. Hitting the sweet spot will increase the ball speed and you will probably get the same distance on average as you did with your 45 inch driver but wont have to carry your snake bite kit with you any longer.
 
Tiger, when he played so well in his early days used a 43 1/2 inch driver.
 
Hope this helps.
-- Frank
 
I have upgraded to a Titanium driver, but I still use an original Acushnet Bulls-Eye and putt very well. I have been playing Ping Eye 2 + for about ten years. I play to a ten, but my golf became easier when I gave up forged blade irons. How do the Ping Eye 2's stack up against the more modern versions? These are reasonably forgiving, the heads are modest in size and I get sufficient feel especially with todays golf balls. What might I gain from irons with newer technology?
 
-- Mark

 
Mark,
 
There is no doubt that you can still enjoy your game very much with your Acushnet Bulls-Eye putter and your Ping Eye 2 irons. Your irons are classics and the very club that started the cavity-back revolution. Few iron sets are more user-friendly than your Eye-2s. This does not mean that you should not look around at some of the latest technology in irons but don't get too excited or expect your game to improve significantly if you decide to make the change.
 
As much as the Bulls-Eye putter is also a classic it is time for a change. My Bulls-Eye is on the shelf with some of my persimmon woods. The reason for a good mallet putter is that you really do want an instrument with as many sources of error removed. We have enough sources of error in our putting stroke that we don't need any more built into the putter.
 
A good putter should have a high MOI (4,500 to 5,000 gm cm )about the vertical axis but also the horizontal toe/heel axis. This is the case with some of the mallet style putters. The center of gravity (c.g.) should be as low as possible using tungsten (twice as heavy as lead) weights to achieve this. This putter should also have a radius on the sole from toe to heel very similar to the Bulls-Eye. Last, the putter must have a good feel on impact and face balanced if at all possible. The face balancing will tend to square the face at impact if it is off line.
 
So, for your own sake review what is out there in the market and check out a Frankly Frog. I designed the Frog a few years ago and it was the first in the marketplace to have rear split weighting. You'll notice now how many of the bigger manufacturers have taken this concept and are introducing it as their own. Very flattering, I have to say. Like the Ping Eye 2 irons, it's only true innovations that are imitated.
 
You can read more about what I believe were the three innovations that changed the game in my upcoming book 'Just Hit It'. It is due for release on the 29th February, but you can reserve your copy by Clicking Here. The first 50 pre-orders this week will received a signed copy.
 
-- Frank
 
Hello Frank,
 
I recently read an article in a leading golf magazine that recommended changing wedges on a regular basis. They stated that wedges begin to loose their bite and efficiency in spinning the ball after about 40 rounds of golf. I discussed this with a friend of mine who is a pro on the Canadian tour and he said he changed his wedges about every 6 months. How often would you recommend that the average 80-90s shooter change their wedges? I realize that these are probably the most important scoring clubs in the bag, but at what point does this begin to make a difference for players at this level?
 
--Michel

 

Michel,
 
I am a 5 handicap golfer and havent changed my wedges in three years. The fact is that I am not able to make my wedges do yo-yo tricks on the green the same way Tiger can even if they were brand new. What you should be concerned about is the correct loft, lie and bounce in your wedges. Some manufacturers tried to convince us that their irons where better than those of their competitors, because the same numbered iron hit the ball farther and as a result we have had to live with a change in unwritten loft standards.
 
The lofts were changed without changing the number on the bottom of the club. The Sand wedge has remained at about 56 degrees, but the Pitching Wedge moved up with the rest of the set and is now about 46 degrees compared to 52 degrees that it was before the cheating started. This forced the birth of the Gap wedge.
 
Both the Gap wedge and the PW are really a continuation of the sets of the past and dont need a bounce of more than about 8 degrees. The Gap wedge (50 to 54 degree loft) should have a bounce of about 8-10 degrees of bounce with the SW close to 14 degrees of bounce. For the Lob wedge (60 degree loft) the bounce goes back to 6 degrees or even 4 degrees of bounce.
 
These loft, lie, and bounce properties are those you should be concerned about with your wedges and once you have them sorted then start working on your short game technique. The grooves are important but will not affect your game as much as a little work around the green and/or a lesson. When you and I start shooting in the low 70s on a regularly basis then we can look at and rework the grooves every year.
 
Not such a groovy answer is it?
-- Frank
 
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@franklygolf.com
 
Frank Thomas

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – 

Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.