QA Little White Lies about Lofts

By Frank ThomasOctober 10, 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
 
Mr. Thomas;
I have heard that the stated loft on a driver will play 1 1/2 degrees weaker. Is this true and would you please elaborate?
Thank you,
John

 
John,
In general, how a club will play depends on the golfer and his/her swing; your angle of approach to the ball can influence the effective loft. But I suspect you're asking about something more specific.
 
It is true that, five or more years ago, the lofts on some drivers were at least 1 degree more than what was stamped on the sole. This was done only on the higher lofted drivers, e.g. 11 degrees or so. The reason was that even though a large number of golfers would benefit from a 12-degree lofted driver, they wouldn't buy one, believing that 'real golfers don't use 12-degree lofted drivers.'
 
To help these golfers get past their ego problem and improve their performance, some manufacturers put a little white lie on their clubs, building in 12 degrees of loft but stamping them with 11. I am pleased to say that this is rarely the case today, because we've gotten smarter as golfers and have come to accept that loft is one of our best friends. We have at last recognized that lofts on driving clubs can be as much as 15 degrees to approach optimum launch condition for slower swing speeds. As a result, manufacturers don't have to be as naughty when stamping the lofts on the sole of clubs.
 

Hi Frank,
I am in the process of custom fitting my clubs and was wondering about shafts. If I find a shaft that is well suited to me for my driver, should I use this for my woods and hybrids as well? Or should every club be fitted individually?
Thanks,
Michael, Canada

 
Michael,
Finding the right shaft, if that is your mission, can be quite a chore. I suggest that you go with standard shafts and change only the flex rating. Rather than fiddling with the shaft for every single club, for the sake of consistency (which is reasonably important) you should group them by type. Put the same shaft in all your woods; you may find that these also work for the hybrids, but try it out first.
 
The irons (what is left of them after you've substituted with your hybrids) also need to be checked separately, but there's no reason you'd need a different shaft for your six-iron as opposed to a nine-iron.
 
You may well find that the same shaft flex and material will work for you on all types of clubs; I'm only suggesting you check to make sure.
 
Today's wood shafts are usually graphite, hybrids are either graphite or steel and irons are steel. The golfer in need of a little help could go with graphite for the entire set.
 

Hi Frank,
I'm having a problem getting around on my new TaylorMade R7 425 driver, and I don't have this problem with other clubs. Sometimes I hit a hybrid off the tee and can get up to 200 yards using that club, but when I put the driver in my hands it feels uncomfortable. Would it be OK to cut it down to 44 inches, or would that change the performance of the club?
Thanks,
Tom

 
Tom,
I hope I understand what you mean by 'having a problem getting around.' I assume this means bringing the club from the top of the backswing to impact, rather than closing the face at impact.
 
If it is the former, then you can test the feel of a shorter club by choking down on the driver grip by about 1 inch or more and hitting a number of balls on the driving range. The grip in this lower gripping position will be a little smaller, but you'll get a general feeling of how the shorter club will work.
 
If you're talking about having a problem closing the face into impact, then I recommend you try moving as much weight as possible to the heel weight ports by inserting the heavier weight plugs. This is an advantage of this type of club design.
 
If my first assumption is correct and you like what you feel, then cut the inch off the club and go for it. If that doesn't solve the problem, you can try adding the heel weights next. Good luck.
 
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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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

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

RISING

Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



FALLING

Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”