QA Men Using Womens Clubs

By Frank ThomasSeptember 12, 2007, 4:00 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
Dear Frank:
Thanks for the great web site. I wait for each week's questions.
I noticed today your discussion with someone whose 3-wood is 'too long'. I am 5'8' and find it virtually impossible to swing any of the longer (standard) men's drivers and get my wrists closed so as not to slice like crazy. It feels to me like a brick on the end of a shaft. I've tried most of the $200-$500 drivers in the bays at my local Golfsmith, and the result is always the same.
My solution was to go to a shorter driver, namely my wife's women's Adams Ovation Driver, which is both shorter and light as a feather. I may not outdrive a lot of men, but I feel like it gives me the confidence to automatically close my wrists and my drives are now generally very straight.
Am I crazy for using a woman's club, or smart?
-- Ed

You are not crazy and therefore must be smart.
There is no reason why you should not use shorter clubs. The shorter the club, the more control you have; also, the lower the swing weight, all else (such as head weight) being equal. This is one reason why it feels lighter than your own 'Big Stick'.
The guidelines I have proposed for some time suggest using a standard set with the appropriate shaft flex but a shorter than standard driver. This seems to be catching on, and many golfers are reporting success with this concept and gaining confidence on the tee.
In the long run, golfers prefer to shoot a lower score rather than hit the occasional long drive when all the stars are in synchrony and they just happen to get it all together. On these few occasions -- which are fun -- we do feel some pride about how great we are, but this doesn't last long.
You are not crazy; most golfers will find that when it comes to drivers, shorter is better. Glad you are enjoying the Q and A's. Be sure to sign up as a Frankly Friend for weekly Q and A alerts by clicking here.
-- Frank
Thank you for your intelligent insights and advice. I enjoy reading both your editorials and Q and A articles.
In many of your articles, you discuss the proper length of the club shaft. How, exactly, do you measure the shaft of a golf club?
Thank you.
-- Jay

You have asked a question about shaft length because I have referred to it so often in my weekly Q&As and also in various articles. What we are really talking about is not shaft length but club length.
Because of the various head designs and the methods used to assemble clubs, the shaft length may vary significantly even though the club length is the same. Because club length is more important than shaft length, when referring to length we should always use the full assembled club length.
A common method of measuring length, which is not very accurate, is to measure from the grip end to the sole/heel intersecting point. A slightly improved method, taking into account the radius on the sole, is to make the measurement by placing a rigid measuring stick (extended yardstick) under the shaft when the club is in the normal address position and reading off the measurement to the end of the butt cap of the grip from where it rests on the ground. This is close, but the actual length may be a little longer than this measurement.
The most accurate and consistent method is to measure the distance from the end of the butt cap of the grip, along the axis of the shaft, to where this line intersects the level surface on which the club is resting when in its normal address position. This is a little more cumbersome because a special fixture may be needed.
Having explained all this, I can say with some assurance from a golfers performance point of view that as little as ' is not going to mean very much at all to your performance. Such small differences dont matter; however, some manufacturers furtively increase the length by more than an inch, widening the arc of the swing to help the golfer hit longer drives. I have a definite problem with this practice. If those manufacturers who lengthen drivers without telling us had any integrity, they would include in the box with the driver a snake bite kit, because the golfer is going to spend a lot of time searching for his ball in some nasty places.
Hope this is not too long, but there is no short answer.
-- Frank
Hi Frank,
I have a question on spin rate.
I am 52 and have been playing golf for about 7 years. My average driving distance is about 230 yards using a Pro-Launch 65 Regular shaft with an 11.5 degree loft 460cc head. I usually play Pro-Staff TRUE balls. My normal ball flight is fairly high (fly 220 and roll 10). Occasionally my ball will balloon up and block to the right.
Should I try to lower my ball flight? If yes, should I reduce the loft of my driver or change the shaft or try another type of ball? How does shaft weight and ball type affect spin rate? Is Pro-Launch 65 the right shaft for my swing speed (80-85 MPH)? Some club fitters suggest switching to a lighter shaft.
-- Steven

With an 80 to 85 mph head speed, you are getting a very good distance already. If, however, you are looking for a little lower ball flight with a little more roll, I would try a lower spinning ball to begin with, followed by trying to hit the ball slightly higher on the face. This changed impact point will help by decreasing the spin; it will increase the height of the initial launch angle, but the ball wont balloon on you as much. If this fails, then a change to the loft of the club may be called for -- not a shaft change.
A shaft change to get distance may take you out of your comfort zone if you like the shaft you have, and this will not be good for your confidence and may detrimentally affect your distance. Your driving distance is about 35 yards farther than the average male golfer's drive. At 52 you are, however, a good candidate for a strength and stretching regimen to increase your range of motion. This will add more yards than any new club, and it doesn't have to be a major chore. Moderate daily exercise, especially the stretching part of it, will do wonders; the problem is we need to do it.
Stretch the body rather than the wallet.
-- Frank
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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G-Mac has Ryder Cup on mind with Genesis in grasp

By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 2:12 am

LOS ANGELES – Graeme McDowell is four years removed from his last start in a Ryder Cup and golf is more than seven months away from this year’s matches, but then it’s never too early to start daydreaming.

Following a third-round 70 that left him tied for third place and just two strokes off the lead at the Genesis Open, McDowell was asked if the matches are on his mind.

“I feel like I've got a lot of things to do between now and getting on that team,” he said. “Standing here right now it's probably not a realistic goal, but if I continue to play the way I'm playing for the next few months, it may start to become a realistic goal.”

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

McDowell began his week at Riviera Country Club fresh off four consecutive missed cuts and has drifted to 219th in the Official World Golf Ranking. But his play this week has been encouraging and the Northern Irishman has always relished the opportunity to play for Europe.

“Deep down I know I'm good enough, but I've got to show, I've got to put some results on the board, I've got to take care of my business,” he said. “The greatest experience of my career bar none, and I would love to play another couple Ryder Cup matches before it's all said and done.”

McDowell does have a potential advantage this year having won the French Open twice at Le Golf National, site of this year’s matches.

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Bubba on McGrady block: 'Just trying not to get hurt'

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 1:56 am

LOS ANGELES – A detour to the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game didn’t keep Bubba Watson from leading this week’s Genesis Open, although an on-court brush with Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady nearly derailed his chances for a third tournament win.

Watson enters the final round at Riviera with a one-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay after firing a 6-under 65 in the third round. The day before, the southpaw left the course around lunch time and headed across town to participate in the All-Star festivities, where during the celebrity game he tried to score 1-on-1 over McGrady.

Watson’s move into the lane went about as well as you’d expect given their five-inch height disparity, with McGrady easily blocking the ball into the stands. According to Watson, he had only one thought as McGrady came barreling towards him across the lane.

“When I saw him, all I saw was, ‘This is my moment to get hurt,’” Watson said. “This big tank is about to hit me, and I was like, ‘Just knock it into the stands. Just don’t touch me.’ So it worked out, he didn’t touch me so it was good.”

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

Watson’s attempt went against his wife Angie’s advice to avoid the paint area, but it provided a fun moment for a player used to carving up fairways and greens – not to mention the guy who played 15 seasons in the NBA.

“Well, he’s got like just under 800 blocks for his career, so I gave him one more, you know?” Watson said. “It was just, it was a blast. I wanted to see how good he was, see if he could miss it. He hasn’t played in a while.”

Watson took some heat on Twitter from his PGA Tour peers for the rejection, but few were still laughing as he rocketed up the leaderboard Saturday with five birdies and an eagle. Now he has a chance to win this event for the third time since 2014 – even if he doesn’t plan to go toe-to-toe with McGrady again anytime soon.

“Some guys wanted to try to win MVP, so I was trying to pass it and let them have their fun and their moment,” Watson said. “I was just trying not to get hurt.”

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Spieth on third-round 69: 'Putter saved me'

By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 1:37 am

LOS ANGELES – Jordan Spieth has spent the last few weeks talking about his putting for all the wrong reasons.

Two weeks ago when he missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open he lost 3.76 shots to the field in strokes-gained putting, and last week he wasn’t much better.

It looked like more of the same at the Genesis Open when he lost about a half stroke to the field on Day 1 with 29 putts, but since then his fortunes on the greens have gotten progressively better.

“I thought each day last week I progressed,” said Spieth, who needed just 24 putts on Friday and moved into a tie for 20th after taking 26 putts on Day 3.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth said he started to feel things turn around at Pebble Beach after working with his swing coach Cameron McCormick and Steve Stricker, who has become something of a putting sounding board for players on Tour.

“I got set up really nice. I got really comfortable on the greens even though they were very difficult to putt last week and this week,” said Spieth, who rolled in a birdie putt of 14 feet at No. 12 and a par putt of 35 feet at No. 14. “Any putt, I either made it or I left it just short today. It was one of those days that with the way I struck the ball, it was an off day, but that putter saved me and allowed me to shoot the lowest score so far this week.”

Spieth’s third-round 69 is his best of the week and moved him to within seven strokes of the lead, which is held by Bubba Watson.

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Bouncing back: Watson seeks a third Riviera win

By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 1:25 am

LOS ANGELES – Yeah, but can Tracy McGrady smoke a 7-iron from 203 yards to kick-in range for eagle on Riviera Country Club’s opening hole?

The way Bubba Watson’s mind drifts there’s no telling if, as he began his day at the Genesis Open, he revisited his play from Friday night at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. If he did, it would have been an apropos conclusion after McGrady sent his weak floater into the cheap seats midway through the second quarter.

Either way, Watson made it clear playtime was over on Saturday. The eagle at the opening par 4 ½ sent Watson on his way to a third-round 65 and the outright lead at the Left Coast event that’s starting to feel like a second home for the lefthander.

In 11 starts at Riviera, Watson already has two victories. A third on Sunday could get folks talking about renaming the layout Bubba’s Alley. Or not.

What is certain is that Watson has emerged from a funk that sent him tumbling outside the top 100 in the world ranking and he’s done it in quintessential Bubba style.

If Friday’s detour to the celebrity game received worldwide attention it was only a snapshot of Watson’s Tinseltown itinerary. He taped a segment for Jay Leno’s Garage show, visited with Ellen DeGeneres and watched a taping of The Big Bang Theory. You know, L.A. stuff.

Oh, and he’s curved and carved his way around Riviera with signature abandon.

“You've got to hit shots from every different angle, you've got to move it right to left and left to right, so it's just fun,” said Watson, who also led by one stroke when he won here in 2016, his last victory on the PGA Tour. “Then the greens are the equalizer so it makes me look like I putt as good as the other guys.”

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

He “hammered” a 7-iron from 203 yards at the first to 1 ½ feet for his opening eagle, chipped in at the sixth to begin a run of four birdies in five holes and played the three par 5s in 3 under to move into a familiar spot after enduring his worst season on Tour in 2017 when he failed to advance past the second playoff event.

That he’s turned the tide in Los Angeles is as predictable as it is peculiar. Despite Watson’s record at the Genesis Open, Riviera wouldn’t seem to be the tonic for all that ails Bubba.

Ask a player - any player will do - the keys to playing Riviera and the answers range wildly from it being a bomber’s course to the need for ball-striking precision. But the word that comes up with regularity is "patience."

“Patience and pretty much just not being stupid, to be honest,” Justin Thomas said when asked the key to his third-round 67 that left him tied for eighth place. “Just stop trying to hit at pins with 5-irons and 6-irons, and when I hit in the rough, realize just try to make a par. When I get in places, when I'm out of position, realize that sometimes even bogey is what I need to make.”

While that thought dovetails with conventional wisdom, Watson’s not exactly known for his patience.

“Oh, for sure I do. Haven't you seen me in the last 12 years?” Watson laughed when asked if he had patience on the course. “The tougher the golf course, the more focus I have. The tougher the shot, I've been able to focus better. When I get my mind on something, I can focus and do pretty well at the game of golf.”

While Bubba drifts between artist and antagonist with ease, both on and off the golf course, his primary challenge on Sunday is the picture of thoughtful composure.

Patrick Cantlay, who returned to the Tour last season after struggling with back issues for years, began the third round with a share of the lead but quickly faded on the front nine. He rallied on the closing loop with birdies at Nos. 10, 11 and 18, where he capped his day with a 54-footer that assured him a spot in Sunday’s final threesome. Although he’s just 25 and playing his first full season on Tour, Cantlay’s approach to the game is patently different from Watson’s.

“I feel like if I can just engage and not worry about where I am on a particular hole or what's going on and I just engage and stay present in whatever I'm doing at that particular time, it all turns out better than what you would expect,” explained Cantlay, who attended nearby UCLA and played dozens of practice rounds at Riviera. “Making sure you stay present and having that confidence in yourself that if you just click in and focus, it all will be good and that's kind of the head space I'm in.”

It will be a clash of wildly contrasting styles on Sunday – Watson, who admitted he “(doesn’t) focus very well,” and Cantlay, whose approach to the mental side of the game borders on the clinical.

One player relishes the challenge of hyper-focus, the other is Bubba, but that’s not to say Watson is void of patience, only that he needs to be properly motivated.

“Like last night when Tracy McGrady was coming at me, I was focused on not getting hurt and I didn't, so it worked out,” Watson smiled.

And besides, T-Mac can’t bomb it like Bubba.