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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org