QA More on Grooves Pro Clubs

By Frank ThomasMarch 21, 2007, 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
I play golf for a State Womens Golf Team and am concerned about what the USGA is proposing with regard to changing the groove rules. If the USGA adopts the change, will my clubs be non-conforming?

The USGAs proposal includes a longer grace period for most golfers but also will include a Condition of Competition as of Jan 1, 2009. This means that if you decide to enter the U.S. Womens Open in 2009 and the Condition of Competition is adopted at this event (which is very likely as it is a major USGA Championship involving highly skilled players) then it is very possible that your clubs will not conform and you will have to get a new set if you want to compete.
..the USGA would recommend that the Condition apply only to competitions involving highly skilled players.
Based on the fact that you represent your state in competitions you are considered to be in the category of a skilled player.
I dont know which set of clubs you have at present but they are probably reasonably close to the limit re. the grooves specifications. In essence, the new proposal calls for a decrease in the groove cross sectional area by 50% of what todays specifications presently allow.
.would limit the total cross-sectional area of a groove divided by the groove pitch (width plus separation) to 0.0025 square inches per inch.
The present rules have this limit at 0.005 square inches per inch. So, in essence, the volume of the groove has been cut in half, because the pros on tour spin the ball too much out of the light rough. So if your clubs have grooves which when new were only 60% of the way to the limit by todays specifications, they will be affected by the proposed change and you will need to buy a new set.
If you want to read more and have your say click here.
Hope this helps
I am really hoping that you can settle a dispute between my brother and me. You see, he believes that all PGA tour pros have their clubs (irons and woods) hand built, one of a kind, to custom specifications. When he says this he means that the clubs are completely different from their consumer store counter parts; the only shared aspect is the companys logo. Different metals, shapes, and weights. I think that the clubs are the same, but the pros have modifications done that are no different than what I could have done myself at the local Pro Shop, i.e. length, lie, loft, grinding or weighting.
So I guess the real question is, are the name brand clubs found in retail stores the same as the clubs that the endorsing pros are using?

In most cases the basic clubs being used (not necessarily endorsed) by the pros are very similar to those being produced for the general public, but these have been customized for the pros with a few extra grinds or bends, etc.
In some cases the weighting may also have been changed a little. There are also prototype models of clubs the pros get to use that are not yet (and may never be) available to the general public.
To resolve the dispute, I can assure you that very rarely will clubs be specifically hand built from scratch for the pros. This does not mean that they havent been very carefully customized for the pro; it would be the very rare exception if a pro received a standard set off the shelf without some little tweak. But, for the most part, the tweaking is the kind of work that you or your pro can do in a workshop.
Hope this helps.
I am currently using Callaway X-14 irons. I love them, but they are about 10 years old now. How often should you update your irons?

Iron technology has not changed very much when you compare it to the changes that have been made over the last 10 years in drivers. I believe your X-14s were introduced in 2002, and few significant changes have been made to change the overall performance since then. There is, however, the overriding Placebo Effect that comes into play when you buy something new; whether technically better or not, you feel good about the new club, and that feeling gives you confidence. This effect will influence your performance significantly more than the change in technology of the new design.
In its simplest form, an iron is a piece of metal on the end of a stick. This piece of metal has changed in shape over the years to position its center of gravity (c.g.) low and in the center of the face. Also, the material has been distributed to the perimeter of the head to increase the MOI (forgiveness factor). The c.g. has been moved as far toward the back of the head as possible. The sole has also increased in size to create more bounce and more forgiveness of mistakes. All of these things have been incorporated into the design of irons for at least 10 years or more, with only minor tweaks to the design since then.
Bottom line is that there have been many changes, but theyre of small importance when it comes to a performance improvement that we can actually detect. Having said this, we must admit that there is nothing like a brand new set of irons in our bag for a new season. Be careful, however, not to let your old set know that youre thinking about replacing them, especially if youve made good friends of them and they generally do what they are told.
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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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.