QA Moving Driver Weights

By Frank ThomasNovember 7, 2006, 5:00 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
Mr. Thomas,
Adding weight to the toe or heel of a driver or fairway club will affect the flight. Which will it do for a draw or fade? Thanks for your time. I like your short part on Mondays The Golf Channel. -- Steve Malley

To create a draw bias in these clubs move the weight to the heel and for a fade bias move it toward the toe.
There are two reasons for the flight changing when you rearrange the weight distribution in wood clubs (these clubs are distinguished from irons by shape, not material). The reasons for differences in performance are first, the center of gravity (c.g.) changes its position and thus if the impact point is the same the spin applied to the ball is going to be different due to the gear effect. Normally a toed shot gives a little draw spin because the c.g. is toward the heel and back from the impact point. So if you add weight to the heel of the club the c.g. moves toward the heel and if impact is in the center of the club it will appear to be a toed shot relative to the new c.g. location and will thus apply a little draw spin to the ball. This assumed that you hit the ball on the same spot each time.
The second reason for the club, with weight moved to the heel, applying a slight draw to the ball is because the MOI (Moment of Inertia) of the head, about the shaft, is a little less as the c.g. is moved to the heel and as a result rotating the head into the impact position is a little easier and in fact may tend to allow the face to close a little.

Please understand that weight manipulation is a tweaking of ball flight and not a cure for a bad slice or hook. The first thing to do for a slice or hook is to try to alter your swing. Generally a good teacher can correct this type of swing flaw. Then you can tweak the flight by changing the c.g. location.
I read, oftentimes, about pros playing wedges that are bent to lofts one or two degrees less than what they were manufactured for. My assumption is that, this would remove a similar amount of bounce from the wedges themselves. How is this beneficial? You've recommended that when purchasing a wedge, we should look for wedges with at least 14 degrees of bounce. What is different about a professional's play that they do not need as much bounce as an amateur? -- Thanks, Matt Rittler

You are right, if you bend a wedge to decrease the loft by two degrees you will similarly decrease the bounce by the same amount.

A large bounce (14 degrees or more) is required on most sand wedges to avoid the club digging deep into the sand. Once the clubs leading edge starts to penetrate the ground (sand or soft turf) the bounce will add resistance to prevent continued penetration and tend to make the club slide. So instead of digging into the sand or turf it will tend to bounce off it or slide through it. On the other hand this same bounce on a club will literally bounce off very hard fairways or hard pan in bunkers. When the pros are confronted with hard turf conditions such as many of the Open courses in Britain they ask for the leading edge of their wedges to be sharpened so that the club can dig (cut) through the turf before the bounce takes effect. They may also choose wedges with less bounce for these conditions.
As far as most of us are concerned we are not consistent enough, in the way we present the club to the ball to get away with the clubs with less bounce as used by the pros.
If we hit it fat we dont want the club to continue to dig itself deeper into the turf or sand and thus need more bounce which will forgive our mistakes. The pros dont need the added resistance to the club as they are able to control the amount of dirt (divot size) they take. For more on wedges click here. For updated information please sign up as a Frankly Friend by clicking here.
I've tried a couple of drivers of the last couple of years, a 10 degree and a 10.5 degree. I can't seem to find the fairway as much as with my 13 degree 3 wood that I hit nearly as far as the driver, I'm an 11 handicap, and I'm wondering if I would get more distance with a 13 degree 460cc driver, or should I just stick with the 3 wood? -- Jeff, Wis.
The fact that you are hitting more fairways with your 13 degree 3 wood and getting almost as much distance as with your 10.5 degree driver is because first a shorter club is always easier to control and secondly you are getting the ball into the air more efficiently using your 13 degree fairway wood. I absolutely believe that you will get more distance with a 400 cc to 460 cc driver if you can order one with a 13 degree loft (many manufacturers offer a 13 degree driver but many are 45 inches long). This should not be longer than 44 inches in length because the shorter the club the better you are able to control the direction. If it is 45 inches long then choke down a little. Your 3 wood is most likely no longer than 43 inches so your driver being one inch longer is about the right difference. The other reason for going to a 400 to 460cc head is the forgiveness is greater and the size allows for a more efficient spring like effect design than your 3-wood.
Jeff, go for the bigger driver with 13 degrees loft and 44 inches long. You will love it and once you start hitting more fairways then you confidence will take over and with the improved swing you will get the distance the a longer shaft gives but with the accuracy you are looking for.

Do you think I should consider trying hybrid club to replace my 3 & or 4 iron.
I'm bogey golfer and find it hard to hit my long irons. Will new hybrids be more forgiving and which ones should I try. -- Thanks, Norm S.

There is no doubt in my mind that you should replace your 3 and 4 irons with hybrids. These are generally about an inch longer than the club they are replacing with a similar loft. The bigger, more forgiving head with a wide sole will allow you to hit the ball more efficiently and as far or a little farther then the iron it is replacing. The greater forgiveness will tend to give you considerably more consistent shots which will on average be very much more accurate than the long irons. The difference between long irons and hybrids is tremendous especially in your case where you are finding it hard to hit my long irons.
For most of us, there is only one place for a 3-and 4-iron and that is on the mantel shelf, well secured to a wooden board so you are not tempted to put them back in your bag.

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
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PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

Goodbye and good riddance.

The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

“What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.


The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.

Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

But at what cost?

The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

“What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

Amen again.

We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

This is good governance.

And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.


We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.