QA My Take on Grooves

By Frank ThomasNovember 21, 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
I really do enjoy your column and I know that you will be able to answer my question about grooves on wedges. Do new sharp grooves make a difference to the spin on the ball when I hit the ball from a tee? -- Jim, N.C.

The answer is NO they dont. If you have a sandblasted face this will probably do as much or more to increase the spin than a grooved face. When you are hitting out of the rough then grooves do matter and the better defined they are the better off you are to get some spin on the ball. The rough condition will always reduce the spin from a wedge when compared to a dry condition but from deep (4 to 6 inch) heavy rough it doesnt matter what ball you play or configuration of grooves you have on your wedge.
This is the point I have tried to make in my Frankly Friends Newsletter this month (click here to read). The USGA has more important things to worry about than thinking about changing the groove configuration because some pros are able to get out of the rough relatively easily with out too much concern about being there. My proposal is to lengthen the rough for those situations where this is important. The upheaval of changing groove specifications is not worth it. Read the newsletter and tell us what you think by voting.
Why do we 'average' golfers have to be subjected to the current rage of super fast greens? Greens with undulations or swales as we call them - OK. It discourages me, and I can only speak for myself. Also, there is too much variation of green speeds between courses.
If the Pros can only separate the men from the boys by playing on pool tables or glass so be it.

Why do we 'average' golfers have to be subjected to the current rage of super fast greens? Greens with undulations or swales as we call them - OK. It discourages me, and I can only speak for myself. Also, there is too much variation of green speeds between courses.
If the Pros can only separate the men from the boys by playing on pool tables or glass so be it.
I just read your study on 'Growing the Game' and liked it. This subject should be added. And I am not a 'bad' putter. -- Ken, Texas

There is no doubt that fast greens in combination with severe undulations, do not help the cause of trying to make the game more enjoyable for the average golfer. The game is not growing and in fact participation is flat having fallen for some time. There are some projections that the number of course closings will, for the first time in nearly 70 years, match the number of new course openings.
Based on our research study report (see Growing the Game by clicking here) we have confirmed what most of us know, that the game not only takes too long to play 18 holes, but costs too much and most of us are not deriving as much pleasure from playing as we used to. One of the reasons for this is that in many cases we are playing from the wrong set of tees. The survey of over 18,400 golfers from 44 countries around the world (largest survey on this subject ever done) also show that we seem to overestimate the distance we drive the ball by 30 to 40 yards.
Also courses designed for scratch golfers are too challenging for the average golfer even though the tees are set forward. This forward tee position does little to ease the tough approach shots, which again are designed to challenge very good golfers.
Ken, you are right that fast greens with undulations have had a detrimental affect on the enjoyment factor for a lot of golfers.
When in 1976 I redesigned a device to measure the speed of greens (I called it the Stimpmeter because I worked with a concept originally developed by Eddie Stimpson in 1935) I also developed an instruction brochure with suggested speeds for average play. These have been exceeded by a significant amount.
This has come about for two reasons; the ability to make greens faster without ruining them and this was spurred on to attain bragging rights for having the fastest greens around. This is not good for many golfers as it presents an inappropriate challenge, which spoils the round in many cases.
I will certainly include this issue in Phase II of the research study, which is in the fund raising stage at this time. I'll also have more to say about this subject in my soon to be completed book.

Thanks for your interest and concern about the game that a lot of us enjoy so much.
If you are serious about improving your game, rather than just wanting to improve your scores, is it better to be hitting a 'more forgiving iron' OR is it better to learn to hit a less forgiving iron correctly?
Thanks for your opinion. Lori

This is a tough one. Let me say that there are not too many golfers who really want to improve their game through hard work and practice. It is easier and less time consuming to go out and buy a forgiving set of clubs that will forgive our miss hits and work almost as well as those clubs designed for the pros.
There is nothing better than hitting the sweet spot on a blade iron but also nothing very exciting about missing that spot. So to improve your game (skills) you should probably strive to use a set which is a little better than you are and keep moving up as your skills improve. It is not much fun hitting bad shots and forgiving clubs reduce this somewhat. But they also make you lazy in that you rely on the forgiveness and this reduces the incentive to improve your skills. Forgiving clubs will probably keep you playing the game for fun but blades will definitely give you a good measure of how much you need to work on you game to improve your skills.
I have been under the impression that in tournament golf (pro or am) that the same make and compression ball had to be used throughout the round, but I have been told by a fellow golfer that there is no rule requiring this. What is the official rule? -- JB
What you are referring to is what is known as the One Ball Condition.
This is a Condition of the competition as established by the committee in charge of the event. It (the committee) may or may not adopt the condition. If it does then the competitors must be so advised.
For competitions involving expert players there are some conditions, which are recommended by the USGA, and you can find these in the rule book. These include using only Driver Heads, which are listed as having been tested, and conform. Also the competitors may use only a ball listed on the conforming list. The other condition recommended for expert players is the One Ball Condition which should state; During a stipulated round the balls a player plays must be of the same brand and type as detailed by a single entry on the current List of Conforming Golf Balls.
If posted, this means that the committee has decided to enforce this, or those Conditions of the Competition and the penalty for violation of any of these specific conditions is disqualification in stroke play.
The Rules of Golf only require that you play with conforming equipment. However, to be sure that it does conform the USGA has provided a list on its website referring to clubs and balls which have been tested and found to conform. This doesnt mean that others dont conform, but to be sure, the committee may choose to post the list and the condition.
The background behind the adoption of this rule is lengthy but in essence it is designed to prevent golfers from taking advantage of the performance differences of various balls for specific conditions which confront them on different holes. For example, using a low flying ball into the wind or a high spinning ball on a par three hole etc.
JB, unless you are in a competition where these conditions are posted you dont have to worry about them. The PGA Tour and many State and College events including all USGA championships adopt this condition.
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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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

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Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm