QA Optimizing Distance No Back Swing - COPIED

By Frank ThomasJuly 2, 2008, 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 letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
 
Two Sets of Rules: Survey Comments
 
As promised, I have read all the comments (51,000 words) from our reader survey stimulated by the question of whether the time has come to have two sets of rules.
 
In the first instance, our readers have commented that course setup should be the way to deal with extraordinary performance of the best players not equipment rules changes. They also believe that adopting a 10-club rules is worth while considering as a local rule to challenge the superstars rather than changing equipment rules which will affect all golfers.
 
Of those who think we should have two sets of rules they believe that the ball needs to be changed for the pros.
 
A large group believe that the super stars are good and they will inevitably continue to break records so dont fret it.
 
There are a good number of our readers who want the game to be left alone as it is in good shape.
 
The results of the four-question survey were provided in a previous column.
The comments have taken some time to digest and a sampling of these can be found by clicking here.
 
Thank you to all who took part and hope you all have a very Happy Holidays. Ill be back with some more frank talk in the New Year.
 
Frank

 
Hi Frank,
I look forward to and enjoy reading your Q&A's.
 
It seems the general opinion for optimum launch conditions for a driver (to obtain maximum distance) are 12 to 14 degrees launch angle with spin between 2200 and 2700 rpm. For a ball speed of between 145 to150 mph.
 
Are there optimum launch parameters for the other clubs as well; fairway metals, hybrids, and irons? Again assuming the golfer is skilled with a low handicap.
 
Thank you.
--Rex

 
Rex,
Your question is one, which others have asked so I think it is time to clear up a possible misconception. When we talk about optimum launch conditions, we are not really talking about any specific club, but rather the launch angle and spin rate to give you maximum distance for a particular ball speed, which is directly related to head speed. In most cases when you are looking for maximum distance, you use your driver. So all the charts and guidelines assume that you are using your driving club.
 
As you know, based on the guideline provided (see www.franklygolf.com/tgc/launch.asp) to get maximum distance you need first to establish a head speed. Once you know this then the optimum conditions to obtain the maximum distance is fixed assuming central impact to get maximum ball speed.
 
If, for example your head speed is 75 mph (ball speed is approximately 110 mph) then you need to launch the ball at about 14.5 degrees with a spin rate of about 3,000 to 3,500 rpm. A driver will provide the maximum spring-like effect but otherwise it doesnt matter what club you are using. Whereas at a head speed of 120 mph (ball speed is approximately 177 mph) a launch angle of 12 degrees and 2,200 would be ideal for maximum distance.
 
At the high head speeds of 110 mph, a 13-degree lofted 3-wood will not be able to launch the ball anywhere close to its optimum launch conditions. Both the launch angle and the spin rate will be too high, which are conditions better suited for a slow swing speed. This is why at some very slow head speeds for some golfers a 3-wood will go farther than a driver.
 
In most cases, however, because some drivers now have up to 15-degrees of loft it is better to use a driver than the same loft on a 3-wood. The reason is that the driver has the added benefit of the spring-like effect which will give you maximum ball speed for your swing speed.
 
The bottom line is that every club in your bag has a set of launch conditions depending on swing technique and head presentation and speed. For maximum distance, however, you select the driving club, which will give you the maximum ball speed for your swing speed. At this ball speed there are a set of optimum launch conditions, for maximum distance.
 
The club selection you make is dependent on the sort of flight path and the distance you want to hit the ball. If the six-iron doesnt go far enough then you select the five-iron etc..

Launch monitors will tell you what distance you are hitting each club based on the launch conditions. Only with a driver, will fitters try to optimize these conditions for maximum distance.
 
Rex, each instrument has its purpose and we must use them accordingly.
-- Frank
 
Frank,
Can you comment on the No Back Swing concept. It seemed reasonable, especially the comparison to a baseball batter. So I tried it in the living room and it feels pretty good, but when I take it to the range I am not as smooth. So I said to myself, I'm a 10.2 and I am told that I have a good swing, so why change so drastically?
 
I enjoy your columns,
--Mark

 
Mark,
I know this is not truly an equipment question but because you are swinging a club I have an excuse to comment and give you my opinion which you have asked of me.
 
First, I think the idea of No back swing is interesting and believe that if you start at the top of your back swing you eliminate a lot of the errors associated with getting the club into that position. However, I dont believe you load your body as well as you do with the traditional (approximately 500 year old) take away. Starting from the midway position of the back swing may make more sense.
 
I believe that the No back swing is considered a training drill rather than a prescribed method of playing golf.
 
What is more important, is that when you start talking to yourself, .. So I said to myself, I'm a 10.2 and I am told that I have a good swing, so why change so drastically? you should start listening.
 
They say that talking to yourself is something, which is a questionable habit, but what is worse is telling yourself jokes and laughing at the ones you havent heard before.
 
More seriously, however, is that the answer to your own question i.e. so why change is right on the money. This is also something, which you can apply to your entire equipment selection procedure.
 
There is no doubt that some new things come along like Hybrids and Gap wedges etc and we need to try them but dont substitute these for something that works.
 
There is nothing more important than confidence in your equipment, and this often takes time to develop. If you dont have this confidence because of ill-fitted equipment or any other reason then is the time to look for something else.
 
So keep looking but dont give up a good thing.
 
In your case, a good swing.
--Frank
 
Hoppy HolidaysFrank 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 letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
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After Further Review: Haas crash strikes a chord

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 2:39 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.


On the horrifying car crash involving Bill Haas ...

I spent a lot of time this week thinking about Bill Haas. He was the passenger in a car crash that killed a member of his host family. That man, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was a successful businessman in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a new friend.

Haas escaped without any major injuries, but he withdrew from the Genesis Open to return home to Greenville, S.C. When he’ll return to the Tour is anyone’s guess. It could be a while, as he grapples with the many emotions after surviving that horrifying crash – seriously, check out the photos – while the man next to him did not.

The entire Haas clan is some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Wish them the best in their recovery. – Ryan Lavner


On TIger Woods' missed cut at the Genesis Open ...

After missing the cut at the Genesis Open by more than a few car lengths, Tiger Woods appeared to take his early exit in stride. Perhaps that in and of itself is a form of progress.

Years ago, a second-round 76 with a tattered back-nine scorecard would have elicited a wide range of emotions. But none of them would have been particularly tempered, or optimistic, looking ahead to his next start. At age 42, though, Woods has finally ceded that a win-or-bust mentality is no longer helpful or productive.

The road back from his latest surgery will be a winding one, mixed with both ups and downs. His return at Torrey Pines qualified as the former, while his trunk slam at Riviera certainly served as the latter. There will surely be more of both in the coming weeks and months, and Woods’ ability to stomach the rough patches could prove pivotal for his long-term prognosis. - Will Gray


On the debate over increased driving distance on the PGA Tour ...

The drumbeat is only going to get louder as the game’s best get longer. On Sunday, Bubba Watson pounded his way to his 10th PGA Tour title at the Genesis Open and the average driving distance continues to climb.

Lost in the debate over driving distances and potential fixes, none of which seem to be simple, is a beacon of sanity, Riviera Country Club’s par-4 10th hole. The 10th played just over 300 yards for the week and yet yielded almost as many bogeys (86) as birdies (87) with a 4.053 stroke average.

That ranks the 10th as the 94th toughest par 4 on Tour this season, ahead of behemoths like the 480-yard first at Waialae and 549-yard 17th at Kapalua. Maybe the game doesn’t need new rules that limit how far the golf ball goes, maybe it just needs better-designed golf holes. - Rex Hoggard


On the depth of LPGA talent coming out of South Korea ...

The South Korean pipeline to the LPGA shows no signs of drying up any time soon. Jin Young Ko, 22, won her LPGA debut as a tour member Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and Hyejin Choi, 18, nearly won the right to claim LPGA membership there. The former world No. 1 amateur who just turned pro finished second playing on a sponsor exemption. Sung Hyun Park, who shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last year, is set to make her 2018 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And Inbee Park is set to make her return to the LPGA in two weeks at the HSBC Women’s World Championship after missing most of last year due to injury. The LPGA continues to go through South Korea no matter where this tour goes. - Randall Mell

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Nature calls: Hole-out rescues Bubba's bladder

By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2018, 2:20 am

LOS ANGELES – Clinging to a one-stroke lead, Bubba Watson had just teed off on the 14th hole at Riviera Country Club and was searching for a bathroom.

“I asked Cameron [Smith], ‘where's the bathroom?’ He said, ‘On the next tee there's one. Give yourself a couple more shots, then you can go to the bathroom,’” Watson recalled. “I said, ‘So now I'm just going to hole it and go to the bathroom.’”

By the time Watson got to his shot, which had found the bunker left of the green, his caddie Ted Scott had a similar comment.


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


“When he went down to hit it I said, ‘You know you haven’t holed one in a long time,’” Scott said.

Watson’s shot landed just short of the hole, bounced once and crashed into the flagstick before dropping into the hole for an unlikely birdie and a two-stroke lead that he would not relinquish on his way to his third victory at the Genesis Open and his 10th PGA Tour title.

“I looked at Teddy [Scott] and said, ‘You called it.’ Then Cameron [who was paired with Watson] came over and said I called it. I’d forgotten he and I had talked about it,” Watson said.

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Bubba Golf takes long road back to winner's circle

By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2018, 1:55 am

LOS ANGELES – Bubba’s back.

It’s been just two years since he hoisted a trophy on the PGA Tour, but with a mind that moves as fast as Bubba Watson’s, it must have felt like an eternity.

Since his last victory, which was also a shootout at Riviera Country Club in 2016, Watson was passed over for a captain’s pick at the 2016 Ryder Cup, endured a mystery illness, lost his confidence, his desire and the better part of 40 pounds.

He admits that along that ride he considered retirement and wondered if his best days were behind him.

“I was close [to retirement]. My wife was not close,” he conceded. “My wife basically told me to quit whining and play golf. She's a lot tougher than I am.”

What else could he do? With apologies to his University of Georgia education and a growing portfolio of small businesses, Watson was made to be on the golf course, particularly a golf course like Riviera, which is the canvas that brings out Bubba’s best.

In a game that can too often become a monotonous parade of fairways and greens, Watson is a freewheeling iconoclast who thrives on adversity. Where others only see straight lines and one-dimensional options, Bubba embraces the unconventional and the untried.

For a player who sometimes refers to himself in the third person, it was a perfectly Bubba moment midway through his final round on Sunday at the Genesis Open. Having stumbled out of the 54-hole lead with bogeys at Nos. 3 and 6, Watson pulled his 2-iron tee shot wildly right at the seventh because, “[his playing partners] both went left.”

From an impossible lie in thick rough with his golf ball 2 feet above his feet, Watson’s often-fragile focus zeroed in for one of the week’s most entertaining shots, which landed about 70 feet from the hole and led to a two-putt par.


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


“His feel for that kind of stuff, you can’t go to the range and practice that. You can’t,” said Watson’s caddie Ted Scott. “Put a ball 2 feet above your feet and then have to hold the face open and then to swing that easy. That’s why I have the best seat in the house. That’s the essence of Bubba golf.”

There were plenty of highlight moments on Sunday for Watson. There were crucial putts at Nos. 11 (birdie), 12 (par) and 13 (par) to break free of what was becoming an increasingly fluid leaderboard, and his chip-in birdie from a greenside bunker at the 14th hole extended his lead to two strokes.

“It was just a bunker shot, no big deal,” smiled Watson, who closed with a 69 for a two-stroke victory over Kevin Na and Tony Finau.

A player that can often appear handcuffed by the most straightforward of shots was at his best at Riviera, withstanding numerous challenges to win the Genesis Open for his 10th PGA Tour title.

That he did so on a frenzied afternoon that featured four different players moving into, however briefly, at last a share of the lead, Watson never appeared rattled. But, of course, we all know that wasn’t the case.

Watson can become famously uncomfortable on the course and isn’t exactly known for his ability to ignore distractions. But Riviera, where he’s now won three times, is akin to competitive Ritalin for Watson.

“[Watson] feels very comfortable moving the ball, turning it a lot. That allows him to get to a lot of the tucked pins,” said Phil Mickelson, who finished tied for sixth after moving to within one stroke of the lead early in round. “A lot of guys don't feel comfortable doing that and they end up accepting a 15 to 30 footer in the center of the green. He ends up making a lot more birdies than a lot of guys.”

It’s the soul of what Scott calls Bubba Golf, which is in simplest terms the most creative form of the game.

Watson can’t explain exactly what Bubba Golf is, but there was a telling moment earlier this week when Aaron Baddeley offered Watson an impromptu putting lesson, which Bubba said was the worst putting lesson he’d ever gotten.

“He goes, ‘how do you hit a fade?’ I said, ‘I aim it right and think fade.’ How do you hit a draw? I aim it left and think draw,” Watson said. “He said, ‘how do you putt?’ I said, ‘I don't know.’ He said, ‘well, aim it to the right when it breaks to the left, aim it to the left when it breaks to the right,’ exactly how you imagine your golf ball in the fairway or off the tee, however you imagine it, imagine it that way.”

It’s certain that there’s more going on internally, but when he’s playing his best the sum total of Watson’s game can be simply explained – see ball, hit ball. Anything more complicated than that and he runs the risk of losing what makes him so unique and – when the stars align and a course like Riviera or Augusta National, where he’s won twice, asks the right questions – virtually unbeatable.

That’s a long way from the depths of 2017, when he failed to advance past the second playoff event and dropped outside the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking. But then, Watson has covered a lot of ground in his career on his way to 10 Tour victories.

“I never thought I could get there,” he said. “Nobody thought that Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Fla., would ever get to 10 wins, let's be honest. Without lessons, head case, hooking the ball, slicing the ball, can't putt, you know? Somehow we're here making fun of it.”

Somehow, through all the adversity and distractions, he found a way to be Bubba again.

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Spieth: 'I feel great about the state of my game'

By Will GrayFebruary 19, 2018, 1:43 am

LOS ANGELES – Jordan Spieth is starting to feel confident again with the putter, which is probably a bad sign for the rest of the PGA Tour.

Spieth struggled on the greens two weeks ago at TPC Scottsdale, but he began to right the ship at Pebble Beach and cracked the top 10 this week at the Genesis Open. Perhaps more important than his final spot on the leaderboard was his standing in the strokes gained putting category – 12th among the field at Riviera Country Club, including a 24-putt performance in the third round.

Spieth closed out the week with a 4-under 67 to finish in a tie for ninth, five shots behind Bubba Watson. But after the round he spoke like a man whose preparation for the season’s first major is once again right on track.


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


“I was kind of, you know, skiing uphill with my putting after Phoenix and the beginning of Pebble week, and really just for a little while now through the new year,” Spieth said. “I just made some tremendous progress. I putted extremely well this week, which is awesome. I feel great about the state of my game going forward, feel like I’m in a great place at this time of the year as we’re starting to head into major season.”

Spieth will take a break next week, and where he next tees it up remains uncertain. He still has not announced a decision about playing or skipping the WGC-Mexico Championship, and he will have until 5 p.m. ET Friday to make a final decision on the no-cut event.

Whether or not he flies down to Mexico City, Spieth’s optimism has officially returned after a brief hiccup on the West Coast swing.

“For where I was starting out Phoenix to where I am and how I feel about my game going forward the rest of the year, there was a lot of progress made,” he said. “Now I’ve just got to figure out what the best schedule is for myself as we head into the Masters.”