QA Optimizing Distance No Back Swing

By Frank ThomasDecember 18, 2007, 5:00 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: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 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 current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry