QA The Playability of Blades

By Frank ThomasSeptember 5, 2006, 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

Hi Frank,
I recently purchased a set of 1995 Hogan Apex blades with the red line and the word 'forged' under the Ben Hogan. I hit them really well even though they are a small blade. Has there been much change over the years in blade irons? Would there be any advantage to looking into a new set of Apex clubs? -- Thanks, Dennis Sobolewski Monrovia, CA

If this is a semi cavity back iron and the red line is under the words 'Hogan' and 'forged,' it is the Edge GCD Tour model introduced in 1996 model. The company may have started the introduction in 1995. This is a good iron and more forgiving than some of the other models that Hogan has produced. If the red line is under the word 'Ben' and the word 'forged' under 'Hogan,' then it was introduced in 1978. It is a blade style and less forgiving than the GCD model.
If you hit your irons well then don't expect magic from a new set.
Yes, the technology has changed for the better in irons and they come in a range of playability factors. About 300 irons are listed on my site in different playability factors categories with suggested use by skill levels. See and search under Maltby Playability Factor. This is only a guideline.
Of greatest importance is that you feel comfortable with your irons and this will develop confidence. If you are happy with your present set of irons, then stay with them but it doesn't hurt to look around anyway. However, don't expect a significant difference in performance, as the technology in irons has not changed much, other than clubs have become a little more forgiving and are thus a little easier to hit. Check my website for some options to look for.

Dear Frank,
Due to a series of health problems, it has now been five years since I last played golf. I have a new hip and two 'stents' in my aorta. I am in my early 70s and I am anxious to get back to the game and need new equipment. When I played my last game, my handicap was 12 and I was hitting it long and straight with a titanium driver (which now matches my hip), 4,5,7,and 9 graphite metal-woods and graphite irons.

Please advise as I am anxious to place an order and get started. -- Thanks, Barbara Wright

Congratulations for getting through the health problems and even more so getting back into the game. Nobody can tell you that this game isn't one of the most addictive ever. Let's be frank, you will take a little time to get back to your 12 handicap, but don't let that affect you.
I would suggest that you start with your woods and get one of the newer titanium drivers with a high COR (see my website under 'Frankly Speaking' to learn more about COR). Most of the new drivers are at the limit so you don't have to worry. Choose a driver with a loft of about 14 and hang on to your 4,5,7, and 9 woods for now. Iron technology has not changed so much in the last 10 years, so these are still OK for a while. You should, however, try one of the newer soft core balls such as the Precept XP3, the Titleist DT Solo or Callaway HX Pearl.

When you get into the swing of things again then think about looking at some irons but you don't need them now. Well done and welcome back.

I have an average swing speed of 85-90mph with a driver. I am a 12 handicap. I probably drive the ball around 200 yards. I have stiff shafts in all of my clubs. It may be an ego thing that I just like the idea of having stiff shafts.
Do you think I am losing distance and/or accuracy by having stiff shafts rather than regular? Your insight regarding club and ball technology is the most interesting to see on T.V. and read on the web. Your information is a real help to many golfers. Thanks, Frank. -- Jeffrey W. Harris

Thanks for the kind words.
Yes, I do think that you are losing both accuracy and distance by sticking to a stiff shaft, which satisfies your ego but is not conducive to a good consistent swing. If the shaft is too stiff for your swing speed then you will find that the good shots are normally associated with a really hard swing. The rest of the time, and certainly when you get tired, you will be fighting your clubs to get them to perform. This creates tension and an inconsistent badly timed swing. Timing is more important to consistency and distance than almost anything else. So if you want to improve both accuracy and distance, use the correct shaft flex - which in your case is probably a regular flex. Try this out and put your ego back in the bag. Real men do use Regular flex shafts and find that their scores improve along with it.

Your advice re: shorter drivers is great and should be of prime interest to those who believe that longer shafts beget longer drives. In our group I have the shortest driver (43.5) and out-drive all but one guy and my drives are on the fairways.
My question is, do you think that Michelle Wie's wayward drives are because of the length of her driver? Also Tiger Woods seems to hit more drives that go awry than in his earlier days as a pro, when he was using a 43.5 inch driver.

Always enjoy reading your column and your answers on TV. -- Wilfred Ogawa, Kaneohe, Hawaii

I believe that Michele Wie's driver is 46 inches, which if this is the case makes it more difficult to control. I believe that Tiger was accurate and still very long early in his career with his 43.5 inch steel-shafted driver.
If you can have more confidence in your swing by using a shorter-shafted driver, you will swing better, have improved timing and gain all the distance you would achieve by using a longer shaft, which may not be so accurate. Well done to you, but don't let anybody know your secret.

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

Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

“I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

“Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

“Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.


Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.

Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

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

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET

Images and footage from Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson's round Friday at Trump National in Jupiter, Fla., alongside President Donald Trump:

Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.