QA Pro Rules and Amateur Rules

By Frank ThomasJune 27, 2007, 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
Dear Frank,
Ive enjoyed reading your articles and opinions about the game of golf and its direction. As a recreational player, I also thank you for your contributions to the game.
Jay Sigel
Jay Sigel quizzes Frank about clubhead speed on 'Ask Frank,' Monday July 2 at 11:00 p.m. ET on GC. (WireImage)
I realize many in the game of golf as well as yourself strongly believe in one set of rules for all players. So here are my questions:How do you justify your 10 club proposal for the professional but not for the recreational player? Why is this different from having different equipment standards for different levels of play? I would like to thank you in advance for any attention you might give to the questions, and keep up the great work!

Thank you for your kind comments. My strong feeling is that we dont need two sets of rules for numerous reasons, one of which is that it is very impractical. Golf is one of the few sports where amateurs and professionals play on the same field at the same time and compete against each other.
Bifurcation would require that somewhere in the process of qualifying for the US Open, for example, suddenly the Pro Rules must be adopted. My question is, should this enforcement happen at the club championship, collegiate, state or sectional qualifying level, or whenever we play rounds that develop the specific handicap required for entry purposes? Think about this awkward little practical detail. Its just one of several fundamental issues we would have to deal with if we had two sets of rules.
Another concern is the overall effect that two sets of rules have on one game, especially when theres one set for .001% of the population and another set for the rest of us. If there are problems associated with the play of the superstars, the elite golfers we admire, then lets first define the problem and find solutions that address it most effectively without disrupting the game as a whole.
Most discussion of adopting two sets of rules invariably comes back to the distance the superstars can drive the ball, and concern that accuracy is no longer part of the skill required to dominate. My belief is that we can deal with this through strategic course set up at those events where the identification of the most skillful and a true champion is the only objective.
If, and only if, further confines are needed to distinguish the skill of players, then I believe the form of bifurcation should be the least disruptive proposal possible. Instead of making an equipment performance standard the distinguishing factor, reduce the number being used -- not different clubs for different groups, but only a further restriction on the number that can be carried. That way, I believe we can forestall any further talk of two sets of rules. I dont believe we need two sets of rules, but if it becomes an inevitability then the ten club proposal seems to me the best option.
I would like to hear from our readers if they think that two sets of rules -- one for the pros and one for the rest of us -- is a good idea for our game. Please click here to vote and to read more about this question.
Thank you again for you kind remarks and your concern for the health of our wonderful game.
I was wondering about the difference between the low end clubs that are sold at the big chain retail stores and all other name brand clubs available.I know you get what you pay for, but what is the real difference between, say, a 40-dollar low end driver and a 200-dollar name-brand driver. I've been told that my clubs are just fine for golfing, and spending more would be a waste of my money.
I've also been told that better clubs will not make you a better golfer, if your swing is true and you have good club speed then the equipment shouldn't really matter. But is there a point where you say to someone, 'You know, your game would really improve if you got rid of those cheap clubs, and spent some money on some real equipment'?
Thanks in advance

I do like your question, as this is on the minds of many golfers who believe they shouldnt have to pay so much for the latest equipment. Its good to keep in mind that no new club is going to give you good results if you have bad swing mechanics, no matter what its promotional materials might imply. Still, I would like to suggest that if youre serious about your game, then going for a 'disposable' driver at $40 instead of one of the brand names is not a smart move. If you bought a car that cost 20% of the price of the average new car, youd wonder about how safe and well-built it could be, wouldnt you? Youd be leery of eating food that was on sale at 80% off too, I hope.
No driver in the marketplace is going to correct a bad swing; thats the job of a pro and a lesson and some practice. But a club thats been made too cheaply wont often give you the same good results when you do make a good swing, and that can be discouraging.
Assuming you have a reasonable swing but not a fat wallet and would like to make sure that equipment is not holding you back, I suggest you look around for last years model. Even a two year old model driver is very good and very close to being as sophisticated as the brand new versions. It doesnt have to be a major brand name, but the ' disposable' version will most probably not have the properties youre looking for. I almost feel ashamed to admit it, but my driver is a good friend, a very good friend, and almost four years old. I have a five handicap and am thinking about upgrading, but having hit most of the newer clubs I feel that the advantage I will gain can be overshadowed by a few extra hours a month Id have to spend on the range working on my technique and pre-shot routine.
Ives, when your wallet fattens up a bit and youre reasonably comfortable with your swing, then there is no harm in going for broke and buying the latest and greatest -- if for no other reason than it will make you feel good, which might even affect your swing for the better. If you are serious about your game I would leave the 'disposable' version in the hardware store.
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
Getty Images

What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Getty Images

Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

Getty Images

Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.