QA Quieting the Big Bang

By Frank ThomasAugust 28, 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
I have a favorite pitching wedge that's a couple of years old and seems to have lost some 'bite' off of the face. While I know that the grooves may well be worn a bit, would it be possible/feasible to have the face lightly re-sandblasted to restore some of its 'tooth'?

Nick Price
Nick Price questions what the USGA will do to limit driver distance on 'Ask Frank,' Monday, Sept. 3 on GC at 11:00 p.m. ET. (Wire Image)
The grooves in your wedges will certainly wear down if you have been using these clubs for some time, especially out of the sand or sandy soil conditions on the range or elsewhere.
There are a few things you can do to restore the bite in your wedge. I would suggest that you contact or call them at (740)-328-4193 to find out what you need to do. Dont try to do this yourself without the proper tools. The face must first be belt-sanded to clean up and flatten the surface. This removes a thin layer of material from the surface, but not enough to affect the club weight significantly. The grooves are then reworked (milled) into the face. If the club was forged, then it has to be re-chromed, but most wedges are investment cast from stainless steel so this will not be necessary.
You should also know that under completely dry conditions where there is no grass between the face and the ball, grooves dont matter and a sand blasted face will provide enough friction to give you as much spin as any set of grooves. It is out of light rough -- i.e., 1 to 3 inches deep and not too dense -- that grooves affect performance and the type of groove makes a difference. When the rough is both dense and 3-inches deep or more, the groove type is no longer important. Therefore, if its under the light rough conditions that youre finding your wedge has lost its bite, then the steps above will do something to restore its performance.
A worn groove may still be used in the worn state BUT you should know that once you modify the clubface it is considered as new from a rules point of view and must conform with the very specific groove and other specifications drawn by the USGA. This is only important if you choose to play by the rules. I am an advocate of playing by the Rules of Golf, but I am finding it difficult to support some of the rules changes recently adopted or in the proposal stages.
The USGA has proposed a change to the groove specifications that would reduce the size of the groove by 50%. They believe that Tiger and his colleagues are not finding the light rough very much of a penalty or even a hazard. In a recent Golf World article, a USGA official in the equipment department implies that long rough is too much of a hazard and adds,That isnt golf. The rough isnt supposed to be a hazard. This was cited as the reason why we should not grow longer rough for the pros instead of changing the groove specs.
So if this is true, everybody who has played golf and has considered rough a hazard, (anywhere from a to a full stroke penalty) is wrong because rough isn't supposed to be a hazard.
It is this type of logic and reasoning that has diminished my ability to fully support some of the recent changes and proposals, which I believe will detrimentally affect millions of golfers unnecessarily.
More importantly, there is no evidence provided that these changes will make the game better; as a result, I fear such decisions will lead to an erosion of support and confidence in the USGA from its constituents, which is very bad for golf. If this proposed change in the standards for grooves in everyones irons is adopted, the USGA will force all golfers either to buy new clubs or to knowingly break the rules.
Bill, if you think that the bite in your wedge is not what you want, by all means treat your clubface or have someone do it for you. I dont know if youll find a lot of difference in performance, but youll feel more confidence with a club you know you like. Unfortunately, all of us are facing the loss of our favorite clubs if the USGA decides to take a bite out of the enjoyment of our game by adopting the new groove rule.
This is not groovy.
I have a new square-headed driver. It sounds like an aluminum bat when you hit it.
Is there anything that can be done to it?

I think this is the nature of the beast. Theres not much you can do to the head without changing its performance properties. The sound can be dampened if you drill a small hole in the head and inject a light urethane-like foam to fill the cavity. This, however, is not recommended; it will increase the weight of the head, and will rob your friends of the opportunity to give you a hard time about noise pollution whenever youre on the course. There are other obvious solutions, which I am sure you may considered. These are:
a) Trade it in for another large forgiving head, one that doesnt alert the entire golf course when youve hit another drive.
b) Collect the earplugs provided by many airlines on overnight flights. These, if inserted, correctly will help in two ways: save your own ears while decreasing the volume to your inner ear and muffle the castigation from your fellow competitors, but more importantly prevent your jerking wince just before impact in anticipation of the explosive sound of impact.
c) Dont use this driver and position it over your mantelpiece to remind you of the purchase. This, however, would be a waste of money and not permit you the thrill of believing that the decibel level of impact relates directly to the increased distance you get.
Sorry to be so unhelpful in this case, but Im afraid you must live with this sound if you want to continue to use it without changing its performance benefits -- or at least those claimed in the promotional brochures.
I hope this answer sounds right.
Hi Frank,
Great column!!! Which type of hybrid is better: one that is flat faced like an iron, or one that is more like a fairway wood with bulge and roll? Thanks for your help.

I believe that most hybrids are now being made with a bulge and roll, even though this will vary in radius. (The bulge is the radius across the face from the toe to heel and the roll is the radius from the top to the bottom.) The reason for this is that the center of gravity (c.g.) is farther away from the face in hybrids than it is in most irons.
This deep location of the c.g. will put a sidespin on the ball when you hit it on the toe of the club, tending to give the ball a slight draw trajectory. This is called the gear effect, and its very pronounced when the c.g. is even farther back from the face, as in drivers. In clubs with a large face (up and down) and a c.g. deep into the center of the head, the roll also has a gear effect. A ball hit on the upper portion of the face will have less spin than one hit on the bottom of the face.
During impact, which only lasts .00045 of a second (220 times shorter than it takes you to blink your eye) the club head will twist about its c.g. if its mis-hit -- i.e., off the sweet spot. (It will not twist about the shaft, as many believe. Thus the shaft and any of its properties such as torque, stiffness, kick-point or weight play no part in the way the ball flies once contact has been made between the club face and the ball.) The purpose of bulge and roll are to give the ball a little nudge in a direction away from the center line when youve hit the ball off-center. This sounds like a bad idea, but it helps compensate for the gear effect: if your ball is going to draw from a toe-hit, you want it to start a little farther right, so the draw spin will bring it back to the middle where you want it. Hope this bulge and roll will keep you rocking down the fairway.
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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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.