QA Rules for Different Players

By Frank ThomasNovember 14, 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
Has the time come for two sets of rules: one for us, the common folk of golf, and another for the elite members of the PGA Tour?
-- Jim

I truly thank you for the question, which has been considered by many.I think we are all feeling frustrated with the way that we, 99+% of the golfing population, are being affected by some of the very questionable recent proposals by the USGA to limit equipment performance.This frustration leads to a seemingly obvious solution: bifurcate the rules.
I feel very strongly about this, as do the USGA and R&A in their recent Statement of Principles:
The R&A and the USGA continue to believe that the retention of a single set of rules for all players of the game, irrespective of ability, is one of golf's greatest strengths.
Golf is unique in that amateurs and professionals play on the same course at the same time with and against each other. In excess of 8,000 golfers enter the qualifying stages of the U.S. Open; at what point, when qualifying for an elite competition, would the rules switch from the everyday set to the elite set? If an elite ball is introduced, when are you required to use it? State and Local qualifying for the Championship? State events? What about the rounds at ones club where golfers establish the handicap that is a part of their qualifications?
Other than the practical side of this, about 35 million people around the world play golf, and its integrity has its foundation in a reasonably good understanding of and adherence to a single set of rules. We admire and aspire to be like the very elite and best of us. As spectators, we fantasize that we could be what we see, if we only had the time ' and this feeling is reinforced by some of our outstanding feats on our own courses every now and again. If there were two sets of equipment rules, this relationship would crumble and our extraordinary feats would feel less meaningful.
I have proposed a ten club rule for the elite golfers in high-level tournament play (.001% of the golfing population), which could serve to rein them in (if this is really necessary) and make them more effectively exhibit their wonderful skills. This proposal is a form of bifurcation of the rules, but not of the all-important equipment rules that affect all of us, and therefore it would not sever the relationship we have with our superstar heroes.
The real issue, however, is that all of the recently adopted equipment rules or proposals stem from a belief that the performance of the elite is creating a problem. Without evidence that the game will be better after the adoption of such proposed changes ' better for all of us -- we must rightfully question the logic and rationale for the potential disruption, and ask whom the guardians are truly representing.
The specific concern is distance at the Tour level, and the governing bodies in their Statement of Principles go on to outline some factors that contribute to improved distance, including improved athleticism, coaching, conditioning, equipment, etc.They then state:
The R&A and the USGA will consider all of these factors contributing to distance on a regular basis. Should such a situation of meaningful increases in distances arise, the R&A and the USGA would feel it immediately necessary to seek ways of protecting the game.
This means that 99% of golfers are not being considered in the ruling bodies decisions. My concern is that if we (most golfers) are affected by equipment restrictions to relieve a problem that exists at the elite level only, then we may well choose not to follow those restrictions. This would not be good for golf.
Jim, stay on the course. I believe the USGA will soon turn the corner and do what is in the best interests of the game. I do not believe it is necessary to divide the rules between the professionals and the rest of us. One set of rules has been good enough for over a hundred years. It still is today.
-- Frank
Hello Frank,
I started playing golf very recently, as the country I moved from did not have many facilities for golf. I'm in the process of buying my first set of golf, clubs, but I'm a bit confused when it comes to the fairway woods and the hybrids. Frank, what is the difference between them, and which one should I go for? Kindly help.
-- David

The hybrid club is now close to being perfected and it definitely has a place in every serious golfers bag. It works differently than a fairway wood because it has an MOI (Moment of Inertia) that is slightly less, its center of gravity (c.g.) is positioned low and to the rear but not as far back as on the fairway wood, and in most cases it is much shorter than the comparable fairway wood -- about 2 to 2.5 inches shorter.
Because of these differences, the Hybrid will hit the ball with a lower trajectory than the fairway wood, and will be more accurate because of the difference in the length of the club, making it easier to control but shorter in distance than a fairway wood of similar loft.
As compared to an iron, the hybrid of similar loft is more forgiving because of its higher MOI and rearward positioned and low c.g. It will hit the ball a little higher and farther than an iron with the same loft. It is also about to 1 inch longer than the iron.
The shaft flex of a hybrid should be the same as the iron it is replacing. If you select a graphite shaft (not a bad choice) be aware that with every graphite shaft the length is increased by 1/2 inch compared to its steel counterpart, to compensate for the lighter shaft weight and to maintain the same swing weight.
The bottom line is that every serious golfer should have at least one hybrid in his bag. To make room for it (or them) you will need to drop one of your fairway woods (preferably the 5- or 7-wood) and/or the 3 and 4 iron. The 4-hybrid (22 to 24 degree loft, depending on the make) will not allow you to hit that low-under-the-branches shot as well as the regular 4-iron, so it may be a good idea to keep this club in the bag for when you need a low iron trajectory.
If you are going to get two hybrids and presently have a 3-iron, then go for the 21 and 24 degree and dump the 3-iron and a wood. In general, hybrids augment your collection of fairway woods and irons; they dont replace the woods completely. Most golfers who love their hybrids use them to substitute for hard-to-hit long irons.
Hope this will help in your selection.
-- Frank
Dear Frank:
It has taken me 74 years to figure out that one's physical fitness is probably the single most important factor in being able to play a decent round of golf. After bypass surgery and five years of fitness-and-strength training I play better now than I did when I was a younger man. Having said that, equipment has played a big part of the improvement. I have taken advantage of the technology over the years and recently traded in my old forged blades for a set of Adams senior clubs with a 4- and 5-hybrid and beefed up 6 through PW. I have had a nagging question over the years, however, about shaft length because I am 5' 6' and getting shorter every year it seems. Are off the rack clubs ok for the shorter person, or do they require adjustment? Will choking up accomplish the same thing? Thanks. I enjoy reading your insight into the game.

When you were younger, you probably didnt need to go out of your way to become physically fit. As we move through life and our normal athletic activities change and we slow down, thats the time when we need to go out of our way to do something extra to keep the body in shape. Experiments show that a three-month stretching and strengthening regimen (not too vigorous) can in many cases increase your range of motion by making you more flexible and a little stronger, increasing your club head speed by about 5 mph. This is more than any new driver can give you in improved distance -- about 15 extra yards, all else remaining the same.
As far as club length is concerned, a standard length set should be fine for your stature, but as your swing speed decreases you should consider using more flexible and even lighter-weight shafts in your irons.
Joe, well done on the fitness/strength thing, but do keep up with technology changes. This does not mean change your clubs every year, but every five years or so is a good rule of thumb. And get a good putter and take a lesson.
Next time youre in Orlando, come and visit our Frankly Frog Putting Studio. I know you will shave stokes from your score and have more fun on the greens. See for details.
Hope this helps
-- Frank
Fall for the FrogFrank 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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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.