QA Santa Claus is Coming

By Frank ThomasDecember 12, 2006, 5:00 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
I want to buy a golf gift for my husband for Christmas and I dont know where to start. He is new to the game and I would really like to get him something that will help him improve! I am confused! Do you have any suggestions or advice for me? Geraldine

There are so many options, I can understand your confusion! Depending on your budget, there are some obvious gifts that will be useful and/or practical, such as golf balls, range finders, golf sunglasses, training aids or even an animal headcover!!
The most useful and comprehensive advice I can give you can be found by clicking here to view my 8 Simple Rules for Buying Equipment. Please use this to help guide you in selecting the most appropriate gift for your husband.
Best of luck and I do hope that this helps.

Can you please give some info on the use of range finders, I'm interested in getting one but don't want to pay an arm and a leg. I play to a 15.

With reference to your question about range finders; there are basically three general types; 1) the laser with a retro reflector on the flag stick, 2) the laser with no reflectors but reflecting off an object or the flag stick, 3) the GPS system used to position ones self relative to a green on a course.
An example of the first is Laserlink and this is least expensive (about $250)to the individual if you are able to buy the unit and the course has installed the retro reflectors on the flags. An example of the second is the Bushnell device which is approx $400 or more but no reflectors are required and you can take it anywhere. The third is the Skycaddie (about $350), which is very sophisticated and also you dont need retro-reflectors on the flag but the downside is that you need to load your favorite courses into the system from your computer. It will store five or so of these courses at one time. This is a GPS system which uses satellites as does the system installed in golf carts.
Of course if you are not too fussy about the exact distance because most of us cant hit it within +/- 10 to 15 yards of that distance even if we knew it exactly then you can use the sprinkler heads and pace it off from there.
The down side of this is that it takes more time to get the distance so you are slowing play but most important is if you hit that one perfect shot (which does happen now and again) and you were off by five yards you will not be a happy camper. So we all want the exact distance no matter what.
I would suggest that you determine which courses you play most and see what they have then make a decision if you need a device or not. Hope this helps.

Dear Frank,
I thoroughly enjoy reading your thoughts on rules, regulations and equipment.
I have a question about rules.
The other day I played in a tournament and one of the competitors had either lost or put all his golf balls out of bounds. Is there a rule that prevents him from borrowing balls from his fellow competitors? Or, like the movie, Tin Cup suggests will one automatically be disqualified?
We decided it rather harsh to let someone be disqualified on the penultimate hole of a 54 hole tournament and let him borrow a few balls.
Thank you for your thoughts,

I am pleased to tell you that if this golfer runs out of balls and has to borrow some from a friend or fellow competitor he will not be disqualified.
I do think, however, that if you or his other friends that are playing with him (friend, partner or fellow competitor) you should be reluctant to lend him any balls as he will probably not be able to give them back at the rate he is losing them. On the other hand it may be a good strategy to lend him a used ball, which he will probably lose, and in return you may receive a new one when you get back in the clubhouse.
Let me quote a decision from the USGA decisions on the Rules of Golf:
Q. During a stipulated round, a player runs out of balls. May he borrow one or more balls from another player?
A. Yes. Rule 4-4a prohibits a player from borrowing a club from another player playing on the course but the Rules do not prevent a player from borrowing other items of equipment (balls, towels, gloves, tees, etc.) from another player or an outside agency.
If the One Ball Condition in Appendix I is in effect, the player would need to obtain the same brand and type of ball as required by that condition.
On a different note; Some people have asked me if they should use lost balls and I have to tell them that a ball is not a lost if you found it.
Hope this helps.
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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Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

Log on to to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.