QA Sharpening Grooves

By Frank ThomasFebruary 12, 2008, 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

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Every week we will select the best question and Frank will send one lucky golfer a personally signed copy of 'Just Hit It'. Last week's lucky winner was Gary, with his question on length and loft.
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Loved your answer to Mark last week about his Ping Eye 2s. Also liked the tie-in to the cheating that goes on with loft angles on more modern iron sets.
I have a question about whether it is legal to sharpen the square grooves with a square groove tool on my Eye 2s. I have been doing it and really dont compete in anything where that kind of a rule would make any difference, but I am curious none-the-less. The square groove tool does work as I really rip curlie-Qs off the covers of soft balls with my PW. Also am I being foolish sticking with my Eye 2s even though I have over $2000 credit on the books at my Country Club pro-shop? Plus I think I like being different.

Thanks for your kind comments.
When it comes to reworking your grooves with a square groove tool, I would be careful. This will very likely make the grooves non-conforming by increasing the size of the groove. The groove pitch (grooves per inch) will not change but with wider grooves, the ratio of land area between grooves, to groove width to will most likely be reduced to less than the required minimum of 3:1. This will make them non-conforming with the rules of golf. You say you, dont compete in anything where that kind of a rule would make any difference which is not true because the rules apply even if you are playing by yourself.
If you dont play by the rules this is OK, but you do need to have some rules to lend order to your game and should adopt these every time you play. If you compete for a beer or something else against your buddies then you must let them know what your rules (Bruces Rules) are so they too can play by your rules. For most of us it is too cumbersome to develop a new set of rules so we find is easier to adopt those drawn up by the USGA & R&A in Scotland. I must agree there are some rules, which dont seem to make intuitive sense and need to be changed. If a lot of us agree that a particular rule needs modification then we should lobby to get it changed rather than intentionally violate it.
I think, if you have been reading my columns you know that I am on your side and trying to stop the USGA from making meaningless and silly rules which will affect all of us, because it is trying to solve a perceived problem created by less than .001% of the golfing population i.e. some members of the PGA Tour. The game is hard enough and we need all the help we can get.

With regard to help, the fact that you are tearing the cover off your ball with your sharpened grooves does not mean you are getting the maximum spin available to you. The cover actually needs to stay intact, like an elastic rubber band and allowed to fully recover once it has been stretched. If the cover rips after it has been stretched, it would be like cutting a rubber band when it is fully stretched. It will lose its potential energy to recover and spin the ball to it maximum. Also as the ball is leaving the club face it wants the very least shear resistance as possible allowing it to slide off the face. The sharp grooves will reduce the potential spin by holding it back while the cover is stuck in the grooves on the face. There is a fine line between what groove configuration is most efficient under certain conditions but really sharp groove are not the best.
The second thing, which you must consider is that feathers on the surface of the ball ' created by the sharp grooves --will affect the aerodynamics significantly and you will lose distance and accuracy. So this ball should find a place in your shag bag and this can become very expensive if you use premium balls.
Lastly, you are not foolish by sticking with you PING Eye-2s especially if you have made good friends with them, have a good level of confidence and they are performing well for you. These are the classic clubs, which started the cavity-back high MOI revolution. Having said this I must admit that even though iron technology hasnt moved as rapidly as wood (driver) technology, because there is not much room to move, things have changed and many of the good concepts have been refined. So even if you love your Eye-2s at least look around, especially because the grooves on your Eye-2s are soon going to be over worked.
By the way, I discuss these and many such issues in my book Just Hit It which is now available... see to order.
I know you will have a lot of fun reading it.
Enjoy the book and your game.
-- Frank
Hi Frank, I am a 55 year old golfer who has been playing golf for over 40 years, I now have a set of Callaway X-14 irons with 5.0 Rifle shafts. I am thinking of changing to either the Callaway X-20's or the new Ping G10's. I am a 10 handicap player. Will I see any changes? I enjoy reading you weekly. Thanks.


If you think it is time to change then this means one of two things:
a) You are not very happy with your present set and have lost confidence in the way they perform and/or
b) You are caught up in the net of hype and marketing directed at those of us who are gullible and believe in magic -- most of us. This belief in magic is augmented by implications, which imply that last years model doesnt work as well anymore because the latest new model has wonderful enhancements which will significantly improve your performance.
If it is a) then yes, I think you should start looking around. I dont think it will be the new head which will affect performance as much as a better fitted shaft and the correct lie angle. A new set will certainly improve your outlook and give you a new sense confidence. The new clubs, after all, havent hit any bad shots so why wouldnt you trust them especially if you paid a lot for them.
If it is b) then be careful because there are few technical improvements in irons, which will significantly enhance your performance. You may be better off reconfiguring your set by dumping the long irons and including a couple of hybrids and check to see if you have the right loft, lie and bounce on your wedges. These are your scoring clubs.
If you are going to change sets then I can say that the X-20s are a good set of clubs as are the Ping G-10s which you have indicated you are looking at. But make sure you dont get a 2-iron or 3- iron in the set. They will sit in your bag, feel very lonely, and only take up valuable space needed for you hybrids.
If you sign up as a Frankly Friend by clicking here you will be alerted when we have new helpful and useful information as it is published.
As a golf instructor and a club fitter, I have occasionally been asked by parents of aspiring teenagers to do whatever it takes to take their son/daughter through the High School, College, and Pro levels of golf instruction. The world now knows the adverse results of what can happen when a very good teenager golfer is given financial and notoriety options based on their early performance. I want to protect my students, but also give them sage advice. Since you have been the source of golf information that I can trust and promote, I am inquiring if you have recommendations on what to read, who to consult with, and how to proceed with this 6-8 year step by step project that keeps knocking on my door.
I look forward to your sage advice.


Thanks for the kind comments.
At our Putting Studio in Orlando we have experienced similar problems. Unfortunately, many parents are trying live out a fantasy through their children. This, in most cases, is very innocent and they may not even know the long term effect. Many truly believe pushing their children is in the childs very best interests. This is sometimes very destructive.
A very good reference guide to help both parents and children keep things in perspective is Golf Parent for the Future, which can be found on Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson -- the authors -- are good friends of ours and have done a super job in helping parents in this respect.
Next time you are in Orlando come in and visit our Putting Studio at ChampionsGate. You can learn more about the programs we offer at the Studio by clicking here.
-- Frank
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
Frank Thomas

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.