QA Square Drivers Spin Control

By Frank ThomasMarch 7, 2007, 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
Nike and Callaway are introducing new square headed drivers for 2007. They claim the square head shape has allowed them to increase the MOI and thus produce a straighter hitting driver. I understand the MOI theory, but does a square head really make a difference or is this just more marketing hype? -- Richard
Let me say the following: When the MOI increased from 2,000 gm cm to 4,000 gm cm there was a significant improvement in performance on mishits. But from 4,000 gm cm to 6,000 gm cm there is very little. Most of the bigger 400cc to 460 cc drivers have about 3,500 gm cm to 4,000 gm cm MOI and perform very well.
The latest square drivers have improved the MOI to 5,300 gm cm but the improvement in performance doesnt come close to the improvement we have seen from 2,000 to 4,000 gm cm. A good case of diminishing returns.
The other reason why the manufacturers are doing this is to be different and also to approach the MOI limit placed by the USGA. Any time there is a limit golfers assume that being just under it is good. Thus the reason for the 460cc drivers (limit is 470cc) and now the high MOI. I very much doubt that you will be able to see any real measurable difference in performance because of the increase to 5,300 gm cm unless you really miss the sweet-spot.
There is not much more room for movement in performance in drivers so pushing the envelope re. the limits seems to be a good way to impress golfers. I believe that in time we will see a return to 400 cc drivers and traditional shapes.
Frankly, for the moment, being square is cool.
For more on square drivers check out my latest newsletter by clicking here.
Dear Frank: Do the current drivers (large head - thin face) get 'weak' after use? That is, does the COR decrease over time with a consequent loss of distance?

Yes the COR will eventually decrease as you continually hit the center of the face. The time it takes depends on the speed at which you impact the ball and how often. The club faces are very thin and it will take about 5,000 to 10,000 impacts on the sweet spot at 115 to 120 mph head speed for the face to start deteriorating. This number depends on the manufacturing process and control of the face thickness and how it is welded to the body of the head.
This should not be of too much concern to most of us because we do not swing fast enough and dont hit the sweet spot very often. By the time we get to the critical number we will probably need a new driver anyway.
The best way to check if the face is starting to deteriorate is to place a credit card edge on to the face and check to see that it is rocking on the face because of the roll and bulge built into the new club face.
If the card does not rock and you are unable to see light under the edge, the face has flattened and you should think about getting a new driver.
I am a 20-handicapper. I use a 10.5 driver, and the lowest spin rate I have ever been able to achieve is 4,000. Should I use a more lofted driver?

I dont know what your swing speed is, but if its 80 to 90 mph then your launch angle should be 13 to 14 degrees and spin rate should be about 3,500 rpm. If your launch angle is higher than this, get a driver with a lower loft; if not, then stay with what you have. Four thousand rpm is not bad. The other thing you can try is to hit the ball a little higher on the face to decrease the spin, but this will increase the launch angle.
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
Getty Images

Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

Getty Images

Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

Getty Images

DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

Getty Images

LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.