QA Swing Speed Secrets

By Frank ThomasJune 27, 2006, 4:00 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
Dear Mr. Thomas:
I recently picked up a copy of Golf Digest and saw the swings of Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes featured. According to the article, both players swing the club (the driver) at the same speed: 126 MPH. However, Bubba Watson's average ball speed is 194 MPH while J.B. Holmes's average ball speed is 182 MPH.
My question, then, is if both players swing the club at the same speed (126 MPH) how come they have different ball speeds and hit the ball different distances? Wouldn't it be logical that if they share the same swing speed they would subsequently share the same ball speed and hit the ball the same distance? Is there anything that we can learn from this? Thanks! -- Tim Davis, Wadsworth, Illinois

Your question is very timely as I have addressed this issue in my June Newsletter on my website
First I think that the ball speed of 194 seems to be very high for a head speed of 126 mph. One can expect a ball speed of about a 1.5 times the head speed when hit on the sweet spot at swing speeds of about 110 mph. But even if the head speeds are the same the impact point may be different and ball speed may be affected. As far as distance is concerned this will be affected dramatically by the launch conditions. One set of launch conditions may be at the optimum for that ball and its speed and the other set no where close. This can make the difference of 10 to 15 yards. Hope this helps.
I can never remember, when adding lead tape, do you add it on the toe for a hook, or the heel for a slice, etc. Or do you buy three drivers like Phil!! -- Jeanie Matherly

Don't try to correct you slice or hook by shifting weight in your driver. These adjustments are to tweak your ball flight from a fade to straight or a draw to straight when you are hitting the ball consistently on the center of the face as in Phil's case.
If you add tape to the head you will need to add a significant amount to affect the flight but you will also affect the balance of the club. Adding tape to the head will increase the swing weight and the feel of the shaft etc. So make these adjustments with lead tape only if the club was too light to begin with or if you shortened the club by an inch or more. The better way is to find a club with weight ports and different weighted screws.
Assuming you know all this; if you change the weight to the heel ports you will do two things:
a) First, it will move the center of gravity (c.g.) closer the heel and allow you to take advantage of the gear effect by putting draw spin on the ball. This you know from hitting the ball on the toe of your driver which results in a slight draw (not a hook). This does not happen with clubs with the c.g. close to the face as in irons.
b) Second, because the weight has been moved closer to the heel (shaft) closing the face will be easier than if the weight was concentrated on the toe, so the face may be presented to the ball in a slightly closed position than it would with the weight on the toe.
Hi Frank,
I realize you're a very busy man, but I'm new to golf and am shopping for my first set of clubs. I have a Golfsmith around the corner and a small father and son shop that just made a set for a friend at a super price. I also ran across the Pinemeadows site for clone clubs and I like what they have to say and admit it appears they may have the best deal for me. I am on a budget being semi-retired and would really appreciate any advice you could give me. If it's any help I am very strong and in top physical condition.
Respectfully, Dudley Epps

If the clubs you refer to are legitimate club designs and models from component parts manufacturers then some of these clubs are very good and cost a lot less than the premium models. Watch out for counterfeits of brand names though.
I would also suggest that you look for a set of premium clubs which are a one or two years old. Generally these are marked down and because the laws of physics don't change every time a new model is introduced they will work very well. Technology has changed especially for woods in the last ten years but irons have not changed at the same pace. So a set introduced since 2000 may be your answer.
As this is your first set, I suggest that from your iron set you leave out the 3 and 4-iron. Start your set with a 5-iron to PW and a get a good sand wedge and a very good forgiving putter. A driver with a 44 inch shaft and a fairway wood (3 and/or a 5-wood) should work with a 26 degree hybrid. Your choice of irons should be from the Ultra- or Super- Game Improvement category. See for a complete listing of more than 300 irons types and models.
Dear Frank,
I currently play a 9* stiff shafted driver which carries about 260 yards and stops; there is little or no roll. I used to have other drivers, which rolled another 25-30 yards. What factor affects roll off of a driver? Is it the head design, the swing or shaft? Would a session on a launch monitor help me find a driver that carries as far but also rolls?
Thanks, Dave

If you carry the ball 260 yards then this would normally result in a roll of about 25 yards, on a fairway of average hardness. So the final distance should be close to 285 which is only a couple of yards short of the tour average.
Roll depends on incoming angle and ball speed. You have one of two problems; either the initial launch angle and/or the spin rate is too high. For your swing speed you should probably be launching the ball at about 12 degrees with a spin rate of 2,500 rpm. To achieve these conditions which will be optimum for you may have to;
a) decrease the loft and/or
b) get a lower spin ball and/or
c) Hit the ball a little higher on the club face. This will decrease the
spin an increase the launch angle.
You may have to switch to an X-stiff shaft but make this your last move.
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

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook sank a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without making a bogey on the Plantation Course or the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

Cook was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back.

Bubba (64) fires his lowest round of 2017

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:12 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Bubba Watson’s plan when he left the Dell Technologies Championship in September was to take a few months off and come back fresh in 2018

Those plans changed after a few weeks.

“What we figured out was the mental side, preparing for kindergarten - not for me, for my son - preparing for [wife] Angie's knee surgery. It's been a tough go,” Watson said.

“Being home and being with the family and everything, I realized how much I missed the game of golf, and that's why I wanted to come and play in these tournaments.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

The plan has paid off this week at the RSM Classic, where Watson is tied for 12th place after a second-round 64 on the Seaside course moved him to 7 under par.

Watson, who tied for 51st two weeks ago in Las Vegas, got off to a quick start on Day 2, playing the opening nine in 29. Despite a miscue at the 14th hole, when his tee shot wedged into a tree, he was solid coming in for his best individual round this year.

The left-hander was particularly sharp with his ball-striking after what has been a difficult year.

“I want to play golf now and right now I'm swinging at it pretty nicely,” he said.

S.H. Park (65) builds three-shot lead at LPGA finale

By Doug FergusonNovember 17, 2017, 9:58 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made five straight birdies and seized control late in the round with an eagle for a 7-under 65 and a three-shot lead in the CME Group Tour Championship.

The lead might have been larger except for Park's three-putt bogey on the 18th hole at Tiburon Golf Club.

Not only was she three ahead of Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith, none of the other players vying for all the awards was within five shots. Lexi Thompson shot a 67 and wound up losing ground. She was six shots behind.

Park was at 12-under 132. A victory would allow the 24-year-old South Korean to sweep all the big awards and become the first rookie since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win LPGA player of the year.

Korda sisters poised to make a run at CME

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 9:47 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Jessica Korda wasn’t feeling well making her way around the CME Group Tour Championship battling congestion Friday, but the leaderboard walking to the ninth tee gave her a nice lift.

That’s where she saw younger sister Nelly’s name tucked right next to hers.

They were within a shot of each other amid hard charges up the leaderboard, with Nelly playing just in front of her.

“I was like, 'Dang!’ It was good to see,” said Jessica, 24. “It’s fun to see her playing this well. I know what she puts into it. I’m kind of jealous of the rookie year she’s having, because mine sucked.”

Nelly, 19, is looking to put a special ending on her first year on tour. She posted a 6-under-par 66, good for a tie for fourth, six shots behind Sung Hyun Park (65). Nelly has given herself a weekend shot at her first victory.

Just a year ago, Nelly was here as a spectator, watching her sister.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

“I found it funny,” Nelly said. “I was walking to the range on Tuesday, thinking just last year, people were asking me, 'When are you going to be out here?’ It seems surreal to be out here, playing alongside my sister and the best players in the world.

“Being in contention is really, really special.”

Jessica shot 68 and sits a shot behind her sister.

Nelly said seeing the leaderboard gave her a lift, too.

“Maybe it amps me up just a little bit,” Nelly said. “It’s a friendly competition. Even though we want each other to succeed, we also want to beat each other. I think she would say that, too.”

Jessica is seeking her fifth LPGA title. She’s coming off a tie for third at the Blue Bay LPGA last week.

Jessica is 35th on the LPGA money list this year, with $515,521 in earnings. Nelly is 51st, with $388,983 in earnings.

“I definitely look for Jess on the board,” Nelly said. “We’ve very supportive of each other.”