QA Tee Length Club Forgiveness

By Frank ThomasJuly 18, 2007, 4:00 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
First I'd like to say that as an amateur clubmaker, I always enjoy your column and spots on TGC. I read your thoughts on the USGA's U-groove ruling, and thought about something that I hadn't considered: Tee length. Is it possible that the stupendous driving distances the pros hit the ball could be controlled by mandating a 1-inch tee? If so, that would be a marvelous solution to preserve the game. The PGA TOUR could hand out marked official spec tees to players at each tournament. I would think this would cause minimal impact to the equipment industry.

Morris Hatalsky
Three-time Champions Tour winner Morris Hatalsky asks about graphite shafts in 'Ask Frank,' Monday, July 23 at 11:00 p.m. ET on GC. (WireImage)
Thank you for your kind remarks. With regard to tees (pegs, not the teeing ground), there is no reliable research that I have seen to support or justify the 4' length limitation the USGA has placed on tees. There is also no data to suggest that the distance pros hit the ball could be controlled by restricting tee length.
For many years, the standard tee length was 2 inches. Today, it seems to be 2 3/4 inches, either because it is what golfers feel they want or because it leaves more room to print the name of the golf course and the logo on the tee shaft.
I am not sure that the average distance on tour would be significantly reduced if a 1 inch tee was mandated by the PGA TOUR.
What I find amusing is that as soon as the tee length limit of 4 ' was adopted, many tee manufacturers decided to make tees 3.9 inches long because they mistakenly believe (or golfers incorrectly infer) that every time the USGA sets a limit it must be important, and that something close to the limit must be as good as possible.
A 4-inch tee is cumbersome to carry in your pocket and will easily pierce your leg, finger, or anything else that gets in its way. In order to use it reasonably, you have to insert about 2 inches or more of it into the ground, because an efficient tee height is just over 1 1/2 inches above the surface of the teeing area, positioning the center of the ball about 2 1/2 inches above the ground. Even the 2 3/4 inch tee tends to be 'disposable' or 'for one time use only,' as it is almost always breaks when you hit a drive off it because it's inserted so far into the ground. Golfers may think that an even longer tee will increase their distance, but skying a few shots will bring them back to earth (about 1 1/2 inches away) in a hurry.
Peter, I don't think a 1inch tee would do it. 'No Tee' probably would, but this won't fly.
Hope this helps
Does a golf club 'forgive' a bad swing, poor alignment, poor posture, and a bad grip? Wouldn't most golfers benefit more from lessons from their local PGA professional rather than spending money on the 'high tech' craze that's swept the game? I've tried several 'game improvement' irons in particular, but nothing works like hitting the ball in the middle of the club face on the intended line to the target. I always come back to the type of forgings I grew up with. I'm 60 years old and my handicap fluctuates between 7 and 14 all year long depending on how well I chip and putt. If these clubs are so forgiving, why haven't handicaps improved over the last 10-15 years? I enjoy your writing and your expertise.

A forgiving golf club is one that will reduce the effect of an imperfect impact for those of us who do not always hit the sweet spot, but it will not correct a bad swing.
Unfortunately, no matter how much we believe in magic, there are few if any clubs that will make you swing better. The exception is a well-fitted club when compared to a badly fitted club - one that is too long or short (by several inches), too heavy (by several ounces), or too stiff. Notice that a club has to be extremely ill-fitted to make a significant difference.
Yes, technology has made some wonderful strides to help us enjoy our game a little more, and most of these advances have happened in the last ten years or so. We are all the same at times, in that we believe there is a little magic around the corner, something we can buy to improve our game and not have to work for it.
Buying a Formula One car will help us get around the track a little faster, but we really do need a lesson on how to drive it first.
You're absolutely right that most people who keep buying new clubs looking for magic would be better off giving a fraction of that money to their local pro for a series of lessons. Clubs today are more forgiving, but they can't provide complete absolution.
-- Frank
Thank you for taking the time to give us this column of great information. Recently, I started playing golf again, and was surprised to see all of the game improvement equipment, everything was larger than the equipment I played in the early 90's. My question is, when aligning the super size irons and woods, do you actually align the ball to the middle of the club face or slightly off center closer to the player?
Thank you again,

Thanks for the kind comments, I do appreciate them. When it comes to aligning the clubface with the ball, it really doesn't matter where it is addressed, but it is vitally important at impact. There are a number of things going on just before impact that affect club head orientation relative to the ball; these are dependent on shaft flex, center of gravity (c.g.) of the head, MOI of the head, and most important your swing speed and all sorts of other stuff.
The head will droop at impact and have a completely different lie angle than at address. It will orient (square) itself differently depending on the MOI of the head relative to the shaft axis. It will present a different loft to the ball depending on the c.g. location in the head -- so trying to compensate with your address position is not a 'one size fits all' solution.
To avoid trying to deal with all the dynamic forces and their effects, my suggestion is as follows: Mark a -inch circle on the ball with a Sharpie. and position the ball so that the mark is where impact will occur (at the back of the ball opposite the target line and a little below center). Carefully note how you align your new big club (driver or iron) at address and see how this correlates with the impact point (mark) on the face after you hit the ball, using your every day (hopefully repeating) swing.
If the mark is in the center of the face then you have your answer; if not, try to make some adjustment at address to alter this impact position. This may help guide you in adjusting your address position to compensate for your swing dynamics and those of the new equipment, and/or at least develop some consistency in your setup at address.
I have seen some golfers set up to the ball, then start their swing from the top without addressing the ball or making a backswing (taking something from baseball), and this has been relatively successful. It is amazing how well the brain instructs the body based on some visual feedback, moving the club into the correct position to meet the ball most effectively. This move will be influenced by your experience with a particular club.
Wayne, you've asked a very good question, but it is really more personal and up to you to do some experimenting once you get used to the feel of the new club. Every new thing takes a little getting used to.
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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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.