QA The Truth About Distance

By Frank ThomasNovember 28, 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 realize that on the surface this question seems to have little to do with equipment. However you have exposed the average player's ignorance in regards to our knowledge of how far we actually hit the ball and so I'm coming to you with this one.
I'm a single digit handicapper, currently a 4, which means that I'm often directed by the score card at the courses I play to use the back tees. The reality is that I only carry my driver 230 and the back tees on most courses in South Florida are over 7,000 yards. I notice that LPGA pros, who hit the ball on average around the same distance as I, have plus handicaps and the course that they play are set up at about 6,400 yards. I'm asking because my friends are always trying to get me to move further back and I end up hitting lots of 4 woods, hybrids and 4-irons into greens. I'd much prefer giving them a few more strokes and playing from a set of tees that gives me a chance to use all of the clubs in my bag.
I hope that you can educate us on this matter even if it is on the fringes of what you normally write about. -- Thanks, Rev. Kevin L

Rev. Kevin,
You have pushed my hot button on this one. Please review the report on Growing the Game which covers this issue at This is an analysis of 18,400 responses to our survey, which is part of our research to determine why golfers quit playing the game and what their preferences are about course design.
Unfortunately what you have experienced is a significant factor to be contended with when it comes to fixing the problem. Golfers seem to think they are not only better than they actually are but hit the ball farther than they do and as a consequence tend to play courses about 500 to 600 yards longer than suits their game.
It is good to aim a little higher and keep challenging yourself but the game is not only a personal evaluation of oneself but a form of entertainment at the same time. One should feel good and reasonably well satisfied after the game: not beaten up every time. If we would only play from a shorter set of tees (about 6,200 yards for the average golfer 12 to 20 handicap) we would not only have a more enjoyable round but also play in less time. The time it takes to play is the second most important reason given for quitting the game.
Rev. Kevin, suggest to your friends to move up a tee and when they lose fewer balls, spend less time on the course, smile a little more and are more excited than ever to come back again, ask them to spread the word for the sake of the game.

Dear Frank
I have a putter, center shafted and 35 inches long. I am considering cutting it down to 34 or 34 inches. How will this affect the loft or lie of this putter? -- Mark Johnson

Cutting the putter down will not affect the loft at all. As far as the lie is concerned if you were choking down on your putter before you thought about decreasing the length then this too will be unaffected. The lie on most putters is about 71 degrees which will satisfy most golfers if the length is correct for them.
It is good to have a radius on the sole of the putter (when viewed from the front) to accommodate slight differences in body posture or certain ball position preferences. This radius will also prevent the toe or heel of the putter from snagging when there are severe undulations and uneven lies on the green.
The trend is toward shorter putters and straighter arms so you are moving in the right direction.

All variables being equal, i.e., same length, same shaft, same ball, same everything, what would I gain and what would I lose if I changed from a 320cc driver to a 400 cc driver? Same question if I move to a 460 cc driver. -- Joe

Unfortunately all variables are rarely equal, but if they were and you hit the ball on the sweet spot every time, the 320, 400 and 460 will do the same thing for you assuming each club had the maximum COR allowed.
(click here for an easy to understand explanation of COR).
There is no relationship between performance and size if you hit the sweet spot each time but there is a difference if you dont. The bigger clubs generally have a higher Moment of Inertia (MOI) which is more forgiving of miss-hits.
The difference in performance between the 320 and 460 is not very much but we seem to want to believe that bigger is always better.
The reason why so many clubs are at the size limit is because it is there.

Hi Frank,
Do graphite shafts lose their flex or other qualities as time goes by? I have irons which came with graphite which I bought new in 1992 and was wondering how well they stand up over time. -- Joe, Charleston, S.C.

Graphite shafts do not lose their flex unless they have been damaged or badly worn. You dont have to worry about the shafts in your irons but I do suggest that you look into a newer set as yours are 14 years old. Even though technology hasnt changed very much in irons you may be better off looking around anyway. You will certainly want to look at a hybrid or two to replace your long irons. If you go to my website you will find the results of our survey in which we asked our Frankly Friends to rate their own hybrids and give us some information about which clubs they replaced. We also asked why they selected their hybrids and also their handicap range.
If you sign up as a Frankly Friend by clicking here we will alert you whenever we have this type of interesting information available and/or when our newsletter is published each month.
Good luck and dont worry about the shafts.
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

Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

Getty Images

McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

Getty Images

What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x