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
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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.