QA The Truth About Shafts

By Frank ThomasOctober 25, 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 letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com
 
Frank,
After reading your September 26, 2006 feature on finding the proper shaft, I'm still a little confused. I'm looking at the Titleist 905R driver, which has four standard shafts offered, Aldila NV 65, Speeder by Fujikura, UST Proforce V2 75 and graphite Design YS-6+. You stated in the feature that 90% of all golfers, which would include me, would be okay with the standard shafts offered by the manufacturer. Being a 12 handicap and currently using a R-flex shaft in the 50-60 grams level on my current Titleist 585D, I am looking for a higher launch with low spin. Some of the standard shafts above mention high or medium spin. Should I then rule out those standard shaft options?
 
Can I get a very lightweight shaft that can indeed help me with the higher launch and low spin? Should I get a higher loft, say 12 degrees rather than the 10.5 that I currently have? At 56 years old, I'm not only looking for more distance, but more carry and accuracy. I know how important finding the right shaft is and I'm sure that others have the same questions.
Jim Fujioka, HI

 
Jim,
First you are right about the four different shafts offered as available 'stock' shafts. Some of these are better suited to the better golfer and are not what I would call a 'standard shaft', so let me try to guide you through this maze of shaft options if I can.
 
The weight of the shaft will not affect the launch angle but the shaft flex and face loft will. There are high and low kick points in a shaft which will also affect ball flight and spin. The low kick point (same flex shaft) on an otherwise similar lofted head will tend to increase the launch angle and increase the spin. The high kick point will generally do the opposite, i.e. lower the flight and decrease the spin. These are relatively small increments compared to the effect of changing the overall shaft flex and club loft.
 
So if you need to change your ball trajectory and you are not a low single-digit handicap golfer, and hitting the ball consistently, the first suggestion is to work with club loft. The higher loft will launch the ball higher and add more spin.
 
Next, and seeing you are a Titleist man, I would suggest you skip the four 'stock' shaft options and go for the 'standard' Titleist 4560 which is very good for 90% of us. Look at the different flexes of the standard Titleist 4560 shafts offered. Most important is to select a flex X, S, R, or other, which will best suit your swing speed and swing type. For example; if your swing speed is about 85 - 90 then an R-flex should be your first choice. But it must also feel comfortable for you and only you can make this determination.
 
If these options don't seem to do the trick then, and only then, start a search for a specialized shaft. You may also want to try a different ball type, which has different launch conditions and acts in concert with the club head type.
 
Titleist offers 54 different shafts so the 'Techies' can do their thing.
 
The reason why so many shafts are being offered is to allow a golfer who loves to tinker or believes that, 'a different shaft will work wonders' or that 'If the pros are using them then they must work for me' to have fun doing his thing. If, however, you have a swing like the pros then you can work with the fine-tuning that some of the exotic shafts may have to offer.
 
For most of us, messing with these (sometimes very expensive) shafts may make us feel good but might not have any real effect on our game.
 
The only golfers who are in a position to really take advantage of the various options are the very good single-digit handicap golfers or those who hit the ball very consistently and need to tweak their trajectory. These golfers hit the ball regularly on the sweet spot and are looking for a ball flight, which the combination of club loft, c.g. location and overall shaft flex will not provide.
 
So, Jim, I recommend that you select a head design that looks good to you with the appropriate loft followed by the correct shaft flex X,S, or R standard shaft (in the case of Titleist the 4560 is very good).
 
As a last resort only, go to a shaft with a different flex point, weight and torsional properties. When you get to this point you had better be hitting the ball consistently otherwise the journey to fine tuning the club would have been a waste of time.
 
This doesn't mean that the final product you come up with, working all the variables, will not perform as well as a standard shaft but it does mean that the odds that it will be better than a standard shaft of the correct flex are slim and also you will spend a lot of time and money getting there.
 
Specialized customizing has done wonders for a number of people who have gone through the process and therefore believe that they have the perfect fit. Knowing that our equipment is right for us and having this belief is very important and does wonders for our game.
 
I play golf about once a week. I am about an 8 handicap. My average score is in the 70's. I hit my 45 degree PW about 125-130, with the mid 120's being ptimal. In this set I hit my 9 iron (full) in the mid 140's.
 
My driver carry is approx. 250+. I can hit it 290 on some holes, less on others depending on the hole design. My irons have stiff shafts.
 
Here is my question. I can hit my three iron and four iron. BUT, I find that after I play more and more holes, my swing gets more and more tired, and late in the day it is much, much, harder to hit those two clubs. I hit them better off the tee than the ground. This is not the case with any other club.
 
Would it be smart, to change out the Stiff flex in the three and four iron to a regular flex? Would this allow me to swing in a more controlled fashion and still benefit from the clubs?
 
Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Mike Dugger

 
Mike,
If you get tired toward the end of the round, then this probably means that some strength and flexibility exercises are in order and will probably help. You may also need to work on increasing your stamina. Walking three or more miles a day at a reasonable speed will soon get you in good shape for your golf and your general quality of life will also improve. Check with your doctor before you get into any exercise regimen.
 
The three iron is the first to go wrong when you get tired. But you may find you have a rogue club in your set, so check the frequencies. If these are not all progressing evenly throughout the set then this may be another problem. As the shafts (clubs) get shorter the frequency should increase from club to club.
 
Also you should recognize that even the pros are going to hybrids replacing the long irons. So don't feel bad about dumping the long irons for hybrids.
 
More flexible shafts in your irons as well as converting to graphite is not a bad idea but I would suggest the exercise thing as a good first step followed by the hybrid substitution for the three and four iron.
 
Frank, you're the best. I've developed a fade that's driving me crazy. I just hate that ball flight. Is my shaft too stiff or vice versa? I hit the same shot with several different drivers, all stiff, 8.5 to 9.5 loft. I just can't figure it out.
Thanks.
Henry Carnes

 
Henry,
The slice can be due to a couple of things. Yes, one reason could be the stiff shaft but generally this would result in more of a push fade than a bad slice. Second and most probably the cause is in your swing: I would get a good teacher to look at your swing and correct the error if this is the cause, which should be reasonably evident.
 
A more flexible shaft will tend to hit the ball a little higher and farther left than a stiff shaft which will tend to hit the ball a little lower and right. A bad slice is almost always a swing that has gone wrong so find a good teacher to look at what you are doing and make the corrections if this is the problem. It will generally be a lot less expensive than messing with equipment to correct the flaw.
 
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 letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.