QA Tweaking for the New Year

By Frank ThomasDecember 27, 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
What is the difference between a graphite iron shaft and a graphite hybrid shaft that are both .370 tip?
Why can't I use a 38' iron shaft instead of a 38' hybrid shaft if I am making a hybrid 23* club?
Is it just marketing hype, or is there a real difference? Thanks, Woodman

This depends on the flex pattern, not necessarily the tip diameter.
From the shaft point of view, hybrids are still in the experimental stage. The fairway wood shaft is generally smaller at the tip than an iron shaft, and its also more flexible than the iron shaft. Neither the iron shaft (too stiff) nor the fairway wood shaft (too flexible) seems to be just right for the hybrids. As a result, a number of manufacturers are turning to a special hybrid shaft for the best results. (As an aside, woods and irons are distinguished in the rules by their shapes, not by material, so I prefer to call these clubs simply woods and irons rather than metalwoods etc., so as not to confuse the issue further.)
The hybrid club is, in most cases, 1 inch longer than the similarly-lofted iron club it replaces, and will get the ball in the air a little better thanks to its slightly more flexible shaft than the irons and its rearward-positioned c.g. (center of gravity). The hybrid head in most cases also has a higher MOI (moment of inertia) than the iron it is replacing and thus be more forgiving. The shaft difference is not just marketing hype, but has a real effect on the performance of the club.
The difference between the two shafts you are considering is probably in the flex pattern even though they have the same tip diameter. Graphite seems to be the shaft material most manufacturers are leaning toward for hybrids.
The modern hybrid (even though it was originally introduced in a slightly different form many years ago) is probably the best innovation in the game for some time.
Hope this helps.

Hi Frank,
I just turned 60 and am about a 15 handicap. Should I move to the seniors tees? My game was never good enough for the back tees, but I always played the tee box closest to the 6500 yardage. If I'm driving the ball into the fairway, what iron should I be hitting into the green? I feel that if Im hitting a sand wedge into the green I should be playing from a tee box further back.
Frank, love your stuff. - Joe from Vegas

I would recommend you go to the senior tees -- but dont think of them as being senior tees, just more enjoyable tees.
Our research indicates that the average golfer prefers to play from tees at about 6,200 yards. This is a very good length that provides the most appropriate challenge to golfers shooting between 90 and 95 on longer courses.
Your question about which iron you should be hitting into the green is a tough one because it doesnt have any one answer. I do believe you should use a set of tees that gives you a chance to score par on every hole you play. It may not be easy, but it should be possible.
If you drive the ball a maximum of 200 yards and hit your three-wood a maximum of 185 yards, then a par four of more than 400 will be tough, unless you are outstanding at the up and down shots. If this is the case for you, then move forward and explain to your fellow golfers -- assuming they have similar handicaps -- that you would rather have a good enjoyable day on the course than a bruised ego. They might try it too, and be relieved that someone had the courage to step forward and make the game more fun.
It is sometimes hard to accept the fact that we dont hit the ball as far as we think we do. In general, golfers overestimate the distance we drive the ball by 30 to 40 yards. This information comes from our study and survey of more than 18,000 golfers.
Move up a set of tees, and youll find that theres still plenty of challenge, but a bit less strain on your body and mind. Youll probably enjoy the game more, and play better; quicker, too.

Thanks for your comments, and Im glad you are enjoying my stuff. Have fun on the course, Joe.

About two months ago I broke my Callaway X-14 pitching wedge where the shaft met the hosel. I sent it to Callaway and asked to have the club fitted to 1 degree flat. Previously I had my clubs fitted at an Academy in Orlando and was told my clubs were fitted at 1 degree flat. I received my wedge back, but for some reason I cannot hit it very well. That wedge was my favorite and most deadly club. I have lost confidence in it, and I dread using it instead of using my 9-iron. What can I do or should I do? All I want is my old club back.
Crying for help!

Hi Gary,
Unfortunately, because you broke the shaft in your wedge, and we cant fix broken shafts, you cant have the old club back. We can, however, try to assemble a new wedge using the old head to reproduce the club that gave you so much confidence before the accident.
First, I would suggest you check the lie angle of the club you have in hand, to make sure that it is not TWO degrees flat. The original fitting was a one-degree adjustment in the neck of the club, not the shaft; when you indicated to Callaway that you wanted it one degree flat, they may have reasonably interpreted that you wanted them to add a degree. The effect of this flatter lie angle will be that the ball goes right of the target even though you think you are lined up properly.
Next I would check the shaft. Make sure it is similar to the original shaft flex and model that was in the club you broke. If you have the original broken shaft and it has some identifying marks on it, check these and compare them to the shaft in the repaired club.
If the lie angle is correct, then the differences you are experiencing must be in the shaft. Also make sure the swing weight and the grip size are the same. These can make a little difference, but the change should not be so drastic as to have you lose confidence in your trusty wedge.
If everything checks out ' and from your description, it sounds like something is indeed wrong ' then my only advice is to drown her and start over with a new club that hasnt had an evil spell placed on it. Or perhaps take her to the range for a few sessions to build back your confidence. Confidence is a magical thing, and a little practice helps it grow.

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

Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

Getty Images

Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

Getty Images

Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

Getty Images

Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."