QA Wacky Wedges Name Brands

By Frank ThomasAugust 29, 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
 

Good day Frank,
I enjoy you informative articles. If I recall in a previous article you had mentioned that your wedge shafts should be the same length and brand. I also recall a show on TGC with the guy from Golfsmith stating that they should drop down by a quarter of inch for each wedge. Is one way better than the other? Im confused. -- Scott Elsby, Canada

 
Scott,
Let me assure you that when pitching wedges were wedges instead of 9-irons and even weak 8-irons, then all of them in the set were about the same length. For many years there were only two wedges in the set, the PW and SW. The SW was, and remains at about 55 degrees of loft and about 35 inches in length.
 
But since the mid to late '70s, manufacturers, trying to compete and proving that their irons hit the ball farther than their competitors, started to violate the unwritten standard of lofts associated with the numbers on clubs. The lofts were strengthened from 4 to 6 degrees so the PW, which used to be about 52 degrees of loft and 35 inches long, became 45 degrees in loft, which is two degrees stronger than what the loft of 9-iron used to be. It (the new PW) is also the same length as the 9-iron used to be - about 35 1/2 inches or a little longer.
 
All the clubs in the bag were thus affected by this domino effect and the 1-iron, which was impossible to hit anyway, became even harder to hit with three or four degrees less loft. This is the reason the 1-iron is now extinct. The 2-irons are now also close to becoming extinct, except for some of the very elite (Tiger and his crew) who still carry this club from time to time.
 
Because the PW today is similar to what the 9 'iron used to be, it is now about inch longer than the gap wedge (50 to 52 degree loft). But the GW, SW, and the LW (60 degree loft) are generally all the same length. You cant go wrong by keeping the wedges (real wedges GW, SW, LW) all the same length.
 
Hi Frank,
I recently bought some new Mizuno MP60 irons. I had previously played 11 years with some 'knock off' Cobras. I'm hitting my new irons really great, but seem to have lost distance, almost a club to a club and a half.
 
Is there anything I can do to get the distance back? I've heard that I could change shafts or tweak the loft of the irons. Any suggesstions would be appreciated. -- Thanks, Johnny Culpepper

 
Johnny,
First of all, I am pleased to hear that you have moved away from knock-offs, the names of which have been purposely chosen to be similar and to intentionally confuse the public with the real thing. I have a major problem with theft, be it of an idea, product design or anything else. In most cases also these products are not of the quality nor carry the support of the product they are trying to copy.
 
The reason for the loss in distance is most probably because the lofts are different. This should not bother you because what you had in the knock-off set as number 6-iron is probably equivalent in loft and length to the 5-iron in your present set. The good thing about irons is when the 6-iron doesnt hit the ball far enough, you can take out the 5-iron. It is the distance that the club hits the ball which is important, not what number is stamped into the sole of that club.
 
I dont know what shaft flex you have in the new legitimate set, but this is also important. Most of us have shaft flexes which are too stiff, so if you have a chance to try a similar club with a different (more flexible) shaft, then do so and see how it feels. If you feel more comfortable with the more flexible shaft and dont feel you are fighting the club to get it to perform, then this is a good result. Try then to change the shaft in the 6-iron of your new set to the same more flexible shaft. If this works then change the shafts in the whole set.
 
Dont worry about the numbers on the clubs, just remember how far you hit each and use that club at the appropriate time.
 
Hi Frank,
I have a set of expensive irons that I have been hitting well. The steel shafts in these clubs are standard shafts that I see in many OEM irons. I can buy that same shaft online from a well-respected clubmaker golf company for $11.00. With an index of 5.8, should I re-shaft the irons to a better shaft to get more accuracy? Even though I am 60, I do not concern myself about distance. -- Sam Jones

 
Sam,
Re-shafting the irons, which you are hitting well, is not a good idea. The standard shafts, which come with the set, are generally very good and would not be used by the manufacturer if it (the manufacturer) thought that they would not work well in that product. Also dont think that another shaft will improve your accuracy unless you have a really bad shaft to begin with.
 
Accuracy is generally a result of a consistent swing, and a new shaft will not improve your swing - you have to do this. The bottom line is, dont change something that is working well. Also, shafts are important because they are the only connection between you and the business end of the club - the head. We have taken about 400 years to find the right flex and flex pattern in shafts and manufacturers are providing that to you in their standard set, so have faith and dont change a good thing.
 
Hi Frank,
Ninety percent of all the Tour players seem to be using TaylorMade, Callaway or Nike golf equipment. Are these brands so much better than the rest, or are there other forces at work here?
 
I use an Orlimar Hip Ti 420 driver, which in my opinion is as good if not better than any of the above brands, and I've tried most of them. Each week I check the 'What's in the Bag' segment on the Golf Channel site hoping for something different, hoping for an Orlimar user to show up, but each week the same big brands dominate.
What's the story? -- Cheers, Bob & Lisa Shirley

 
Bob,
Lets be Frank, there are other forces at work. The most popular clubs are those marketed by the major manufacturers. The pros have (in many cases) contracts with the manufacturer to use its equipment.
 
However, this equipment would not be used unless it was reasonably good and satisfactory to the pro. The endorsement money may be good, but if he cant use the clubs effectively then this is not going to be a good or long lasting relationship. By the way, you should include in your list Titleist, Ping, Mizuno and a few others. This said, it doesnt mean that the driver you have is not the very best for you.
 
Dont be concerned about who else is using your driver. As long as it works for you, then you are very lucky and well done on the find. It is hard to find a good frien, but it doesnt mean that everybody else also has to like your friend for your relationship to last. Maybe they are being paid to like someone else. Hope this is of some comfort.
 
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
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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”