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

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

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

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

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

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

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is also one shot off the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu and Shanshan Feng are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''