QA When Long is Wrong

By Frank ThomasSeptember 5, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from GOLF CHANNEL's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email
I made a mistake and bought a (used) Taylor made R7 Ti 3 Wood with a 45-inch shaft. The shaft is a Taylor Made Re Ax regular shaft. With the extra 2 inches the swing weight is too heavy. I have difficulty swinging this club.
Is it possible to cut down the length at the grip and keep the regular flex? Or do I have to replace the entire shaft?
-- Ted

Leonard Thompson
Leonard Thompson wonders why amateurs can't play by different rules on 'Ask Frank,' Monday, Sept. 10 at 11:00 p.m. ET on GC
I dont know whom you bought your 45' 3-wood from, but he must have been a basketball player. Or maybe someone who was trying to get a lot more distance from his 3-wood than he should, and discovered that this increase in length didnt work.
The woods is not a good place to find yourself after using a Wood club of any loft, driver or 3-wood, from the tee or the fairway. In most cases, the longer the club the less accurate it becomes. So now you know why this club found its way to the second-hand-club lot.
If you cut 2' off this club, do it from the butt end as you suggested, which will least affect the flex properties; it is also the easiest way to do it because you dont have to remove the head.
By shortening the club by 2' you will reduce the swing weight by about 10 to 12 points. If this proves to be too much, you can add a little lead tape to the back lower center portion of the head to bring the swing weight back to what suits you best.
Before you do anything, take it out to the range and choke down on the grip about 2' and hit a few shots. This will give you a sense of how it will feel when you reduce the length without adding tape to the head. The grip size will be a little smaller in this choked down gripping position, but it is a good first step in the shortening process.
After you decide to cut it down to the 43' which is about the right length for a 3-wood the shaft flex will feel a little stiffer, but there may not be enough difference to affect you. The more lead tape you add to bring it into your swing weight range, the more you will lower the frequency, giving the shaft a softer feel. However, getting the shaft length in the right ballpark is important.
Some of the new big-headed square drivers are being made too long -- 45 or more inches long -- resulting in golfers spending a lot of time looking for their balls in the woods. Such players practically have to ask for off-road tires when they rent a golf cart. The few good drives may be a little longer than what they used to average, but they are so few and far between that buying beers for their buddies with lower scores quickly changes how they think about trying to impress their friends. The added shaft length on some of these drivers is not well advertised in the promotional materials, but its the only real reason for the occasional longer drive. Increasing forgiveness, which is the point of the square heads, shouldnt add distance if the swing speed doesnt change.
If manufacturers want to speed up play and help golfers reduce their handicaps, they should do it by making drivers shorter. When purchasing new woods or drivers you need to be aware of the length of shaft that is installed. Golfers hit the ball straighter with a slightly shorter driver, and any decrease in distance will change as the golfer develops confidence with this club. He will swing better which always helps both accuracy and distance as well as an improved score.
I know you didnt ask about drivers, but the same principles apply to your 3-wood.
Take the short cut. It will work.
-- Frank
Hi Frank:
I am 5'6' in height and currently play with Ping irons that are 1 degree flat (red dot). I am looking to purchase a new set of irons and was wondering if the lie of the club makes a significant difference.
-- Ty

The lie angle of your irons is probably one of the more important things to think about when you select a new set of irons. Some people may try to custom-fit you to plus or minus 1/4 inch in shaft length, and/or and a special low or high kick point shaft, or a special weight shaft with specific 'torque' properties. They may even suggest a 2-point higher or lower swing weight. In most cases, this degree of fitting is unnecessary and may be primarily intended to make you feel special with a new set. Surprisingly, in many cases it works (for a while, anyway). This type of tweaking has a place on Tour, but for most of us (about 90%) a standard set will be just fine.
What does matter, however, is to select a proper lie angle for your swing plane, which is related to your swing technique and stature, and to match it with the right shaft flex (chosen based on your swing speed and comfort level).If the lie angle is too flat, your ball flight will tend to go right of the target and may also have a little fade spin. Similarly, if it is too upright the flight will be left of your target line.
Some manufacturers try (and do a relatively good job) to get the general shaft flex and lie angle fitted to you, based on your handicap and height, or actual 'lie board tests' during the selection process. It is these two properties, within an otherwise standard set, that are most important. Youve experienced this with your present set.
With your new set, make sure that the shaft flex fits your swing speed. Higher swing speeds require stiffer shafts in most cases. Also be certain that the lie angle is adjusted from standard if your ball flight is right of left of target and a 'lie board test' confirms that an adjustment will help. Unless you are unusually taller or shorter than average (plus or minus 4 to 5 inches) start with a standard set and get a lesson to correct a swing flaw rather than try to get your equipment to compensate.
Don't let a bad lie get between you and a good shot.
Hope this helps.
-- Frank
I am still young, 63, and have in the last 18 months lost distance on the driver in the range of 40-50 yards. My handicap in the past ranged from 7 to 10. I have taken lessons from a national firm that puts a harness on your back, my pros, and a teaching pro who was on the tour. I exercise daily. Im now taking pilates. I played a resort course last Saturday and got paired with a gentleman approximately my age and he was outdriving me 75 to 90 yards. He was hitting wedges while I was hitting 6 irons.
What can I do for distance? One of my golfing friends said to lay off for 2 weeks and then quit ...
-- Tony

If you accept the advice of quitting after two weeks lay off, this will mean another good man down. We are losing too many golfers and rounds are decreasing at a rate of about 2% to 3% per year. This is not good news.
First, dont get upset if someone else your age can outdrive you -- this happens. What you should be concerned about is that you have suddenly lost 40 to 50 yards. Lets assume that this is truly the case and is not something that has happened gradually due to body decay.
We need to establish exactly what has changed. I dont know whether you started your exercise routine, lessons, swing analysis and Pilates classes after the distance loss or whether these were on-going preemptive maintenance procedures to prevent distance loss.
If the distance loss happened long after you had started these routines, then the only conclusion we can draw is that its not you that has changed but the tools youre using. On the other hand, these routines may be the problem, and trying too hard to get the extra yards has actually caused a problem. Personally, I dont think it is the latter, because exercise and reasonably good lessons have never (almost never) resulted in a decrease in driving distance -- unless your launch conditions have crashed and your swing speed has dropped by 15 to 20 mph. This is easy to check on a launch monitor.
All said and done, lets assume it is the instrument. There have been occasions when the face of the newer big drivers have started to collapse and the COR has decreased significantly. But this would not result in 40 to 50 yard losses, but 15 to 20 yards max.
Tony, I think you do have a problem that only a new driver will solve. And you need to have confidence and BELIEVE that it will work. This does wonders for people. This remedy has worked for many, certainly in the short term. Dont stop the other stuff -- lessons and exercise are always a good thing.
Whatever you do, DONT quit, even after a lay off.
-- Frank
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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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.