QA Why Putts Lip Out

By Frank ThomasOctober 10, 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
Dear Frank,
Fred Funk
Fred Funk joins Frank on 'Ask Frank,' Monday, Oct. 15 at 11:00 p.m. ET on GC. (WireImage)
I have always played standard lie golf clubs, even though I am 64 tall (stubborn rejection of technological advancementI just switched from persimmon heads last year). I recently bought a new set and had them adjusted by my favorite local pro. He measured me and told me I needed three degrees upright! So, he adjusted them, I took em out, and I hooked every iron for fourteen holes. I tried to swing much more steeply than I was used to, and it seemed to work pretty well.
Heres the question: could a flatter swing with more upright clubs produce hooks? I'm willing to swing more steeply; I just want to make sure that I have figured out the right reason for my hooks before I make a swing change.
Thanks for your time,

Stubborn Ben,
I am not surprised that your favorite local pro gave you clubs with 3-degree upright lies on your new set of irons. He wanted to get back at you for being so stubborn and not switching to metal woods sooner.
There is no doubt that if you have a good swing and are reasonably happy with the ball flight, a 3-degrees change to your lie angle will dramatically affect your results.
If the lie is too upright it will produce a draw (or in your case, a hook). I am not sure that I would recommend you change your swing plane to adjust for the hook when you know exactly what is causing it. I say this assuming that you have a grooved swing and your favorite local pro hasnt tried to correct it for you. He has probably been so upset with you for being so stubborn about your driver that he didnt notice the flaw (if you have one) in your swing plane.
Now that you have worn out the off-road tires on your golf cart by spending so much time in the left woods, your pro may want to review your swing and the lie angle on your set.
For your height you probably do need a different lie than standard, so make friends again with your pro and get things sorted and dont wait so long to take advantage of some of the recent advances that have been made in technology.These advances are becoming fewer and farther between, so you shouldnt feel you have to make frequent changes, but go with the ones that have passed the test of time. Otherwise, who knows what your favorite local pro will do to you next?
This one is out of left fairway.
-- Frank
Hello Frank,
Can you please explain why a putt lips out of the hole? Is it because it is going too fast or because it is rolling with sidespin instead of end over end? And, of course, how do I keep it from happening?!
-- Anne

If the ball is directed toward the center of the hole at the correct speed, it will fall into the hole, touching the back of the hole-liner on its way to where it truly belongs -- i.e., the bottom of the cup. This is our final objective when we tee it up on every hole.
If it is going too fast, it will bounce off the back edge of the cup and over the hole. So speed is important; when you practice putting, on your misses the ball should end up about 12 to 18 inches behind the hole, which would indicate that even though you didnt have the right line at least you had the correct speed. The odds are that if you are short with your putts, they will not go in, so try to get enough speed on the putt to get it at least over the edge of the hole or a little beyond it.
Now when your line is slightly off and the ball rolls around the edge only to lip out, it is because, for that line (an off-center near miss), it was going too fast. If the ball is moving more slowly, it could fall in the side door or even do a 180. It has nothing to do with sidespin, which you may have put onto the ball immediately after impact.
Putts begin with backspin or sometimes with no spin, which come from an upward stroke and little to no loft on the putter. I recommend that putters have a 4-degree loft, because this will lift the ball out of the depression in which it has inevitably come to rest on the green. A lower lofted putter may drive the ball into the rim of this slight depression and tend to make it jump, which may deflect it slightly off line. A 4-degree loft will control the very small amount of backspin off the putter and avoid any inconsistent initial jumping.
Click here for a little better understanding of what happens to the ball after it leaves the putter. From this description you will see that soon after impact the ball starts sliding and then takes on pure forward spin. Even if you have applied a little side spin during impact, this will very soon be overcome by the friction of the grass (rolling friction) and the forward motion of the ball. By the time the ball reaches the hole even on very short putts it has pure forward spin, sometimes referred to as overspin.
Anne, lip outs are purely a matter of direction and speed and have nothing to do with sidespin. Thank you for asking the question; now you can give your friends, who believe that it has something to do with sidespin, a little lip of your own.
-- Frank
Dear Frank,
I recently played a company tournament where they gave complimentary balls with the company logo on them. This got me wondering if the logo will affect the performance of the ball, or if the ball will react the same as those without an extra logo?
-- RJ

Let me assure you that the only way the logo on a ball will affect your performance is if the logo on the ball is that of a competitor to your company, which was paying for the outing. It is not a good move to have a Coke logo on your ball at a Pepsi-sponsored outing.
I had the same question when I was directing all the ball testing at the USGAs Research and Test Center. We had to make sure that each ball was impacted on the same spot, and that we knew which ball was which, so we used a Sharpie to mark the balls with up to five numbers and/or letters. I wondered if the additional ink would affect the balls behavior in flight, so we devised a special test to orient the markings and compared these performances against the same make and model ball with no markings. We applied significantly more ink than would be used for any company logo. The results showed no difference in performance. The aerodynamics of the ball are affected by dirt in the dimples, and this could cause the ball to fly off line by several yards or more depending on how much is there, but the ink in a logo wont affect its flight.
If youre playing in competitions, be aware that any additional markings on a ball cannot substitute for the original markings used to identify the ball for placement on the Conforming List. If they are, it would be considered a different ball, and if you use it when the Golf Ball Conforming list is a condition of the competition, you would be subject to disqualification.
Greg Norman called me in during the 1996 Hartford Open where he was in the lead after the first day. He had noticed that the ball he was using had markings slightly different from a similar ball on the conforming list. I confirmed that the markings were slightly different, and he then disqualified himself. He kept calling me for the next week or so, never questioning the ruling that he knew was correct, but concerned about whether the ball itself conformed to the specifications in the rules. I was able to assure him that the performance of the ball did conform. I was impressed that Greg was so worried about the possibility that he had used a nonconforming ball, even after he had already called attention to his own possible violation and then disqualified himself.
Maybe this is what golf is all about, and one way it distinguishes itself from other sports. So keep your ball clean, RJ, and the only time you need to be concerned about the logo is if its the wrong one.
Hope this helps.
-- Frank
Fall for the FrogFrank 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.