Shorter Driver and Smaller Grips

By Frank ThomasJanuary 24, 2006, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the first in a new weekly feature from Golf Channel Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email
Hi Frank,
Enjoy your info segments on the Golf Channel. I have a double question for you. I am a little shortaround 5' 9'and have smallish hands. One, can it be helpful to have my 45' driver shortened a little? And two, is using 'small' grips good or bad? Thanks for your help. -- Jerry, NC

You are not short but rather average in height. I still recommend that you use a 44-inch shaft length if you are not hitting most of the fairways. Try gripping down a little on your 45 driver to see how it works before you get it shortened.
As far as grip size is concerned I suggest that the fingers on your left hand only touch the base of the thumb when gripping the club (assuming you are right handed) if there is a gap then the grip is too large and if the fingers (middle and ring) stick into the base of the thumb then the grip is too small.
These are only guidelines but it is most important that you feel comfortable. And only you can tell this. I have more information about drivers available if you visit
Would a stiffer shaft keep the ball from curving so much? My somewhat inconsistent swing and regular shafts seem to load and release at different places in my swing curving the ball in all directions, mostly left. I don't care about distance as I can't swing that fast anyway and all I want is 'straighter'. My 7-Iron carries about 145. -- Steve 'Eagle Eye' Smith

Generally a stiffer shaft will help improve consistency and accuracy but also tend to reduce feel. A softer shaft will help in letting you know where the head is at all times in the swing. A good quality shaft, which is consistent in its bending properties, should not perform the way you describe even if it is a soft flex shaft.
I would try a good quality shaft (not more than $35) of the flex you feel comfortable using before going to the stiff shaft. Also I would suggest that you try a shorter shaft for your driver, 44 is a good length. This may require you increase the head weight a little but it will certainly keep you in the fairway more often. Learn more about shafts by visiting
What type of swing analysis do you recommend for me. I'm 57 years old, have a 3 handicap and have never had my swing analyzed to determine shaft, lie, loft, etc. I want to get that info so I can be playing with equipment fitted to my game. -- Thanks, Bill
Go to a retailer who has a swing monitor and a lie board. The length and the weight should not be far from the standard set unless you are abnormally different in size from the average person. You must choose the shaft flex you feel most comfortable swinging. This is generally softer than most of us first try or are led to believe we should use. But trial and error is the best method of fitting and you should strive for comfort and feel before anything else. Also make sure the lie angles are correct through the use of the lie board. This is one of the most important parts of fitting.
For your driver you should strive for the club which will give you a launch angle of about 13 to 14 degrees if your swing speed is 85 to 95 mph and a spin rate of about 3,000 rpm. If your swing speed is in the 100 to 110 mph range then the spin rate should be 2,200 to 2,500 rpm with a launch angle of 12 to 13 degrees. This you can measure using a good launch monitor.
I was taught golf in the old days when the iron swing and wood swing were different, ie. Upright for irons and flat sweeping for woods. Which swing fits a hybrid? -- Neale, NY

The swing plane should not be dictated by the type of club but rather the length of the club. As the hybrid should be approximately an inch longer than the iron it is intended to replace the swing plane should be similar to these clubs.
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
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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.