Spin on US Open Rough

By Frank ThomasMay 29, 2008, 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 letsbefrank@franklygolf.com

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Every week we will select the best question and Frank will send one lucky golfer a personally signed copy of 'Just Hit It'. Last week's lucky winner was BN, with his question about X OUT Golf Balls.
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The Spin on US Open Rough
I read recently that the USGA is setting up the golf course at Torrey Pines with 3 different rough heights. How will this affect the pros ability to spin the ball? Thanks for your great column every week!
--Harry, CA

Rough height does have a significant effect on the spin that the pros can apply to the ball, especially with their wedges. First you should understand that grooves play very little part in the amount of spin on the ball under dry conditions where grass does not intervene between the face and the ball--short dry fairways or off a tee on a short par three are examples of this.
It has been shown that a sandblasted face without grooves is most effective under dry conditions.
However, as soon as grass juice and water -- a lubricant-- intervenes between the ball and the face of a lofted club--which happens most of the time-- the coefficient of friction is reduced and grooves in the clubface are essential.
There are some very specific regulations controlling the size and separation of grooves which have been in place for more than 20 years and have proven to be very effective.
With reference to the USGA course setup at Torrey Pines from the intermediate rough (about 1 3/4 inches in height) new grooves will have a significant effect on the spin that the pros will be able to apply.
However from the first cut of primary rough (about 2 1/2 inches) the spin rate--even with brand new square grooves-- will be significantly reduced.
When it comes to the second cut of primary rough (about 3 1/2 inches) grooves will have very little, if any, effect on the spin which can be applied to the ball, especially if the rough is reasonably dense.
I would like to congratulate the USGA on reasonably narrow fairways with graduated rough which will put a premium on accuracy and make many of the competitors think twice about using a driver.
For your information I believe that the greens will be conditioned to roll at approximately 13 feet on the Stimpmeter which is extremely fast especially if they have dry conditions and the wind blows. For more on the Stimpmeter Click Here.
Hopefully this answer will enhance your viewing experience of the US Open.
Shaping Shots for Distance
If you tested an individual with a relatively high driver club head speed (105 mph), what shot shape would produce the longest total distance, a fade, draw or straight?
--Byron, SC

I assume you are the individual about whom you are inquiring. If so you have a swing speed of 105 mph then you are above average and have very specific launch conditions which you should try to achieve to get maximum distance.
These launch conditions are approximately a 13 degrees launch angle with a ball spin rate of 2,500 rpm. These conditions are somewhat dependent on the ball you are using but not different enough to worry about. For more on launch conditions Click Here.
The average pro on tour has a swing speed of about 115 mph and can lower his trajectory by about a degree from yours and decrease the spin rate just a little i.e. to about 2,300 rpm.
Whatever the case, any side spin will have a detrimental affect on the overall distance, so a straight flight will always give you the maximum distance. We have all heard that a draw will go farther than a fade and this is correct in most cases because the draw generally has a lower trajectory and higher ball speed than the fade and will in most cases roll farther. However, when it comes to optimizing your launch conditions any side spin will take away from the efficiency of the launch and will detrimentally affect the distance.
We need to understand also that the optimum launch conditions assume an average flat fairway of average hardness which means approximately 25 yards of roll. If the fairway is harder then a lower trajectory may be the better condition and if you need more carry then a higher launch angle and less spin may be appropriate. But a straight shot will always be the better option.
What's Magical About Fourteen Clubs?
What is magical about carrying a maximum of 14 clubs? Why was this number chosen? Why not 12, or 10?
I carry 10 to at most 12 clubs at a time, it is all that I can manage effectively. I have found that carrying any more clubs just adds to the confusion, as well as the weight of my golf bag (I always walk a course if allowed). I feel that most amateurs would probably play just as effectively with less than 14 clubs, probably in the 10-12 club range. I feel that a golfer can get away with 15 yards of difference between the irons (especially 4 or 5 iron through 7 or 8 iron), as well as maybe one less fairway wood or hybrid. Driver, a reliable fairway wood or two from the fairway, a hybrid, irons 5,7,8,9, PW, GW, SW, putter and I'll bet the average golfer's handicap doesn't change.
--John, MN

There is no more magic in carrying the maximum of 14 clubs than buying a new driver every year. The number 14 was adopted in 1938 after the governing bodies felt that some golfers were gaining an undue advantage by carrying up to 22 or more clubs (which included some left handed clubs) and also the concern that this arsenal was becoming quite a burden for many caddies.
I, for some time, have proposed that the pros on tour ' the performance about which the USGA is most concerned and for which most performance standards are written ' should carry only ten clubs. This would not only allow them to better exhibit their skills but also delay and hopefully avoid the need to adopt new equipment standards, which will affect all of us. As important, a 10-club limit would improve the entertainment value of the PGA Tour and be the least disruptive method of bifurcation.
John, you are correct that most of us ' this includes a university team which conducted such an experiment ' would score no worse if we used fewer clubs than the full compliment.
The manufacturers dont like to hear this, as you can imagine, but the more imaginative ones are producing short (in number) sets which seem to be accepted by many golfers who themselves have learned that fewer clubs are not only easier to carry but in general perform as well or better without the full 14.
My personal experience is that at the beginning of May this year while playing in St Andrews on the Old Course ' carrying my own bag -- I had only 10 clubs and they performed very well. The advantage is that when I found myself between clubs, I would take out the longer club and make an easier swing ' which in my case is almost always a better swing than a hard full swing ' and found myself about where I wanted to be for the next shot.
I notice in your proposed set you focus on the long and short game mostly. This seems to be the best option.
John, if you havent read my book Just Hit It please get a copy as with your passion for the game you will enjoy it very much. Click Here to learn more.
Keep walking whenever you can.
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@franklygolf.com
Frank Thomas

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

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Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

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President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm