Take a Tip from Tiger

By Frank ThomasJune 9, 2009, 4:00 pm
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Dear Frank,
I visit your Q&A every week and really enjoy your take on golf and equipment. I don't have a question for now but after reading your last column on club length, I wanted to pass along my experience. Based on your suggestion sometime ago about driver loft and length, I bought a 14-degree driver and had it cut down to 43 inches. It took a couple of weeks to adjust, but soon I was hitting more fairways. As a result, my confidence soared and so did my driving.
I am very thankful for your ideas about shorter drivers with more loft.

Thanks for your kind comments and congratulations on your find.
As you know, I have been suggesting shorter drivers for about five or more years now ' ever since the 45-inch driver (now 46-plus) was introduced. I have been concerned more recently that the larger heads with maximum MOI are not really helping golfers as much as implied. (Manufacturers tend to work to the USGA limit even though this may not be the most efficient design for the implement. But being at the limit gives the impression that the product is the best.) Some of these clubs may in fact be introducing problems.
This past Sunday at the Memorial Tiger Woods hit all 14 of his fairways. Tiger used his 3- and 5-woods several times off the tee and on one occasion even hit 3-iron. These clubs are shorter and have more loft than his driver, and he didnt need the extra distance because the fairways were reasonable hard. Tiger also changed his driver ' as was reported ' from 9.5 degrees to 10.5 degrees, with a 380cc head size and 85- gram shaft.
His smaller and more lofted driver, in combination with the increased loft of his fairway woods ' shorter clubs than his driver ' helped contribute to his very impressive display of accuracy (49 of 56 fairways for the four rounds), giving him all the distance he needed.
Do you think that Tiger is a Frankly Friend and is reading our weekly e-mails?
If you want to impress your fellow golfers with lower scores, then you need to use more efficient implements, which, when it comes to drivers, should be shorter in length and more lofted than you might have initially chosen. If, on the other hand, you wish to impress your buddies with the longest drive of the year, then get a 48-inch driver, swing as hard as you can and pray that it stays in the same zip code.
Well done Tim, and thank you for your good news.
' Frank

A Line to Rely Upon

I enjoy your Q&A's and find them most informative. I have a question about putting alignment. I draw a line on my ball to assist in alignment when putting; however, after I align the ball and address it with my putter, the line always appears to me to be pointing significantly left of my target line. Needless to say, this makes 'trusting' the alignment difficult. I normally putt with a very open stance, but it doesn't matter if I stand open, square or closed. I 'see' the same thing. I have never heard this problem discussed before, so perhaps I simply have my head on crooked. Any suggestions?

I dont think that you have your head on crooked. The person who designed us doesnt often make such mistakes, especially if he knows we are going to be golfers.
I have a slight problem with drawing a line on the ball and relying on this as an alignment aid, because a short line ' equivalent to that which you can draw on a ball, which is effectively a little more than an inch long ' is difficult to line up accurately with a target 15 feet away. Sometimes relying on this can cause internal conflict when over the putt, as you have found.
In some cases the line may help, but you better have perfected the procedure through hours of practice ' as is the case with some players on the Tour. The recreational golfer then tries to mimic this procedure ' as with the useless plumb bobbing technique ' because it seems to work for the pros. This is what marketing relies upon.
I do believe that focusing on a spot on the ball will override or dampen many other thoughts (the little voices when over the ball) which interfere with our putting stroke. For this reason, a line may help but a dot or X or any other marking may do the same thing.
In our Putting Studio we ask students ' both professionals and recreational players ' not to use a line on the ball for alignment, but rather to make sure their body and stance is properly aligned and that they try to extend the line of the putt through the putterhead. This seems to have been very successful in allowing the golfer to focus on other more important thoughts. We have found that after you have perfected the basic mechanics of putting, the next most important area to focus on is imagery ' which has produced very good results.
Ray, dont go for a head adjustment, but do rely on your belief and imagine the ball rolling into the hole.
' Frank
Please note: By submitting your question to Frank you will automatically become a Frankly Friend so you can stay up to date with his golf equipment Q&A. You may unsubscribe at any time.
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to helping golfers. Frank is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. 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

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

“I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

And that’s a magic word in golf.

There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.

Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery

A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

“The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

“It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

Parity was the story this year.

Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

“I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.