Tee Instability

By Frank ThomasMay 21, 2009, 4:00 pm
Bookmark and Share
Dear Frank,
If your ball falls off the tee during your swing and is not struck by your club, what is the penalty (assuming your club didnt cause the ball to fall)? I thought the ball could be replaced without penalty, due to the rule which states the ball must be played from where it last rested (on the tee).
Please clarify this point.

I dont normally answer rules questions but in this case, it is close enough to equipment (tee and ball) that I will give you the answer ' having first consulted with the Rules Police to make sure I am on target. It also gives me an opportunity to vent a little about tees.
First, make sure you have a tee with enough supporting surface to allow the ball to balance with some degree of stability until it is struck. There are many fancy tees which make all sorts of claims about adding more distance to your tee shots. The only distinguishing difference between these tees and conventional tees is that they require the steady hand of a neurosurgeon to balance the ball atop them.
Once you place the ball on the tee and you make a swing with the intent of hitting the ball, then that stroke counts even if the ball falls off the tee before the clubhead arrives into the impact zone. You need to then play the ball as it lies and there is no further penalty (see Rule 11-3). If you are preparing to hit the ball and you knock it off the tee by accident, or the ball simply falls off the tee, you may re-tee and start the process all over again without penalty.
If, however, at the start of your downswing, you see that the ball is falling off the tee and you attempt to abort the swing by changing the path of the head ' this is something Tiger can do but for the rest of us mere mortals is almost impossible ' there is no penalty. The Committee ' you and your four-ball companions, if there is no other formal committee ' make the decision as to whether or not you intended to abort the swing. In this case, you have one vote and you may have to plead your case to the others; offering a beer after the round may help.
Dinger, you are the true judge, so don't try to plead your case if you whiffed at the ball. Also, try to use a conventional tee about 2 inches in length ' a very good tee length and sufficient for 95 percent of us. This way, you won't break the tee every time you use it, as is the case with today's long (2 to 3 inches) tees, the broken and dead bodies of which are strewn on every tee box.
' Frank

Playing By What Rules?

I read your column every week. However, when 5-handicapper Brian recently wrote in about using a non-conforming club, the impression I got from your answer is that you were okay with him playing by his own rules ' just because of the groove rule change.
The problem I have with this is two-fold: 1) If he is using a non-conforming club his handicap is wrong, as scores must be posted according to play by the Rules of Golf; and 2) many of us who play golf like to wager. It would be unfair of Brian to play for money ' no matter how little it is ' when the others in his group are playing by the rules and he is not. It would be no different than improving your lie when no one is looking, or lying about the score you posted on a hole.

I dont think I suggested that Brian play by his rules and you by those adopted by the USGA. I do suggest that everybody play by Brians Rules OR those originally developed 300 years ago and refined every four years since. One set for every competitor is the only way to compete fairly.
My concern is when a rules change doesn't make sense and the USGA refuses to communicate with its constituents who have requested information as to why the rule is being changed. If it was a matter of dropping a ball over your shoulder ' as the rule required some time ago ' or at arms length in front of, or to the side of you, it would make little sense to deviate from this rules change. But if the rule requires that 35 million golfers have to change their clubs to conform without adequate explanation or debate as to why, then there is reason to challenge the rule and the process.
The lack of transparency in the rules making process indicates there is no sound reason for the change or any evidence that this will solve a perceived problem. There are alternative solutions which will allow us to determine if the problem actually exists and that a groove specification change is the best solution without disrupting the entire golfing community.
' 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
Getty Images

Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

Getty Images

The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

Getty Images

Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

Getty Images

Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.