The Truth About Toe Up

By Frank ThomasJuly 2, 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 Lee, with his question about Doctoring Golf Clubs on Tour.
 
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The Truth About Toe Up
 
On a couple of occasions, I have been told things about golf clubs that I did not believe or was suspicious of.
 
In one case, another golfer was practicing swinging a new putter he was thinking of buying. I said it looked like he had the toe up. An ex tour pro who was in the shop at the time (he is director of golf) said that all good putters had the toe up when they putted. I thought I was a good putter and I always tried to keep my putter square to the ground. I go around in 28 to 31 putts normally and occasionally fewer than 26.
 
I was at Golf Galaxy yesterday and was watching a guy (who hit the ball very long and pretty straight (275 ' 300 yards) and I noticed that he had the toe way up. He said that it was because he was short. The sales person was standing around and he stated that you had to have the toe up because swinging the club causes the toe to be down. Once again, I always tried for it to be pretty level. The pro said I would miss to the right then, because the toe would go down. I seldom miss to the right, unless I leave my weight on my right foot (I am right handed).
 
So, is there any truth to either of these? I especially do not believe the toe up on the putter, and the other sounds plausible for someone who swings as hard as this guy did, but I still am skeptical.
 
In any case, I religiously read your articles and have faith that any answer you give me will be accurate.
 
Regards,
--Jim

 
Jim,
 
Here is the truth about 'toe up.'
 
A properly fitted putter should not have the toe up at address, because the address position is how the putter will present itself to the ball at impact. There are practically no additional centrifugal forces -- other than those associated with the forces of gravity-- on the putter when making a stroke compared to when it is in the address position. So you should have the putter toe/heel line horizontal at address. A radius on a sole of a putter is generally a good thing so the center of the sole should be in contact with the ground in the set up position.
 
Drivers should always have the toe up at address ' if the hands return close to this position while impacting the ball -- because during the last portion of the swing there is a centrifugal force of up to 70 pounds just before impact, acting at the center of gravity (c.g.) of the head. The c.g is forward of the shaft and approximately in the center of the head and because it is away from the shaft axis, the centrifugal force will bend the shaft down (droop) and align the face properly (or almost properly) at impact.
 
Glad you are enjoying the column and thank you for your kind comments.
 
Jim, for your information, I am offering a personal 10 minute equipment phone consultation -- during which I can discuss issues similar to those you address in your question -- to the first 20 Custom Built Frankly Frog putter orders received online this week. I am looking forward to answering your questions.
 
Hope this helps.
 
Frank
 
Remember the Reflex?
 
Dear Frank,
 
Thanks for signing Just Hit It for me. I really enjoyed it. The last few paragraphs were inspired writing, and I feel much more informed on important issues in our game. I, of course, love golf and always read your articles on the golfchannel.com. They are what I most look forward to reading.
 
My question is what ever happened to the old Wilson Reflex Iron? I remember back in the late 70's when I was in high school that they clearly promoted the spring like effect of the face. I hit some on the range and was not impressed. Maybe their COR was not high enough to make a big difference or the USGA nipped the idea. Where were you at the time and how did these irons fade away? Thanks and keep fighting the good fight.
 
--Ray

 
Ray,
 
First, thank you for your very kind comments about Just Hit It I hope it has made selecting the right clubs easier and allows you to enjoy your game with a better understanding of how your equipment works and why.

Your question about the Wilson Reflex iron is interesting because I worked with Wilson to modify the club to conform to a rule that did not permit holes through the head. The first version submitted to the USGA had a thin face with a cavity behind it supported only at the toe and heel of the club head. This intent of the design was to allow the face to deform and spring back during impact. As you discovered for yourself, it didnt work.
 
To make the club conform to the rule, Wilson filled the very bottom of the cavity where it exited at the sole, with a hard rubber like substance. This did not affect the movement of the face but did prevent dirt from accumulating inside the cavity ' something they hadnt thought about.
 
When the club was submitted to me the rule stated only that the face shall not have an undue influence on the movement of the ball. There was no reference in the book to the effect of a spring. It was the Wilson Reflex Iron which influenced my decision to propose a new rule in 1983, which remains today and states that the face of the club ..must not have the effect at impact of a spring... Even though I didnt have an idea of how a spring could be designed into a club head I suspected it may be possible and thus proposed the rule.
 
We now see this rule has been compromised, permitting spring like drivers which -- in conjunction with the new ball ' has allowed the pros to drive the ball up to 30 yards longer than before the introduction of the titanium drivers in 1995.
 
Most of us mortals have not benefited as much as the pros and also dont hit the ball far enough but the down side to the pros hitting the ball such long distances, is that, the USGA has proposed or adopted a number of rules changes which affect the rest of us. This is not good for our game when there are very good alternatives to harnessing the long wayward hitters on tour. An example of this is the US Open course set-up with graduated rough. This forward thinking is what we need of the USGA and has proven to be successful.
 
Thanks again for your kind comments about the book
Frank
 
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

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.

Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return

By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2017, 3:31 pm

Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.

“I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”

Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.

Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.

Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.

“He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”

Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.

Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018

By Will GrayNovember 22, 2017, 12:53 pm

He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.

Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:

3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

5/2: Rory McIlroy

7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

9/2: Justin Rose

5/1: Brooks Koepka

15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

10/1: Adam Scott

12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed

15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson

20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer

25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman

30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes