Your Equipment How Long

By Frank ThomasMarch 18, 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

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 Jimmy with his question about the differences between hybrids and fairway woods.
To reserve your own copy of 'Just Hit It', please Click Here We are now shipping! The first 50 copies ordered this week will received a signed copy, direct from Frank.
Please also note new international shipping options for those outside the US. Thanks to all who have ordered over the last few weeks!
How Long to Keep Your Equipment
Hi Frank,

Enjoy your column every week! I've seen your advice several times for people to stick with their equipment for a number of years as long as they are comfortable with it. And not to jump every year at the new technology. I can appreciate this and see your point. But I often wonder if you are making any assumptions as to how many rounds per year a person is playing?
In other words, I can see if someone plays only 5 times a year, that their equipment should last quite a few years. But what about for those of us who are lucky enough to play a little more often? We are lucky enough to get between 65-75 rounds in per year... plus who knows how many driving range sessions on top of that.
So are there any guidelines you can give us to how many rounds a driver, a set of irons, and the wedges can get before you start to see a deterioration of performance? Also factoring in say 1-2 range sessions a week as well?

This is a question, which I have been asked a few times, and the answer is not totally adequate for all situations for every golfer.
As far as your irons are concerned you don't have to worry too much about changing them every year in fact every two or three years should be fine. The only concern you should have is wearing down the face if you practice a lot, and play 50 or more rounds a year on very sandy turf. Most turf will not affect the grooves for several years.
With your wedges -- real wedges not today's PW which is actually a continuation of the set and has the loft of, and used like, a nine iron of thirty years ago -- you do need to pay some attention to the grooves. If you are a single digit handicap and have the ability to control the spin the around the greens with you 52 degree and 60 degree lob wedge, and practice a lot with these clubs then you may notice some deterioration in spin because of worn grooves after a year, especially if the soil on your course is very sandy. If you use your Sand Wedge out of the rough frequently then you should have the grooves checked every year because many shots out of the sand will increase the wear factor. If you don't use your Sand Wedge (generally 56 degree loft) out of the rough often then don't worry about it for three or four years. A bunker shot almost always has sand between the ball and the club face and thus the grooves play little part in the ball performance on the green from a sand shot.

If you are on the PGA Tour or think that you could be if you only had the time, AND have enough money not to be of concern then you can change your wedges, the 52 Gap wedge and the 60 Lob Wedge every year. The problem with doing this is that you will lose an old friend and the associate confidence and performance that new grooves may not be able to replace.
When it comes to your driver, this is not going to wear out unless you hit more than 10,000 drives at 110 mph head speed, on the sweet spot. This is about 400 rounds of golf.
You should, however check the face with the straight edge of a credit card every six months to see if it starts to become flat or concave. If so then it may be time to change. In most cases a perceived loss in distance has more to do with the swing than the club or just the fact that the magic is starting to wear off.
Have fun and keep supporting our game.
Retiring Golf Balls
I do not hit the ball very far and usually pretty straight. For these reasons plus the forgiveness of the course I play on most of the time, I can go many rounds, 5-10, without losing a ball.
When should I retire a ball and start using a new one?
Thanks and I enjoy your column.

It is good to hear of someone who can play 10 rounds without losing a ball. You must be on a course, which is appropriately designed for your skill level or you have decided to swallow your ego and play from the right (a more friendly) set of tees.
If this is the case, it is truly refreshing as I address this particular issue with some zeal in my recently published book Just Hit It. If more of us want to enjoy our game we need to tackle some of the issues, which are having a detrimental effect and discouraging new golfers from participating and existing golfers from playing more. Slow play, cost and the intimidation factor are the major deterrents. To be able to play ten rounds without losing a ball you must be enjoying your game. Also I am sure that from these tees you are able to par any hole with your best shots. Par should be achievable and if not move forward to the next set of tees.

I am sorry, for going on about some of the problems, the game is facing, but I feel very strongly about this issue. In the book, I also address the question you asked about how long a ball should last.
Todays multilayered balls -- if stored at a reasonable temperatures -- will last many years without any detrimental effect on performance. Playing a ball with a driver impact speed of about 90 mph -- not bad for most of us mortals -- the ball will last for at least 20 rounds without concern about resilience changes. However, I do caution you that the aerodynamics of the ball can be significantly altered by scuffmarks on its surface and even mud and dirt in the dimples. So clean your ball whenever you have an opportunity to do so. If the surface is showing signs of wear then it is time to retire your ball to the shag bag. In your case Paul, as long as you stay in the fairway -- no bunkers or cart paths -- ten rounds should be close to the surface wear limit (not a bad inning for a ball).
Thanks for the question and giving me a chance to mention my book, which I know you and many others will enjoy, and our game will be the ultimate beneficiary. I am personally signing the first 25 orders recieved this week. Click Here to order.
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
Frank Thomas

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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?''

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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.

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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. 

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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.