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.
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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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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry