Frank QA

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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 Jim, with his question about 'toe up' on putters and drivers.
 
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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.
 
Greg's Shape or his Equipment?
 
Hello Frank,
 
The best email I receive all week is the one telling me your Q&A has
been updated! Thanks for sharing your insights with those of us who
love this game.
 
I'm 50 years old, so I grew up playing before the recent equipment
revolution. I've played the same home course for the last 30 years
and, thanks to today's technology, I still manage to break 80 and hit
approach shots from about the same places, even though this body has
grown tighter and creakier.
 
I still have the clubs I used back then - Wilson Staff laminated woods
and forged blades and original Bullseye putter. The other day, I was
cleaning out a closet and found some unopened balls from years ago -
Dunlop Blue Maxes, Wilson K-28's and early Titleist DT's. That got me
thinking about taking the old stuff out and playing a round with it
just for the fun of it (although I'm not sure how much fun it would
be!).
 
My question is this: how will the clubs and balls hold up? They've
been kept inside all these years. I figure the balls will be pretty
dead, so is there a ball manufactured today that performs anywhere
close to a ball from the late 70's?
 
Thanks again,
 
--Joey

 
Joey,
Thanks for your kind comments.
 
First let me remind you that 50 is only getting ripe- you are not over the hill yet, so don't get down on yourself. Take heart from Greg who at 53 is able to compete with the 'limber-backs' and nearly won The Open. He too is using modern technology but has also been able to keep himself very fit. This is one of the real secrets to keeping your game in good shape.
 
There is no doubt that over the last 30 years technology has helped increase distance off the driver and improve accuracy for those of us who don't hit the sweet spot every time. This you will find out when you test the old clubs i.e. your laminated woods, forged blades and Bulls Eye putter.
 
These old clubs -- used by Greg in his younger days --will hold up (i.e. not fall apart) when you try them but you can expect that there will be a significant difference in the distance of your drives compared to your modern equipment. One of the major reasons is that wooden clubs were not capable of launching the ball -- especially the old wound soft covered K-28 -- anywhere close to the optimum launch conditions we are now able to achieve.
 
The K-28 balls will be about ten yards shorter than when they were new and this is going to be about 20 to 25 yards shorter than your new premium multilayered ball especially off the wooden driver. This is due mainly to aerodynamic differences, higher spin rates as well as about a 4 feet per second slower ball speed than the modern ball.
 
With the new driver launching the new ball at a more efficient angle and spin rate you can expect -- assuming you hit the sweet spot -- to get about 25 to 30 yards more when compared to the old club and balls.
 
No, I don't think there is a ball on the market that performs the same or anywhere close to the K-28.
 
Use one of those you found in the attic for our experiment, and put the others in a safe place for your great grandchildren to find and wonder who would ever have used a ball like that, never mind the piece of wood on the end of a steel shaft.
 
Have fun and enjoy the experiment.
Frank
 
Time for a Club Service
 
Hello Frank,
 
I am playing an iron set that is approximately 7 years old, and over that time I have averaged a round of golf or a practice session every week. I was wondering if there is a difference in the flex of the shaft over that time and to what degree? As well what about the effect of the grooves edges being worn, and how often should they be sharpened? Or is it time for a new set?
 
Thanks for your help,
--RJ

 
RJ,
You must be playing at least 25 rounds a year and with your practice sessions your clubs are getting in an average number of miles but may be in need of a little service. You have probably changed the grips several time in the last seven years, if not it is strongly suggested that you do this as slick grips force you squeeze down on the grip just to hold onto the club. A death grip on the club will certainly cause a lot of tension in the arms and this is not good for your performance.
 
As far as the shafts are concerned you dont have to worry about a flex change as most shafts will last for many more than seven years unless there are visible signs of rust on your steel shafts, which is a good sign that something may be wrong. Graphite shafts will need replacing only if they are badly worn through the outside fibers by chafing against the collar of the bag. Otherwise, dont worry about the shafts.
 
The grooves on your wedges are similar to the treads on the tires of your car - when they become worn they may need to be reconditioned. This can be done by a professional club maker or sent to Golf Works (contact www.golfworks.com). If the clubs are forged then they may need to be re-chromed. Re-grooving of your short irons is important if you are losing control around the greens. It is not as important for the long irons and not at all important on your Sand Wedge as long as you only use it out of the bunkers.
 
Having said all the above I do suggest that ' unless you have really made good friends with existing set ' it may be time to look for a new set of irons. The technology has not changed much in irons but they are generally better today than they were seven years ago. A new set of last year's model may ease the financial pain, be every bit as good as a 2008 model and perform just as well. They will have new grips, new grooves, and the built in confidence that comes with every new set. Buying last years model will also make a little more money available for gas so you can get to the course more often.
 
I hope this helps and gives you something to think about anyway.
Frank
 
Lowering Ball Flight
 
Frank
I enjoy your Q&A sessions each week and also enjoyed reading your book.
I will also say that I think the USGA must be listening a little because the set-up at this years Open appeared to be playable and hopefully encouraged some of the TV viewers to take a game that looked like fun. Oakmont last year would have turned off or discouraged any sane person for taking up the game.
 
I have a 460cc driver with a composite head, 10.5 degrees with regular shaft. The ball flight on well hit shots is very high at normal swing speed of 90-95mph.
 
My objective is to lower the height of the ball flight. I like the club head and the performance, except for the height of the shots. Can I significantly change the ball flight by changing the shaft and what parameters should I look for in a new shaft that will lower the flight characteristics. I am 67 years old and carry the ball between 225-235 yards with the current ball flight.
 
Thanks
--Charlie

 
Charlie,
Thanks for the kind comments about my book Just Hit It and how much you enjoy the weekly Q&As. Please make sure you sign up as a Frankly Friend to stay in the equipment information loop. With regard to the USGA listening, I believe that this demonstrates that common sense will eventually prevail.
 
Now to your question; if you now drive the ball approximately 230 yards you should be reasonably happy. This is about 35 yards longer than the average male golfer who thinks he drives the ball about 30 to 40 yards farther than he actually does. This perception is, we believe, based on his best drive ever, and he treats this extraordinary performance as commonplace.
 
We have all done it. Our best five iron may have traveled 175 yards so every time we are presented with a 175 yard shot, the first club we reach for is the five iron and inevitably find ourselves about 25 yards short. This same exaggerated perception of our Average shots -- and often pressure from our playing partners -- often gets in the way of us enjoying the game and having fun, the way it was meant to be enjoyed. We -- in many cases -- play from the wrong set of tees, it takes too long and we arrive at the 18th pleased it is over rather than wanting to play another nine.
 
Sorry to go on about this but you did open the door, just wide enough for me to jump on my soap box.
 
If you like the club and the shaft you are now playing and it feels good to you then I would not try to change the shaft to lower the ball flight. A stiffer shaft will lower the flight a degree or so but you may lose some of the feel and find you are fighting the club to get reasonable results. You do have a good head speed and you may want to try a degree lower loft angle. ( Just FYI many Tour drivers are now in the 9 to 9.5 degree loft range with a stiff or x-stiff shaft but they have head speeds of 110 to 115 mph.)
 
I dont know what ball you are using but trying a low-trajectory/low spinning-ball, might help ' see name brand websites for your options ' and try to tee the ball a little lower. If you impact the ball lower on the face the trajectory will come down a degree or so but unfortunately the spin will go up which will tend to give the ball more lift. I do not like to give advice on how to swing but moving the ball back in your stance might also be worthwhile trying to lower trajectory.
 
These experiments will cost very little compared to changing a shaft or buying a lower lofted headed driver. The advantage in conducting some simple experiments is that you are not changing your familiar club and are comfortable using a club in which you have developed some degree of confidence. Confidence is worth a lot more than a couple of extra yards.
 
Charlie, have fun and if you are not a Frankly Friend sign up by clicking here to join our journey.
 
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