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Be Wary of the Launch Monster


Frank,
 
I'm hoping you can give me some direction. About a month ago, I got on a launch monitor for the first time to see if I could get fitted for the right equipment. I'm 57 years old and carry a 7.1 (traveling) USGA Handicap index and have been playing golf for 35 years. For the last five years, I've been playing a Cleveland Launcher driver (10. 5 degrees, regular flex) and Cleveland Ta7 irons (stiff flex, 1 degree upright lie). After being evaluated on the launch monitor, I was told my swing speed was between 85 and 90 mph and my ball speed between 125 and 130 mph. My spin rate was within acceptable limits, not extreme. It was recommended I go to a senior shaft (light) in my driver, with a loft to 12 degrees. My irons needed to be senior or light steel. I ended up purchasing a Cleveland Launcher Comp with an A shaft and 12 degrees of loft, and changed my irons to Mizuno X-25s (light steel, 2 degrees upright lie).
 
Now, my problem: I have lost 25 to 35 yards (down from 235-240) off the tee and am hitting my irons one club shorter than my old Ta7's. Did I get taken by a sales pitch, or do I need to struggle through an adjustment period with the new clubs before I start seeing better results?
 
So far, I have played three rounds with the new equipment and posted scores of 82, 79 and 92. At this point, Im not sure I did the right thing by changing. What do you think?
 
Thanks,
 
John

 
John,
 
With your 7.1 handicap and a set of good friends you should be wary of such a drastic change. Going from 10.5 degrees of loft to 12 degrees is not recommended for someone with a 90 mph swing speed, nor is moving from a regular shaft flex to an A-flex shaft. Both of these moves will increase the spin rate on the ball by as much as 1,000 rpm (up to approximately 4,000 rpm), increase your launch angle by a couple of degrees and decrease your overall driving distance (carry and roll) by about 20 yards.
 
What your GPS system is telling you is probably not far off.
 
As far as your irons are concerned, unless the grooves were worn out there would be no good reason to change. Good friends are hard to find. The irons you bought are fine, but they may not be as forgiving as the original set. Unless the lofts are very different, you should not be losing too much distance unless you are fading or slicing your irons. When the shaft is more flexible the toe will droop more just before impact and to compensate, you need to adjust to a more upright lie angle. That might be enough to get you back on track, or return to a stiffer shaft.
 
I am afraid that in an effort to get a few more yards out of your equipment ' where there is little room to move in your case ' or just to upgrade and get fitted better, you have become a victim of the Launch Monster in the wrong hands.
 
Struggling through an adjustment period with a new set of clubs is not a good thing, as it may detrimentally affect you swing. It's like struggling through this economic crisis hoping it will soon get better. What I suggest is that you go to the garage and apologize to your old friends and put them back in your bag.
 
' Frank
 

Lie Angle on Fairway Woods


Dear Frank,
 
Thank you for writing Just Hit It! It is one of the best and most honest
books on golf I have ever read.
 
I'm a 62-year-old man with the physique of a medium-sized LPGA player. I
have been told by teaching pros that I have a very good setup and
swing. I use irons that are 2 degrees flatter than normal, and whenever I
buy a set of irons I need to have them bent. I have noticed from TV that
many shorter LPGA players also seem to have flat lies on their irons based
on their posture at setup. My problem is that I have not been able to find
fairway metals or hybrids that are flat enough for me to swing consistently.
 
In my normal setup with a driver, the clubhead rests on its heel and the toe is
angled several degrees above flat. That's OK because the ball is teed up,
but I can't do that with my woods or hybrids without catching the heel
and hooking the ball. Do LPGA pros have custom-made fairway metals and hybrids with flatter lies, or do my eyes deceive me? Why don't manufacturers make such
choices available to the general population?
 
Thanks,
 
John from Ohio

 
John,
 
Thanks for you kind comments about my book Just Hit It. You might want to share these thoughts with your friends so they too can enjoy what I have written.
 
If your fairway woods have a radius on the sole from the toe to the heel, and you have a standard length set, you should not have to worry about the heel catching the turf and affecting the flight of the ball. You may, however, want to check the lie angle. This must be done by hitting balls, not looking at how the club sits on the ground at address. During your swing the club will droop and the lie angle will flatten out.
 
The way to check the lie angle of your woods (or your irons) is to stick some pressure sensitive tape on the sole of the club and hit a few balls off a lie board (generally made of hard plastic or wood). The board will leave a scuff mark on the tape. If this mark is on the heel section then the lie angle is too upright and an adjustment should be made (similarly if the mark is toward the toe section of the tape).
 
Making a lie angle adjustment on your fairway woods is not recommended as it may damage the club if not done by an expert, and if the loft is relatively low the exact lie angle becomes less important.
 
If, however, you find that the ball flight is too far left AND the lie angle test shows it is too upright, AND you are of a smaller physical stature than the average person, then it might be better to order a shorter set of clubs which will bring you back to the correct lie angle without the need for adjustment.
 
But don't make an adjustment unless both your ball flight and the lie board indicates there is a problem.
 
' Frank
 
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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