Masters Course Set Up


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 Boris with his question about the impact of body mass on clubhead speed.
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Masters Course Set Up

Watching the Masters this weekend, I noticed that many of the commentators were making mention of the changes the course has undergone over the last few years. What do you think about the changes and have they done enough to harness technology? Thanks for all you do for the game.

Thank you for your question. First of all congratulations to Trevor Immelman, a fellow South African, for his excellent play. What a true champion.
And congratulations also to Augusta National. I thought that the course setup was one of the finest I have seen for many years. The first cut (or rough) was longer than usual and there was more of a premium on distance with accuracy, which is something I have been advocating for many years.
I would like to believe there would be no need for any significant changes in the future from what was presented to the players last week. The ball and club have now peaked and as a result driving distance has stabilized for the tour players as predicted.
We are fortunate that advances in technology with regard to distance will no longer be a major topic of discussion and Augusta National can rest assured that there will be no further need to increase the length of the golf course for many years to come.
Distance and technology are two of the subjects I address in my new book 'Just Hit It.' I am sure you will find it very informative. Click Here to learn more about the book.
Gripping Down
Hello Frank,
When putting, a short putt, I often 'choke down' on the putter, so that one or more of my fingers, are on the shaft, below the grip. Some players claim that it is against the rules, to grip a putter, in this matter. I have searched the USGA Rules and have not been able to find any such. rule. What say you??

First let me tell you that there is no violation if you grip the club with one hand on the shaft.
When I was proposing new rules or modifying existing rules the object was to make sure the intent of the rule was unambiguous. If we could get away with this alone then it was better to leave it right there and not be too specific.
Being too specific invites people (innovators and others) to find a loophole around the intent. If people understand the intent then they generally know when it is being violated and self policing leads to better adherence than introducing specifics, which are never sufficient to cover every situation.
Once a putter has been approved, then you can use it almost any way you want to. The limitations are that you hit, not push, the ball with the head of the putter. You must also have both feet on the same side of the putting line. This both feet issue does not apply to any other stroke. You can make a chip shot between your legs if you find this easier than a conventional stroke in certain circumstance. Clubs are not designed for this type of stroke and it is awkward but it is not a violation.
A grip, as we know it, is not required on a club. That portion of the shaft designed to be held by the player is considered to be the grip and any material added to it for the purpose of obtaining a firm hold. So the grip, as we commonly know it, is not an essential part of the club.
You can be assured that you can grip the putter how ever you wish and hit the ball, dont push it.
Not a 'Purist'
Does puring work? Theoretically, it makes sense, but after I paid to have my shafts pured I didn't notice that much difference in performance.
As the inventor of the graphite shaft, youre surely the best person to give me some insight on this process.


Im no purist. To my mind, a shaft that needs to be pured is a bad shaft to begin with.
The problem lies in the manufacturing process. The first graphite shafts were filament-wound, which means that a continuous bundle of resin-impregnated graphite fibers were wound onto a rotating solid core or mandrel, creating a woven pattern of material resulting in a constant thickness of material on the mandrel. This becomes the wall thickness of the shaft when the mandrel is removed after curing. The flex properties are thus very consistent in all directions, independent of the axis about which it is bent. These shafts were as good as steel shafts with regard to the consistency of bending and twisting properties, so none of them needed to be pured.
Today, however, graphite shafts are flag wrapped (a much less expensive process than filament winding), which means that sheets of graphite fibers, oriented in a specific direction, are rolled onto a mandrel. If just a few layers are used to make up the shaft wall thickness, then there is a good chance that an overlap will cause a thick section, or a high concentration of fibers up the side of the shaft which will create something like a spine. This would cause the shaft to bend differently in different bending modes. For example; an R-shaft bending about one axis may become an S-flex when the shaft is rotated 90-degrees and bent again under the same load. This is not good.
Some of the more popular shafts (Aldila NV for instance, and others) have many layers, and this reduces the potential inconsistency problems. Other shafts that are not as well produced may need to be oriented to a specific position to reduce the effects of their inconsistent bending properties ' the so-called puring process, which only underscores the fact that the shaft is impure to begin with.
If you were making a decision about what to put into your club, Id suggest that youre better off getting a shaft that does not require 'puring' in the first place. A better quality shaft may give you more peace of mind but since youve already had your shaft 'pured', and cannot detect any difference in performance then my advice is not to worry too much about it.
For more on shafts Click Here.
Hope this helps.
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