QA Band-Aid Drivers Grooves

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Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from The Golf Channel's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
 
Hello Frank:
 
Like many other golfers, I've struggled with a slice off the tee, so I bought an offset driver. Initially, this worked well to improve my drives. However, I also took a series of lessons and worked on my swing throughout last season. By the end of last season, I had to aim well right of center, as nearly every shot from the tee was left (and occasionally look-out left). Given that the distance and ball flight off the tee were generally good, and after talking to one of the local PGA pros, I think my swing has improved to the point where I can change back to a non-offset driver.
 
One item that has caught my attention about the new drivers during my research is the face angle set-up. Most of the current drivers generally have faces that are 1 to 2 degrees closed, which I assume helps to square the face at impact (and maybe impart a slight draw bias). The Tour versions of the same drivers, which are advertised to provide enhanced workability and ball flight control, have face angles that range from 0.5 to 3 degrees open. Why is a set-up that seems more likely to impart a fade bias considered to have greater workability? Do the manufacturers assume/know that people playing those clubs will have a higher swing speed and need the club to start slightly open to end up square at impact? Or is a slight fade considered to be a more desirable ball flight by better players?
 
Regards,
Steve

 
Steve,
You are a wonderful example of what Ive been warning against for years now. Manufacturers have been producing clubs for the higher handicap player with the face angles so closed that when they correct their swing it is 'watch out and FORE left'.
 
This is a shame, but I think the reason is that many golfers are not prepared to take a lesson and work on their game and therefore try to correct their problems with a band-aid club. The band-aid approach locks you into a bad move and doesn't give you any incentive to improve, because if you do youll need to buy another driver. This is costly, as you are experiencing.
 
One of the reasons some of the better players use a square to slightly open face is that they are inclined to draw the ball, and the slightly open face at address sets them up properly. If you want to work the ball, you really don't need any particular bias (draw or fade) built into your club.

Congratulations on getting the swing corrected; I know you are going to have a lot more fun and your scores will definitely improve. Yes, you should get a new driver with a square face. The offset will be inclined to increase the launch angle as well as close the face, but you don't need any more face closing help.
 
Enjoy your new swing and congratulate your teacher from me. Well done. If you are looking to buy some more equipment be sure to read my 8 Simple Rules for Buying Equipment by clicking here.
Frank
 
Sir:
 
Thank you for your service.
 
My irons are 6 months old. They are cast. Despite a fair amount of play, the grooves continue to shred golf balls, even very hard ones. I can't use a high-spin ball, because I have to replace them too often. What can I do to make the grooves less sharp?
 
Davis

 
Davis,
I assume that this is happening with all the clubs in your set. First you need to understand that if the club cuts the cover, you are taking something away from the efficiency of impact and spin. The reason is similar to a situation where you stretch a sling shot with rubber bands, and before releasing it you cut it the bands. The projectile (stone) will remain in your hand without anywhere to go. Similarly, the elastic cover of the ball will not do its thing as effectively as it would if the cover remained intact for the full duration of impact, allowing it to stretch during the windup phase and spring back during the recovery phase.
 
So cutting (shredding) the cover of the ball is not good, both because of the reduced spin and because the feathers caused by the shredding will have a detrimental effect on the aerodynamic properties of the ball.
 
So how do you fix this? You must be careful, because the minute you try to soften the radius on the edge of the groove you will very likely increase the size of the groove. If the grooves were initially designed to be at the legal spacing limit -- no less than three times the width of the adjacent groove -- and you increase the size of the groove, you may render these clubs non-conforming with the Rules of Golf.
If, however, the edge of the grooves became rounded due to wear, then there would be no violation -- see Rule 4-1b: A club that conforms with the Rules when new is deemed to conform after wear through normal use.
 
So I suggest that you spend some time hitting balls on the range ' ideally one with sandy soil conditions -- until your clubs wear down a little and stop shredding the cover of the range balls. This exercise will probably do your game some good anyway. Practice never hurt anybodys game.
 
Dear Frank,
 
My question is about grip size, I routinely grip all my clubs at least 1' down, but I grip my driver with my left thumb on the lower edge of the grip (Im left handed). Would I do better cutting 1 ' off the butt and playing with a standard size grip? What are the consequences of playing with a small diameter grip? My current driver is a Callaway 454, 10.5 degrees, swing speed 100 MPH, carry 260, total 275. The 'gripped down' habit started when I played a lot in windy/rainy conditions, and it stuck. As you can see, distance is not an issue. I gave up about 20 yards when I started gripping down, but I still have the length to challenge most 5-pars.
 
Bruce

 
Bruce,
As long as you consistently grip your driver at this location on the grip, dont change anything. You are doing very well with the distance youre getting with 100 mph head speed.
 
Some experiments have been performed on the effect of grip size as it relates to performance. In the extreme, a large grip will tend to restrict the wrists from rotating and leave the face open at impact. Conversely, a small grip will tend to allow the rotation to take place more effectively and square or close the face a little. This small grip may even result in a slight draw. I must advise you, however, that these are in the extremes, and I would not suggest that you try to affect your flight by changing your grip size beyond that which feels comfortable. (Click here for a series of questions about grips)
 
Consistency is one of the most important ingredients in golf, so do whatever you do consistently and feel comfortable doing.
Hope this helps.
Frank
 
Click to purchase the Frog PutterFrank 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