QA Can Girls Play Boys Clubs

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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
 
Frank,
 
Your response to a female this week inspired me to ask a question of my own. I have three kids: two boys, ages 12 and 9; and a girl, 7. I have been thinking that as they get older the younger ones will be able to use the hand-me-down clubs previously used by the older sibling(s). So far, this seems to be working pretty well. Is there any reason to think that my daughter would need something different in the way of clubs from what her older brothers used when they were her age?
 
Thanks so much for your columns!
--John

 
John,
 
There is no reason that your daughter shouldnt be able to use the same clubs her brothers used at her age. Generally, girls develop a little faster than boys in the early stages, but need to recognize that the boys will soon catch up, so dont try to take advantage of this phenomenon as the tide will turn.
 
However, there have been many changes in kids clubs over the last ten years or so, so if your daughter is 7 and is using the same clubs your son used five years ago, she may be at a slight disadvantage. Fitting clubs to the stature of smaller people specifically for kids has improved significantly over the last several years rather then retro fitting by shortening existing designs. She may benefit from those advances in the design of kids clubs -- or should I say, clubs for the young aspiring golfers we need so badly.
 
In adults clubs, the march of technology that can truly affect performance has slowed to a crawl, even though manufacturers would have you believe otherwise. Each years new driver cannot possibly increase our distance 20 yards. We are suckers and we buy hope, which is one of the charming things about golf.
 
A new young golfer like your daughter needs as much help as you can give her, so look around for some newer clubs that may suit her (smaller people) better. I would say the same thing for your next child, whether its a boy or a girl.
 
I suggest you look for courses that have been modified for play by younger and beginner golfers, not necessarily those designed for the scratch male golfer with forward tees for the rest of us. An abundance of hazards and forced carries to the greens can take the fun out of the game for the beginning player, and fun should be what its about for your children. Fortunately, architects are starting to recognize that only 0.55% of the golfing population are scratch or better, and theyre giving more consideration to and developing courses that pose an appropriate challenge for a wider segment of golfers.
 
John, you may be interested to check out the results of our extensive research project covering preferences of over 14,400 golfers. You can find this report at www.growingthegame.org .
 
I urge you to do what you can to allow your daughter and sons to become addicted to this wonderful drug we call golf.
-- Frank
 
Frank,
 
I play golf with a guy who puts some type of goo or petroleum jelly on his driver face. Im sure its against the rules -- but does it really give you more distance and less slice and hook?
-- A Frankly Friend

 
Dear Frankly Friend,
 
First, thank you for signing up to be a Frankly Friend, so we can advise you every week when we our fresh Q&As are posted, as well as receiving alerts to other interesting and helpful equipment information as it becomes available. For those reading this who aren't Frankly Friends yet, you can sign up by clicking here.
 
Now, to answer your question about whether putting goo or Vaseline on the face of a club helps. Vaseline is meant for babies bottoms, not for the face of a golf club. Applying it to the face of a golf club is a violation of the rules: Rule 4-2b, Foreign Material, states that foreign material must not be applied to the face of the club for the purpose of influencing the movement of the ball. The penalty for this violation is disqualification.
 
So first, get back all the money this guy has ever won from you while violating this rule. Then suggest that he stop doing this if he wants to continue to play with you, unless you are thinking about doing it yourself.
 
Does it really work? The answer is that almost anytime you can reduce the coefficient of friction between the ball and the club you will reduce the spin. The problem is that this isnt consistent, and the practice may result in less backspin than you actually need to get the ball to fly as far as it should. You cannot be selective about which spin you want to reduce -- i.e., only the sidespin component.
 
My suggestion is dont do it, especially since the rule deals with intent. When you know it is a violation, then any time you attempt to do this -- even if you do it by making your practice swing through the rough on the edge of the teeing ground in the hope that enough grass juice will stay on the face of the club to influence the movement of the ball -- you are acting improperly. An ex-friend of mine used to do this on occasion before he became an ex.
 
The wonderful thing about golf is that as long as a rule exists and you are aware of it, then you know when you are in violation. This is one of the reasons I believe that if we adopt a rule thatsays a golfer is not permitted to use any performance-enhancing chemicals, then this in itself should be sufficient to stop it from happening. In golf, you and only you know when you are violating a rule. Theres no need to give a referee the responsibility that should be yours alone. Sometimes only you know if the ball moves at address. Yet you are expected to call such a penalty on yourself, and players generally do. Golf distinguishes itself from almost all other sports in that we call ourselves on violations, and if we dont our peers will suggest we do as long the rule exists and its intent is unambiguous.
 
Leave the Vaseline to babies.
-- Frank
 
Frank,
 
Do graphite shafts in irons get soft over time and use?
--Thomas

 
Thomas,
 
Graphite shafts do not change their flex properties over time. The phenomenon of changing flex properties is known in steel and other metals as work hardening. Even though this is not of any consideration in steel golf shafts, if it did happen it would result in a stiffer shaft over time, not a softer shaft.
 
To make a graphite shaft, very thin fibers (fifty of them will make up the size of a human hair) are surrounded in an epoxy resin and then wrapped around a mandrel (steel rod) in different directions to provide the required flex properties and resistance to torsional loading (twisting) commonly known but not technically correct as 'torque'. Each of those fibers is fourteen times stronger than steel for the same weight. This mix of resin and fiber is put in an oven to cure, and then the mandrel is withdrawn to leave a hollow composite shaft. The properties of this graphite shaft are very stable and may change very slightly over a wide range of temperatures, -- beyond what most humans can stand -- as most materials will, but not noticeably so. Otherwise the shaft, as long as it is not damaged, will hold its properties for a long time, longer than you are likely to keep using your clubs.
 
When I developed the first graphite shaft in 1969 I found that the fatigue properties were as good as if not better than steel shafts. Thomas, Im afraid to say that we will decay and get soft long before our graphite shafts do, so don't blame the shaft for any change in performance.
 
Hope this helps and gives you a little insight into the graphite composite shaft.
-- Frank
 
Fall for the FrogFrank 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