QA Cold Weather Hurt 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
 
Hi Frank,
 
Davis Love III
Davis Love III joins Frank in is weekly 'Ask Frank' segment this Monday, Oct. 22 at 11:00 p.m. ET. (WireImage)
Thanks for all the information every week. Reading about the engineering and technology side of golf is as interesting as reading about all the courses that Ill never play that are featured in the golf magazines. The past three years or so Ive been able to store my clubs in the den (i.e. room we dont use for anything important). After some sprucing up and remodeling of the den, my wife has finally noticed the clubs and wants me to store them in the garage -- an unattached, unheated structure. We can still play golf here in western Oregon in the winter, so I use the clubs 2-4 times a month from October through March. I know that colder temperatures can influence balls, but can leaving the clubs out in the cold (temperatures range from, say, 40 degrees on up) affect their performance and durability? I have graphite shafts on the woods and hybrid, steel shafts on the irons. I worry that the graphite in particular could get brittle and break in transit if not in use.
 
Ill try to keep the clubs warm until you can answer.
--Jay

 
Jay,
 
Sorry to hear that your wife has been so nasty to your clubs. I suggest that you apologize to them on their way to the garage. You really dont have to worry about the temperature they will experience in the garage even at 40F; this will do them no harm, and you will probably be more brittle than they will at such temperatures.
 
The only concern about a garage separated from the house and not air conditioned is that you may experience condensation on the clubs during the diurnal temperature changes and varying humidity levels.
 
A daily dose of moisture will encourage oxidation on metals and you may experience some rust pitting on the steel shafts or forged blade heads.
 
Moisture on golf balls, whether it comes from storage in the garage or from resting in ponds on the course, is not good for them or for us, because the covers are inclined to absorb moisture and will deteriorate in the long term. For us it means the loss of a stroke.
 
Bottom line is; if you have an option, it is probably better to keep your clubs and balls in the den rather than in a garage with a potential condensation problem due to a wide range in temperatures. You may have to be a little sweeter to your wife and/or give up something else near and dear to you, but at least your clubs will be happier and this may be reflected in the way they treat you on the course.
 
Hope this helps.
-- Frank
 
Hi Frank,
 
I am an 8.5 handicap index with 82 mph swing speed. I'd like to start getting a little more responsiveness around the greens. Everyone I talk to says that premium balls are for the 100 mph-plus swinger and that I'd be wasting my money as I can't compress the ball to get the full benefit.
 
I thought compression was a non-issue with the new golf balls. Would you please clarify this for me? And, can I use a premium ball?
 
Thank you,
--Sean

 
Sean,
 
With an 8.5 handicap you are certainly good enough to use a premium ball like the ProV1 (not the ProV1x) a Nike ONE black, or an HX Tour. These will allow you to work the ball around the green, but you may not be able to get all you need off the tee with the 82 mph head speed you have.
 
A better choice may be the Titleist NXT Tour, Nike Ignite, or the Callaway HX Tour 56. These balls will be less expensive than the top premium balls, give you a little boost off the tee, and all the responsiveness you need around the green.
 
With your 82 mph head speed you don't want to give up too much distance with your driver, so the NXT Tour and the others I have mentioned would be my suggestion, instead of the top premium balls which are better performers at higher swing speeds.
 
Most of the balls we pay $35 a dozen or more for are so much better than we are that you arent going to go far wrong whatever your choice. If, however, you have a great deal of control around the greens and you can feel the subtle differences built into the balls the pros use, then by all means select the thin-covered three- or four-piece premium ball. Otherwise, the next level down from premium will be an excellent choice for overall performance at your skill level and head speed. Also, with this selection youll have enough money for a couple of beers after the round.
 
You might also be interested in checking out some of the results of a golf ball survey we conducted with our Frankly Friends by clicking here to see what other golfers are choosing.
-- Frank
 
Dear Frank,
 
I have question about ball scuffing. My wedges scuff my balls badly. I switch wedges often: Titliest Vokey, Cleveland CG 10, Wilson Staff and Mizuno MP. Ive tried every ball brand and type. Some are worse than others. But in general, all balls scuff significantly. A full swing with a Vokey 56 leaves the ball looking like it bounced off the cart path. What effect does the scuffing have on ball flight and distance? Has it ever been tested? Typically, I use premium balls and regularly change balls after 6 holes. Am I stuck with severe scuffing as a byproduct of high wedge spin? Can anything be done to reduce scuffing? Thanks for your time. I read your column on the thegolfchannel.com every week.
--Joe

 
Joe,
 
I will try to answer all your questions together. The reason why you are scuffing the balls and specifically the premium balls is that the grooves on most of the premium wedges have been milled at the end of the production process and the edges are reasonably sharp. After using these wedges for a while, the edges will wear down and this will reduce the tendency to scuff the ball. Most premium balls have a thin cover, which allows you to get the spin you want to work the ball around the greens but are also susceptible to damage from sharp grooves.
 
You should know that scuffing the ball, as you describe, does not necessarily mean you are getting the maximum spin from the shot. During impact, while the ball is in contact with the face, the resilient soft cover is stretched a little sideways, parallel with the face, allowing the ball to stick to the face, and springs back a little to help give the ball spin.
 
If while the cover is stretched it is partially cut, you will lose some of the recovery spring-back force and grip the ball has on the face and you may lose some of the potential to provide maximum spin. If the ball cover is torn while the ball is leaving the clubface, at the end of impact, you may not lose as much of the generated spin. I do believe, however, that the damage to the ball cover happens at or before maximum stress, during the winding-up phase of impact.
 
Whenever the damaged occurs, once in flight the aerodynamics of the ball will be affected measurably.
 
Yes, tests have been conducted on scuffed balls -- those with feathery surfaces created by the sharp grooves or normal cart path scuffs or dirt in the dimples. These balls will perform with an irregular flight path and not achieve optimum distance.
 
Most professionals who notice a scuffed cover during the play of a hole should try to declare the ball unfit for play (see Rule 5-3). Unfortunately there is some question about scrapes and scuffmarks within this rule, and this needs to be reviewed.
 
One thing for sure is, you shouldnt deliberately use a scraped, scuffed, or dirty ball or one with feathers on its surface damaged by sharp grooves. Replace it when you get to the next tee. Feathers are for the birds, not golf balls.
 
Hope this answers all of your questions.
-- 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