QA Kicking Yourself Grip Size

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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,
I have a HiBore driver (11.5) with original Fujikura R flex (55g, low kick) shaft. I changed its shaft to a Proforce V2 High Launch L flex (52g, mid kick), thinking that it will give me a little extra distance. Nightmare happened. I not only lost the ball carry distance, but much of the time I couldn't even get the ball to launch. Does my problem have anything to do with kick point? I noticed a lot of new drivers come with mid kick shafts. What can I expect if I buy a driver with mid kick shaft and re-shaft it to one with a low kick point.
 
Thanks for your time.
--Linda

 
Laura Davies
On 'Ask Frank,' Monday June 4 at 11:00 p.m. ET on GC, Laura Davies poses a question about wedges and grooves. (WireImage)
Linda,
I bet you could kick yourself (mid, high or low) for making the change for a few extra yards.
 
To answer your question: you should expect changing from a mid-kick point shaft to a low-kick point shaft, all else being equal, the ball to be launched a little higher with a little more spin. The reason is that the lower kick point allows the shaft to bend a little more in the lower section.
 
In essence, during the bending process just before impact, the head is moving about a point with a shorter radius, which because of the moment arm created by the off line center of gravity (c.g.) of your driver will present a little more dynamic loft to the ball.
 
Please note I have said a little and I mean it. It is not very much and messing around with kick points is certainly not anything a golfer with a 10 handicap or greater should be concerned about in an attempt to increase distance.
 
I have mentioned this before and it is something which needs to be addressed and corrected; there are no common standards for shaft flex in the industry. In general, however, there are grades of flex from L (ladies) to XS (extra stiff) and a general guideline is that, the faster one swings, the stiffer the shaft one can effectively handle.
 
I believe you have been caught in the 'Hype Net' causing you to make two (perhaps unnecessary) changes, first with the shaft flex change, to an L from an R, and second the change in flex pattern (kick point) when you should have stayed with what you had if you were comfortable using it.
 
Comfort leads to confidence, which in turn leads to a better swing which results in more distance on average. If you are not happy with your driving distance, join the club of millions. Then; measure your launch conditions using a launch monitor which should be readily available at your local retail store or visit your local teaching professional who probably also has one of these devices.
 
Compare these conditions against the optimums I have listed by clicking here.
 
To change these launch conditions to optimize your distance, you should first make sure you have the most comfortable shaft flex for your swing type, then change the loft of your driver. You may also require a lesson and/or exercise and stretch to increase your range of motion.
 
The standard OEM shaft be it L,A,R,S or XS is the one I would recommend and if there are a variety of makes (just to suit the consumer who likes to have a choice) choose the make you like and select the correct flex range.
 
The last thing to do (unless you are readying yourself for a National Championship) is to mess with kick points.
 
This I hope will allow you to stop kicking yourself.
Frank
 
Frank - a player stripes a tee shot 280 dead center down the fairway.
 
Unfortunately, the ball comes to rest in the forward portion of a very deep un-replaced divot. Playing it as it lies is one of the most unfair rules of golf. This player has been penalized for a terrific shot. Moving the ball 1 inch to the left or right won't change the integrity of the game but it sure will change his 2nd shot. Why can't the USGA come up with a practical and fair solution to this BIG problem ? Thanks for your great work to help us weekend warriors.
--John

 
John,
This is not an equipment question but as a golfer and having spent a lot of time (26 years) at the USGA and also having talked about this issue, many times I would like to address it anyway. I hope it will help you understand the problem as I see it.
 
First, golf is not fair. We get good breaks and bad breaks and must live with them all.
 
Secondly, if we go back to the essence of the game we recognize that it is an activity, which allows us to evaluate ourselves. It is the personal challenge that brings us back over and over again, while also allowing us to enjoy the company of friends, compete against them in a wonderful environment, and even get a little exercise doing it.
 
If we want to make up our own rules, then this is OK. But we really do need some rules; otherwise there is no structure or order to the activity.
 
The USGA has developed some good rules for the game and the responsible committee works hard to try and make sure these make sense and in most cases, they do. The divot rule is a little more complex than it seems.
 
Let me explain. If you decide it is permissible to move the ball out of a divot because it creates something less than a perfect lie; I ask at what stage of the divot's self-healing process, will it no longer be considered a divot.
 
Many a time has my ball come to rest in a depression, which I really believed was a scar of an old divot. Do you think that I should be allowed to move it, or should I just accept it, complain a little and then move on to the next shot?
 
I do think that experiencing a divot as you describe is an indication that we do have some inconsiderate golfers. This is the real source of the problem, which we need to address, but allowing relief from this situation is going to make it hard to know where to draw the line and will also remove the incentive, or should I say obligation, for golfers to repair the damaged turf.
 
John, I hope this gives you a little different perspective and thank you for your kind words about the help we are providing. I hope you have signed up as a Frankly Friend (Click here to sign up).
 
Frank
 
Hi Frank, I enjoy reading your columns and I get a great deal of knowledge from them.
 
My question is with regards to grip size. I recently changed my grips and instead of going with the standard size grip replacement that was originally on my clubs, I got advice from the local store pro on the grip size I should be using. After a fitting it was determined that I should be using an oversized grip (one bigger than standard). So I replaced all my grips on my irons. The result is I have really been struggling with my irons, contact is poor and I tend to push and fade the ball now. Needless to say its been a very frustrating start to the season. Its this a result of the grips being too big?
 
Thanks
--Neil

 
Neil,
 
This is a very good example of how the Rule of Thumb or should I say fingers around a grip may not always be right.
 
It is generally accepted that the fingers of the left hand (for a right handed golfer) when closed around the grip should not dig into, but only touch the meaty portion of the palm at the base of the left thumb. This is the guideline, but only that. If you were happy with the size of the old grips then you should not change the size when selecting a new set of grips.
 
You are really the only person who knows if the grip feels comfortable. The one thing in the fitting process that you have control of is grip size. Start with the suggested procedure unless you have already established a grip size you like.
 
There have been some studies regarding grip size and in the extreme a larger grip is inclined to restrict the wrists from rotating into the impact zone. This results in leaving the ball out to the right. I do not suggest, however, that if your ball flight is right with a slice that you change your grip size to correct this potential swing flaw. It is suggested that you feel comfortable gripping the club and once you have found the right grip size dont let anybody talk you out of it.
 
Neil, I am not sure that you can completely blame the grip for the bad behavior of your clubs but in this case, it sure sounds like the change could be the problem.
 
Hope this gives you a better grip on the problem.
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