QA Moving Driver Weights

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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@thegolfchannel.com
 
Mr. Thomas,
Adding weight to the toe or heel of a driver or fairway club will affect the flight. Which will it do for a draw or fade? Thanks for your time. I like your short part on Mondays The Golf Channel. -- Steve Malley

 
Steve,
To create a draw bias in these clubs move the weight to the heel and for a fade bias move it toward the toe.
 
There are two reasons for the flight changing when you rearrange the weight distribution in wood clubs (these clubs are distinguished from irons by shape, not material). The reasons for differences in performance are first, the center of gravity (c.g.) changes its position and thus if the impact point is the same the spin applied to the ball is going to be different due to the gear effect. Normally a toed shot gives a little draw spin because the c.g. is toward the heel and back from the impact point. So if you add weight to the heel of the club the c.g. moves toward the heel and if impact is in the center of the club it will appear to be a toed shot relative to the new c.g. location and will thus apply a little draw spin to the ball. This assumed that you hit the ball on the same spot each time.
 
The second reason for the club, with weight moved to the heel, applying a slight draw to the ball is because the MOI (Moment of Inertia) of the head, about the shaft, is a little less as the c.g. is moved to the heel and as a result rotating the head into the impact position is a little easier and in fact may tend to allow the face to close a little.

Please understand that weight manipulation is a tweaking of ball flight and not a cure for a bad slice or hook. The first thing to do for a slice or hook is to try to alter your swing. Generally a good teacher can correct this type of swing flaw. Then you can tweak the flight by changing the c.g. location.
 
Frank,
I read, oftentimes, about pros playing wedges that are bent to lofts one or two degrees less than what they were manufactured for. My assumption is that, this would remove a similar amount of bounce from the wedges themselves. How is this beneficial? You've recommended that when purchasing a wedge, we should look for wedges with at least 14 degrees of bounce. What is different about a professional's play that they do not need as much bounce as an amateur? -- Thanks, Matt Rittler

 
Matt,
You are right, if you bend a wedge to decrease the loft by two degrees you will similarly decrease the bounce by the same amount.

A large bounce (14 degrees or more) is required on most sand wedges to avoid the club digging deep into the sand. Once the clubs leading edge starts to penetrate the ground (sand or soft turf) the bounce will add resistance to prevent continued penetration and tend to make the club slide. So instead of digging into the sand or turf it will tend to bounce off it or slide through it. On the other hand this same bounce on a club will literally bounce off very hard fairways or hard pan in bunkers. When the pros are confronted with hard turf conditions such as many of the Open courses in Britain they ask for the leading edge of their wedges to be sharpened so that the club can dig (cut) through the turf before the bounce takes effect. They may also choose wedges with less bounce for these conditions.
 
As far as most of us are concerned we are not consistent enough, in the way we present the club to the ball to get away with the clubs with less bounce as used by the pros.
 
If we hit it fat we dont want the club to continue to dig itself deeper into the turf or sand and thus need more bounce which will forgive our mistakes. The pros dont need the added resistance to the club as they are able to control the amount of dirt (divot size) they take. For more on wedges click here. For updated information please sign up as a Frankly Friend by clicking here.
 
Frank,
I've tried a couple of drivers of the last couple of years, a 10 degree and a 10.5 degree. I can't seem to find the fairway as much as with my 13 degree 3 wood that I hit nearly as far as the driver, I'm an 11 handicap, and I'm wondering if I would get more distance with a 13 degree 460cc driver, or should I just stick with the 3 wood? -- Jeff, Wis.
 
Jeff,
The fact that you are hitting more fairways with your 13 degree 3 wood and getting almost as much distance as with your 10.5 degree driver is because first a shorter club is always easier to control and secondly you are getting the ball into the air more efficiently using your 13 degree fairway wood. I absolutely believe that you will get more distance with a 400 cc to 460 cc driver if you can order one with a 13 degree loft (many manufacturers offer a 13 degree driver but many are 45 inches long). This should not be longer than 44 inches in length because the shorter the club the better you are able to control the direction. If it is 45 inches long then choke down a little. Your 3 wood is most likely no longer than 43 inches so your driver being one inch longer is about the right difference. The other reason for going to a 400 to 460cc head is the forgiveness is greater and the size allows for a more efficient spring like effect design than your 3-wood.
 
Jeff, go for the bigger driver with 13 degrees loft and 44 inches long. You will love it and once you start hitting more fairways then you confidence will take over and with the improved swing you will get the distance the a longer shaft gives but with the accuracy you are looking for.

Frank,
Do you think I should consider trying hybrid club to replace my 3 & or 4 iron.
I'm bogey golfer and find it hard to hit my long irons. Will new hybrids be more forgiving and which ones should I try. -- Thanks, Norm S.

 
Norm,
There is no doubt in my mind that you should replace your 3 and 4 irons with hybrids. These are generally about an inch longer than the club they are replacing with a similar loft. The bigger, more forgiving head with a wide sole will allow you to hit the ball more efficiently and as far or a little farther then the iron it is replacing. The greater forgiveness will tend to give you considerably more consistent shots which will on average be very much more accurate than the long irons. The difference between long irons and hybrids is tremendous especially in your case where you are finding it hard to hit my long irons.
 
For most of us, there is only one place for a 3-and 4-iron and that is on the mantel shelf, well secured to a wooden board so you are not tempted to put them back in your bag.
 

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 letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com