QA The Proper Bag for a Beginner

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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
 
Is it possible for a different shaft alone to add 15 yards to a drive?
--Vincent

 
Vincent,
This is the shortest question I have ever had. The answer is NO.
 
Now that Ive said this, let me qualify it with the following: Lets assume shaft A is your existing shaft and B is the new (super expensive 15 yard extra) shaft. If these are the same length and approximately the same flex but merely a different weight by as much as 30 grams AND you are an average to better golfer, then the answer is again NO.
 
If shaft A is absolutely the worst fit possible for you, which you would know if you are an average to better golfer, and your launch conditions were way off the optimum, and changing to B alone, without any change in head design or loft, there is a slight chance that you may gain 10 to 15 yards. But this is like wishing for snow in Florida.
 
Every new innovation seems to increase ones distance by 20 yards. But you know this phenomenon only lasts for about three to four rounds -- sometimes longer if you paid more.
 
Vincent, there is no doubt that the shaft is very important and you need to feel comfortable with the one you select. Most of us choose shafts that are too stiff and clubs that are too long, chasing those elusive extra yards. Confidence will help you swing better, and this will help give you some of the extra yards you are looking for ' but not all of them. To build confidence you must feel in control of you swing. Moving outside of your comfort zone trying for those few extra yards is not good for your game, whatever the shaftmaker promises.
 
Hope this helps,
Frank
 
What effect does the price tag and tape over it, and the bar code and tape over it, attached to the shaft at the hosel have on shaft performance of a new driver? And what happens when you take these off? It must change the performance considerably.
--Dean

 
Dean,
I think you will be surprised to find out how much this 'price tag' and 'bar code,' if left on the shaft after purchasing the driver, will affect the clubs performance.
 
First, it will have an obvious visual effect, which may or may not distract you during set up when you address the ball. Second, it will certainly remind you how much you paid for it, and this is generally a good thing. If you paid a lot, youll be reminded of how well the club should perform for you. If you got a bargain, youll feel good about yourself for that instead.
 
If the driver still has the tag on it, then its considered new, and new drivers always work better than old drivers do. Also, if the price on the tag is high enough, the good performance will last longer. The only down side is that if it doesn't work well and your buddies see how much you paid for it then you may feel a little silly.
 
I have been lead to believe that the magic most clubs have built into them lasts only as long as the price tag remains on the driver; as soon as you remove this tag the troubles start.
 
In all seriousness, the placebo effect is alive and well and a real phenomenon. How often when you hit a good shot with your new driver do your buddies reach out to take your club and say, 'Let me see that club, Dean.' Few times, if any, do they say, 'Good swing, Dean.'
 
Since you are thinking about what a beautiful thing you have in your hand, your mind doesn't do its usual thing of interfering with a potentially good swing. This generally results in an extraordinarily good shot.
 
From a technical point of view, rest assured that the price tag and the bar code do not weigh enough or have any other effect to alter performance. Don't let the removal of a price tag get between you and a good shot.
 
Hope this helps,
Frank
 
Frank,
First, I want to thank you for your weekly golf column...... I enjoy this very much. In an old issue of GolfDigest you had a discussion about the number of clubs in the bag.You said that an average golfer could probably manage with 10 clubs. I wonder: What 10 should I have? Since Im a new golfer. Ive noticed that you can have everything in terms of statistics.My other question is therefore: What is the 'normal' way to organize the clubs in the bag?
 
Best regards,
--Svante

 
Svante,
Thanks for your comments. I am pleased my columns and Q&As are helpful.
 
Yes, I believe that most of us could perform well if not better with fewer clubs in our bag. Many of us are inconsistent in the distances we hit, especially using a variety of clubs, so there are many overlaps in how we hit consecutive clubs.
 
With fewer clubs, if we found ourselves torn between a choice of clubs for a particular shot, we might take out the longer club and make an easier swing instead of trying to hit the shorter club harder. Taking an easy stroke almost always produces better results than a full hard hit for two reasons: First, the easy swing will probably be a more controlled swing; and second, we generally overestimate how far we can hit the ball, so choosing the longer club is usually a better fit for our true playing profile.
 
For a beginner, I do think its wise to carry fewer clubs, and then fill in the gaps once you have confidence that you can hit the ball a certain distance with the ones you have. When youre just starting out, having more clubs means more you have to try to master.
 
My suggestion for a beginner golfer is as follows:
  • A driver with a 12 or 13 degrees of loft and no more than 44 inches in length.
  • A 5-wood with about 18 degrees of loft.
  • A 24-degree hybrid
  • Six-iron to Pitching Wedge
  • Sand Wedge
  • A good mallet-style putter
     
    As far as organizing these in the bag, that is entirely up to you. Most golfers keep three of four consecutive clubs in the same section of the bag to save time looking for them.
     
    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