QA Quieting the Big Bang

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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,
 
I have a favorite pitching wedge that's a couple of years old and seems to have lost some 'bite' off of the face. While I know that the grooves may well be worn a bit, would it be possible/feasible to have the face lightly re-sandblasted to restore some of its 'tooth'?
 
Thanks.
--Bill

 
Bill,
 
Nick Price
Nick Price questions what the USGA will do to limit driver distance on 'Ask Frank,' Monday, Sept. 3 on GC at 11:00 p.m. ET. (Wire Image)
The grooves in your wedges will certainly wear down if you have been using these clubs for some time, especially out of the sand or sandy soil conditions on the range or elsewhere.
 
There are a few things you can do to restore the bite in your wedge. I would suggest that you contact GolfWorks.com or call them at (740)-328-4193 to find out what you need to do. Dont try to do this yourself without the proper tools. The face must first be belt-sanded to clean up and flatten the surface. This removes a thin layer of material from the surface, but not enough to affect the club weight significantly. The grooves are then reworked (milled) into the face. If the club was forged, then it has to be re-chromed, but most wedges are investment cast from stainless steel so this will not be necessary.
 
You should also know that under completely dry conditions where there is no grass between the face and the ball, grooves dont matter and a sand blasted face will provide enough friction to give you as much spin as any set of grooves. It is out of light rough -- i.e., 1 to 3 inches deep and not too dense -- that grooves affect performance and the type of groove makes a difference. When the rough is both dense and 3-inches deep or more, the groove type is no longer important. Therefore, if its under the light rough conditions that youre finding your wedge has lost its bite, then the steps above will do something to restore its performance.
 
A worn groove may still be used in the worn state BUT you should know that once you modify the clubface it is considered as new from a rules point of view and must conform with the very specific groove and other specifications drawn by the USGA. This is only important if you choose to play by the rules. I am an advocate of playing by the Rules of Golf, but I am finding it difficult to support some of the rules changes recently adopted or in the proposal stages.
 
The USGA has proposed a change to the groove specifications that would reduce the size of the groove by 50%. They believe that Tiger and his colleagues are not finding the light rough very much of a penalty or even a hazard. In a recent Golf World article, a USGA official in the equipment department implies that long rough is too much of a hazard and adds,That isnt golf. The rough isnt supposed to be a hazard. This was cited as the reason why we should not grow longer rough for the pros instead of changing the groove specs.
 
So if this is true, everybody who has played golf and has considered rough a hazard, (anywhere from a to a full stroke penalty) is wrong because rough isn't supposed to be a hazard.
 
It is this type of logic and reasoning that has diminished my ability to fully support some of the recent changes and proposals, which I believe will detrimentally affect millions of golfers unnecessarily.
 
More importantly, there is no evidence provided that these changes will make the game better; as a result, I fear such decisions will lead to an erosion of support and confidence in the USGA from its constituents, which is very bad for golf. If this proposed change in the standards for grooves in everyones irons is adopted, the USGA will force all golfers either to buy new clubs or to knowingly break the rules.
 
Bill, if you think that the bite in your wedge is not what you want, by all means treat your clubface or have someone do it for you. I dont know if youll find a lot of difference in performance, but youll feel more confidence with a club you know you like. Unfortunately, all of us are facing the loss of our favorite clubs if the USGA decides to take a bite out of the enjoyment of our game by adopting the new groove rule.
 
This is not groovy.
Frank
 
Frank,
 
I have a new square-headed driver. It sounds like an aluminum bat when you hit it.
 
Is there anything that can be done to it?
--Tony

 
Tony,
 
I think this is the nature of the beast. Theres not much you can do to the head without changing its performance properties. The sound can be dampened if you drill a small hole in the head and inject a light urethane-like foam to fill the cavity. This, however, is not recommended; it will increase the weight of the head, and will rob your friends of the opportunity to give you a hard time about noise pollution whenever youre on the course. There are other obvious solutions, which I am sure you may considered. These are:
 
a) Trade it in for another large forgiving head, one that doesnt alert the entire golf course when youve hit another drive.
 
b) Collect the earplugs provided by many airlines on overnight flights. These, if inserted, correctly will help in two ways: save your own ears while decreasing the volume to your inner ear and muffle the castigation from your fellow competitors, but more importantly prevent your jerking wince just before impact in anticipation of the explosive sound of impact.
 
c) Dont use this driver and position it over your mantelpiece to remind you of the purchase. This, however, would be a waste of money and not permit you the thrill of believing that the decibel level of impact relates directly to the increased distance you get.
 
Sorry to be so unhelpful in this case, but Im afraid you must live with this sound if you want to continue to use it without changing its performance benefits -- or at least those claimed in the promotional brochures.
 
I hope this answer sounds right.
 
Frank
 
Hi Frank,
 
Great column!!! Which type of hybrid is better: one that is flat faced like an iron, or one that is more like a fairway wood with bulge and roll? Thanks for your help.
--James

 
James,
 
I believe that most hybrids are now being made with a bulge and roll, even though this will vary in radius. (The bulge is the radius across the face from the toe to heel and the roll is the radius from the top to the bottom.) The reason for this is that the center of gravity (c.g.) is farther away from the face in hybrids than it is in most irons.
 
This deep location of the c.g. will put a sidespin on the ball when you hit it on the toe of the club, tending to give the ball a slight draw trajectory. This is called the gear effect, and its very pronounced when the c.g. is even farther back from the face, as in drivers. In clubs with a large face (up and down) and a c.g. deep into the center of the head, the roll also has a gear effect. A ball hit on the upper portion of the face will have less spin than one hit on the bottom of the face.
 
During impact, which only lasts .00045 of a second (220 times shorter than it takes you to blink your eye) the club head will twist about its c.g. if its mis-hit -- i.e., off the sweet spot. (It will not twist about the shaft, as many believe. Thus the shaft and any of its properties such as torque, stiffness, kick-point or weight play no part in the way the ball flies once contact has been made between the club face and the ball.) The purpose of bulge and roll are to give the ball a little nudge in a direction away from the center line when youve hit the ball off-center. This sounds like a bad idea, but it helps compensate for the gear effect: if your ball is going to draw from a toe-hit, you want it to start a little farther right, so the draw spin will bring it back to the middle where you want it. Hope this bulge and roll will keep you rocking down the fairway.
 
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