QA Santa Claus is Coming


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
I want to buy a golf gift for my husband for Christmas and I dont know where to start. He is new to the game and I would really like to get him something that will help him improve! I am confused! Do you have any suggestions or advice for me? Geraldine

There are so many options, I can understand your confusion! Depending on your budget, there are some obvious gifts that will be useful and/or practical, such as golf balls, range finders, golf sunglasses, training aids or even an animal headcover!!
The most useful and comprehensive advice I can give you can be found by clicking here to view my 8 Simple Rules for Buying Equipment. Please use this to help guide you in selecting the most appropriate gift for your husband.
Best of luck and I do hope that this helps.

Can you please give some info on the use of range finders, I'm interested in getting one but don't want to pay an arm and a leg. I play to a 15.

With reference to your question about range finders; there are basically three general types; 1) the laser with a retro reflector on the flag stick, 2) the laser with no reflectors but reflecting off an object or the flag stick, 3) the GPS system used to position ones self relative to a green on a course.
An example of the first is Laserlink and this is least expensive (about $250)to the individual if you are able to buy the unit and the course has installed the retro reflectors on the flags. An example of the second is the Bushnell device which is approx $400 or more but no reflectors are required and you can take it anywhere. The third is the Skycaddie (about $350), which is very sophisticated and also you dont need retro-reflectors on the flag but the downside is that you need to load your favorite courses into the system from your computer. It will store five or so of these courses at one time. This is a GPS system which uses satellites as does the system installed in golf carts.
Of course if you are not too fussy about the exact distance because most of us cant hit it within +/- 10 to 15 yards of that distance even if we knew it exactly then you can use the sprinkler heads and pace it off from there.
The down side of this is that it takes more time to get the distance so you are slowing play but most important is if you hit that one perfect shot (which does happen now and again) and you were off by five yards you will not be a happy camper. So we all want the exact distance no matter what.
I would suggest that you determine which courses you play most and see what they have then make a decision if you need a device or not. Hope this helps.

Dear Frank,
I thoroughly enjoy reading your thoughts on rules, regulations and equipment.
I have a question about rules.
The other day I played in a tournament and one of the competitors had either lost or put all his golf balls out of bounds. Is there a rule that prevents him from borrowing balls from his fellow competitors? Or, like the movie, Tin Cup suggests will one automatically be disqualified?
We decided it rather harsh to let someone be disqualified on the penultimate hole of a 54 hole tournament and let him borrow a few balls.
Thank you for your thoughts,

I am pleased to tell you that if this golfer runs out of balls and has to borrow some from a friend or fellow competitor he will not be disqualified.
I do think, however, that if you or his other friends that are playing with him (friend, partner or fellow competitor) you should be reluctant to lend him any balls as he will probably not be able to give them back at the rate he is losing them. On the other hand it may be a good strategy to lend him a used ball, which he will probably lose, and in return you may receive a new one when you get back in the clubhouse.
Let me quote a decision from the USGA decisions on the Rules of Golf:
Q. During a stipulated round, a player runs out of balls. May he borrow one or more balls from another player?
A. Yes. Rule 4-4a prohibits a player from borrowing a club from another player playing on the course but the Rules do not prevent a player from borrowing other items of equipment (balls, towels, gloves, tees, etc.) from another player or an outside agency.
If the One Ball Condition in Appendix I is in effect, the player would need to obtain the same brand and type of ball as required by that condition.
On a different note; Some people have asked me if they should use lost balls and I have to tell them that a ball is not a lost if you found it.
Hope this helps.
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