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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 was under the impression that if one took a driver head and simply kept changing shafts---with different lengths, torque, flexes, etc'you would eventually find a shaft that would make the ball go farther (assuming you always hit the same ball with each new shaft). Now, I am told that swing speed will not change very much at all with the different shafts. Which is it? I am 65 years old, have a single digit handicap, (and have since I was a kid). Would going on a launch monitor and hitting different balls, always with the same driver, produce one ball that would go farther? I currently use a Callaway HX Hot ball, and I hit it between 245 and 255 yards. Thanks for any help.
--Hank

 
Hank,
 
Driving distance is related directly to clubhead speed. By changing shaft flex, kick point, weight and torque, you may be able to make some relatively small changes to the launch conditions, but more importantly you will, by trial and error, find the shaft that you feel most comfortable swinging consistently and thus the one in which youll develop some degree of confidence. This may take some time, and it could be expensive. This confidence, however, often leads to an improved swing, and a better swing will in turn generally lead to increased distance.
 
If you change shaft length, you will be able to generate more club head speed, but you do this at the risk of losing accuracy and control. All that the vast majority of us need is a standard shaft, choosing only the flex rating that best suits our swing speed.
 
To increase your distance, assuming you dont want to change your swing, you need to optimize your launch conditions for your particular head speed (Click here for the guidelines of head speeds and launch conditions). If you want to increase your carry distance, launch the ball higher and decrease the spin rate, though this will not give you maximum overall distance under average turf conditions.
 
To change your launch conditions, you should first work with the loft of the driver, then your impact position on the clubface. Higher impact will produce less spin and a higher launch angle. After that, you can then experiment with ball type, and last work on shaft kick point etc. for minor tweaking. Before you get to the point of such tweaking, though, you need to be hitting the ball very consistently; otherwise youre just spinning your wheels.
 
If you are now hitting the ball 245 to 255 yards, you shouldnt be too concerned about messing with club properties, but rather work on your flexibility and strength. This will increase your range of motion and stamina, which will allow you to maintain your current very good driving distance for years to come.
 
Hope this helps,
Frank
 
Frank,
 
Most of my golf is played on relatively flat greens that probably roll about 10 on a Stimpmeter. I find that when I play greens with more contour and more speed (12 and up), I am totally out of synch. Im a six handicap and consider myself a good putter until I get to fast greens with pronounced contour. I know Im not alone in this dilemma, but do you have any suggestions? Does a lighter putter help?
 
Thanks,
--Fred

 
Fred,
 
When I introduced the redesigned Stimpmeter in 1977 (the concept was originally developed by Eddie Stimpson in the 1930s, and I called it the Stimpmeter in his honor), the average green speed for everyday play at most municipal golf courses and country clubs was 6' 6'.
 
I developed a table at that time recommending that 6' 6' was good for everyday speed, but for competition play 8' 6 ' was a good speed. In major competitions the speed should be around 10 ' 6' for average undulations, but faster for flat greens and slower for greens with significant undulations. If the greens are too fast, for any number of reasons, you limit the number of places on the green where the cup can be cut.
 
Agronomic practices have improved so much, and new techniques have been developed to speed up greens without destroying them, that its no longer a challenge to speed up greens. In fact, fairways can now approach the texture and speed of greens as we remembered them many years ago. At the 1998 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, I measured the speed of the fairway on one hole and found it was 6' 6'. It was being cut with triplex mowers designed originally for greens; this is no longer unusual for championship play.
 
Fortunately, some common sense has become part of the process of deciding how fast to make the greens. The undulations and general slope of the green are increasingly being considered. 12 feet on the Stimpmeter is too fast for most greens, and if there are any significant undulations then a speed of 12' is an out-and-out mistake.
 
Fred, there is absolutely no need to get a lighter putter for fast greens; all you need is a consistent putting stroke with a slow rhythm. Since youre a good putter, you know that the distance you take the putter head back on the backstroke should be the only variable for different length putts. On faster greens you simply need to reduce the length of the backstroke. Putts on fast greens will break significantly more than on slow greens for the same slope, so this too should be carefully considered.
 
Hope this gets you back into synch.
 
Frank
 
Frank,
 
I thought I read somewhere that the depth of a golf club head from the face to the back could not exceed the width across the face. It seems to me that there are quite a few putters that do not conform to this.
--Thomas

 
Thomas,
 
You are partially right in your assumption about the dimensions for a club. The distance from the toe to the heel must be greater than from the face to the back. When I rewrote this rule in 1984, it carefully specified that the measurement be made from the vertical projections of the outer most points of the toe and the heel and the face to the back. The heel for traditionally shaped heads (woods, etc.) is defined .875 inches above the ground when the club is at address. In putters, generally the measurements are taken at the outermost points of the heel and the toes and face and back. Thomas, Im not surprised that you think there are many putters that dont conform with this rule, but in fact they just look that way.
 
I wouldnt feel too bad about this, because I too on many occasions thought that a specific putter did not conform because it was too deep from the face to the back, but when I made the measurement I found I was mistaken. It is an optical illusion that fools us in many cases.
 
Im sure there are some putters that dont conform out there, but fewer than you think, and certainly none that were submitted to and approved by the USGA. Our eyes often fool us in golf; this is one of those times.
 
Keep on looking.
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