QA Tiger Versus Medinah


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 noticed that Tiger removed his 2-iron from the bag for the PGA Championship last week and only used his driver on two or three holes. Was the course playing shorter than the 7,561 yards reported? -- Simon, Wilmington N.C.

You are correct Tiger did remove his 2-iron from the bag for the PGA Championship.
The reason for this is that he did not need that low knock down shot he uses in high winds. The potential for high winds is not the same at Medinah as it is at the British Open at Royal Liverpool where he did have his 2-iron ready and available.
The Medinah #3 course built in 1925 is now the longest course on which this Championship has been played but this still didn't affect the scores significantly. The reason for this is that the Par 4s averaged 441 yards with a range of 82 yards between the longest and shortest par 4 and the Par 5s averaged 577 yards and the Par 3s averaged 209 yards.
This means that all Tiger needed to do, was to get to the turn in the dog-legs using his 3- or 5-wood off the tee. Tiger can hit his 5-wood about 250 yards and can control it better than his 2-iron. The course was so set up, that the all the Par 4s were reachable with a straight 250 yard shot and a 6 or 7-iron (for Tiger). He also finds it easier to shape his 5-wood than his 2-iron and also control the distance better. The down side is that it has a higher trajectory which is affected significantly more by the wind than his 2-iron.
The Par 3s average length was 209 yards so this added more distance to the course without affecting the playability for the pros.

The average golfer will find the par 4s playing more like 5s and thus the reason for the course's degree of difficulty for handicap rating purposes. Medinah #3 has one of the highest slopes ratings on record. The course is long but because of the setup it played shorter than the yardage indicates for the pros. Shorter Par 3s and longer par 5s would, without changing the overall length would have made a difference in scoring.

Hey Frank,
I am new to this column, and I love your work. Will worn grips really affect accuracy/consistency? My grips are only a year old, but I practice a lot (I am a +2 handicap with a driver swing speed of 115mph) and there are now flat spots worn on my grips where my left thumb sits and are just worn in general. Will this actually affect how much control I have on the ball? Thanks for all your help. -- Mark Handley, Ordnance Engineering

The fact that you are a +2 handicap golfer indicates that worn grips are not affecting your accuracy or consistency.
It is not a good idea, however, to use worn grips if they are as you describe. If you play as much as you do, then you should change your grips every year. There is an advantage in having worn grips with specific indentations for your fingers. What you have done is created grips which are molded for the hands. This is a violation of the rules unless it is a result of normal wear (see rule 4-1 b).
The fact that you have been gripping the grip so consistently to wear them in this fashion is testimony to the fact that you have a good and very consistent grip position and therefore don't need grips molded for the hands. The grip is a very important part of the club as it is the connection between you and the club and making this connection the same way each time does require a quality grip which is not worn.
Bottom line; change your grips when they are visibly worn down and in your case Mark; every year.

The August 14, 2006 'Your Game Night' show had a segment where you discussed non-compliant clubs in the golf bag. Three training devices were referenced. The speed Stick, Swing Setter, and the Momentus.

Did I understand correctly that the Momentus was a compliant club, and could be carried in the bag and used to swing and warm up during a round as you would use two clubs? Thank you. -- V. Alvin Pemberton

Your understanding is correct. The reason for this is that the Momentus club conforms to the rules of golf. I think the very first one made didn't conform and then only because the grooves were a little out of spec. With the assumption that you have a conforming version then you can carry it, hit a ball with it (not recommended) and use it to loosen up or stay warm during a round. The object of this club is to help warm up your tired and stiff muscles. As there is no limitation on the weight of a club and this one is very heavy (same as two or three clubs) it is considered a club and must be included in the overall count. The limit on the number of clubs you are permitted to carry is 14 and I am proposing that for the pros this be reduced to 10. The reason for my proposal is to prevent the USGA and R&A from adopting separate performance standards for equipment that the pros use. This rule of 14 was adopted in 1938. Please review my article published in The New York Times OP-ED section in April this year. You can find it on my site

I thoroughly enjoy your segments on TGC and answers on the net. My question is this - Whenever I am playing near the ocean, be it in New Jersey, S.
Carolina or Florida it seems that I am at about one club shorter than when I play in my home state of Pennsylvania. Is this do to humidity, altitude or turf conditions? -- Art Williams

If the air is dense, the ball will fly shorter than in less dense air because of the aerodynamic drag properties. As the density of the medium increases so does the resistance to going through it. Dense air also increases the lift forces on a spinning ball so the ball will have a higher trajectory in more dense air. The density of the air increases when it is cold and when you change altitude from Denver, Colorado to the coast of South Carolina. Also as the humidity increases the air density will decrease not increase as we intuitively believe. The effect of humidity on ball flight is not nearly as significant as altitude or temperature.

You can add about 2.5 yards for every 10 degrees of temperature increase from 35 degrees F, to 95 degrees F. In temperatures outside of this range you should not be on the course at all so don't worry about it.
I think also in your case Art, the turf may be playing a part in the decrease in distance you are experiencing. My advice when playing at the coast is to estimate your distance and take out an extra club for all your irons and enjoy your beer at the end of the round.

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