QA Tweaking for the New Year


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
What is the difference between a graphite iron shaft and a graphite hybrid shaft that are both .370 tip?
Why can't I use a 38' iron shaft instead of a 38' hybrid shaft if I am making a hybrid 23* club?
Is it just marketing hype, or is there a real difference? Thanks, Woodman

This depends on the flex pattern, not necessarily the tip diameter.
From the shaft point of view, hybrids are still in the experimental stage. The fairway wood shaft is generally smaller at the tip than an iron shaft, and its also more flexible than the iron shaft. Neither the iron shaft (too stiff) nor the fairway wood shaft (too flexible) seems to be just right for the hybrids. As a result, a number of manufacturers are turning to a special hybrid shaft for the best results. (As an aside, woods and irons are distinguished in the rules by their shapes, not by material, so I prefer to call these clubs simply woods and irons rather than metalwoods etc., so as not to confuse the issue further.)
The hybrid club is, in most cases, 1 inch longer than the similarly-lofted iron club it replaces, and will get the ball in the air a little better thanks to its slightly more flexible shaft than the irons and its rearward-positioned c.g. (center of gravity). The hybrid head in most cases also has a higher MOI (moment of inertia) than the iron it is replacing and thus be more forgiving. The shaft difference is not just marketing hype, but has a real effect on the performance of the club.
The difference between the two shafts you are considering is probably in the flex pattern even though they have the same tip diameter. Graphite seems to be the shaft material most manufacturers are leaning toward for hybrids.
The modern hybrid (even though it was originally introduced in a slightly different form many years ago) is probably the best innovation in the game for some time.
Hope this helps.

Hi Frank,
I just turned 60 and am about a 15 handicap. Should I move to the seniors tees? My game was never good enough for the back tees, but I always played the tee box closest to the 6500 yardage. If I'm driving the ball into the fairway, what iron should I be hitting into the green? I feel that if Im hitting a sand wedge into the green I should be playing from a tee box further back.
Frank, love your stuff. - Joe from Vegas

I would recommend you go to the senior tees -- but dont think of them as being senior tees, just more enjoyable tees.
Our research indicates that the average golfer prefers to play from tees at about 6,200 yards. This is a very good length that provides the most appropriate challenge to golfers shooting between 90 and 95 on longer courses.
Your question about which iron you should be hitting into the green is a tough one because it doesnt have any one answer. I do believe you should use a set of tees that gives you a chance to score par on every hole you play. It may not be easy, but it should be possible.
If you drive the ball a maximum of 200 yards and hit your three-wood a maximum of 185 yards, then a par four of more than 400 will be tough, unless you are outstanding at the up and down shots. If this is the case for you, then move forward and explain to your fellow golfers -- assuming they have similar handicaps -- that you would rather have a good enjoyable day on the course than a bruised ego. They might try it too, and be relieved that someone had the courage to step forward and make the game more fun.
It is sometimes hard to accept the fact that we dont hit the ball as far as we think we do. In general, golfers overestimate the distance we drive the ball by 30 to 40 yards. This information comes from our study and survey of more than 18,000 golfers.
Move up a set of tees, and youll find that theres still plenty of challenge, but a bit less strain on your body and mind. Youll probably enjoy the game more, and play better; quicker, too.

Thanks for your comments, and Im glad you are enjoying my stuff. Have fun on the course, Joe.

About two months ago I broke my Callaway X-14 pitching wedge where the shaft met the hosel. I sent it to Callaway and asked to have the club fitted to 1 degree flat. Previously I had my clubs fitted at an Academy in Orlando and was told my clubs were fitted at 1 degree flat. I received my wedge back, but for some reason I cannot hit it very well. That wedge was my favorite and most deadly club. I have lost confidence in it, and I dread using it instead of using my 9-iron. What can I do or should I do? All I want is my old club back.
Crying for help!

Hi Gary,
Unfortunately, because you broke the shaft in your wedge, and we cant fix broken shafts, you cant have the old club back. We can, however, try to assemble a new wedge using the old head to reproduce the club that gave you so much confidence before the accident.
First, I would suggest you check the lie angle of the club you have in hand, to make sure that it is not TWO degrees flat. The original fitting was a one-degree adjustment in the neck of the club, not the shaft; when you indicated to Callaway that you wanted it one degree flat, they may have reasonably interpreted that you wanted them to add a degree. The effect of this flatter lie angle will be that the ball goes right of the target even though you think you are lined up properly.
Next I would check the shaft. Make sure it is similar to the original shaft flex and model that was in the club you broke. If you have the original broken shaft and it has some identifying marks on it, check these and compare them to the shaft in the repaired club.
If the lie angle is correct, then the differences you are experiencing must be in the shaft. Also make sure the swing weight and the grip size are the same. These can make a little difference, but the change should not be so drastic as to have you lose confidence in your trusty wedge.
If everything checks out ' and from your description, it sounds like something is indeed wrong ' then my only advice is to drown her and start over with a new club that hasnt had an evil spell placed on it. Or perhaps take her to the range for a few sessions to build back your confidence. Confidence is a magical thing, and a little practice helps it grow.

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