QA Using Your Putter - To Hit Another Player

RSS

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 letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com
 
Frank,
I am a 14 handicap and looking for a new driver. Mine is 8 or 9 years old and need(s) something new. But I am confused when I go into any big golf store(s) today because there are so many new drivers available, all of which claim to drive the ball farther. What are the key things to look for, if I want to upgrade?
 
H. Seleck
LA, CA

 
H. Seleck,
Join the crowd. Because the market is not growing as rapidly as it has in the past,
manufacturers are finding it harder to compete and one of the methods used is to frequently turn out new products. The technology is not changing as fast as the products are coming out, so it has become confusing and difficult to sort out what to get or how to find what we need.
 
First, you certainly do need to upgrade if you have a driver 8 to 9 years old. The technology in drivers has changed significantly over this period of time. The choice you make will depend somewhat on the clubhead speed and your skill level.
 
With a 14 handicap you are a little better than average. Let's assume that you can generate a clubhead speed of about 85-to-90 mph. This will result in a driving distance between 220-240 yards. (Most of us overestimate how far we drive the ball by about 30-40 yards). At this head speed you need to launch the ball at about 14 degrees with a spin rate of about 3,000-3,500 rpm.
 
With this in mind:
  • Select a driver of 400-460 cc in size.
  • Loft of 10-11 degrees.
  • Maximum COR (resilience creating maximum ball speed); most drivers
    are at the limit.
  • Drivers are all so good that there is very little difference in the
    type you select. Select what looks good to you.
  • For accuracy try a 44-inch rather than the 45-inch club length.
  • Select an R-flex shaft before the S-flex.
  • Most big stores have a net into which you can try hitting some balls
    to get a general feel.
  • If there is a launch monitor get some data on your launch conditions
    and try to get close to what I have suggested above without getting out of
    your comfort zone.
  • Last and most important, find a head cover that will make your new
    driver happy. An unhappy driver is not something you want in your bag.
     
    For more on driver selection check out my website.
     
    Frank thanks for the interesting and frank (sorry) information you provide on The Golf Channel. My question is, how long has the 14-club maximum been in the rules?
     
    Bruce Hamlin
    Georgia

     
    Bruce,
    The rule was adopted on Jan. 1, 1938, because golfers were carrying as many as 30 clubs. Both the R&A and USGA decided in 1936 that the art of shotmaking was being lost because of the finely graduated and matched sets, and the game was becoming mechanized. Golfers were no longer exhibiting their skills by changing their swing to make a shot, but rather were simply just changing
    their club.
     
    Other benefits cited for the reduction in the number of clubs were:
     
  • Relief to caddies from unfair burdens;
  • Improved speed of play because the decision-making process was simplified;
  • Give those who cannot afford an unlimited arsenal an equal chance.
     
    My personal feelings are that a further reduction, especially for the PGA TOUR pros, is in order. See my article printed in The New York Times last April. I suggested that the number be reduced, for the PGA TOUR level of competition only, to 10 clubs. This would be in conjunction with modifying course set up to reward distance ONLY when it is accompanied by accuracy and thought provoking penalty for a stray long shot.
     
    The advantages are that it would allow golfers to exhibit their true skills and with the modified course set up better identify the true champion.
     
    Frank,
    During our club championship this past weekend we had an incident where a contestant threw his putter in anger and it struck another player. We could not find a rule that covers this situation. Is there a rule that would penalize or DQ the offender?
     
    Scott, IL.

     
    Scott,
    I have had to dig deep to get some sound information to you on this one. The answer is fairly complex and has nothing to do with how the Attorney General would rule on this violation of etiquette.
     
    The multifaceted answer is as follows: First it depends on whether or not the club conforms to the Rules of Golf. If you can determine this then it will be a good start.
     
    If it doesn't conform then he (the thrower) would be disqualified for carrying a non-conforming club. If it conforms but the impact resulted in blood being deposited on the face of the putter then the intent of the action needs to be established. If intentional and the result was to deposit foreign material on the face of the putter, this is not good.
     
    One is not allowed to apply foreign material by whatever means, during a round, to the putter face for the purpose of influencing the movement of the ball. Also, if the playing characteristics of the club were changed as a result of the impact, and this is action is considered 'not in the normal course of play' so in either case of this, the penalty is disqualification.
     
    There is no reason to be concerned about whether the impacted player lived through the incident or not as this is irrelevant as long as the thrower yelled 'FORE' during the flight of the putter.
     
    If, however, 'The Committee' established prior to the event that as a 'Conditions of the Competition' it was not permissible to throw putters at other players, and posted this notice appropriately, then it (the committee) is entitled to request the player to relinquish his putter for the rest of the round.
     
    The most serious penalty is that his buddies forget his phone number.

    My area of expertise covers the equipment and in some cases its trajectory rather than the conditions of the competition established by the committee.
     
    By the way how is the victim?
     
    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 letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com