QA When Long is Wrong

RSS

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 made a mistake and bought a (used) Taylor made R7 Ti 3 Wood with a 45-inch shaft. The shaft is a Taylor Made Re Ax regular shaft. With the extra 2 inches the swing weight is too heavy. I have difficulty swinging this club.
 
Is it possible to cut down the length at the grip and keep the regular flex? Or do I have to replace the entire shaft?
-- Ted

 
Ted,
 
Leonard Thompson
Leonard Thompson wonders why amateurs can't play by different rules on 'Ask Frank,' Monday, Sept. 10 at 11:00 p.m. ET on GC
I dont know whom you bought your 45' 3-wood from, but he must have been a basketball player. Or maybe someone who was trying to get a lot more distance from his 3-wood than he should, and discovered that this increase in length didnt work.
 
The woods is not a good place to find yourself after using a Wood club of any loft, driver or 3-wood, from the tee or the fairway. In most cases, the longer the club the less accurate it becomes. So now you know why this club found its way to the second-hand-club lot.
 
If you cut 2' off this club, do it from the butt end as you suggested, which will least affect the flex properties; it is also the easiest way to do it because you dont have to remove the head.
 
By shortening the club by 2' you will reduce the swing weight by about 10 to 12 points. If this proves to be too much, you can add a little lead tape to the back lower center portion of the head to bring the swing weight back to what suits you best.
 
Before you do anything, take it out to the range and choke down on the grip about 2' and hit a few shots. This will give you a sense of how it will feel when you reduce the length without adding tape to the head. The grip size will be a little smaller in this choked down gripping position, but it is a good first step in the shortening process.
 
After you decide to cut it down to the 43' which is about the right length for a 3-wood the shaft flex will feel a little stiffer, but there may not be enough difference to affect you. The more lead tape you add to bring it into your swing weight range, the more you will lower the frequency, giving the shaft a softer feel. However, getting the shaft length in the right ballpark is important.
 
Some of the new big-headed square drivers are being made too long -- 45 or more inches long -- resulting in golfers spending a lot of time looking for their balls in the woods. Such players practically have to ask for off-road tires when they rent a golf cart. The few good drives may be a little longer than what they used to average, but they are so few and far between that buying beers for their buddies with lower scores quickly changes how they think about trying to impress their friends. The added shaft length on some of these drivers is not well advertised in the promotional materials, but its the only real reason for the occasional longer drive. Increasing forgiveness, which is the point of the square heads, shouldnt add distance if the swing speed doesnt change.
 
If manufacturers want to speed up play and help golfers reduce their handicaps, they should do it by making drivers shorter. When purchasing new woods or drivers you need to be aware of the length of shaft that is installed. Golfers hit the ball straighter with a slightly shorter driver, and any decrease in distance will change as the golfer develops confidence with this club. He will swing better which always helps both accuracy and distance as well as an improved score.
 
I know you didnt ask about drivers, but the same principles apply to your 3-wood.
 
Take the short cut. It will work.
-- Frank
 
Hi Frank:
 
I am 5'6' in height and currently play with Ping irons that are 1 degree flat (red dot). I am looking to purchase a new set of irons and was wondering if the lie of the club makes a significant difference.
-- Ty

 
Ty,
 
The lie angle of your irons is probably one of the more important things to think about when you select a new set of irons. Some people may try to custom-fit you to plus or minus 1/4 inch in shaft length, and/or and a special low or high kick point shaft, or a special weight shaft with specific 'torque' properties. They may even suggest a 2-point higher or lower swing weight. In most cases, this degree of fitting is unnecessary and may be primarily intended to make you feel special with a new set. Surprisingly, in many cases it works (for a while, anyway). This type of tweaking has a place on Tour, but for most of us (about 90%) a standard set will be just fine.
 
What does matter, however, is to select a proper lie angle for your swing plane, which is related to your swing technique and stature, and to match it with the right shaft flex (chosen based on your swing speed and comfort level).If the lie angle is too flat, your ball flight will tend to go right of the target and may also have a little fade spin. Similarly, if it is too upright the flight will be left of your target line.
 
Some manufacturers try (and do a relatively good job) to get the general shaft flex and lie angle fitted to you, based on your handicap and height, or actual 'lie board tests' during the selection process. It is these two properties, within an otherwise standard set, that are most important. Youve experienced this with your present set.
 
With your new set, make sure that the shaft flex fits your swing speed. Higher swing speeds require stiffer shafts in most cases. Also be certain that the lie angle is adjusted from standard if your ball flight is right of left of target and a 'lie board test' confirms that an adjustment will help. Unless you are unusually taller or shorter than average (plus or minus 4 to 5 inches) start with a standard set and get a lesson to correct a swing flaw rather than try to get your equipment to compensate.
 
Don't let a bad lie get between you and a good shot.
 
Hope this helps.
-- Frank
 
Frank:
 
I am still young, 63, and have in the last 18 months lost distance on the driver in the range of 40-50 yards. My handicap in the past ranged from 7 to 10. I have taken lessons from a national firm that puts a harness on your back, my pros, and a teaching pro who was on the tour. I exercise daily. Im now taking pilates. I played a resort course last Saturday and got paired with a gentleman approximately my age and he was outdriving me 75 to 90 yards. He was hitting wedges while I was hitting 6 irons.
 
What can I do for distance? One of my golfing friends said to lay off for 2 weeks and then quit ...
-- Tony

 
Tony,
 
If you accept the advice of quitting after two weeks lay off, this will mean another good man down. We are losing too many golfers and rounds are decreasing at a rate of about 2% to 3% per year. This is not good news.
 
First, dont get upset if someone else your age can outdrive you -- this happens. What you should be concerned about is that you have suddenly lost 40 to 50 yards. Lets assume that this is truly the case and is not something that has happened gradually due to body decay.
 
We need to establish exactly what has changed. I dont know whether you started your exercise routine, lessons, swing analysis and Pilates classes after the distance loss or whether these were on-going preemptive maintenance procedures to prevent distance loss.
 
If the distance loss happened long after you had started these routines, then the only conclusion we can draw is that its not you that has changed but the tools youre using. On the other hand, these routines may be the problem, and trying too hard to get the extra yards has actually caused a problem. Personally, I dont think it is the latter, because exercise and reasonably good lessons have never (almost never) resulted in a decrease in driving distance -- unless your launch conditions have crashed and your swing speed has dropped by 15 to 20 mph. This is easy to check on a launch monitor.
 
All said and done, lets assume it is the instrument. There have been occasions when the face of the newer big drivers have started to collapse and the COR has decreased significantly. But this would not result in 40 to 50 yard losses, but 15 to 20 yards max.
 
Tony, I think you do have a problem that only a new driver will solve. And you need to have confidence and BELIEVE that it will work. This does wonders for people. This remedy has worked for many, certainly in the short term. Dont stop the other stuff -- lessons and exercise are always a good thing.
 
Whatever you do, DONT quit, even after a lay off.
-- 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