QA Why Putts Lip Out

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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
 
Dear Frank,
 
Fred Funk
Fred Funk joins Frank on 'Ask Frank,' Monday, Oct. 15 at 11:00 p.m. ET on GC. (WireImage)
I have always played standard lie golf clubs, even though I am 64 tall (stubborn rejection of technological advancementI just switched from persimmon heads last year). I recently bought a new set and had them adjusted by my favorite local pro. He measured me and told me I needed three degrees upright! So, he adjusted them, I took em out, and I hooked every iron for fourteen holes. I tried to swing much more steeply than I was used to, and it seemed to work pretty well.
 
Heres the question: could a flatter swing with more upright clubs produce hooks? I'm willing to swing more steeply; I just want to make sure that I have figured out the right reason for my hooks before I make a swing change.
 
Thanks for your time,
--Ben

 
Stubborn Ben,
 
I am not surprised that your favorite local pro gave you clubs with 3-degree upright lies on your new set of irons. He wanted to get back at you for being so stubborn and not switching to metal woods sooner.
 
There is no doubt that if you have a good swing and are reasonably happy with the ball flight, a 3-degrees change to your lie angle will dramatically affect your results.
 
If the lie is too upright it will produce a draw (or in your case, a hook). I am not sure that I would recommend you change your swing plane to adjust for the hook when you know exactly what is causing it. I say this assuming that you have a grooved swing and your favorite local pro hasnt tried to correct it for you. He has probably been so upset with you for being so stubborn about your driver that he didnt notice the flaw (if you have one) in your swing plane.
 
Now that you have worn out the off-road tires on your golf cart by spending so much time in the left woods, your pro may want to review your swing and the lie angle on your set.
 
For your height you probably do need a different lie than standard, so make friends again with your pro and get things sorted and dont wait so long to take advantage of some of the recent advances that have been made in technology.These advances are becoming fewer and farther between, so you shouldnt feel you have to make frequent changes, but go with the ones that have passed the test of time. Otherwise, who knows what your favorite local pro will do to you next?
 
This one is out of left fairway.
-- Frank
 
Hello Frank,
 
Can you please explain why a putt lips out of the hole? Is it because it is going too fast or because it is rolling with sidespin instead of end over end? And, of course, how do I keep it from happening?!
-- Anne

 
Anne,
 
If the ball is directed toward the center of the hole at the correct speed, it will fall into the hole, touching the back of the hole-liner on its way to where it truly belongs -- i.e., the bottom of the cup. This is our final objective when we tee it up on every hole.
 
If it is going too fast, it will bounce off the back edge of the cup and over the hole. So speed is important; when you practice putting, on your misses the ball should end up about 12 to 18 inches behind the hole, which would indicate that even though you didnt have the right line at least you had the correct speed. The odds are that if you are short with your putts, they will not go in, so try to get enough speed on the putt to get it at least over the edge of the hole or a little beyond it.
 
Now when your line is slightly off and the ball rolls around the edge only to lip out, it is because, for that line (an off-center near miss), it was going too fast. If the ball is moving more slowly, it could fall in the side door or even do a 180. It has nothing to do with sidespin, which you may have put onto the ball immediately after impact.
 
Putts begin with backspin or sometimes with no spin, which come from an upward stroke and little to no loft on the putter. I recommend that putters have a 4-degree loft, because this will lift the ball out of the depression in which it has inevitably come to rest on the green. A lower lofted putter may drive the ball into the rim of this slight depression and tend to make it jump, which may deflect it slightly off line. A 4-degree loft will control the very small amount of backspin off the putter and avoid any inconsistent initial jumping.
 
Click here for a little better understanding of what happens to the ball after it leaves the putter. From this description you will see that soon after impact the ball starts sliding and then takes on pure forward spin. Even if you have applied a little side spin during impact, this will very soon be overcome by the friction of the grass (rolling friction) and the forward motion of the ball. By the time the ball reaches the hole even on very short putts it has pure forward spin, sometimes referred to as overspin.
 
Anne, lip outs are purely a matter of direction and speed and have nothing to do with sidespin. Thank you for asking the question; now you can give your friends, who believe that it has something to do with sidespin, a little lip of your own.
-- Frank
 
Dear Frank,
 
I recently played a company tournament where they gave complimentary balls with the company logo on them. This got me wondering if the logo will affect the performance of the ball, or if the ball will react the same as those without an extra logo?
 
Thanks
-- RJ

 
RJ,
 
Let me assure you that the only way the logo on a ball will affect your performance is if the logo on the ball is that of a competitor to your company, which was paying for the outing. It is not a good move to have a Coke logo on your ball at a Pepsi-sponsored outing.
 
I had the same question when I was directing all the ball testing at the USGAs Research and Test Center. We had to make sure that each ball was impacted on the same spot, and that we knew which ball was which, so we used a Sharpie to mark the balls with up to five numbers and/or letters. I wondered if the additional ink would affect the balls behavior in flight, so we devised a special test to orient the markings and compared these performances against the same make and model ball with no markings. We applied significantly more ink than would be used for any company logo. The results showed no difference in performance. The aerodynamics of the ball are affected by dirt in the dimples, and this could cause the ball to fly off line by several yards or more depending on how much is there, but the ink in a logo wont affect its flight.
 
If youre playing in competitions, be aware that any additional markings on a ball cannot substitute for the original markings used to identify the ball for placement on the Conforming List. If they are, it would be considered a different ball, and if you use it when the Golf Ball Conforming list is a condition of the competition, you would be subject to disqualification.
 
Greg Norman called me in during the 1996 Hartford Open where he was in the lead after the first day. He had noticed that the ball he was using had markings slightly different from a similar ball on the conforming list. I confirmed that the markings were slightly different, and he then disqualified himself. He kept calling me for the next week or so, never questioning the ruling that he knew was correct, but concerned about whether the ball itself conformed to the specifications in the rules. I was able to assure him that the performance of the ball did conform. I was impressed that Greg was so worried about the possibility that he had used a nonconforming ball, even after he had already called attention to his own possible violation and then disqualified himself.
 
Maybe this is what golf is all about, and one way it distinguishes itself from other sports. So keep your ball clean, RJ, and the only time you need to be concerned about the logo is if its the wrong one.
 
Hope this helps.
-- Frank
 
Fall for the FrogFrank 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