Shorter Driver and Smaller Grips

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Editor's Note: This is the first in a new weekly feature from Golf Channel Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com
 
Hi Frank,
Enjoy your info segments on the Golf Channel. I have a double question for you. I am a little shortaround 5' 9'and have smallish hands. One, can it be helpful to have my 45' driver shortened a little? And two, is using 'small' grips good or bad? Thanks for your help. -- Jerry, NC


Jerry,
You are not short but rather average in height. I still recommend that you use a 44-inch shaft length if you are not hitting most of the fairways. Try gripping down a little on your 45 driver to see how it works before you get it shortened.
 
As far as grip size is concerned I suggest that the fingers on your left hand only touch the base of the thumb when gripping the club (assuming you are right handed) if there is a gap then the grip is too large and if the fingers (middle and ring) stick into the base of the thumb then the grip is too small.
 
These are only guidelines but it is most important that you feel comfortable. And only you can tell this. I have more information about drivers available if you visit http://www.franklygolf.com/Speak/driver1_19_03.asp
 
Would a stiffer shaft keep the ball from curving so much? My somewhat inconsistent swing and regular shafts seem to load and release at different places in my swing curving the ball in all directions, mostly left. I don't care about distance as I can't swing that fast anyway and all I want is 'straighter'. My 7-Iron carries about 145. -- Steve 'Eagle Eye' Smith

Steve,
Generally a stiffer shaft will help improve consistency and accuracy but also tend to reduce feel. A softer shaft will help in letting you know where the head is at all times in the swing. A good quality shaft, which is consistent in its bending properties, should not perform the way you describe even if it is a soft flex shaft.
 
I would try a good quality shaft (not more than $35) of the flex you feel comfortable using before going to the stiff shaft. Also I would suggest that you try a shorter shaft for your driver, 44 is a good length. This may require you increase the head weight a little but it will certainly keep you in the fairway more often. Learn more about shafts by visiting http://www.franklygolf.com/tgc/shafts.asp
 
What type of swing analysis do you recommend for me. I'm 57 years old, have a 3 handicap and have never had my swing analyzed to determine shaft, lie, loft, etc. I want to get that info so I can be playing with equipment fitted to my game. -- Thanks, Bill
 
Bill,
Go to a retailer who has a swing monitor and a lie board. The length and the weight should not be far from the standard set unless you are abnormally different in size from the average person. You must choose the shaft flex you feel most comfortable swinging. This is generally softer than most of us first try or are led to believe we should use. But trial and error is the best method of fitting and you should strive for comfort and feel before anything else. Also make sure the lie angles are correct through the use of the lie board. This is one of the most important parts of fitting.
 
For your driver you should strive for the club which will give you a launch angle of about 13 to 14 degrees if your swing speed is 85 to 95 mph and a spin rate of about 3,000 rpm. If your swing speed is in the 100 to 110 mph range then the spin rate should be 2,200 to 2,500 rpm with a launch angle of 12 to 13 degrees. This you can measure using a good launch monitor.
 
I was taught golf in the old days when the iron swing and wood swing were different, ie. Upright for irons and flat sweeping for woods. Which swing fits a hybrid? -- Neale, NY

Neale,
The swing plane should not be dictated by the type of club but rather the length of the club. As the hybrid should be approximately an inch longer than the iron it is intended to replace the swing plane should be similar to these clubs.
 
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