Take a Tip from Tiger


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Dear Frank,
I visit your Q&A every week and really enjoy your take on golf and equipment. I don't have a question for now but after reading your last column on club length, I wanted to pass along my experience. Based on your suggestion sometime ago about driver loft and length, I bought a 14-degree driver and had it cut down to 43 inches. It took a couple of weeks to adjust, but soon I was hitting more fairways. As a result, my confidence soared and so did my driving.
I am very thankful for your ideas about shorter drivers with more loft.

Thanks for your kind comments and congratulations on your find.
As you know, I have been suggesting shorter drivers for about five or more years now ' ever since the 45-inch driver (now 46-plus) was introduced. I have been concerned more recently that the larger heads with maximum MOI are not really helping golfers as much as implied. (Manufacturers tend to work to the USGA limit even though this may not be the most efficient design for the implement. But being at the limit gives the impression that the product is the best.) Some of these clubs may in fact be introducing problems.
This past Sunday at the Memorial Tiger Woods hit all 14 of his fairways. Tiger used his 3- and 5-woods several times off the tee and on one occasion even hit 3-iron. These clubs are shorter and have more loft than his driver, and he didnt need the extra distance because the fairways were reasonable hard. Tiger also changed his driver ' as was reported ' from 9.5 degrees to 10.5 degrees, with a 380cc head size and 85- gram shaft.
His smaller and more lofted driver, in combination with the increased loft of his fairway woods ' shorter clubs than his driver ' helped contribute to his very impressive display of accuracy (49 of 56 fairways for the four rounds), giving him all the distance he needed.
Do you think that Tiger is a Frankly Friend and is reading our weekly e-mails?
If you want to impress your fellow golfers with lower scores, then you need to use more efficient implements, which, when it comes to drivers, should be shorter in length and more lofted than you might have initially chosen. If, on the other hand, you wish to impress your buddies with the longest drive of the year, then get a 48-inch driver, swing as hard as you can and pray that it stays in the same zip code.
Well done Tim, and thank you for your good news.
' Frank

A Line to Rely Upon

I enjoy your Q&A's and find them most informative. I have a question about putting alignment. I draw a line on my ball to assist in alignment when putting; however, after I align the ball and address it with my putter, the line always appears to me to be pointing significantly left of my target line. Needless to say, this makes 'trusting' the alignment difficult. I normally putt with a very open stance, but it doesn't matter if I stand open, square or closed. I 'see' the same thing. I have never heard this problem discussed before, so perhaps I simply have my head on crooked. Any suggestions?

I dont think that you have your head on crooked. The person who designed us doesnt often make such mistakes, especially if he knows we are going to be golfers.
I have a slight problem with drawing a line on the ball and relying on this as an alignment aid, because a short line ' equivalent to that which you can draw on a ball, which is effectively a little more than an inch long ' is difficult to line up accurately with a target 15 feet away. Sometimes relying on this can cause internal conflict when over the putt, as you have found.
In some cases the line may help, but you better have perfected the procedure through hours of practice ' as is the case with some players on the Tour. The recreational golfer then tries to mimic this procedure ' as with the useless plumb bobbing technique ' because it seems to work for the pros. This is what marketing relies upon.
I do believe that focusing on a spot on the ball will override or dampen many other thoughts (the little voices when over the ball) which interfere with our putting stroke. For this reason, a line may help but a dot or X or any other marking may do the same thing.
In our Putting Studio we ask students ' both professionals and recreational players ' not to use a line on the ball for alignment, but rather to make sure their body and stance is properly aligned and that they try to extend the line of the putt through the putterhead. This seems to have been very successful in allowing the golfer to focus on other more important thoughts. We have found that after you have perfected the basic mechanics of putting, the next most important area to focus on is imagery ' which has produced very good results.
Ray, dont go for a head adjustment, but do rely on your belief and imagine the ball rolling into the hole.
' Frank
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Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to helping golfers. Frank is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. 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
Frank Thomas