The Truth About Toe Up

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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
 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Every week we will select the best question and Frank will send one lucky golfer a personally signed copy of 'Just Hit It'. Last week's lucky winner was Lee, with his question about Doctoring Golf Clubs on Tour.
 
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The Truth About Toe Up
 
On a couple of occasions, I have been told things about golf clubs that I did not believe or was suspicious of.
 
In one case, another golfer was practicing swinging a new putter he was thinking of buying. I said it looked like he had the toe up. An ex tour pro who was in the shop at the time (he is director of golf) said that all good putters had the toe up when they putted. I thought I was a good putter and I always tried to keep my putter square to the ground. I go around in 28 to 31 putts normally and occasionally fewer than 26.
 
I was at Golf Galaxy yesterday and was watching a guy (who hit the ball very long and pretty straight (275 ' 300 yards) and I noticed that he had the toe way up. He said that it was because he was short. The sales person was standing around and he stated that you had to have the toe up because swinging the club causes the toe to be down. Once again, I always tried for it to be pretty level. The pro said I would miss to the right then, because the toe would go down. I seldom miss to the right, unless I leave my weight on my right foot (I am right handed).
 
So, is there any truth to either of these? I especially do not believe the toe up on the putter, and the other sounds plausible for someone who swings as hard as this guy did, but I still am skeptical.
 
In any case, I religiously read your articles and have faith that any answer you give me will be accurate.
 
Regards,
--Jim

 
Jim,
 
Here is the truth about 'toe up.'
 
A properly fitted putter should not have the toe up at address, because the address position is how the putter will present itself to the ball at impact. There are practically no additional centrifugal forces -- other than those associated with the forces of gravity-- on the putter when making a stroke compared to when it is in the address position. So you should have the putter toe/heel line horizontal at address. A radius on a sole of a putter is generally a good thing so the center of the sole should be in contact with the ground in the set up position.
 
Drivers should always have the toe up at address ' if the hands return close to this position while impacting the ball -- because during the last portion of the swing there is a centrifugal force of up to 70 pounds just before impact, acting at the center of gravity (c.g.) of the head. The c.g is forward of the shaft and approximately in the center of the head and because it is away from the shaft axis, the centrifugal force will bend the shaft down (droop) and align the face properly (or almost properly) at impact.
 
Glad you are enjoying the column and thank you for your kind comments.
 
Jim, for your information, I am offering a personal 10 minute equipment phone consultation -- during which I can discuss issues similar to those you address in your question -- to the first 20 Custom Built Frankly Frog putter orders received online this week. I am looking forward to answering your questions.
 
Hope this helps.
 
Frank
 
Remember the Reflex?
 
Dear Frank,
 
Thanks for signing Just Hit It for me. I really enjoyed it. The last few paragraphs were inspired writing, and I feel much more informed on important issues in our game. I, of course, love golf and always read your articles on the golfchannel.com. They are what I most look forward to reading.
 
My question is what ever happened to the old Wilson Reflex Iron? I remember back in the late 70's when I was in high school that they clearly promoted the spring like effect of the face. I hit some on the range and was not impressed. Maybe their COR was not high enough to make a big difference or the USGA nipped the idea. Where were you at the time and how did these irons fade away? Thanks and keep fighting the good fight.
 
--Ray

 
Ray,
 
First, thank you for your very kind comments about Just Hit It I hope it has made selecting the right clubs easier and allows you to enjoy your game with a better understanding of how your equipment works and why.

Your question about the Wilson Reflex iron is interesting because I worked with Wilson to modify the club to conform to a rule that did not permit holes through the head. The first version submitted to the USGA had a thin face with a cavity behind it supported only at the toe and heel of the club head. This intent of the design was to allow the face to deform and spring back during impact. As you discovered for yourself, it didnt work.
 
To make the club conform to the rule, Wilson filled the very bottom of the cavity where it exited at the sole, with a hard rubber like substance. This did not affect the movement of the face but did prevent dirt from accumulating inside the cavity ' something they hadnt thought about.
 
When the club was submitted to me the rule stated only that the face shall not have an undue influence on the movement of the ball. There was no reference in the book to the effect of a spring. It was the Wilson Reflex Iron which influenced my decision to propose a new rule in 1983, which remains today and states that the face of the club ..must not have the effect at impact of a spring... Even though I didnt have an idea of how a spring could be designed into a club head I suspected it may be possible and thus proposed the rule.
 
We now see this rule has been compromised, permitting spring like drivers which -- in conjunction with the new ball ' has allowed the pros to drive the ball up to 30 yards longer than before the introduction of the titanium drivers in 1995.
 
Most of us mortals have not benefited as much as the pros and also dont hit the ball far enough but the down side to the pros hitting the ball such long distances, is that, the USGA has proposed or adopted a number of rules changes which affect the rest of us. This is not good for our game when there are very good alternatives to harnessing the long wayward hitters on tour. An example of this is the US Open course set-up with graduated rough. This forward thinking is what we need of the USGA and has proven to be successful.
 
Thanks again for your kind comments about the book
Frank
 
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@franklygolf.com
 
Frank Thomas