Unneeded Adjustments


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Dear Frank,
I thought it was against the Rules of Golf to carry adjustable clubs in your bag for a round of golf? I see that all of the major manufacturers today are offering adjustable drivers. Has there been a rule change? Are they being offered for sale to amateurs for casual play only, or can touring pros use them in tournaments as well?

The rule regarding club adjustability has changed, and allows for various forms of adjustment for clubs once submitted and approved by the USGA and R&A. One of the known requirements is that the adjustment cannot be readily made by the golfer. In other words, a quick release mechanism allowing you to make the change between shots is not permitted.
These clubs are now available ' even though they are not readily adjustable ' to the golfing public.
Unfortunately, this feature has added cost to the driver and is confusing to most golfers. The implication is that this form of adjustment will be the answer to any swing ailment you might have, when in fact most ailments can only be cured by a visit to the swing doctor.
There is no doubt that the adjustment feature in the hosel ' which allows for some small changes to loft, lie and face angle (open or closed) ' is a useful feature when trying to fit a club (driver) to an individual. This affords the pro ' someone who needs to be thoroughly tutored in the art of club adjustment -- the opportunity to make changes without having to carry a large inventory of clubs with various shafts and heads.
It is not advisable to attempt adjustments yourself because, in many cases, the adjustment you want to make is not independent of other changes. For instance, a loft change may also carry with it a face angle change, which you may not want. It is not quite as simple as the marketing implies. Some clubs have 26 or more different adjustment configurations ' all interrelated with others -- when all you may want is two or three independent options.
Because most drivers have maxed out on distance and accuracy, there is little else to talk about when trying to sell a new driver. Yes, drivers which are adjustable do add another dimension to the marketing of drivers, but I do not recommend that you look for a cure for your swing ailment by continually making adjustments. Once you have found what you like, it is probably best to stick with it.
What astounds me is how the USGA can approve such a form of adjustability, tempting golfers to make the adjustment during a round ' which is a rules violation, and could detrimentally affect their game.
Tom, if you know of anybody who has quit playing the game because it is too easy, please let me know and I will have a personal word with them.
Thanks for your support.
' Frank

Finding the Right Flex

I am 35 years old and have been playing golf for about five years. I swing very hard and it was recommended that I use stiff flex shafts, because of my swing speed. However, at a recent demo day I grabbed a regular flex club by mistake. I quickly realized my error, but decided to slow my swing down and hit the club anyway. The results were amazing. I hit 10 to 15 of the longest, straightest shots of my life. So my question is, should I consider replacing my stiff shafts with a regular flex and slow down my swing; or, should I not alter my swing and stick with the stiff shafts? Thank you for your advice.
I have a question regarding driver shaft flex and my swing speed throughout the golf season. I live in the northeast, so my season is from April until early November. My swing speed varies as the season progresses, and I am already sitting in the gray area from a stiff to X-stiff shaft due to my tempo being pretty smooth. At the start of the season, my swing speed is 105 mph, and by the middle, it's 113 mph. I currently play a stiff shaft and was wondering what an X-stiff shaft could do to my ball flight and distance?

Keith and Chris,
I am addressing both of your questions because my answer is relevant to each and to many other golfers who want to get more distance with their driver. Distance seems to be the major force behind getting a new driver and/or a specific shaft in that driver.
The rule of thumb is: As the swing speed increases, the shaft should get stiffer. A player with a swing speed of about 95 to 110 mph would benefit most from an S-flex (stiff) shaft, whereas someone with a 110 to 120 mph clubhead speed should consider using an X-Flex (extra stiff) shaft. This is dependent on the golfers tempo and acceleration rates.
Chris, you are on the edge of the X-flex shaft, but I do not recommend you move in that direction mid-season. You would be better off by staying with the S-flex rather than making the change, which will force you to swing hard every time you get on the tee.
Take a lesson from Keiths experience, who by using a softer shaft (even though this was by accident) and slowing down his swing, was able to get more distance and greater accuracy because he had greater control of the club. Buying a driver shaft which is too stiff is probably one of the most common faults in equipment selection with predictable results ' loss of distance and accuracy because we try to swing the club too hard.
Keith, if you are fighting your club with the S-flex shaft, then change shafts and get your tempo back. Chris, find the right shaft flex and dont change mid-season ' a stiffer shaft will only encourage you to swing harder with predictable results.
This is why I suggest choking down ' about an inch or more on your 45 and now 46-inch long drivers ' just to remind yourself that you are not going for a home run. This will lower the flow of adrenaline, and you will swing within yourself, resulting in greater distance and fewer lost balls (take a lesson from Anthony Kim).
Few of the best golfers swing at a 100 percent, but most of us try for 110.
Stiff shafts are not always better.
' 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