Bouncing golf balls for distance

By Frank ThomasJuly 16, 2008, 4:00 pm
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

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 Jim, with his question about 'toe up' on putters and drivers.
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Bouncing Golf Balls for Distance
Hi Frank:
Is it possible to determine if one golf ball will go farther than another, when hit at moderate club head speeds, by dropping them from shoulder height and watching which one will bounce higher ? Thanks.

Unfortunately there are only two things you will find out about a ball, by bouncing it from a height of about 5 feet. One is, how high it bounces from this height and two, how fast it will come off a putter.
The COR (Coefficient of Restitution) of a ball (click here for an easy to understand explanation of COR) is dependent on the speed of impact. The lower the impact speed the higher the COR. The COR of a putt will be about 0.90 or more but when using the same ball off a super driver at 110 mph the COR will be about 0.83
All balls do not have the same fall-off rate as impact speed increases so bouncing balls from five feet is not a good indicator of how fast the ball will be projected off a clubhead at a swing speed of 90 mph. We also need to recognize that ball speed alone is not enough information to predict how far a ball will travel.
The aerodynamics of a ball are extremely important. For example, a ball without dimples will travel about 130 yards compared to an otherwise identical ball with dimples ' launched at the same speed, spin, and launch angle ' which will travel 260 yards. The dimple configuration and the spin rate therefore play a very important role in distance and you will not be able to determine how a ball will spin or its aerodynamic lift and drag properties by bouncing it.
However, I would like to assure you most balls today are very good and the selection of a ball should be based on your swing speed, control around the green, and what you can afford. But in the end the differences in performance between the most popular brands is minimal and certainly smaller than our ability to take advantage of the subtle design differences. Most manufacturers of premium balls have, a ball in their line designed for slower than tour swing speeds and these are not only good balls but cost considerably less than the premium balls which do a lot for our ego but little to enhance our performance.
For example the new NXT Tour ball from Titleist, the Bridgestone E6, the Nike Ignite, the Callaway HX Hot, and the Srixon AD 333 (to name a few) are all very good balls for most -- 99%-- of us and not at premium prices.
If you looking for more information or trying to unlock the secrets of club selection you may want to get a copy of my book Just Hit It.
Werner, bouncing balls is fun but is of limited value in deciding how they perform off a driver.
Hope this helps
Exceeding USGA MOI Limits?
I recently put expanding foam inside a high MOI driver head, and am now wondering if this might increase the MOI past the USGA limit?

This is a very interesting question, which I dont believe the USGA carefully considered when adopting the MOI rule. Please bear with me for a minute while I give you some background.
First understand that the MOI is the resistance to angular acceleration or simply, twisting during impact. The higher the MOI (within practical limits) the less it will twist during impact and the more forgiving the club will be of miss-hits.
If you hit the club in the center of the face -- on the sweet spot and opposite the center of gravity -- it will not twist during impact and the need for a high MOI becomes unimportant. Therefore, a high MOI is for us mortals, who miss the sweet spot more so than the superstars. The elite spend all their time perfecting their swing and are able to adjust to hit the ball on a particular spot, high, low, center/high, center/low or any where else on the face they wish. Whereas most of us are lucky to hit the ball somewhere close to the center every now and again.
With this in mind, you may ask; why has a limit on MOI ' which helps the average golfer more than the super stars 'been adopted? Is this really a conspiracy against the rest of us who love the game and need as much help as possible?
The real concern is that the first MOI proposal from the USGA was to limit it to 4,800 gm-cm. This was then adjusted up ward to 6,000 gm-cm after the manufacturers pointed out that the original proposal was inappropriate.
After careful consideration of the comments received from equipment manufacturers, the USGA has approved the implementation of a clubhead moment of inertia (of 6,000 gm-cm which includes a test tolerance)
The justification for the change of heart -- tap dance -- was that the difference between 4,800 and 6,000 was not significant.
Why, we may ask is there any need to set a limit at 6,000 if the difference between 4,800 and 6,000 has little to no real effect on performance? Surely then anything above 6,000 is just as insignificant. The logic behind adoption of this rule is very questionable.
BUT now that the limit has been adopted, reaching it has become something of a challenge to the manufacturers, especially because there are dimensional and volume constraints which were also adopted a year or two earlier.
The closer the product is to the USGA limit the better it is ' or so manufacturers imply and many golfers believe. This is just not true.
Wow! Tom this is quite a journey to get to your answer but I hope it gives you some background about the club you have, the silly restrictions you have to live with and what the USGA is doing for you ' or should I say to you.
If you fill your club with foam it will certainly increase the MOI and if it was right at the limit of 6,000 gm-cm before the foam job, you will now have a non-conforming club. Similarly, if you add lead tape to the back of the club you will increase the MOI. So it all depends how close to the limit the club was in the first place. This is quite a nightmare for you but just imagine how a USGA official will react on the first tee when you tell him you have foam in your head.
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Tiger's Drug Test: Revisited
I received so many comments about my answer to Jerry re. drug testing, that I feel obliged to revisit it one more time.
My answer to the question about Tigers Drug Test last week, was in essence suggesting that an adopted rule, which states that performance enhancing substances are not permitted (or something similar), should be enough without the need for testing.
I maintain that the essence of the game based in part on a code upon which the game is built, is at stake. Once we turn over the responsibility of self-monitoring of any rule, to a referee, we are fracturing the very foundation of our game.
It is the responsibility of the golfer alone to call any infractions on him/herself. Introducing a second party ' which implies 'we dont trust these guys' ' is a personal affront to the profession and it in turn relieves the individual of a fundamental responsibility unique to our game .
Why cant we treat this drug rule like any other rule in the book?
If there are drugs which truly enhance a golfers performance -- which is still in question -- then surely the best golfers in the world will know this sooner than anybody else. However, without a rule, there is no violation but with a rule ' where the intent is unambiguous -- the golfer knows, and soon his fellow golfers will learn of any intentional violation. Peer pressure has proven to work very well in resolving intentional and/or repetitive rules violation problems.
If I tightly close my eyes for a few moments, maybe when I open them drug testing will be something that has gone away and we can again trust our elite golfers.
Patrick, Scott, Clyde, John and many others,
I cannot thank you enough for your thoughtful e-mails. It is very clear that you too want to protect the integrity of our game but find it difficult to come up with the right formula.
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
Frank Thomas

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Two-time champ Bubba fires 63 at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 7:20 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Amid a resurgent season that has already included a pair of wins, it only makes sense that Bubba Watson is back in contention at the Travelers Championship.

TPC River Highlands has been one of Watson’s favorite haunts over the years; it’s a layout where the southpaw’s creative approach is often rewarded. This is where he burst into tears after earning his first PGA Tour victory in 2010, and this is where he beat Paul Casey in a playoff to again lift the trophy in 2015.

He’ll once again have a late weekend tee time after firing a 7-under 63 during the second round, tying the low score of the week and moving to within three shots of Brian Harman’s 10-under total.

“Little bit less wind, little more confidence on the ball-striking, and I made putts,” Watson said. “The key is making putts. When you start making putts, that’s where you’re going to score a decent number.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Watson was well down the standings after opening with an even-par 70, a round that included three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine to negate progress he had made earlier in the day. But he ran into no such struggles the second time around, adding six birdies to an eagle on the par-5 13th hole when he hit his approach shot from 229 yards to within 18 inches of the hole.

The difference, according to Watson, was between the ears.

“Yesterday I was just thinking about some negative stuff instead of focusing on my target and focusing on the shot at hand,” Watson said. “I was focusing on hitting to the bunker, or focusing on, ‘Water is over here, so hit it over here.’ Just things like that, just things that you can’t do around the golf course.”

Watson was also a runner-up in 2012 here in addition to his two wins, and he has racked up nearly $3.5 million in earnings in 11 prior appearances. Once again thinking the right thoughts on one of his favorite tracks, he’s potentially 36 holes away from his third win since February.

“Obviously around here I feel pretty comfortable,” Watson said. “I can hit some shots around here, and I’ve made it work throughout some of the years.”

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Only putting is holding McIlroy back

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:48 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Through two rounds of the Travelers Championship, the tee shots are towering and the approaches are accurate for Rory McIlroy. Now he just needs the putter to heat up.

McIlroy started to show signs of life during the second round last week at Shinnecock Hills before missing the cut, and after putting in some extra work honing his swing over the weekend, his tee-to-green game is worth boasting about at the halfway point at TPC River Highlands.

McIlroy has missed only five greens in regulation through two rounds, barely breaking a sweat en route to rounds of 64 and 69 that left him at 7 under. He’s within striking distance heading into the weekend, three shots behind Brian Harman, but might be topping the standings with a more cooperative putter.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I felt like I left a few out there,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I had a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in. I started them on line, did everything I needed to do, and it’s just one of those days where they were sliding by the edges.”

McIlroy took 32 putts to complete his second round, including a three-putt on No. 7 for his only bogey of the day and another three-putt on No. 13 that turned an eagle opportunity into a par. Already with a win under his belt this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he knocked in putts from all directions during a final-round 64, McIlroy feels confident that he might be only a few rolls away from having another shot to contend in his second career trip to the Hartford-area stop.

“I think if I can put the ball in the fairway and hit my irons as good as I have been over the first couple of days, I’ll give myself a lot of chances for birdies,” McIlroy said. “It’s just about converting them and taking the opportunities when they present themselves.”

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Rosaforte Report: Toski lively, singing and ready to go home

By Tim RosaforteJune 22, 2018, 6:41 pm

Bob Toski sounded pretty good for a man near death last week. When we spoke on Friday, the 91-year-old teaching legend and former PGA Tour leading money winner was alive and feeling well. Especially when he was talking about giving lessons, swinging a golf club again, and going down to the piano bar at Arturo’s near his home in Boca Raton, Fla., to sing his favorite song, “Sentimental Journey."

“It’s been quite a journey,” Toski said in total bliss. “But I’m going home tomorrow.”

Going back 10 days, to June 12, Toski suffered a severe heart attack that had him on life support, in critical condition, at a hospital not far from the South Florida golf community where he’s pro emeritus at St. Andrews.

He opened 15 minutes on the phone on Friday by asking how much he owed me for the publicity he got during the U.S. Open. Typical Toski. His heart may have skipped a beat, but he hadn’t.

At no more than 120 pounds, still larger than life.

Bob Toski from his hospital bed in South Florida

“This is the mouse,” he said when asked to confirm it really was him on the phone. “The Mighty Mouse.”

We were laughing now, but there was a moment one night during “Live From the U.S. Open” when I got a message from the Boca hospital which sounded grim (hospital staff used a defibrillator on him six times during his stay). That’s when one of the friends by his side texted me and said it would be just like “Tosk” to sit up straight and ask everybody what was going on.

Essentially, that’s what happened. And now here he was on the phone, cracking off one-liners, talking about Brooks Koepka’s win at Shinnecock, giving his take on the USGA and course setup, asking how much I’d been playing, and giving his love to everybody at “The Channel.”

He invited me down for a lesson at St. Andrews and dinner at Arturos. “In a month’s time,” he said, “I’ll be ready to go.”

He sounded ready right now, singing a line from his favorite song, from his hospital bed in the happiest of voices, “Gotta set my heart at ease.”

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Spieth fades with 3-over 73: 'It's just golf'

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:10 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – After finding nothing but positives for his first five trips around the course, Jordan Spieth finally suffered a setback at TPC River Highlands.

Spieth won the Travelers Championship last year in his tournament debut, and he quickly bounced back from a missed cut at Shinnecock Hills by firing a 7-under 63 in the opening round this week to take a share of the lead. Out early during the second round with a chance to move even further into red figures amid calm conditions, he instead went the other way.

Undone by a triple bogey on the par-5 13th hole, Spieth was 5 over for his first 14 holes and needed an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole for the second straight day simply to salvage a 3-over 73. The score knocked him back to 4 under for the week and six shots behind Brian Harman.

Despite finding three fewer fairways, three fewer greens in regulation and taking five more putts than he did in the opening round, Spieth still put a positive spin on a lackluster result.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I actually felt like I had better control of my golf swing than I did yesterday. I really struggled with my swing yesterday and I kind of got some good breaks,” Spieth said. “It’s just golf. It’s kind of like yesterday I got three or four shots extra out of the round, and today I lost three or four based on how I felt.”

Spieth was happy with his opening-round effort, but even after finishing late in the day he still went straight to the driving range that lines the ninth fairway at TPC River Highlands – not exactly standard behavior after grabbing a share of the lead.

“So it’s not like things are on,” he said. “Sometimes it can get disguised by rounds, but it’s not far off. It really is close.”

Spieth has lamented a lack of quality chances to win this year, which he has previously described as being within six shots of the lead heading into the final round. He’ll have some work to do to meet that mark this weekend in defense of his title, as his round hit a snag on No. 13, his fourth hole of the morning, when he pulled his tee shot out of bounds and then hit his subsequent approach into the water.

“For whatever reason, it’s a large fairway but it’s always just killed me,” Spieth said. “I don’t know what it is about the hole, but that hole I get on the tee and for whatever reason I struggle. … I just hit a bad shot at the wrong time there.”