Do Lighter Grips Improve Your Distance

By Frank ThomasJanuary 15, 2010, 7:43 pm
Dear Frank

Recently a major golf grip manufacturer advertised grips which are about half the weight of normal grips.  The theory is that this will increase clubhead feel, accuracy, and clubhead speed.

Is there any merit to having my irons regripped with grips that are about one half the weight of normal grips?  Will the average 15 handicap golfer improve his feel and game with lighter grips, or is this simply more marketing hype?


– Bernie, Canada

Isn’t it surprising how the minds of marketing  people work? We have been making golf clubs for about 400 years and somehow believe that we can come up with some new discovery which will increase, distance – the most effective word in golf marketing – and improve accuracy. Feel is  something nobody has satisfactorily defined – but we all know what it means; Or do we?  These claims of increased distance, accuracy and feel are the food we gullible golfers thrive upon, and almost without question.

Looking for the magic potion, which will solve our golfing woes, is in itself an addictive and charming part of the game.

The “looking” part, in anticipation of finding the magic, makes this activity very addictive, but not the actual “finding” part. If we ever found the magic club our search would be over. We would have nothing to look for. The excitement and charm of this search would be over.  

Because golf is such a mental game influenced so much by what we believe, it lends itself to building fantasies only to have these knocked down time after time, and not to our surprise. We know that there is no magic but this does not stop us from looking for it, and there is a lot of it for sale.

If you decrease the weight of the average grip by 50% you will increase the swing weight by about 7 points.
This is the same as removing a heavy golf glove if you use a glove – which might as well be part of the grip – or even if you remove your wristwatch.

Because the weight has been removed from the axis of rotation during the critical part of the swing – just before impact – it has little effect on the dynamics of the club. I discussed this in a Q&A recently about wearing a golf glove.

Swing weight is not a dynamic balance, as the name implies. It is based on a static balance and in technical terms described as “first moments”. This means that to balance a beam you need to add a weight to one side at a certain distance from the fulcrum (balance point) and an equivalent amount of weight to the other side at the  same distance or half the weight at twice the distance. Through this balancing procedure a telephone pole can be “swing weighted” to D2 the same as our driver. But the overall weight is significantly different.

A method of dynamic balancing would be to match clubs using  Moment of Inertia (MOI) by oscillating it back and forth about the axis of rotation in the critical region of the swing – a point a little above the hands. MOI is a measure of the resistance to angular acceleration, which means the forces required to twist or stop twisting around a specific axis.

To calculate the approximate MOI, the head mass is multiplied by the square of the distance to the center of the head from the axis of rotation. So if you add or subtract mass – decrease or increase the grip weight – from the axis of rotation the MOI doesn’t change very much. And we all intuitively know this – i.e. taking your glove off or decreasing the weight of the grip doesn’t make much difference to performance but it does change the swing weight by five or six points.

This is why MOI balancing is a much better method than swing weight for balancing a set of clubs – certainly if swing weight is manipulated by back weighting etc. MOI is a dynamic balance and clubs so balanced will be close to the PURE swing weight balancing as it was originally developed based on Francis Ouimet’s set (first amateur to win the US Open in 1913 at 20 years old). This set was assembled by Francis Ouimet based on club feel with length and head weight being the only variables and the results closely match MOI matching.

Sorry about this but I thought it needed to be explained.

Hope this has helped you understand that magic is hard to find but searching for it is fun.

– Frank


Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email


Frank Thomas

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Watch: Dechambeau simulates dew on East Lake range

By Grill Room TeamSeptember 18, 2018, 11:02 pm

Bryson DeChambeau has certainly lived up to his nickname of "Mad Scientist" since joining the PGA Tour, using his eccentric style to win four events, including the first two tournaments of this year's FedExCup Playoffs.

And he's staying on brand at the season-ending Tour Championship, where he enters as the favorite to capture the FedExCup title.

The 24-year-old was spotted on the East Lake range Tuesday, preparing for potential morning dew on the golf ball this week - by having a member of his team spray each golf ball between practice shots:

While this type of preparation might come off as a little excessive to the average golfer, it's rather mild for DeChambeau, considering that in the last two weeks alone he has discussed undergoing muscle activation tests and measuring his brain waves.

DeChambeau goes off with Justin Rose on Thursday at 2 p.m. He could finish as low as T-29 and still have a mathematical chance of winning the season-long FedExCup.

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Fewer goals but more consistency for Thomas in 2018

By Rex HoggardSeptember 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

ATLANTA – After winning last year’s FedExCup, Justin Thomas was asked about his goals for the season and he quickly went to his phone.

A list of 13 “goals” had been typed in, a rundown that ranged from qualifying for the Tour Championship to finishing in the top 10 in half of the circuit’s statistical categories. Nearly every goal had a “Y” next to it to denote he’d accomplished what he wanted.

Thomas was asked on Tuesday at East Lake how his goals are shaping up this season.

“I haven't looked in a while. I really haven't. I'm sure if I had to guess, I'm probably around 50 to 60, 70 percent [have been completed],” he said. “I definitely haven't achieved near as many as I did the previous year. But we still have one week left to knock a big goal off.”

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Thomas pointed out that although he didn’t add to his major total this season or win as many times as he did last year, he still feels like he’s been more consistent this year.

He has more top-25 finishes (19) than he did last year (14), missed fewer cuts (two compared to six last season) and has improved in nearly every major statistical category.

“It's been a really consistent year, and I take a lot of pride in that,” Thomas said. “That's a big goal of mine is to improve every year and get better every year, so if I can continue in this direction, I feel like I can do some pretty great things the rest of my career.”

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Woods' probation for reckless driving ends one month early

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 18, 2018, 9:00 pm

Tiger Woods' year-long probation stemming from last year's DUI arrest has been terminated a month early.

According to Sam Smink of WPTV, Woods, 42, was let off probation early for successfully completing all regular and special conditions of his probation after pleading guilty to reckless driving and entering a diversion program last October.

Under the conditions of the program, Woods was required to pay a $250 fine and court costs, attend a DUI school and undergo a substance abuse evaluation and treatment program. He was also subject to random drug and alcohol testing under the program.

The 14-time major champ was arrested on charges of DUI in May of 2017 after he was found unconscious behind the wheel of his parked Mercedes-Benz in Jupiter, Fla.

Although tests showed Woods was not under the influence of alcohol at the time, he admitted to taking several pain and sleep medications to cope with his fourth back surgery which was performed in April.

Since his arrest, Woods has returned to competition, rising to 21st in the Official World Golf Ranking after a pain-free campaign in 2018.

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Players wrapping their heads around FedEx changes

By Rex HoggardSeptember 18, 2018, 8:01 pm

ATLANTA – Even players who have known the details of the PGA Tour’s plan to dramatically change the way it crowns a FedExCup champion were still digesting the details on Tuesday at the Tour Championship.

“I think it’s maybe easier to follow for people at home. Kind of definitely strange and very different to be on 10 under par starting on the first tee,” said Justin Rose, who begins this week’s finale second on the points list.

Next year when a new strokes-based system will decide the season-long race, Rose would begin his week at East Lake 8 under, two strokes behind front-runner Bryson DeChambeau and eight shots ahead of Nos. 26-30 on the points list.

Most players said the new format will be an improvement over the current model, which is based on a complicated points structure. That’s not to say the new plan has been given universal support.

Current FedExCup standings

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Under the current format, the 30th-ranked player has a .4 percent chance of winning the cup, while the first player on the points list has a 27 percent chance. Those odds remain virtually identical under next year’s strokes-based format.

“I’m not saying the 30th guy should have the same shot as the fifth guy, but just make the odds a little bit better. Give them a 5 percent chance,” Billy Horschel said. “The strokes could be distributed differently. Maybe put the leader at 6 under [instead of 10 under] and then you go down to even par. Five or six shots back, over four days, you still have a chance.”

There will no doubt be a period of adjustment, but after more than three years of planning, most players were pleased with the general elements of the new plan if not all of the details.

“It's never going to be perfect,” said Justin Thomas, last year’s FedExCup champion and a member of the player advisory council. “No system in any sport is ever going to be perfect, and the Tour has done such a great job of talking to us and trying to get it as good as possible. But it's just hard to understand the fact that you could be starting behind somebody else and still somehow win a golf tournament or an official win.”