Do your clubs conform

By Frank ThomasJanuary 21, 2010, 9:43 pm
Hello Frank,

Loved your book 'Just Hit It' and I read the Q and A every week. I too am appalled at the new groove rule. I want to know if there is a list of irons that do not conform to the new rule and a list of irons that do.

I currently play the Titleist 735 CM Stainless irons. I'm a single digit handicap and really like the mixed set of cavity back and muscle back irons. While I know I'm not skilled enough to enter the large USGA tournaments, I'd like to make sure I conform in case a local tournament decides to follow the new USGA specs.

Incidentally, I purchased these clubs brand new, but a couple years after they were first introduced as a way to save a few dollars, and I don't have the funds available to change irons on a regular basis to conform to the whims of the USGA. I'm hoping these clubs conform, but I'm afraid they may not.

Thanks for the help,

– Mike

Thank you for the kind comments about my weekly column and I am pleased you enjoyed my book “Just Hit It”.

With regard to the new groove rule change, I have tried to get information and evidence to justify the change without success. You can view our groove rule archive to read some more of my opinion on this issue. And to the question, why such a disruptive change was not first tested at the elite – PGA and US Open – level to confirm that it would solve the problem, I have been lead to believe that political ramifications may have affected this decision.

Mike, we need the wisdom to recognize that there are some things in our lives that we cannot change even with great courage and the serenity to accept this. Trying to get the governing body – now with its heels firmly dug in to an unpopular decision it has made – is one of those things we cannot change at this time.

The new rule is now in effect as a “condition of competition” for the PGA and LPGA Tours around the world and the US Open and British Open (The Open) events. You and I don’t have to worry about this change, with regard to violating the rules, until 2024, unless we decide to enter an elite amateur competition which may adopt the “condition of competition” in 2014.

The fact that this is a performance roll back – the first in the history of the game – why should we think that golfers, who only buy equipment which will enhance their game, will buy new equipment with more restrictive grooves, and certainly if they are not required under the rule to do so for 14 years.

There may be a rush to load up on the better performing clubs presently in production, with the less restrictive grooves – while the manufacturers are still making and shipping them – before the end of 2010. For this reason, 2010 may be a good year for manufacturers of those clubs affected by the change, but the following 12 years may be very lean. While we, 35 million golfers who didn’t cause the problem, hang on to what we’ve got.

Mike, your 735 CM set of irons features a very good concept of cavity back (forgiving) long irons morphing into blade like short irons and wedges. These clubs were introduced about four years ago.

It was only several weeks ago that the R&A and USGA announced a searchable data base listing of irons over 25 degrees in loft, which have been tested and conform with the new rule.

This listing may be found at ( and may be of some help to you and others in the future. I searched for your Titleist 735CM's. First of all I couldn't find a listing for your clubs until I typed in 'Acushnet' as the manufacturer (parent company of Titleist). Upon finding the listing I am a little confused because the full set of Forged 735 CM's meets the new groove specifications but the735 CM FSS has had the 4 iron, 7 iron and wedge tested. The 4 iron meets the new groove specification, but the 7 iron and the wedge have an 'ATR' next to them which means 'additional testing required'. I think you can appreciate my confusion.

I hope that your set is the Forged 735 CM but I doubt that it is based on your description. If your set is the 735 CM FSS then at the present time only your 4-iron conforms, so practice hard with that!

I don’t think you need to be concerned for a while, so enjoy your clubs and hang on to them.

Thanks again for your kind comments

– 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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More sun, dry conditions expected early at Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 9:14 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – An atypically dry Scottish summer is expected to continue this week at The Open.

There’s a possibility of a few showers Thursday and Friday, but otherwise conditions are expected to remain dry with temperatures around 70 degrees and winds in the 15-20 mph range.

The forecast for the opening round at Carnoustie is sunshine with clouds developing later in the day. The high is expected to be around 70 degrees, with winds increasing throughout the day, maxing out at 18 mph.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

There’s a chance of rain overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, but it’s not expected to slow down the fiery conditions.

It’s been one of the driest summers in recent memory, leading to fairways that are baked out and fescue rough that is lighter and thinner than in previous years.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.