Lets be Frank

By Frank ThomasMarch 31, 2009, 4:00 pm

Be Wary of the Launch Monster


Frank,
 
I'm hoping you can give me some direction. About a month ago, I got on a launch monitor for the first time to see if I could get fitted for the right equipment. I'm 57 years old and carry a 7.1 (traveling) USGA Handicap index and have been playing golf for 35 years. For the last five years, I've been playing a Cleveland Launcher driver (10. 5 degrees, regular flex) and Cleveland Ta7 irons (stiff flex, 1 degree upright lie). After being evaluated on the launch monitor, I was told my swing speed was between 85 and 90 mph and my ball speed between 125 and 130 mph. My spin rate was within acceptable limits, not extreme. It was recommended I go to a senior shaft (light) in my driver, with a loft to 12 degrees. My irons needed to be senior or light steel. I ended up purchasing a Cleveland Launcher Comp with an A shaft and 12 degrees of loft, and changed my irons to Mizuno X-25s (light steel, 2 degrees upright lie).
 
Now, my problem: I have lost 25 to 35 yards (down from 235-240) off the tee and am hitting my irons one club shorter than my old Ta7's. Did I get taken by a sales pitch, or do I need to struggle through an adjustment period with the new clubs before I start seeing better results?
 
So far, I have played three rounds with the new equipment and posted scores of 82, 79 and 92. At this point, Im not sure I did the right thing by changing. What do you think?
 
Thanks,
 
John

 
John,
 
With your 7.1 handicap and a set of good friends you should be wary of such a drastic change. Going from 10.5 degrees of loft to 12 degrees is not recommended for someone with a 90 mph swing speed, nor is moving from a regular shaft flex to an A-flex shaft. Both of these moves will increase the spin rate on the ball by as much as 1,000 rpm (up to approximately 4,000 rpm), increase your launch angle by a couple of degrees and decrease your overall driving distance (carry and roll) by about 20 yards.
 
What your GPS system is telling you is probably not far off.
 
As far as your irons are concerned, unless the grooves were worn out there would be no good reason to change. Good friends are hard to find. The irons you bought are fine, but they may not be as forgiving as the original set. Unless the lofts are very different, you should not be losing too much distance unless you are fading or slicing your irons. When the shaft is more flexible the toe will droop more just before impact and to compensate, you need to adjust to a more upright lie angle. That might be enough to get you back on track, or return to a stiffer shaft.
 
I am afraid that in an effort to get a few more yards out of your equipment ' where there is little room to move in your case ' or just to upgrade and get fitted better, you have become a victim of the Launch Monster in the wrong hands.
 
Struggling through an adjustment period with a new set of clubs is not a good thing, as it may detrimentally affect you swing. It's like struggling through this economic crisis hoping it will soon get better. What I suggest is that you go to the garage and apologize to your old friends and put them back in your bag.
 
' Frank
 

Lie Angle on Fairway Woods


Dear Frank,
 
Thank you for writing Just Hit It! It is one of the best and most honest
books on golf I have ever read.
 
I'm a 62-year-old man with the physique of a medium-sized LPGA player. I
have been told by teaching pros that I have a very good setup and
swing. I use irons that are 2 degrees flatter than normal, and whenever I
buy a set of irons I need to have them bent. I have noticed from TV that
many shorter LPGA players also seem to have flat lies on their irons based
on their posture at setup. My problem is that I have not been able to find
fairway metals or hybrids that are flat enough for me to swing consistently.
 
In my normal setup with a driver, the clubhead rests on its heel and the toe is
angled several degrees above flat. That's OK because the ball is teed up,
but I can't do that with my woods or hybrids without catching the heel
and hooking the ball. Do LPGA pros have custom-made fairway metals and hybrids with flatter lies, or do my eyes deceive me? Why don't manufacturers make such
choices available to the general population?
 
Thanks,
 
John from Ohio

 
John,
 
Thanks for you kind comments about my book Just Hit It. You might want to share these thoughts with your friends so they too can enjoy what I have written.
 
If your fairway woods have a radius on the sole from the toe to the heel, and you have a standard length set, you should not have to worry about the heel catching the turf and affecting the flight of the ball. You may, however, want to check the lie angle. This must be done by hitting balls, not looking at how the club sits on the ground at address. During your swing the club will droop and the lie angle will flatten out.
 
The way to check the lie angle of your woods (or your irons) is to stick some pressure sensitive tape on the sole of the club and hit a few balls off a lie board (generally made of hard plastic or wood). The board will leave a scuff mark on the tape. If this mark is on the heel section then the lie angle is too upright and an adjustment should be made (similarly if the mark is toward the toe section of the tape).
 
Making a lie angle adjustment on your fairway woods is not recommended as it may damage the club if not done by an expert, and if the loft is relatively low the exact lie angle becomes less important.
 
If, however, you find that the ball flight is too far left AND the lie angle test shows it is too upright, AND you are of a smaller physical stature than the average person, then it might be better to order a shorter set of clubs which will bring you back to the correct lie angle without the need for adjustment.
 
But don't make an adjustment unless both your ball flight and the lie board indicates there is a problem.
 
' Frank
 
Please note: By submitting your question to Frank you will automatically become a Frankly Friend so you can stay up to date with his golf equipment Q&A. You may unsubscribe at any time.
 
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
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HOFer Stephenson: Robbie wants to play me in movie

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 4:20 pm

Margot Robbie has already starred in one sports-related biopic, and if she gets her way a second opportunity might not be far behind.

Robbie earned an Academy Award nomination for her work last year as former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding in the movie, I Tonya. She also has a desire to assume the role of her fellow Aussie, Jan Stephenson, in a movie where she would trade in her skates for a set of golf clubs.

That's at least according to Stephenson, who floated out the idea during an interview with Golf Australia's Inside the Ropes podcast shortly after being announced as part of the next class of World Golf Hall of Fame inductees.

"We've talked about doing a movie. Margot Robbie wants to play me," Stephenson said.

There certainly would be a resemblance between the two Australian blondes, as Robbie has become one of Hollywood's leading ladies while Stephenson was on the cutting edge of sex appeal during her playing career. In addition to several magazine covers, Stephenson also racked up 16 LPGA wins between 1976-87 including three majors.

Robbie, 28, has also had starring roles in Suicide Squad and The Wolf of Wall Street.

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Monday Scramble: Who's No. 1 ... in the long run?

By Ryan LavnerOctober 22, 2018, 4:00 pm

Brooks Koepka becomes golf’s new king, Sergio Garcia enjoys the Ryder Cup bump, Danielle Kang overcomes the demons, Michelle Wie goes under the knife and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:

Brooks Koepka added an exclamation point to his breakout year.

His red-hot finish at the CJ Cup not only earned him a third title in 2018, but with the victory he leapfrogged Dustin Johnson to become the top-ranked player in the world for the first time.

That top spot could become a revolving door over the next few months, with Johnson, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose all vying for No. 1, but it’s a fitting coda to Koepka’s stellar year that included two more majors and Player of the Year honors.

For a player whose team searches long and hard for slights, there’s no questioning now his place in the game.


1. DJ won three events this season, but he wasn’t able to create much separation between him and the rest of the world’s best players.

Koepka’s rise to No. 1 made him the fourth player to reach the top spot this year, and the third in the past month.

Who has the greatest potential to get to No. 1 and stay there? Johnson is the best bet in the short term, but he’s also 34. Koepka will be a threat in the majors as long as he stays healthy. So the belief here is that it’ll be Justin Thomas, who is 25, without weakness and, best of all, hungry for more success.  

2. Koepka had an eventful final round at the CJ Cup. Staked to a four-shot lead in the final round, his advantage was trimmed to one after a sloppy start, then he poured it on late with an inward 29. He punctuated his historic victory with an eagle on the 72nd hole, smirking as it tumbled into the cup.

It was his fifth career Tour title – but only his second non-major. Weird.

3. How appropriate that golf’s most underappreciated talent – at least in his estimation – became world No. 1 in a limited-field event that finished at 2 a.m. on the East Coast. Somehow he’ll spin this into being overlooked, again.



4. Sergio Garcia carried all of that Ryder Cup momentum into the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where he earned the hat trick by capturing his third consecutive title there.

While the rest of the world’s best gathered in Korea or rested for global golf’s finishing kick, Garcia won the weather-delayed event by four shots over Shane Lowry. Garcia’s foundation hosts the tournament, and he extended his crazy-good record there: In 14 career appearances at Valderrama, he has three wins, seven top-3s, nine top-5s and 13 top-10s.

Garcia, who went 3-1 at the recent Ryder Cup, became the first player since Ernie Els (2004) to win the same European Tour event three years in a row.

5. Gary Woodland probably doesn’t want 2018 to end.

He was the runner-up at the CJ Cup, his second consecutive top-5 to start the season. He made 11(!) birdies in the final round and now is a combined 37 under par for the first two starts of the new season.

6. This definitely wasn’t the Ryder Cup.

Four shots back, and the closest pursuer to Koepka, Ian Poulter had a chance to put pressure on the leader in the final round. Instead, he was left in the dust, mustering only three birdies and getting waxed by seven shots (64-71) on the last day. Poulter tumbled all the way into a tie for 10th.



7. It hasn’t been the easiest road for Danielle Kang since she won the 2017 Women’s PGA.

The 26-year-old said she’s dealt with anxiety for months and has battled both putting and full-swing yips. Her problems were so deep that a week ago, she stood over the ball for four minutes and couldn’t pull the trigger.

No wonder she said that she was “pretty stunned” to hold off a bevy of challengers to win her second career title at the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

“I’m finally at a place where I’m peaceful and happy with my game, with my life,” she said.

8. In the middle of the seven-way tie for second in China was Ariya Jutanugarn, who will return to No. 1 in the world for the second time this season.

9. Also in that logjam was another former top-ranked player, Lydia Ko, who had tumbled all the way to 17th. Ko hasn’t been able to build off of her slump-busting victory earlier this summer, but she now has six consecutive top-16 finishes and at least seems more comfortable in her new position.

“Sometimes you get too carried away about the awards and rankings,” she said. “It just becomes so much. I think it’s more important to keep putting myself there and … shooting in the 60s, and that way I think it builds the confidence and the rankings kind of sort itself out.”


Here's how Tiger Woods explained his pitiful performance at the Ryder Cup: “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf.”

Of course, he looked just fine a week earlier at East Lake, where he snapped a five-year winless drought with one of the most memorable weeks of his legendary career. His training wasn’t a topic of conversation there.

It's reasonable to expect that the emotional victory took a lot of out of him, but if he was so gassed, why did he sit only one team session and go 36 on Saturday? By Sunday night, Woods looked like he was running on empty, so either he wasn't upfront with captain Jim Furyk about his energy levels, or Furyk ran him out there anyway.

This week's award winners ...  


Can’t Catch a Break: Michelle Wie. The star-crossed talent announced that she’ll miss the rest of the season to undergo surgery to repair a troublesome hand injury. Maybe one of these years she’ll be able to play a full schedule, without physical setbacks.  

Grab the Mic: Paul Azinger. Taking Johnny Miller’s seat in the booth, Azinger will call all four days of action at every Golf Channel/NBC event, beginning at the WGC-Mexico Championship. He was the most logical (and best) choice to follow the inimitable Miller.

Take That, Dawdler: Corey Pavin. It was Pavin – and not the notoriously slow Bernhard Langer – who earned the first slow-play penalty on the PGA Tour Champions in what seemed like ages. The one-shot penalty dropped him to 15th in the event.

Long Time Coming: Jason Day. His tie for fifth at the CJ Cup was his best finish worldwide since … The Players? Really. Wow.



The Tumble Continues: Jordan Spieth. In the latest world rankings, Spieth is officially out of the top 10 for the first time since November 2014. A reminder that he finished last year at No. 2.

Clutch Performances: Andalucia Masters. Both Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Richie Ramsay both moved inside the top 116 in the Race to Dubai standings, securing their European Tour cards for next season. Gonzo tied for fifth in the regular-season finale, while Ramsay was joint 11th.

That’s Messed Up: CJ Cup purse. As colleague Will Gray noted, the purse for the 78-man event was $9.5 million – or $400K more than the first 15 events of the Web.com Tour schedule combined. The difference between the haves and have-nots has never been larger.

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Justin Thomas. The defending champion never could get started in Korea, closing with his low round of the week, a 4-under 68, just to salvage a tie for 36th. Sigh.  

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Azinger: 'Can't see anybody beating Tiger' at his best

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:44 pm

There's a new world No. 1, and a fresh crop of young guns eager to make their mark on the PGA Tour in 2019. But according to Paul Azinger, the player with the highest ceiling is still the same as it was when he was walking inside the ropes.

Azinger was named Monday as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports, and on "Morning Drive" he was asked which player is the best when all are playing their best. The former PGA champion pondered new world No. 1 Brooks Koepka and former No. 1 Dustin Johnson, but he came back around to a familiar answer: Tiger Woods.

"I just can't see anybody beating Tiger when Tiger's at his best. I just can't see it," Azinger said. "He's not his best yet, but he's almost his best. And when Tiger's his best, there's more that comes with Tiger than just the score he shoots. That crowd comes with Tiger, and it's a whole 'nother dynamic when Tiger's at his best. And I'm just going to have to say that when Tiger's at his best, he's still the best."

Woods, 42, started this year ranked No. 656 in the world but had a resurgent season that included a pair of near-misses at The Open and PGA Championship and culminated with his win at the Tour Championship that ended a five-year victory drought. For Azinger, the question now becomes how he can follow up a breakthrough campaign as he looks to contend consistently against players from a younger generation.

"That's why we watch, to see if he can maintain that. To see what he's capable of," Azinger said. "Now longevity becomes the issue for Tiger Woods. In seven or eight years, he's going to be 50 years old. That goes fast. I'm telling you, that goes really fast."

When Woods returns to action, he'll do so with a focus on the upcoming Masters as he looks to capture the 15th major title that has eluded him for more than a decade. With bombers like Koepka and Johnson currently reigning on the PGA Tour, Azinger believes the key for Woods will be remaining accurate while relying on the world-class iron play that has been a strength throughout his career.

"I think he's going to have to recognize that he's not the beast out there when it comes to smacking that ball off the tee. But I'd like to see him try to hit a couple more fairways periodically. That'd be nice," he said. "If he can drive that ball in the fairway, with that putter, we've seen what his putter is capable of. The sky's the limit, boys."

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Spieth drops out of top 10 for first time since 2014

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:08 pm

As Brooks Koepka ascended to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking, a former No. 1 continued a notable decline.

Jordan Spieth didn't play last week's CJ Cup, where Koepka won by four shots. But Jason Day did, and his T-5 finish in South Korea moved him up two spots from No. 12 to No. 10 in the latest rankings. Spieth dropped from 10th to 11th, marking the first time that he has been outside the top 10 in the world rankings since November 2014.

Since that time, he has won 12 times around the world, including three majors, while spending 26 weeks as world No. 1. But he hasn't won a tournament since The Open last July, and this year he missed the Tour Championship for the first time in his career. Spieth is expected to make his season debut next week in Las Vegas at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Koepka and Day were the only movers among the top 10 on a week that saw many top players remain in place. Sergio Garcia's rain-delayed win at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters moved him up four spots to No. 27, while Gary Woodland went from 38th to 30th after finishing second behind Koepka on Jeju Island.

Koepka will tee off as world No. 1 for the first time this week at the WGC-HSBC Champions, where new No. 2 Dustin Johnson will look to regain the top spot. Justin Rose is now third in the world, with Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Day rounding out the top 10.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods remained 13th in the world for the fifth straight week.