Lets be Frank

By Frank ThomasJanuary 22, 2009, 5:00 pm

Is the USGA Bailing out Manufacturers?


Dear Frank:
 
As the controversy surrounding the bailout of Wall Street still swirls, it is constructive to ask if the USGA is doing the same for the golf club industry. Their proposed changes would make millions of clubs instantly obsolete. A recall of illegal clubs will bestow on club manufacturers a captive market for 10s of millions of new sets of irons. It would be as though 50 million people woke up one day and decided to take up golf for the first time. Tell me this is not a dream for Callaway, TaylorMade and others.
 
Apparently big business rules the so-called regulators whether their address is Wall Street or Carlsbad, California. Think not? If big-time on-air golf analysts such as Johnny Miller or Nick Faldo would dare to question the logic or the motivation behind the move they would be out of their chairs faster than Tigers swing speed.
 
-Dennis

 
Dennis, and others who have made similar implications,
 
Let me assure you that, to the very best of my knowledge, the USGA is not trying to bail out the industry, mainly nested in Carlsbad. In fact, the USGA and the industry are more frequently at odds than singing from the same hymn book, as much as the USGA would like some to believe otherwise. No, this groove rule change is not a bail out but a very questionable move on the part of the USGA to correct a perceived problem, which unfortunately will affect, as you have said, millions of golfers. The phantom problem, as one major manufacturer describes it, is a result of the extraordinary performance of about 150 to 300 of the best golfers in the world and has little to do with grooves.
 
When we consider that there are about 25 million golfers, and declining in number, in the US and about 35 million golfers or more in the world, it does seem a little out of whack that 300 (less than 0.001%) have such an influence on how equipment rules should be rewritten affecting all of us. Especially when 99.99% of us are not even remotely contributing to, the phantom problem.
 
It is when this happens that golfers need to stand together and persuade the USGA and R&A that this global change does not make sense. If the perceived problem is as onerous as has been implied by such a disruptive and consequential change, should not the rule apply only to the elite golfers and for those events where the problem seems to have manifested itself? This can easily be done by adopting a Condition of Competition or local rule for specific events. This is not without precedent.
 
Yes, this may lead to a form of bifurcation of the rules but this is a better solution than detrimentally affecting all golfers who dont need any additional hazards to deal with in their pursuit of an enjoyable experience. Bifurcation will exist anyway with the groove rule change as adopted, as most of us dont have to change our clubs until 2024 even though all clubs manufactured after 2009 must have grooves half the size of the present legal grooves.
 
We dont have to abide by the rules and wont go to jail for not doing so. However it is better that we do abide by a code which lends order to our game especially if this code in its entirety makes sense. We really do need to support and respect the USGA but let them know when we believe that something is not right.
 
This respect has become a little more difficult to bestow of late, especially when the USGA refuses to present the information to justify the change. It also refuses to provide evidence, for our review, to show that the game will be better for the change. In fact, the USGA has refused after many requests to make this information available. We know how the lack of transparency can reek havoc to society, let not golf fall into the same trap. Golfers want the process to be transparent (see the results of the Groove survey we conducted by clicking here).
 
It would be good for golf and the USGA if it asked golfers for their input and opinion when changes of such significance were contemplated. This is what happened when there was consideration given to a proposed ruling on steel shafts in 1921; and again in 1931 when it changed the weight specification for a ball to 1.55 ounces, which lasted for one year, and again in 1938 when it restricted the number of clubs to 14. This is what we expect from our governing body, but things seem to have changed and we have moved away from a democratic form of governing the game.
 
We need to say something directly to the USGA, after all it is by consent of the governed that the USGA gets its authority. It needs to be reminded of this now and again if it expects adherence to the code it promulgates. In this case it should step lightly, as the integrity of the game is at stake.
 
Let us support the USGA and lobby for further consideration and transparency. Click here for my latest update and to see how you can help.
 
-Frank

Do You Have a Spine?


 
Frank,
My friends are head over heels into 'spining' their shafts.
 
I have not seen a lot of serious discussion on 'spining' was just wondering what your opinion is on the subject.
 
Cheers,
 
-Bob

 
Bob,
A spine in a shaft is an indication that you dont have a very good quality shaft.
 
Most of the time a spine is found in graphite shafts, which are flag-wrapped. This process is used to make the majority of graphite shafts. Flag-wrapping is when sheets of unidirectional fibers are cut at different angles to the fiber direction and then wrapped as a sheet around a solid rod, which eventually after curing is withdrawn forming the hollow center of the shaft. If these sheets overlap or dont meet properly they create a double layer of fibers or a gap in fibers down one side of the shaft. Because of the additional material or lack of material down one side, the shaft will bend more one way than another when you rotate it, something like a yardstick. This is what we call a shaft with a spine.
 
If this spine is very pronounced, it is better to orient it in a particular position (for example in the 3 oclock or 6 oclock position) relative to the head for greater consistency in performance.
 
Graphite shafts with multiple layers of flags in the wrappings or when produced by the filament winding process are a little bit more expensive but are very much more consistent in their bending properties if finished with care. They may have a spine but it is of such little consequence, that special orientation is unnecessary. This is the case for most steel shafts.
 
Spining a shaft may be necessary if it is a bad quality shaft but otherwise dont let somebody influence you into spending a bunch of money to spine good quality shafts. This would be equivalent to balancing your tires for 150 mph when the engine in your car can only push it to a max of 80 mph. Spend the money you would otherwise be relieved of for spining on a lesson or two or even a couple of cases of beer.
 
This should send a tingle down your spine.
 
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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U.S. Open purse payout: Koepka clears $2 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2018, 12:09 pm

Brooks Koepka successfully defended his title at the U.S. Open and he was handsomely rewarded for his efforts. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Shinnecock Hills.

1 Brooks Koepka +1 $2,160,000
2 Tommy Fleetwood +2 $1,296,000
3 Dustin Johnson +3 $812,927
4 Patrick Reed +4 $569,884
5 Tony Finau +5 $474,659
T6 Daniel Berger +6 $361,923
T6 Henrik Stenson +6 $361,923
T6 Tyrrell Hatton +6 $361,923
T6 Xander Schauffele +6 $361,923
T10 Justin Rose +7 $270,151
T10 Webb Simpson +7 $270,151
T12 Matthew Fitzpatrick +8 $221,825
T12 Zach Johnson +8 $221,825
T12 Russell Knox +8 $221,825
15 Kiradech Aphibarnrat +9 $190,328
T16 Paul Casey +10 $163,438
T16 Haotong Li +10 $163,438
T16 Hideki Matsuyama +10 $163,438
T16 Louis Oosthuizen +10 $163,438
T20 Rickie Fowler +11 $122,387
T20 Brian Gay +11 $122,387
T20 Charley Hoffman +11 $122,387
T20 Dylan Meyer +11 $122,387
T20 Steve Stricker +11 $122,387
T25 Aaron Baddeley +12 $79,200
T25 Bryson DeChambeau +12 $79,200
T25 Jason Dufner +12 $79,200
T25 Branden Grace +12 $79,200
T25 Russell Henley +12 $79,200
T25 Charles Howell III +12 $79,200
T25 Francesco Molinari +12 $79,200
T25 Alex Noren +12 $79,200
T25 Matthieu Pavon +12 $79,200
T25 Ian Poulter +12 $79,200
T25 Justin Thomas +12 $79,200
T36 Rafa Cabrera Bello +13 $54,054
T36 Bill Haas +13 $54,054
T36 Brian Harman +13 $54,054
T36 Pat Perez +13 $54,054
T36 Gary Woodland +13 $54,054
T41 Sam Burns +14 $43,028
T41 Ryan Fox +14 $43,028
T41 Patrick Rodgers +14 $43,028
T41 Jhonattan Vegas +14 $43,028
T45 Patrick Cantlay +15 $34,716
T45 Marc Leishman +15 $34,716
T45 Scott Piercy +15 $34,716
T48 Ross Fisher +16 $27,952
T48 Jim Furyk +16 $27,952
T48 Luis Gagne (a) +16 $0
T48 Phil Mickelson +16 $27,952
T48 Matt Parziale (a) +16 $0
T48 Brandt Snedeker +16 $27,952
T48 Peter Uihlein +16 $27,952
T48 Tim Wilkinson +16 $27,952
T56 Dean Burmester +17 $25,426
T56 Mickey DeMorat +17 $25,426
T56 Tyler Duncan +17 $25,426
T56 Chris Naegel +17 $25,426
T56 Jimmy Walker +17 $25,426
61 Calum Hill +18 $24,629
62 Andrew Johnston +19 $24,448
63 Brendan Steele +20 $24,203
64 Cameron Wilson +21 $23,959
65 Kevin Chappell +22 $23,714
66 Will Grimmer (a) +23 $0
67 Byeong Hun An +26 $23,470
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What's in the bag: U.S. Open winner Koepka

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2018, 11:24 am

Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive U.S. Open title on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills. Here's a look inside the winner's bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 70 TX shaft

Fairway woods: TaylorMade M2 Tour HL (16.5 degrees), with  Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 TX shaft

Irons: Nike Vapor Fly Pro (3), with Fujikura Pro 95 Tour Spec shaft; Mizuno JPX-900 Tour (4-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts, PW with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shaft

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 Raw (52, 56 degrees), SM7 Raw TVD (60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron T10 Select Newport 2 prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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Repeat U.S. Open win gives Koepka credit he deserves

By Ryan LavnerJune 18, 2018, 2:08 am

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In an ironic twist Sunday, the last man to win consecutive U.S. Opens was tasked with chronicling Brooks Koepka’s final round at Shinnecock Hills.

Carrying a microphone for Fox Sports, Curtis Strange kept his composure as the on-course reporter. He didn’t cough in Koepka’s downswing. Didn’t step on his ball in the fescue. Didn’t talk too loudly while Koepka lined up a putt.

Instead, Strange stood off to the side, clipboard covering his mouth, and watched in awe as Koepka stamped himself as the best U.S. Open player of this next generation.

And so after Koepka became the first player in 29 years to take consecutive Opens, Strange found himself fourth in the greeting line near the 18th green. He was behind Koepka’s playing competitor, Dustin Johnson. And he was behind Koepka’s father, Bob. And he was behind Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott.

But there Strange was, standing on a sandy path leading to the clubhouse, ready to formally welcome Koepka into one of the most exclusive clubs in golf.

“Hell of a job, bud,” Strange barked in his ear, above the din. “Incredible.”

That Koepka prevailed on two wildly different layouts, and in totally different conditions, was even more satisfying.

Erin Hills, in Middle of Nowhere, Wis., was unlike any U.S. Open venue in recent memory. The wide-open fairways were lined with thick, deep fescue, but heavy rain early in the week and the absence of any significant wind turned golf’s toughest test into the Greater Milwaukee Open. Koepka bashed his way to a record-tying score (16 under par) and over the past year has never felt fully appreciated, in large part because of the weirdness of the USGA setup.   


U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


Koepka doesn’t concern himself with that type of noise, of course, but when he arrived at Shinnecock earlier this week he felt a sense of familiarity. The generous fairways. The punishing venue. The premium on iron play.

“It’s a similar feel,” Elliott said. “We said it all week.”

A new, quirky venue like Erin Hills might not have been held in high regard, but the rich history of Shinnecock? It demanded respect.

“He’s some player,” Strange said, “and I’m proud of him because there was some talk last year of Erin Hills not being the Open that is supposed to be an Open. But he won on a classic, so he’s an Open player.”

“This one is a lot sweeter,” Koepka said.

Those around the 28-year-old were shocked that he even had a chance to defend his title.

Last fall Koepka began feeling discomfort in his left wrist. He finished last in consecutive tournaments around the holidays, then underwent an MRI that showed he had a torn ligament in his left wrist.

Koepka takes immense pride in having a life outside of golf – he never watches Tour coverage on off-weeks – but he was downright miserable during his indefinite stint on the sidelines. He said it was the lowest point of his career, as he sat in a soft cast up to his elbow, binge-watching TV shows and gaining 15 pounds. The only players he heard from during his hiatus: Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.

“You just feel like you get forgotten,” Koepka said.

During the spring, Elliott would occasionally drive from Orlando to Jupiter, Fla., to check on his boss. “He was down in the dumps,” he said. “That sort of injury he had, it didn’t seem like there was going to be an end. There was no timeframe on it, and that was the most frustrating thing.”

After the Masters, Koepka told Elliott that his wrist was feeling better and that he was going to start hitting balls. Elliott brought his clubs to South Florida, and they played a few holes at The Floridian.

“He was hitting it right on the button,” Elliott said. “I said, ‘Are you sure you haven’t been practicing?’ He hadn’t missed a beat. I have no idea how he does it. He’s just a tremendously talented guy.”

In limited action before the Open, Koepka fired a trio of 63s, at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial. He’s never been short on confidence – as a 12-year-old he once told his dad that he was going to drop out of school in four years and turn pro – and he recently woofed to swing coach Claude Harmon III that he was primed to win sometime in May or June.

“I said to him on the range this morning, ‘You were on your couch in January and February, not really knowing if you were going to be able to play here,’” Harmon said. “I think that’s why it means so much to him. That’s one of the reasons that he kept saying no one was more confident than him, because to get this opportunity to come back and play and have a chance to win back-to-back U.S. Opens, he was going to take advantage of it as best he could.”

Koepka carded a second-round 66 to put himself in the mix, then survived a hellacious third-round setup to join a four-way tie for the lead, along with Johnson, the world No. 1 and his fellow Bash Brother.

As much as Johnson is praised for his resilience, Koepka has proven to be equally tough in crunch time, especially in this major. There’s no better stage for Koepka to showcase his immense gifts than the Open, an examination that tests players physically, mentally and even spiritually. But Koepka, like Johnson, never joined the growing chorus of complainers at Shinnecock. The closest he came to criticizing the setup was this: “I think the course is very close.”

Rather than whine, he said that he relished the challenge of firing away from flags. He accepted bad shots. He tried to eliminate double bogeys. Even after his wrist injury, Koepka showed no hesitation gouging out of the deep fescue, his ferocious clubhead speed allowing him to escape the rough and chase approach shots near the green, where he could rely on his sneaky-good short game.

“He has the perfect game to play in majors,” Harmon said. “He probably plays more conservatively in majors. We’re always joking that we wish he would play the way he does in majors every week. I just think he knows how important pars and bogeys are. It says a lot about him as a player.”

Johnson has many of the same physical and mental attributes, and they’ve each benefited from the other’s intense focus and discipline. They both adhere to a strict diet and are frequent workout partners, which even included a gym session on Sunday morning, before their penultimate pairing. They made small talk, chatting about lifting and how many of the Sunday pins were located in the middle of the green, but after they arrived at the course they barely said two words to each other.

“They’re good friends on and off the course,” Harmon said, “but they definitely want to kick the s--- out of each other.”

“That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Strange said. “If they’re best buddies, well, you’re standing between me and the trophy. You don’t care much for him for 4 1/2 hours.”

There was much at stake Sunday, but none more significant than Koepka’s march on history. Squaring off head-to-head against the game’s best player, Koepka outplayed Johnson from the outset, going 3 under for the first 10 holes to open up a two-shot lead. And unlike at Erin Hills, where he pulled away late with birdies, it was his par (and bogey) saves that kept Koepka afloat on Nos. 11, 12 and 14.  

In the end, he clipped Fleetwood (who shot a record-tying 63) by one and Johnson by two.

“You’ve got to give him a lot of credit,” Strange said, shaking his head. “He’s got a lot of guts.”

As Koepka marched away to sign his card, Strange was asked if it was bittersweet to know that he’s no longer the answer to the trivia question, the last guy to go back-to-back at the Open.

“Heck no!” he said. “What are they going to do, take one away? I’m a part of a group. And it’s a good group. I hope it means as much to him as it has to me.”

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This time, Dad gets to enjoy Koepka's Father's Day win

By Rex HoggardJune 18, 2018, 1:39 am

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – When Brooks Koepka won his first U.S. Open last year at Erin Hills the celebration was relatively subdued.

His family didn’t attend the ’17 championship, but there was no way they were missing this year’s U.S. Open.

“This year we booked something about five miles away [from Shinnecock Hills]," said Koepka’s father, Bob. "We weren’t going to miss it and I’m so glad we’re here.”

The family was treated to a show, with Koepka closing with a 68 for a one-stroke victory to become the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to win back-to-back U.S. Opens.


U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


Koepka called his father early Sunday to wish him a happy Father’s Day, and Bob Koepka said he noticed a similar confidence in his son’s voice to the way he sounded when they spoke on Sunday of last year’s championship.

There was also one other similarity.

“Two years in a row, I haven't gotten him anything [for Father’s Day],” Brooks Koepka laughed. “Next year, I'm not going to get him anything either. It might bring some good luck.

“It's incredible to have my family here, and my dad loves golf. To be here, he loves watching. To share it with him this time, it will be a little bit sweeter.”