Lets be Frank

By Frank ThomasDecember 17, 2008, 5:00 pm

Launch it Higher!


Dear Frank,
 
After reading your book and your column regularly and loving your very insightful explanations I just couldn't hold back my questions.
 
How does altitude affect the optimum launch conditions for a driver? Let me explain my situation. I live and play golf here in Ecuador at an altitude of 9000 feet, so the aerodynamic conditions are completely different than at sea level. From what I can deduce: due to the lower lift and drag properties of the thin air a driver would have to generate more spin and have a higher launch angle to achieve optimum conditions but I was wondering if you can shed some light into the matter.
 
And a following more specific question: As Ecuador is not known for its abundance in golf stores, let alone launch monitors I wanted to take advantage of a future trip to the U.S. to test out some new clubs and I wondered: How should I choose a driver loft for 9000 feet once I have found my optimal value at sea level?
 
And as all good things come in three: Can you please recommend a loft/shaft stiffness to start testing for me (Have those 9000 feet in mind). Swing speed is 90 to 100mph, at the moment I play with 9.5 (I know now it's low, but two golf pros suggested it) stiff shaft driver. I hit 200 to 230 yards with a fairly low trajectory and relatively lots of roll (if I hit the fairway).
 
Thank you for your time and keep up the good work,
-Michael

 
Michael,
 
You are correct. Due to the lower density of the air at an altitude of 9,000 feet, the ball needs to spin a little more and be launched a lot higher compared to sea level to give you maximum distance (optimum launch conditions).
 
At 100 mph head-speed you will gain about 40 yards in total distance at 9,000 ft compared to sea level, if you launch the ball at about 16 to 17 degrees compared to 13 degrees at sea level. A spin rate of 3000 rpm is good and for your head speed get a driver with a stiff shaft and loft of about 15 degrees (which is about the max. available).
 
You should understand this assumes the temperature remains the same. Unfortunately, as you increase in altitude you decrease in temperature, which will have a detrimental effect on distance because the air is more dense at colder temperatures but not enough to be of major concern. Just keep your body warm and hit it high in warm humid weather at altitude (9,000 ft) and you will gain about 35 yards over your 240 yards at sea level drives.
 
Just a reminder when the air becomes humid, at any altitude, it will be less dense because water vapor molecules made up of hydrogen and oxygen have a lower molecular weight than nitrogen and oxygen molecules, which they are replacing. Nitrogen and oxygen make up about 90% of the air we breathe so replacing these with lower weight molecules will make the air less dense.
 
Humid air is therefore lighter, not heavier and this results in less lift on the ball but also less drag. So on high humidity days launch the ball a little higher.
 
Hope this helps...if you want some to read some more answers to golf equipment questions, click here to order a copy of 'Dear Frank...' my new book which is a compilation of answers to golfer's questions that I have answered over the years.
 
-Frank
 

Special Balls for Putters


Hi Frank,
 
First let me say that I am a new owner of a Frankly Frog putter! I have used both blade and mallet style putters in the past [most recently using a ' TMMC (full name redacted) putter] and am your stereotypical 'feel' putter. I have avoided sight lines and the like on a putter for a very long time. However, after reading some of the testimonials on your site, I thought I would take a chance and, wow, am I pleased! I am consistently hitting my putts along the line that I want (although I still need some green-reading prowess!!) and my distance control is good on putts of any length. In addition, my pulls and pushes seem to be reduced...new club'itis? Perhaps, but my confidence on the green has increased many-fold thanks to the frog.
 
Now my question.....
 
Based on today's designs, is there an optimum ball for the Frog (or for any style putter)? Meaning, based on the materials used and machined faced qualities, is there a particular type of ball that would get the most out of the design? Hard cover? Soft Cover? Three piece? Two piece?...etc.
 
Thank you for sharing your ideas and your technology!
 
Best Regards,
-Kevin

 
Kevin,
 
Thank you for the kind comments about the Frog Putter. You can request a download of a free putting guide by clicking here and make sure you take advantage of the putting tips provided. This will really keep you on track; give you something to practice and enhance your success and confidence on the green.
 
With regard to a special or optimum ball to be used with the Frog, please remember that you are not permitted to change balls during the play of a hole unless it is so damaged as to be declared unfit for play. With this in mind select the ball type you feel most comfortable using tee to green and make sure you use this ball type during your putting practice.
 
There was no specific ball which I had in mind when designing the Frog.
A suggestion which will help your putting, is when you get onto the practice putting green to calibrate your stroke before a round during your warm up - this is not practice but getting a feel for the green speed and building confidence - take only one ball onto the practice green. Read each putt using your pre-shot routine and hole it out every time - no matter how short the putt may be. This will remind you to follow a plan and stick to your pre-shot routine when you are on the green during your round.
 
Kevin, becoming a good putter takes a little work but by following good instruction to improve, will help the rest of your game because you build more confidence on the green and carry this to the next tee. Of course, it also helps to have a good putter.
 
I am pleased you have discovered how well a good putter works.
 
-Frank
 
To reserve your own copy of 'Just Hit It', please Click Here We are now shipping!
 
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
Getty Images

Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.



Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

Getty Images

Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''


Full-field scores from the BMW International Open


Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

“I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

“It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

Getty Images

Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.