Lets be Frank

By Frank ThomasAugust 28, 2008, 4:00 pm

Have Your Say on Groove
 
The USGA adopted new groove specifications on August 5, 2008, which will affect most of us if we continue to use our existing clubs in 2024 and affect our new purchases of clubs manufactured after January 1, 2010.
 
In essence, the change is to reduce the volume of the grooves by approximately 40 %, which will reduce the spin rate out of the rough. This will make it more difficult to control the ball from a shot out of the light rough.
 
The research data to justify the change has been gathered from highly skilled golfers on tour-- 0.001% of the golfing population. The assumption is that extremely long hitters are not being penalized enough when their drives come to rest in primary rough -- about 2 to 3-inches in depth ' and the object of the change is to make it more difficult for the elite players to control the ball from shots out of the rough to the green.
 
The change for the elite players in Championship competition will be in effect as of January 1st , 2010. Regrettably there is no sound evidence provided to indicate that the objective will be achieved and the game will be better off because of this change. It is purely an assumption on the part of the USGA that this change ' with momentous consequences -- is good for the game.
 
Contrary to condescending statements made by the USGA; all golfers will be affected by this change. First in that our purchase of a new set of clubs will have the equivalent of the 1942 groove configuration which will make it even more difficult for us to control the ball to the green than it is now. And second, if we continue to use our present clubs we will be playing under a different set of rules than the elite golfers until 2024 ' or perhaps for ever -- condoned by the USGA but in contradiction to its Statement of Principles published in May 2002.
 
It may be the start of TWO sets of rules, which I personally think will erode the fundamentals of the game BUT a better solution than a change ' rolling back the groove configuration to equivalent specifications to those adopted in 1942 ' designed to resolve a perceived problem caused by .001% of the golfing population but affecting all golfers.
 
Please Click Here to check out the results of what you thought about the USGA groove rule change.
 
Hybrid Lies
 
Dear Frank,
 
I started playing golf at the age of 49 with a group of guys every Friday night. We were all beginners none of us had any lessons at that time. I am now 56 and really enjoying this game more than ever. After a series of 5 lessons, which I decided I needed I started to see improvements.
 
That competitive nature took over and I strived to win every game we all played together. I won the majority of time but was not shooting consistent golf.
 
One day I heard you make a statement on a website that 'it's a game we play against ourselves'. I thought a lot about that statement and I finally understood what you were saying and placed it into action, that's when my game really improved.
 
I no longer worried about beating the others and became more relaxed on the course. That one statement has cut between 6 to 10 strokes off my game. I am now shooting in my mid to low eighties.
 
I have also taken your advice which has been invaluable to me. My driver is reg-flex shaft 44 inches I hit more fairways now. I had my lies adjusted found I should have been 2 degrees flat. My iron shots are now more consistent.
 
My question at last is: If my irons are 2 degree's flat should my hybrids also be bent to match my irons?
 
I hit them straight when teed up on a tee box. On a tight lie on the fairway
I am not as consistent with the ball flight it tends to fade the majority of time. I am not sure if it is the club or me.
 
I want to thank you for all your hard work and helping others as well as
myself. I will be ordering you book with in the very near future.
 
Sincerely,
Dean

 
Dean,
I do appreciate your kind comments and am pleased that my advice has been of so much help to you.
 
If your hybrids are going straight off a tee from the teeing ground where your swing plane is a little (very little) flatter, because the ball is slightly raised compared to the fairway lie, then it is possible that the fade from the fairway lie is because the lie angle is too flat for this slightly more upright swing plane. This is highly unlikely because the differences in your swing plane are very small. If by chance, this was the case and you make the lie adjustment to be more upright -- to solve your fairway problem -- you may find your tee shots will have a slight draw.
 
This is what I call a tweak adjustment, which is so small that most of us will not be able to recognize it. Dean, it is more likely that your problem is in your mental approach when you make a swing from the fairway lie compared to off a tee. When the ball is teed up we dont often think about making contact with the ground before impact. Our entire thought process is different and we take some comfort in knowing that we have a good lie and the likelihood that we will hit it fat is reduced significantly.
 
Maybe what you should do is tee the ball up in the fairway -- only when you are experimenting-- not when you are playing in the US Open.
 
As far as adjusting the lie angle of your hybrids; this is not recommended by the manufacturers and for the less lofted clubs -- 18 to 21 degrees -- a slight differences in lie angle does not affect the ball flight as much as it would on more lofted clubs such as the wedges. Make sure that your hybrids, as in fairway woods, have a toe to heel radius on the sole. This prevents the sole from unnecessarily catching at the toe or heel if it does make contact with the ground before or during impact.
 
Some manufacturers indicate that hybrids may be adjusted a couple of degrees for lie angle, by an expert club maker using the same bending tools used for irons. If the correct length is selected for your woods and hybrids the standard lie angle should be close to what you need.
 
Hope this helps a little, now go out and Just Hit It.
Frank
 
The Truth About Tees and Kissing Frogs
 
Hi Frank,
 
Your Q&As are a high point of my week. I read your book in one sitting and highly recommend it to others. It is wonderful to get the straight facts without worrying about who is paying the advertising revenue.
 
This week I have a question plus a silly one from my granddaughter. First, there are a great many tees on the market; some feature improved cup styles or prongs, others are brushes, etc. Other than length, does the type of tee really have much effect on ball flight and distance?
 
The silly question came up when my 3 year old granddaughter saw me reading your website. She recognized the putter as a frog and asked the obvious 3 year old question; what happens if a princess kisses the putter? Im sure with all your contacts you could empirically test this.
 
Seriously, I would like to have the chance to actually hold the Frankly Frog putter in my hands and try it before ordering it. Since I get to Orlando every twenty years or so, is there a way to meet the Frog in person before ordering it?
 
Thanks for your help.
 
Jay

 
Jay,
Thank you for the kind comments about my book and the weekly Q&A column. You have a three-part question the answers to which are;
 
1. There is no solid evidence that the differences in tee designs presently permitted have any measureable effect on distance for elite golfers and certainly not the average golfer. If this was not the case the USGA would have something to say about it and would develop tee specifications to disapprove these devices.
2. You can tell your granddaughter that if a princess kisses the Frog Putter she will probably lower her handicap.
3. We have just made a free download of the putting guide available to all who wish to take advantage of this on www.franklygolf.com. This will automatically make you a Frankly Friend and allow you to take advantage of the 30/30/30 program which in essence allowing you have 30 days to try the putter of your choice. See the site for details or call us at 407 396 4004.
 
Jay, please dont kiss the Frog in front of your wife when you get it for the 30 day trial . She may frown on this even though it will result in lowering your handicap a couple of strokes. Kiss your granddaughter in front of her instead.
 
Thanks again for your kind comment and please help us and the game, by answering the five questions in my groove survey by Clicking Here.
Frank
 
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Every week we will select the best question and Frank will send one golfer a personally signed copy of 'Just Hit It'. Last week's lucky winner was Roosevelt, with his question about his hole in one.
 
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 logoFrank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to Helping Golfers. Frank is Chief Technical Advisor to The Golf Channel and Golf Digest. 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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Lopez fires flawless 63 for lead in Arkansas

By Associated PressJune 23, 2018, 12:41 am

ROGERS, Ark. – Former Arkansas star Gaby Lopez shot a career-low 8-under 63 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship.

Lopez, a three-time All-American for the Razorbacks, matched her career best by finishing at 8 under - doing so after missing the cut in her last two tournaments. The Mexican player began the tournament at Pinnacle Country Club ranked 136th in the world but finished just two shots off the course record of 10 under in her third year on the LPGA Tour.

Moriya Jutanugarn was a stroke back along with Minjee Lee, Catriona Matthew, Nasa Hataoka, Lizette Salas, Mirim Lee and Aditi Ashok.

Local favorite Stacy Lewis, expecting her first child in early November, had a 66.

Defending champion So Yeon Ryu, coming off a victory Sunday in Michigan, shot a 67.

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Harman rides hot putter to Travelers lead

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:28 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – There are plenty of big names gathered for the Travelers Championship, and through two rounds they’re all chasing Brian Harman.

Harman opened with a 6-under 64, then carded a 66 during Friday’s morning wave to become the only player to finish the first two rounds in double digits under par. The southpaw is currently riding a hot putter, leading the field in strokes gained: putting while rolling in 12 birdies and an eagle through his first 36 holes.

“Putted great today,” said Harman, who ranks 22nd on Tour this season in putting. “Got out of position a couple of times, but I was able to get myself good looks at it. I started hitting the ball really well coming down the stretch and made a few birdies.”


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Harman, 31, has won twice on the PGA Tour, most recently at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship. While he doesn’t have a win this year, he started his season in the fall by reeling off five straight finishes of T-8 or better to quickly install himself as one of the leaders in the season-long points race.

Now topping a leaderboard that includes the likes of Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy, he realizes that he’ll have his work cut out for him if he’s going to leave Connecticut with trophy No. 3.

“The putter has been really good so far, but I’ve been in position a lot. I’ve had a lot of good looks at it,” Harman said. “I’m just able to put a little pressure on the course right now, which is nice.”

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10-second rule costs Zach Johnson a stroke

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:06 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – Zach Johnson heads into the weekend one shot back at the Travelers Championship, but he was a matter of seconds away from being tied for the lead.

Johnson had an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 3 at TPC River Highlands, his 12th hole of the day, but left the ball hanging on the lip. As Johnson walked up to tap the ball in, it oscillated on the edge and eventually fell in without being hit.

Was it a birdie, or a par?

According to the Rules of Golf, and much to Johnson’s chagrin, the answer was a par. Players are afforded “reasonable” time to walk to the hole, and after that they are allowed to wait for 10 seconds to see if the ball drops of its own accord. After that, it either becomes holed by a player’s stroke, or falls in and leads to a one-shot penalty, resulting in the same score as if the player had hit it.

According to Mark Russell, PGA Tour vice president of rules and competitions, Johnson’s wait time until the ball fell in was between 16 and 18 seconds.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Once he putts the ball, he’s got a reasonable amount of time to reach the hole,” Russell said. “Then once he reaches the hole, he’s got 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, the ball is deemed to be at rest.”

Johnson tried to emphasize the fact that the ball was oscillating as he stood over it, and even asked rules officials if marking his ball on the edge of the hole would have yielded a “bonus 10 seconds.” But after signing for a 2-under 68 that brought him within a shot of leader Brian Harman, the veteran took the ruling in stride.

“The 10-second rule has always been there. Vague to some degree,” Johnson said. “The bottom line is I went to tap it in after 10 seconds and the ball was moving. At that point, even if the ball is moving, it’s deemed to be at rest because it’s on the lip. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just the way it is.”

While Johnson brushed off any thoughts of the golf gods conspiring against him on the lip, he was beaming with pride about an unconventional par he made on No. 17 en route to a bogey-free round. Johnson sailed his tee shot well right into the water, but after consulting his options he decided to drop on the far side of the hazard near the 16th tee box.

His subsequent approach from 234 yards rolled to within 8 feet, and he calmly drained the putt for an unexpected save.

“I got a great lie. Just opened up a 4-hybrid, and it started over the grandstands and drew in there,” Johnson said. “That’s as good of an up-and-down as I’ve witnessed, or performed.”

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Travelers becoming marquee event for star players

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 11:29 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Get lost in the throngs following the defending champ, or caught up amongst the crowds chasing the back-to-back U.S. Open winner, and it’s easy to forget where this tournament was a little more than a decade ago.

The Travelers Championship was without a sponsor, without a worthwhile field, without a consistent date and on the verge of being jettisoned to the PGA Tour Champions schedule. The glory days of the old Greater Hartford Open had come and gone, and the PGA Tour’s ever-increasing machine appeared poised to leave little old Cromwell in its wake.

The civic pride is booming in this neck of the woods. Main Street is lined with one small business after the next, and this time of year there are signs and posters popping up on every corner congratulating a member of the most recent graduating class at Cromwell High School, which sits less than two miles from the first tee at TPC River Highlands.

Having made it through a harrowing time in the event’s history, the local residents now have plenty of reason to take pride.

The Tour’s best have found this little New England hamlet, where tournament officials roll out the red carpet in every direction. They embrace the opportunity to decompress after the mind-numbing gauntlet the USGA set out for them last week, and they relish a return to a course where well-struck shots, more often than not, lead to birdies.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Ten years ago, this tournament was also held the week after the U.S. Open. Stewart Cink won, and for his efforts he received a paltry 36 world ranking points. But thanks to a recent influx of star-power, this week’s winner will pocket 58 points – the same amount Rory McIlroy won at Bay Hill, and two more than Justin Rose got at Colonial. Now at the halfway point, the leaderboard backs up the hefty allocation.

While Brian Harman leads at 10 under, the chase pack is strong enough to strike fear in the heart of even the most seasoned veteran: McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson, they of the combined eight major titles, all sit within three shots of the lead. Former world No. 1 Jason Day is one shot further back, and reigning Player of the Year Justin Thomas will start the third round inside the top 20.

Paul Casey and Bryson DeChambeau, both likely participants at the Ryder Cup this fall, are right there as well at 8 under. Casey lost a playoff here to Watson in 2015 and has come back every year since, witnessing first-hand the tournament’s growth in scope.

“It speaks volumes for what Travelers have done and how they treat everybody, and the work that Andy Bessette and his team put in to fly around the country and speak highly of this event,” Casey said. “And do things which matter, to continue to improve the event, not just for players but for spectators.”

Part of the increased field strength can be attributed to the Tour’s recent rule change, requiring players who play fewer than 25 events in a season to add a new event they haven’t played in the last four years. Another portion can be attributed to the short commute from Shinnecock Hills to TPC River Highlands, a three-hour drive and even shorter across the Long Island Sound – an added bonus the event will lose two of the next three years with West Coast U.S. Opens.

But there’s no denying the widespread appeal of an event named the Tour’s tournament of the year, players’ choice and most fan-friendly in 2017. While Spieth’s return to defend his title was assumed, both Day and McIlroy are back for another crack this year after liking what they saw.

“Anyone that I talked to could only say good things about the tournament about the golf course, how the guys are treated here, how the fans come out, and how the community always gets behind this event,” McIlroy said. “Obviously I witnessed that for the first time last year, and I really enjoyed it.”

After starting the week with all four reigning major champs and five of the top 10 players in the latest world rankings, only Masters champ Patrick Reed got sent packing following rounds of 72-67. The remaining top-flight contingent will all hit the ground running in search of more low scores Saturday, with Spieth (-4) still retaining a glimmer of hope to keep his title defense chances alive, perhaps with a 63 like he fired in the opening round.

The Tour’s schedule represents a zero-sum game. Outside of the majors and WGCs that essentially become must-play events for the game’s best, the rest of the legs of the weekly circus become victim of a 12-month version of tug-of-war. Some players like to play in the spring; others load up in the fall. Many play the week before majors, while a select group block off the week after for some R&R far away from a golf course.

But in an environment where one tournament’s ebbs can create flows for another, the Travelers has continued a steady climb up the Tour’s hierarchy. Once in jeopardy of relegation, it has found its footing and appears in the process of turning several of the Tour’s one-name stars into regular participants.

Rory. Jordan. Bubba. JT.

It’s been a long battle for tournament officials, but the proof is in the pudding. And this weekend, the reward for the people of Cromwell – population 14,000 – looks to be a star-studded show.

“All the events are incredible,” Thomas said. “But this is kind of one of those underrated ones that I think until people come and play, do they realize how great it is.”