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Is Newer Really Better

Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from GOLF CHANNEL's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Every week we will select the best question and Frank will send one lucky golfer a personally signed copy of 'Just Hit It'. Last week's lucky winner was Bob, with his question on clubhead sole width.
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Is Newer Really Better?
Frank, I read your book 'Just hit it' and I loved it. But, I have a technical question. I own a Taylor Made R580 driver. It was introduced in 2002. It has a 400 CC head. I have had a new shaft put in to 44.75 and I hit it fairly well. You stated in the book that if I own a driver that is five years old it should be as good as any new one. Does the R580 fit into this statement? Does it have a competitive MOI and COR?

Dear RJ
If you are hitting this driver well I would be very cautious before you decide to take advantage of a newer model. The driver I personally use is almost the same age as yours and it has as high a COR as is allowed as is the case with your driver. However the MOI is not at the limit but I dont feel that there is any particular advantage to me in going to this particular limit.
I would suggest that you look at some of the most recent models not because of the higher MOI but rather because of the more efficient COR face spread meaning a more efficient impact over a wider area that many of the recent drivers have.
Unfortunately because relatively few significant technical changes have been made over the last few years manufacturers are increasing the length of their drivers which is not doing most golfers any favors with regard to staying in the fairway in spite of the higher MOI.
If you are launching the ball with your present club close to the optimum launch conditions (click here to view) then I would not lose too much sleep over worrying about a new driver, but rather spend the money on a hybrid, a wedge, and most importantly a good putter. Then youll have more change in your pocket than purchasing a new driver on its own.
Damaging Shaft Dings
I enjoy reading your informative column regularly. Keep up the great work.
I have a question about my drivers graphite shaft. When I play, I take off the head cover for the entire round. Others take off and put back on after each shot with the driver or other fairway woods. Ive been told that perhaps the banging of the iron heads in the bag against the shaft of the driver 3-4 inches above the head will weaken the shaft. Should that really be a concern? It seems that the shaft survives a great deal of stress and shock through normal use anyway.

If you play most of your golf in a cart and you remove the head covers unfortunately there will be some contact between the iron heads and the graphite shafts of your woods. Unless there is some visible damage you should not be too concerned however I do recommend that you leave one or two head covers on your woods and hybrids which will generally cushion any potential damaging blows.
If you are going to carry your bag then make sure that the clubs are in the designed compartments in which case iron heads will be away from any contact with the graphite shafts. If you have removed the head covers you will start sounding very much like wind chime on your way down the fairway due to the synchronized contact between your wood heads and the cadence of your stride.
I do recommend you walk whenever you can and keep one or two head covers on your woods to avoid undue noise pollution on the course.
Thank you for your kind remarks and hope you continue to enjoy the column. If you havent signed up as a Frankly Friend you may do so by going to to receive regular e-mail updates.
Alcohol and Your Grip
If anyone can answer this question, you can.
Florida probably isn't the best state for me to live in- I sweat profusely, including my hands. My glove is usually pretty well saturated at the end of a summer round here.
Would I do any harm to my grips (or be breaking any rule) by wiping them down with alcohol during the course of a round? Just a thought I had as I scrubbed them down the traditional way last night.
Thanks for your expert opinion.
JJ, Florida


First let me thank you for your confidenceIll try to do it justice.
I agree that Florida is not the best place to live in the summer. Second, I suggest that if you are going to insist on playing summer Florida golf that you carry several gloves with you. Third, cleaning your grips with alcohol during a round would not be a violation of the rules as the playing characteristics are not being changed.
Next time you find yourself in Orlando, come and visit our air conditioned Frankly Frog Putting Studio. Well fit you for a putter and give you a state of the art lesson using the latest technology and kinematic analysis.
See you soon
Frank 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
Frank Thomas