QA Cold Weather Hurt Clubs

By Frank ThomasOctober 17, 2007, 4:00 pm
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
Hi Frank,
Davis Love III
Davis Love III joins Frank in is weekly 'Ask Frank' segment this Monday, Oct. 22 at 11:00 p.m. ET. (WireImage)
Thanks for all the information every week. Reading about the engineering and technology side of golf is as interesting as reading about all the courses that Ill never play that are featured in the golf magazines. The past three years or so Ive been able to store my clubs in the den (i.e. room we dont use for anything important). After some sprucing up and remodeling of the den, my wife has finally noticed the clubs and wants me to store them in the garage -- an unattached, unheated structure. We can still play golf here in western Oregon in the winter, so I use the clubs 2-4 times a month from October through March. I know that colder temperatures can influence balls, but can leaving the clubs out in the cold (temperatures range from, say, 40 degrees on up) affect their performance and durability? I have graphite shafts on the woods and hybrid, steel shafts on the irons. I worry that the graphite in particular could get brittle and break in transit if not in use.
Ill try to keep the clubs warm until you can answer.

Sorry to hear that your wife has been so nasty to your clubs. I suggest that you apologize to them on their way to the garage. You really dont have to worry about the temperature they will experience in the garage even at 40F; this will do them no harm, and you will probably be more brittle than they will at such temperatures.
The only concern about a garage separated from the house and not air conditioned is that you may experience condensation on the clubs during the diurnal temperature changes and varying humidity levels.
A daily dose of moisture will encourage oxidation on metals and you may experience some rust pitting on the steel shafts or forged blade heads.
Moisture on golf balls, whether it comes from storage in the garage or from resting in ponds on the course, is not good for them or for us, because the covers are inclined to absorb moisture and will deteriorate in the long term. For us it means the loss of a stroke.
Bottom line is; if you have an option, it is probably better to keep your clubs and balls in the den rather than in a garage with a potential condensation problem due to a wide range in temperatures. You may have to be a little sweeter to your wife and/or give up something else near and dear to you, but at least your clubs will be happier and this may be reflected in the way they treat you on the course.
Hope this helps.
-- Frank
Hi Frank,
I am an 8.5 handicap index with 82 mph swing speed. I'd like to start getting a little more responsiveness around the greens. Everyone I talk to says that premium balls are for the 100 mph-plus swinger and that I'd be wasting my money as I can't compress the ball to get the full benefit.
I thought compression was a non-issue with the new golf balls. Would you please clarify this for me? And, can I use a premium ball?
Thank you,

With an 8.5 handicap you are certainly good enough to use a premium ball like the ProV1 (not the ProV1x) a Nike ONE black, or an HX Tour. These will allow you to work the ball around the green, but you may not be able to get all you need off the tee with the 82 mph head speed you have.
A better choice may be the Titleist NXT Tour, Nike Ignite, or the Callaway HX Tour 56. These balls will be less expensive than the top premium balls, give you a little boost off the tee, and all the responsiveness you need around the green.
With your 82 mph head speed you don't want to give up too much distance with your driver, so the NXT Tour and the others I have mentioned would be my suggestion, instead of the top premium balls which are better performers at higher swing speeds.
Most of the balls we pay $35 a dozen or more for are so much better than we are that you arent going to go far wrong whatever your choice. If, however, you have a great deal of control around the greens and you can feel the subtle differences built into the balls the pros use, then by all means select the thin-covered three- or four-piece premium ball. Otherwise, the next level down from premium will be an excellent choice for overall performance at your skill level and head speed. Also, with this selection youll have enough money for a couple of beers after the round.
You might also be interested in checking out some of the results of a golf ball survey we conducted with our Frankly Friends by clicking here to see what other golfers are choosing.
-- Frank
Dear Frank,
I have question about ball scuffing. My wedges scuff my balls badly. I switch wedges often: Titliest Vokey, Cleveland CG 10, Wilson Staff and Mizuno MP. Ive tried every ball brand and type. Some are worse than others. But in general, all balls scuff significantly. A full swing with a Vokey 56 leaves the ball looking like it bounced off the cart path. What effect does the scuffing have on ball flight and distance? Has it ever been tested? Typically, I use premium balls and regularly change balls after 6 holes. Am I stuck with severe scuffing as a byproduct of high wedge spin? Can anything be done to reduce scuffing? Thanks for your time. I read your column on the every week.

I will try to answer all your questions together. The reason why you are scuffing the balls and specifically the premium balls is that the grooves on most of the premium wedges have been milled at the end of the production process and the edges are reasonably sharp. After using these wedges for a while, the edges will wear down and this will reduce the tendency to scuff the ball. Most premium balls have a thin cover, which allows you to get the spin you want to work the ball around the greens but are also susceptible to damage from sharp grooves.
You should know that scuffing the ball, as you describe, does not necessarily mean you are getting the maximum spin from the shot. During impact, while the ball is in contact with the face, the resilient soft cover is stretched a little sideways, parallel with the face, allowing the ball to stick to the face, and springs back a little to help give the ball spin.
If while the cover is stretched it is partially cut, you will lose some of the recovery spring-back force and grip the ball has on the face and you may lose some of the potential to provide maximum spin. If the ball cover is torn while the ball is leaving the clubface, at the end of impact, you may not lose as much of the generated spin. I do believe, however, that the damage to the ball cover happens at or before maximum stress, during the winding-up phase of impact.
Whenever the damaged occurs, once in flight the aerodynamics of the ball will be affected measurably.
Yes, tests have been conducted on scuffed balls -- those with feathery surfaces created by the sharp grooves or normal cart path scuffs or dirt in the dimples. These balls will perform with an irregular flight path and not achieve optimum distance.
Most professionals who notice a scuffed cover during the play of a hole should try to declare the ball unfit for play (see Rule 5-3). Unfortunately there is some question about scrapes and scuffmarks within this rule, and this needs to be reviewed.
One thing for sure is, you shouldnt deliberately use a scraped, scuffed, or dirty ball or one with feathers on its surface damaged by sharp grooves. Replace it when you get to the next tee. Feathers are for the birds, not golf balls.
Hope this answers all of your questions.
-- Frank
Fall for the FrogFrank 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
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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

The Monday morning headline will be …

REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

What will be the winning score?

HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

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McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.