QA Distance Weight and Speed

By Frank ThomasJanuary 30, 2007, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from The Golf Channel's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
 
Hi, Frank:
I need help! My swing speed is around 125 mph with the driver (460 Adams xstiff), yet I have never hit a drive over 310 yards. Most of the time when I hit it good off the tee Im around 285 (bone-straight 12-degree launch). How is this possible? I play about 150 rounds a year, so I know Im not missing the sweet spot every single time. I read somewhere that you should get 3 yards for every mph your club head is traveling. If this is true, what is stopping my drive from traveling 350?
 
Thanks for any info, Frank. Hope all is well.
Billy
Michigan

 
Billy,
First of all there are a lot of us (millions, including a few pros on tour) who would love to be in your shoes with most of your drives going 285 yards bone-straight!
 
With 125 mph head speed and impacting the sweet spot every time, you should be able to drive the ball about 330 yards now and again under ideal launch conditions. These are 12 degrees launch angle and about 2,200 rpm spin rate and a fairway in average conditions (i.e. 25 yard roll). If you are not at these launch conditions, then try to get there by hitting the ball a little higher on the face. This will reduce the ball speed a little but bring you closer to the optimum angle and spin. The other thing to try is a different ball. For more on optimum launch conditions please Click here
 
If I were you, I would settle for the drives you have and concentrate on the rest of your game, as there is nothing wrong with what youre getting from your driver, especially since youre hitting it both long and straight. Then the next step is to apply for your PGA TOUR card if you dont already have it.
Frank
 
Hello Frank,
Last year I finally got fitted and learned that I needed to be +1/2' long (or 36' for a 6 iron). I decided to use Project X 5.5 rather than DG S300s due to the weight advantage of the PX. The swingweight of the new clubs with the PX shaft are D-6, which makes sense due to the 1/2' increase in length.
 
My question is, if I add 4-8 grams of lead tape weight to the grip end, thus reducing the swingweight by 1-2 points, will this allow me to swing the club with more control, faster, and be able square the club head better at impact?
Sincerely,
The Mat Slicer!!!

 
Mat,
By changing out these shafts -- going from the Dynamic Gold S 300 (a good shaft, by the way) to a Pro X 5.5 and making it 1/2 inch longer -- you have not only added weight to the shaft but increased the length. These two changes will increase the swingweight by 3 points for the increase in length and about 1 swingweight point for the slightly heavier shaft. This, as you have discovered, takes you from your former D2 to a D6.
 
If you are hung up on swing weight and want a D2 because it feels better to you, then shorten the shaft back to its original length and accept a D3 or decrease the head weight (not easy).
 
DON'T add weight to the butt end of the club to achieve a certain swingweight. This is done sometimes in club fitting to make the customer happy, but it does absolutely nothing for you.
 
Consider the following: putting on a heavier grip or adding weight under the grip reduces the swingweight. Wearing a glove might do the same thing. The glove might just as well be part of the grip (especially for those of us who have a death grip on the club), so this too will reduce the swing weight by as much as six points. A wristwatch will also be part of the club/hands/glove system and this would, if taken into account in measuring swingweight, affect the numbers. Wearing a watch adds weight to the grip section or axis of rotation. (The grip is not truly the axis for the entire swing, but certainly is for the final segment of the swing.)
 
We both know that the club feels almost exactly the same irrespective of whether we wear a glove or a watch. It might slip on occasion without the glove, but that's the only difference. The flaw is in putting too much stock in the measurement of swingweight.
 
Swingweight is a static balance, and its a useful measure of the balance of a club only when its used in combination with overall weight and natural frequency. The more weight in the head of the club and the distance this weight is from the grip, the heavier it will feel and the harder it will be to swing no matter how much weight you add to the grip.
 
Try holding a club at the head end, and swing the grip of the club. Then compare this to holding at the grip end and swinging the head. This is the feel that swing weight was designed to control. Just adding weight to that portion you are holding is not going to affect anything very much, and certainly not when it comes to the weight we are talking about (bearing in mind that a glove will affect the scale number by six points or so).
 
The head weight and the distance it is from the grip are most important for balancing purposes. So bottom line is, don't get hung up on swingweight too much. If the newly shafted club feels OK, then youre in good shape; if it feels too heavy, go back to the original length or get a lighter head. Most important is to keep swinging.
 
Frank
 
Hi,
 
I am 61 and have a slow swing speed, but I think I swing better with heavier clubs. I am stronger than young people and women who hit the ball farther than I do. More swing weight gives me more feedback and 'feel, but the general advice is that I should get lighter clubs. Why? I dont think I could swing faster with a club that has no weight at all. So my idea is to get longer shafts (I am 6'3' and measure 38' from my wrists to the floor) to get more distance. I think I am strong enough to handle more swingweight without losing speed. Longer shafts will produce higher club head speed, given the same 'rotation speed,' right? What do you think?
 
I mean, nobody ever examines the cause of the slow swing speed. The solution must be different if the muscles are weak or the body is slow or the technique is poor. This is a question I have thought about for several years.
I am relatively new to golf and my handicap is still improving, slowly.
Any comments, please?
Best Regards,
Nils

 
Nils,
It is true that a heavier club head at the same speed will generate more ball speed, but you would be better off increasing your club head speed with the same head weight, which is more effective. The head will have more kinetic energy, which is what you are looking for.
 
Increasing head speed can be done by increasing the club length, but this probably hurt your accuracy. Or you can decrease club weight. This too will increase head speed and in turn ball speed, but not the way I suggest.
There are two more things you can try that will increase head speed and distance. First is to increase your range of motion through a strength/flexibility (stretching) regimen. You may be strong, but you may not be transmitting that strength efficiently to the club head. Check with your doctor before you do this, but it is a good way to improve your general quality of life as well as your distance on the course.
 
The last thing to do along with the improved range of motion is to take a lesson. This will cost a lot less than a new set of clubs and will do a lot more for you.
 
Hang in there, but be warned that you have taken up a very addictive sport so beware that you might very well get hooked.
 
Click to purchase the Frog PutterFrank 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
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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland, to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.

Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.

The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.

“Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”

Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.

But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”

Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.

“It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”

There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.

It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.

“It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”