QA Face Angles and Hybrids

By Frank ThomasJanuary 10, 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

I am a 16 index. With a few exceptions, drivers for the average R-Flex guy like me come manufactured with a face closed about 2.5 degrees to 'help' us keep from slicing. Given this closed face angle, is it still possible to work the ball (especially a power fade) despite whats built into the club head? If the closed face angle is hard to fade (& draw?), would I be better off buying a driver that has a neutral (i.e. square) face angle, so I can work the ball better? I understand the pros use drivers with the face open about 0.5 degrees.

Best regards,

The most common bad shot for the higher handicap and beginner golfer is a slice, which results from a bad swing. As you note, many manufacturers try to help these golfers hit straighter shots by providing a band-aid in the form of a closed-face driver. This doesnt really do the golfer any favors, since it locks him/her into this swing when the proper solution is to correct the swing in the first place.

If, for instance, a golfer with a bad slice buys a 3-degree closed (or more) driver and starts hitting the ball a little straighter with his bad swing, he may be happy until he makes a good swing and hits the ball dead left. Or he may decide to see a professional and take a lesson that will most likely correct his ailment, allowing him to get rid of the slice and hit the ball more efficiently and with more distance. Using a 3-degree closed face will then result in a duck hook. So hell have to trade in the old driver if he can, or be out $450 or whatever he paid for the band-aid driver, and then get a new one with a neutral face (+/- one degree).

You are quite right in your assumption that you should get a neutral face driver if you want to fade or draw the ball and are able to hit a straight shot at will.

I dont believe that any golfer should limit his potential by buying a band'aid closed face driver when what they really need is a lesson that will probably cost a fifth as much as that new club. He should then find a driver that will get the ball in the air at the best angle for his swing speed. This will be about 13 to 14 degrees for a swing speed less than 85 mph.

If the manufacturer of your choice doesnt offer a neutral face, then get onto the internet and find one who does. Most of the bigger drivers will perform similarly, so get the one with the neutral face and the shaft flex that best suits you. For swing speeds in the 85 mph range a regular flex shaft is a good first choice. For more on swing speeds and optimum launch conditions click here.

Stan, stick to your neutral-faced guns.

My question relates to ball trajectory. I recently switched to a 10.5 degree TaylorMade R5 driver with an Aldila stiff mid-flex shaft with a firm tip. I hoped to find the promised land of increased distance. Now my ball trajectory has increased to high-mid to low-high. The ball carries in the neighborhood of 240 to 260 but has little roll.

To reduce spin off the driver and add some roll to my drives, would I be better off changing my drivers current shaft to a high-flex stiff shaft to lower the trajectory, or go to a 9-degree loft with a regular mid/low flex point with mid-firm tip?

I am approximately 6 feet tall, have a swing speed of 90 to 100 mph with a smooth swing tempo and half to three-quarter backswing, and play to a single-digit handicap. I am 51 years and have been playing for 30 years.


The first thing I would like to say is that 240 to 260 yards carry is very good for a 90 to 100 mph swing speed. This is something that most of us would envy. If you are not happy with the trajectory (i.e., its too high) and want more roll, then first try to tee the ball a little lower. This will increase the spin rate, which is not good, but will also decrease the launch angle. If the spin rate is not too high, then the trajectory will be lower and the angle of descent into the fairway will be less and you will get more roll. The carry distance will also be reduced somewhat, but this is to be expected. The next thing to try is the 9-degree loft if youre happy with the shaft you presently have. A stiffer shaft will lower the trajectory a little, but I doubt the difference will be worth losing the good feel you have with your current shaft.

The average roll on reasonably firm, flat fairways is about 25 yards, so if youre playing on soft fairways you shouldnt change a thing; you truly are doing about as well as you can given your club head speed.
Good luck and keep it flying.

After reading this weeks question about hybrids, I had a question: Are hybrids irons or woods? Are there hybrid irons and hybrid woods? Could you explain the difference?


A hybrid is a cross between a wood and an iron. They are starting to look more like fairway woods, but theyre still in a category by themselves. They are thicker from the face to the back than an iron, which positions the center of gravity farther back from the face. This does two things: it increases the MOI (Moment of Inertia) about the vertical axis and also on the horizontal toe-heel axis, though not to the same extent as a wood. This gives the hybrid wood-like forgiveness properties that are better than the equivalent iron, with a lower trajectory than a wood but still higher than the iron.

A hybrid is generally an inch or two shorter than the similarly-lofted wood, but to 1 inch longer than the same-lofted iron. This gives you more control than you would have with the wood, but it is still more forgiving than the iron it replaces.

I believe that we will soon start seeing a morphing/merging of hybrids and fairway-woods, as hybrids are still looking for an acceptable place in a real set of clubs and shouldnt be considered just utility clubs. Acceptance into an established family is not easy, but give the hybrids some time to adjust and snuggle in, and then all will be fine.

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
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Romo rallies to win American Century Championship

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:42 am

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''

Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.

Full-field scores from the American Century Championship

''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''

Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

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Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.

Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players

The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

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Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

The week was more than nostalgic. 

It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

“I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

“It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

“It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

“Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

“Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

“A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

“It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.

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Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.