QA Forgiving Hybrids

By Frank ThomasJune 20, 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
I started playing with stymies and no cleaning the ball on the green.
With cart trails and watering systems there have been a lot of changes in the rules, but I've never understood this: Why isnt a divot mark considered ground under repair?

Don Pooley
Don Pooley asks about trends in lengthening golf courses in 'Ask Frank,' Monday, June 25 at 11:00 p.m. ET on GC. (WireImage)
This is a question I discussed a few weeks ago and received lots of mail from some very passionate golfers! It is not an equipment question, but I am a golfer and in addition to writing many rules that relate to equipment Ive been peripherally involved in other rules-making issues. Based on this, I can assure you that the divot issue has been considered many times. I think the biggest question that needs to be answered is the same as the one the committees worry about when they consider allowing golfers to tamp down spike marks: How do you enforce it properly?
It is very hard to determine if a 'spike mark' is a spike mark. Before you know it, every blemish becomes a spike mark and golfers start tamping a path to the hole. This will not only alter the conditions you are faced with, but also take a lot of time ' and the last thing we need these days is to add time to a round of golf. When is a divot mark no longer a divot mark? At what stage in the healing process can we claim it is still a divot mark? Would it not be easier and fairer all round for everybody, if we allowed a golfer to roll the ball over anywhere on the fairway for every shot?
You can see where this would end up. I don't think it is fair to find your ball in a divot mark on the fairway or in a footprint in a bunker, but these are the breaks. The alternative in trying to make this fairer is too much of a change in the game. We play the course as we find it, and the game is not always fair.
I have decided to give you the opportunity to speak out. Click here to have your say and tell me whether you think that golfers should be given relief from a divot scar. Results will be published next week.
Love your column and insight on the equipment Q's. Refreshing to hear an expert tell people the truth as oppose to what they want to hear!! My question is this: Why are clubs shafted with graphite longer than steel ones? I guess its because they are lighter, but wouldn't the benefit of added club head speed be offset by drop in accuracy for the average golfer?

There are a couple of reasons why a graphite-shafted club is longer than a steel-shafted club.
First, because the graphite shafts are lighter than steel shafts, the swing weight of the graphite-shafted club, all else being equal, will be several points lighter than the steel-shafted version. By taking the graphite-shafted club longer, the manufacturer doesnt have to change the head weight when shafting with graphite to maintain the same swing weight.
Swing weight seems to be sacrosanct, and manufacturers like to maintain swing weight for men at about D2. If the length is increased by about 1/2 an inch, this solves the swing weight problem ' though, as you note, it can create other problems for the golfer that are more important than maintaining swing weight.
Another but secondary reason to increase the length is that it will increase the head speed slightly, which will increase distance by about 5 yards or more. Anytime you can increase distance, it is good news for sales.
Yes, you will also decrease accuracy a little whenever you increase length, but most golfers prefer a few extra yards and will give up a little accuracy for the extra distance.
We are all the same, aren't we?
How much more perimeter weighting/forgiveness can be designed into hybrid clubs than super-game-improvement irons? I understand how the lower center-of-gravity of hybrids enable them to launch a ball much higher than even a very forgiving long iron, but as ball trajectory and forgiveness are two different issues, how much more forgiving can a hybrid ultimately be?
Thank you,

Your question is about the forgiving difference between super game improvement irons and hybrids.
Forgiveness is a term used to describe the resistance to twisting of the club head at impact when you miss the sweet spot. Twisting decreases the efficiency of the impact in terms of both direction and ball speed.
To increase the 'forgiveness' and decrease the amount of twisting, manufacturers have created clubs with a higher MOI (moment of Inertia) by distributing the weight as far away from the center of gravity (c.g.) as possible. (See What is MOI?). This MOI is measured around an axis through the c.g. from the top of the club to the sole in most cases for irons.
Cavity back irons have the weight distributed toward the toe and heel, which provides toe and heel forgiveness. The sole weighting will lower the c.g., which is good, but the forgiveness up and down is not as good as it could be. To improve the up and down forgiveness, weight should be positioned both up and down away from the c.g. on the club head, increasing the MOI around a second axis through the toe and heel. Irons have a limited amount of room in which to distribute weight up and down, if at the same time you want a low c.g.
Another useful way to increase the MOI in the up and down direction is to move the c.g. backward, away from the face. To do this you need to increase the weight toward the back of the club head, as it is in wood clubs and mallet putters. Having weight in both the forward (face toe /heel) and back positions will do two things: it will allow you to lower the c.g. as in the case of the mallet putters or hybrids, and it will increase the forgiveness up and down on the face.
Drivers have a very high MOI (forgiveness) in the toe and heel direction as well as up and down because the c.g. is far back and the weight is distributed in the shell of a hollow spherical clubhead. To get the maximum spring-like effect, however, the face should be large with the c.g. close to the center.
Because fairway woods and hybrids are hit off the fairway in most cases and not off a tee, the c.g. has to be low and directly behind where the impact point is going to be on the club face, with the weight distributed as far as possible from the c.g. To do this most effectively, the shape should be more like a low profile fairway wood than a big faced spherical driver.
Because the c.g. is farther behind the face in a hybrid than in even the super game improvement irons and the weight is better distributed around the outside, it will be more forgiving in all directions than an iron club can be.
Sorry for such a drawn out answer, but I felt it necessary for you to understand the reason why, so I gave you a super-game improvement answer.
Hope this helps
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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Snedeker leads by one heading into final round

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 3:26 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Brandt Snedeker took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the weather-delayed Wyndham Championship after finishing the third round Sunday with a 2-under 68.

Snedeker was at 16-under 194 through three rounds of the final PGA Tour event of the regular season. Brian Gay and David Hearn were at 15 under, with Gay shooting a 62 and Hearn a 64.

Thirty players were on the course Saturday when play was suspended because of severe weather. After a delay of 3 hours, 23 minutes, organizers chose to hold things up until Sunday morning.

Snedeker, who shot an opening-round 59 to become just the 10th tour player to break 60, is chasing his first victory since 2016 and his second career win at this tournament.

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Olesen edges past Poulter in Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 3:10 pm

With only two weeks left in the qualification window, Thorbjorn Olesen is now in position to make his Ryder Cup debut.

Olesen finished alone in fourth place at the Nordea Masters, two shots out of a playoff between Thomas Aiken and eventual winner Paul Waring. Olesen carded four straight sub-70 rounds in Sweden, including a final-round 67 that featured three birdies over his final seven holes.

It's a tight race for the fourth and final Ryder Cup spot via the World Points list, and Olesen's showing this week will allow him to move past Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, both of whom didn't play this week, into the No. 4 slot. Olesen is now also less than 40,000 Euros behind Tommy Fleetwood to qualify via the European Points list.

The top four players from both lists on Sept. 2 will qualify for next month's matches, with captain Thomas Bjorn rounding out the roster with four selections on Sept. 4. Poulter and Casey will both have a chance to move back in front next week at The Northern Trust, while the final qualifying week will include the PGA Tour event at TPC Boston and Olesen headlining the field in his homeland at the Made in Denmark.

Even if Olesen fails to qualify automatically for Paris, the 28-year-old continues to bolster his credentials for a possible pick from his countryman, Bjorn. Olesen won the Italian Open in June, finished second at the BMW International Open three weeks later and has now compiled four top-12 finishes over his last five worldwide starts including a T-3 result at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month.

In addition to the players who fail to qualify from the Olesen-Poulter-Casey trio, other candidates for Bjorn's quartet of picks will likely include major champions Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.

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Thompson bounces back from rule violation

By Randall MellAugust 19, 2018, 2:22 am

If Lexi Thompson’s trouble in the sixth fairway brought back any painful memories Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, she shook them off in a hurry.

If the approach of another rules official amid a spirited run of brilliant play rattled her, she didn’t show it.

Thompson posted an 8-under-par 64 in the third round despite another awkward rules infraction.

Her round was impressively bogey free but not mistake free, and so her work will be a little harder Sunday chasing Lizette Salas.

After incurring a one-shot penalty for violating a local rule in effect for preferred lies, Thompson will start the final round five shots back instead of four.

She knows she’s fortunate she isn’t six back.

If a rules official hadn’t witnessed Thompson in the middle of committing the infraction, she could have been assessed an additional penalty shot for playing from the wrong spot.

Thompson got the penalty after stepping on the 10th tee and blowing her drive right, into the sixth fairway. She got it after picking up her ball over there and lifting, cleaning and placing it. She got it because she wasn’t allowed to do that in any other fairway except for the fairway of the hole she was playing.

The preferred-lie rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

The story here isn’t really the penalty.

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

It’s Thompson’s reaction to it, because she opened this week in such heartfelt fashion. After skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open to take a month-long “mental break,” Thompson revealed this week that she has been struggling emotionally in the wake of last year’s highs and lows. She opened up about how trying to “hide” her pain and show strength through it all finally became too much to bear. She needed a break. She also candidly shared how the challenges of being a prodigy who has poured herself into the game have led her to seek therapists’ help in building a life about more than golf.

That’s a lot for a 23-year-old to unload publicly.

Last year may have been the best and the worst of Thompson’s career. She said dealing with that controversial four-shot penalty that cost her the ANA Inspiration title, watching her mother battle cancer and losing a grandmother were cumulatively more difficult to deal with than she ever let on. There was also that short missed putt at year’s end that could have vaulted her to Rolex world No. 1 for the first time and led to her winning the Rolex Player of the Year title. She still won twice, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and was the Golf Writers Association of America Player of the Year.

That’s a lot of peaks and valleys for a young soul.

That’s the kind of year that can make you feel like an old soul in a hurry.

So seeing a rules official approach her on Saturday, you wondered about Thompson gathering herself so quickly. You wondered what she was thinking stepping up and ripping her next shot 215 majestic yards, about her hitting the green and saving par. You wondered about how she  bounced back to birdie 13 and 14 and finish bogey free.

With this week’s soul bearing, you wondered a lot about what rebounding like that meant to her.

We’re left to wonder from afar, though, because she wasn’t asked any of those questions by local reporters afterward. The transcript showed three brief answers to three short questions, none about the penalty or the challenge she met.

Of course, there were other questions to be asked, because local rules have been an issue this year. Did she read the local notes with the preferred lies explanation? She got hit with another local rules issue in Thailand this year, when she hit her ball near an advertising sign and moved the sign, not realizing a local rule made the sign a temporary immovable obstruction.

Of course, there were other good stories in Indy, too, with Sung Hyun Park poised to overtake Ariya Jutanugarn and return to Rolex world No. 1, with Salas holding off Park so brilliantly down the stretch Saturday.

Thompson, though, is the highest ranked American in the world. She’s the face of American women’s golf now. A face more tender, resolute and vulnerable than we have ever seen it.

Folks along the ropes watching her on the back nine in Indy Saturday got to see that better than any of us.

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Salas capitalizes on Park gaffe to take Indy lead

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 2:07 am

INDIANAPOLIS – Lizette Salas waited patiently for Sung Hyun Park to make a rare mistake Saturday.

When the South Korean mishit her approach shot into the water on the par-4 16th, Salas capitalized quickly.

She rolled in her birdie putt then watched Park make double bogey – a three-shot swing that gave Salas the lead and the momentum heading into the final round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship. Salas closed out her 8-under 64 with a birdie on No. 18 to reach 21 under – two shots ahead of Park and Amy Yang.

“I have been striking the ball really well, and I just had to stay patient,” Salas said. “And yeah, putts dropped for sure. I just really felt comfortable.”

If she keeps it up one more day, Salas could be celebrating her first tour win since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship and her second overall. With five of the next six players on the leader board ranked in the world’s top 30, Salas knows it won’t be easy.

The changing weather conditions weather might not help, either. If the forecast for mostly sunny conditions Sunday holds, the soft greens that have kept scores at near record-lows through the first three rounds could suddenly become quicker and less forgiving.

But the 29-year-old Californian seems to have the perfect touch for this course, which weaves around and inside the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

She shot three sub-par rounds and finished tied for fifth last year here. This year, she has three more sub-par rounds including a course record-tying 62 on Thursday and has been atop the leader board each of the first three days.

“I have been so confident the whole year,” Salas said. “I have a different mentality, I’m a different player. So I’m just going to go out and play as if I’m behind.”

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

Salas’ toughest challenge still could from Park, who spent most of Saturday flirting with a 54-hole scoring record.

She birdied the last four holes on the front side and made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to reach 21 under with a chance to become the sixth LPGA player to ever finish three rounds at 23 under.

The miscue at No. 16 changed everything.

She never really recovered after dropping two shots, settling for par on the final two holes for a 66 after shooting 68 and 63 the first two days. Yang finished with a 65 after going 68 and 64.

“I was a little weary with right-to-left wind,” Park said. “I think a little bit of weariness got to me, but overall, it’s OK.”

Defending champion Lexi Thompson was five shots back after completing the final nine of the second round in 2 under 34 and shooting 64 in the afternoon.

She made up ground despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty after hitting her tee shot on No. 10 into the sixth fairway and lifting the ball without authority. Rules officials had implemented the preferred lies rule because more than an inch of rain had doused the course.

Thompson still made her par on the hole though it temporarily broke her momentum after making six birdies on the front nine in her first appearance since taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion.

“Twenty-seven holes, I definitely had a few tired swings toward the end,” said Thompson, who finished each of the first two rounds with 68s. “But overall, a lot of positives. I hit it great. I made some really good putts.”

Three players – Nasa Hataoka of Japan, Jin Young Ko of South Korea and Mina Harigae – were tied at 15 under. Ko started the third round with a share of the lead but had three bogeys in a round of 70.

Now, all Salas has to do is cash in one more time.

“I’ve been knocking on the door quite a bit in the last four years, haven’t been able to get it done,” Salas said. “I’ve got good players behind me, I’ve just got to play my game.”