QA The Lure of Launch Monsters

By Frank ThomasSeptember 26, 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
Our survey last week asked our readers if they put an identifying mark on their ball to avoid confusion or possible lost ball penalty.
Ninety-five percent say they do put some form of identification mark (as suggested in the rule book) on their ball.
Those who chose to make additional comments indicated that the predominant reason they marked their ball was to avoid confusion. To read some selected comments which you might find interesting and/or amusing, click here.
Pat Perez
Pat Perez has some question on the next 'Ask Frank,' Monday Oct. 1 at 11:00 p.m. ET on GC. (Wire Image)
Last year I upgraded to a 460 cc driver and loved it. I purchased a regular flex shaft and then had 1/2' cut off of it because I felt the shaft was too long. I had never gone to a launch monitor, but I was able to do so recently to try to find a ball that fits my game from the perspective of this driver (that someone will have to pry out of my cold dead hands some day). The results astounded me. According to the launch monitor, my clubhead speed at impact is between 104-106 mph.
Is a regular-flex shafted driver too flexible for my swing speed? I have looked online, and the recommendation Ive found is that I should have a stiff flexed shaft (one even recommended X-stiff, but I definitely don't want to change the characteristics of this club that much). I am reluctant to alter anything about this club, but should I consider reshafting, or demo-ing a club similar to this only in stiff flex? If I do reshaft, or replace this driver with another of the same brand, should I go and have 1/2' cut off the length as I did when I first purchased this beauty? How much of a difference will the flex of the shaft make on my shot dispersion? I am happy with the distance I get with the Regular flex shaft, and pretty happy with the shot dispersion (but I don't think anyone would complain if he could hit the ball closer to the target on a regular basis).
Another question that comes to mind is, if I move to a stiff flex shaft, will I lose distance, or possibly gain distance?
The thing that is a real pickle for me is that before I bought this driver, I couldn't stand over a ball with a driver with a lot of confidence (even if this is only in my head, since golf is 90% mental and 10% mental), so I really don't want to change that.
Thanks, and any advice you can give me would be great.

I really want to thank you for your question, because it shows how often we can be influenced by guidelines or by someone who wants to refit us to something different.
You bought your driver, shortened it, and now love it. What more can anybody ask for?
Then you decided to check your swing speed on a launch monster and found that it was higher than recommended for the shaft flex you have in the club you practically sleep with (youre the one who brought up the cold dead hands business).
My strong advice is, PLEASE DONT DO ANYTHING. You are happy with the distance and dispersion you now have. Trust your instincts and enjoy what you have going for you. I believe that when you find what fits comfortably, you are ahead of the game. Dont let guidelines or anything else affect your choice. Only you know what feels good.
Advances in technology over the last ten years or more have had a significant influence on performance, so your upgrade was appropriate, but these improvements are slowing down to a crawl. For this reason, I believe you will not have to consider getting a new driver for at least five years or more.
You have done the right thing, now have fun and dont let anybody influence you into changing the properties of what you have.
There is nothing more important than confidence in your equipment.
Sleep tight.
-- Frank
I went against the norm and recently purchased a square-headed driver and am just working with it and trying to dial it in. Is the setup for this driver different -- do you tee the ball higher or lower or just the standard way? Or are there any different variations when using this driver?

You have asked about how best to introduce yourself to your new big funny looking driver. I would suggest that you set up to it the same way you would to any driver. Do this on the practice range if you have an opportunity, and then start making adjustments if you feel there is something wrong with the ball flight.
These clubs will perform a little differently compared to a five-year-old driver, but not much differently than last years model. They will certainly look different and this may take more getting used to than any differences in feel or performance. The sound will have some effect on the way it feels. Unbelievably, most of our feel sensation is influenced by what we hear. Various tests have been performed in which a subject wearing earplugs has been surprised at how different a club or impact feels compared to when the plugs are removed. With some of these new big square drivers, you may need earplugs.
Just set it up in the usual way with the same tee height etc. and see how it performs. You should not expect any difference in distance compared to last years model when you hit it on the sweet spot. If you miss the sweet spot, you may be able to observe a difference, certainly if youre comparing it to a five or ten year old driver. There will be a slight difference in the way the square driver arrives at the impact position. The higher MOI and the rearward location of the center of gravity (c.g.) is what may cause this difference, but this will not be as obvious if youre comparing it to last years model. If you find it performing so differently that you cant get used to it, you may want to consider a change in the shaft flex. The sound will be the biggest change, however.
Dont get discouraged too soon. Only when you have hit a number of drives should you consider changing your set up or other conditions. Every new driver, be it a square driver of just another type of similar design, will feel different, just as a new car will when you first get into it and take it for its first spin around the block. The human body is very good at adapting to relatively small differences. As you get used to that new car and the way it drives to the course, you also get used to the new driver on the course. This is generally why its better to put off making small adjustments to your clubs until after the introduction phase is over, not rush to make a change right after you first shake hands.
Hope this helps you to make a new good friend.
Hello, Frank,
Everything I read in the golf magazines states that you should be measured for your clubs. However, everywhere I go the salespeople tell me that its not true and I can buy the clubs off the rack (sort of speaking).
I hope this doesnt sound sexist, but is this because I'm female? I'm 5' 3 1/2 and am told that the standard Ladies clubs that are in the store will fit me and nothing else needs to be done.
Mind you, they never watch me swing or have me try any clubs, so whats the deal?

Hi Anna,
I dont know what your handicap is, but being female is not or should not be the reason you are being told that an off the shelf set is OK for you.
After many years, manufacturers have found that the specifications for a ladies set are generally very good for most female golfers. (The same is true for men.) You will need to make sure the shaft flex is good for you; start with the most flexible shaft, and move towards a stiffer one, stopping when it feels good to you. If your handicap gets down into the single digits, then it may be time to think about tweaking your clubs as you will be hitting more consistently and appreciate subtle changes, but even then there may be no need to change from the standard set. When you get to be a scratch golfer, then you may find that some of the sets designed for men may be appropriate, with only some slight tweaks. Many of the LPGA players are playing with these sets because they swing harder and are able to hit the ball a long way.
Nobodys trying to discriminate against you. Theyre trying to save you some money by not selling you something you dont need. It would help a little more and provide you with some confidence in their recommendation if they learned more about your skill level and your particular swing.
Because I have not addressed this specific issue before, it is not an off the shelf answer. There are some very good ladies clubs out there. Happy shopping!
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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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 9:20 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.