QA The Proper Bag for a Beginner

By Frank ThomasJuly 3, 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
Is it possible for a different shaft alone to add 15 yards to a drive?

This is the shortest question I have ever had. The answer is NO.
Now that Ive said this, let me qualify it with the following: Lets assume shaft A is your existing shaft and B is the new (super expensive 15 yard extra) shaft. If these are the same length and approximately the same flex but merely a different weight by as much as 30 grams AND you are an average to better golfer, then the answer is again NO.
If shaft A is absolutely the worst fit possible for you, which you would know if you are an average to better golfer, and your launch conditions were way off the optimum, and changing to B alone, without any change in head design or loft, there is a slight chance that you may gain 10 to 15 yards. But this is like wishing for snow in Florida.
Every new innovation seems to increase ones distance by 20 yards. But you know this phenomenon only lasts for about three to four rounds -- sometimes longer if you paid more.
Vincent, there is no doubt that the shaft is very important and you need to feel comfortable with the one you select. Most of us choose shafts that are too stiff and clubs that are too long, chasing those elusive extra yards. Confidence will help you swing better, and this will help give you some of the extra yards you are looking for ' but not all of them. To build confidence you must feel in control of you swing. Moving outside of your comfort zone trying for those few extra yards is not good for your game, whatever the shaftmaker promises.
Hope this helps,
What effect does the price tag and tape over it, and the bar code and tape over it, attached to the shaft at the hosel have on shaft performance of a new driver? And what happens when you take these off? It must change the performance considerably.

I think you will be surprised to find out how much this 'price tag' and 'bar code,' if left on the shaft after purchasing the driver, will affect the clubs performance.
First, it will have an obvious visual effect, which may or may not distract you during set up when you address the ball. Second, it will certainly remind you how much you paid for it, and this is generally a good thing. If you paid a lot, youll be reminded of how well the club should perform for you. If you got a bargain, youll feel good about yourself for that instead.
If the driver still has the tag on it, then its considered new, and new drivers always work better than old drivers do. Also, if the price on the tag is high enough, the good performance will last longer. The only down side is that if it doesn't work well and your buddies see how much you paid for it then you may feel a little silly.
I have been lead to believe that the magic most clubs have built into them lasts only as long as the price tag remains on the driver; as soon as you remove this tag the troubles start.
In all seriousness, the placebo effect is alive and well and a real phenomenon. How often when you hit a good shot with your new driver do your buddies reach out to take your club and say, 'Let me see that club, Dean.' Few times, if any, do they say, 'Good swing, Dean.'
Since you are thinking about what a beautiful thing you have in your hand, your mind doesn't do its usual thing of interfering with a potentially good swing. This generally results in an extraordinarily good shot.
From a technical point of view, rest assured that the price tag and the bar code do not weigh enough or have any other effect to alter performance. Don't let the removal of a price tag get between you and a good shot.
Hope this helps,
First, I want to thank you for your weekly golf column...... I enjoy this very much. In an old issue of GolfDigest you had a discussion about the number of clubs in the bag.You said that an average golfer could probably manage with 10 clubs. I wonder: What 10 should I have? Since Im a new golfer. Ive noticed that you can have everything in terms of statistics.My other question is therefore: What is the 'normal' way to organize the clubs in the bag?
Best regards,

Thanks for your comments. I am pleased my columns and Q&As are helpful.
Yes, I believe that most of us could perform well if not better with fewer clubs in our bag. Many of us are inconsistent in the distances we hit, especially using a variety of clubs, so there are many overlaps in how we hit consecutive clubs.
With fewer clubs, if we found ourselves torn between a choice of clubs for a particular shot, we might take out the longer club and make an easier swing instead of trying to hit the shorter club harder. Taking an easy stroke almost always produces better results than a full hard hit for two reasons: First, the easy swing will probably be a more controlled swing; and second, we generally overestimate how far we can hit the ball, so choosing the longer club is usually a better fit for our true playing profile.
For a beginner, I do think its wise to carry fewer clubs, and then fill in the gaps once you have confidence that you can hit the ball a certain distance with the ones you have. When youre just starting out, having more clubs means more you have to try to master.
My suggestion for a beginner golfer is as follows:
  • A driver with a 12 or 13 degrees of loft and no more than 44 inches in length.
  • A 5-wood with about 18 degrees of loft.
  • A 24-degree hybrid
  • Six-iron to Pitching Wedge
  • Sand Wedge
  • A good mallet-style putter
    As far as organizing these in the bag, that is entirely up to you. Most golfers keep three of four consecutive clubs in the same section of the bag to save time looking for them.
    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.

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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.”