QA Reshafting and Knock-Offs

By Frank ThomasFebruary 6, 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 was just wondering about reshafting my old favorite clubs. Is it worth it to reshaft clubs? The clubs Im speaking of are Browning 500's (blades, approximately 15 years old). I think theyre almost a collectors item and I really love and miss playing with them. I currently use Titleist 990's and I like them as well, but I just miss the feel of my old Brownings.
 
Does a club-head itself lose some of its pop and/or distance with time, or is it more the shaft? Will reshafting bring the oldies back to life, or should I just let them rest ? I would really appreciate it if you could clear up this situation for me.
 
Thank you very much,
Scott

 
Scott,
Your 15-year-old Browning 500 blades are ready for retirement. Not because they are losing their oomph, because they don't do this. Generally, its the person at the grip end of the club which has a problem with the Oomph factor as time goes by. Neither the heads nor the shafts wear out, but grooves, grips and golfers do.
 
If you like your Titleist 990s, then find a place on the mantel or a warm place in the basement for your Browning 500s. Iron technology hasn't changed much recently, but you are certainly ready for an upgrade with 15-year-old clubs -- as you have already realized, since youve done something about it.
 
Also, you should look into some hybrids that match your iron set and have the same flex shaft as the fairway woods. If you don't have a gap wedge, make sure you also get one of these -- about 50- to 52-degree loft to fill the gap between your pitching and sand wedges. Check out my guide to hybrids and wedges by visiting my Web site
 
Say something nice to your Browning 500s for me when you find a deserving place for them.
Frank
 
Hi Frank,
 
I currently play with a set of off-the-rack, three-years-old standard loft/lie irons from a reputable manufacturer. I do not carry a handicap, but I usually score in the low 80's. I played with a club pro who advised me that I would benefit from a set of properly fitted clubs, which I both understand and agree with.
 
During a static fitting, my wrist measured 37.5 inches from the ground, which indicates I need clubs that are more upright than standard. I have not experienced any real directional problems with my irons; if I do lose a shot the tendency is to hook it, which I am told is the opposite tendency for someone who is playing irons with too flat a lie angle. My divots are rather shallow but are usually even in their depth. I also realize that my posture, stance, and swing motion do have an affect on my club position as I strike the ball, and you can't see this. However, I would like to know, before spending between $700-$900 for new irons, is there that much of a performance difference between two sets of irons that are only separated by about one or two degrees in their respective lie angles? Are there any studies that put a average yardage dispersion on clubs at each lie angle if a single golfer were to hit those clubs at each lie angle? Any information you could provide will be greatly appreciated.
 
Thank you,
Mike

 
Mike,
I am so pleased that youve written to me before you laid down $700 to $900 for a new set of clubs only because of concern about the lie angle.
 
First of all, from the description of your game, divot pattern and ball flight, I don't think you have a lie problem at all. You are correct in your assumption that if your lie angle was too flat the ball would be going off to the right with a slight fade. This, you say, is not the problem; in fact, you indicate that when you lose a shot it goes to the left with a slight hook, which would suggest that the lie angle -- if this was the problem -- is too upright.
 
As I said, I don't think you have a lie angle problem, but if you want to be sure and test this, use a piece of pressure-sensitive tape on the sole of the test club (generally a 6-iron) and hit a few balls off a lie board. If the scuff mark on the tape is not in the center of the sole, and your ball flight is not straight, then you (or a local club maker) can make a lie adjustment by bending the club head. This is certainly not going to cost you $700+.
 
Iron technology has not changed very much in the last several (in fact, in the last ten or more) years, so if youre happy with the way you hit the ball with your three-year-old standard set (standards generally fit most of us) then you don't really need another set. You will not hit the ball any farther or measurably straighter with a new set unless you frequently miss the sweet spot and are playing with a set of irons (blades) designed for the elite golfer.
 
While your set is definitely not old in iron terms, you might want to look into getting one or two hybrids if you don't carry these in your bag already. Look for the same manufacturer as your irons and/or talk to your pro and get his advice on some hybrids. Dump your 3- and even 4-iron and replace them with hybrids of the same loft but no more than an inch longer than the iron it is replacing. You will have a lot more fun hitting these than the long irons.
 
I hope this will save you some money and a bunch of grief. Mike, there are some 'lies' that you can't rely on.
Frank
 
Frank,
Can you tell me how close and/or how different 'knock-off' clubs and brand-named clubs are? More importantly, for the average player/hacker, would it make more sense to go with the more economical 'knock-offs?'
 
Thank you,
Steve

 
Steve,
The answer is a resounding NO.
 
My definition of a knock-off is a club that closely resembles a popular product. In some cases it even has a name that at first sight might be confused with the product its trying to copy.
 
This is not good idea, even though they may be less expensive. I would certainly not want to fly in a plane with a knock-off engine called Roils Royse instead of the real thing ( i.e. Rolls Royce). Why then would I want to trust my drive off the tee or the rest of my golf game to a Bigg Berta or the like?
 
In some cases the knock-offs are not as blatant as the example above, or dont actually violate trademark laws, but if you want the performance offered by the real thing, you should stick with the original product. There might be a difference in the method of manufacture; there will almost certainly be a difference in quality control and consistency. By manufacturing a knockoff, the producer has demonstrated a willingness to cut corners; you have to wonder what other compromises its made in the quality of the club.
 
A better way to get prime performance at a discounted price is to go for last years model, which should still work very well. The laws of physics dont change much, and certainly not from year to year. New clubs will certainly, in most cases, have some improvements, but those differences are usually extremely minor from a performance standpoint. So go for the real thing, and if price is a factor then most of the models introduced over the previous couple of years will be a good buy.
 
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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Lopez fires flawless 63 for lead in Arkansas

By Associated PressJune 23, 2018, 12:41 am

ROGERS, Ark. – Since its first year on the LPGA Tour in 2007, the crowds at the NW Arkansas Championship have belonged to Stacy Lewis.

Another former University of Arkansas star staked her claim as the hometown favorite Friday when Gaby Lopez shot a career-low 8-under 63 to take the first-round lead at Pinnacle Country Club.

Like Lewis, the two-time winner of the tournament, Lopez starred as a three-time All-American for the Razorbacks before joining the LPGA Tour in 2016. Despite flashes of potential, Lopez had yet to join Lewis among the ranks of the world's best - missing the cut in her last two tournaments and entering this week ranked 136th in the world.

For a day, at least, the Mexican standout felt right at home atop the leaderboard in her adopted home state.

''I feel like home,'' Lopez said. ''I feel so, so comfortable out here, because I feel that everyone and every single person out here is just rooting for us.''


Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


Moriya Jutanugarn was a stroke back along with Minjee Lee, Catriona Matthew, Nasa Hataoka, Lizette Salas, Mirim Lee and Aditi Ashok. Six others finished at 6 under on a day when only 26 of the 144 players finished over par, thanks to some mid-week rain that softened the greens and calm skies throughout the day.

Jutanugarn finished second at the tournament last year and is trying to win for the second time on the LPGA Tour this year. Her younger sister, Ariya, is already a two-time winner this year and shot an opening-round 66.

Lewis, the former world No. 1 who won the event in 2007 in 2014, finished with a 66. She's expecting her first child in early November

Defending champion So Yeon Ryu, coming off a victory Sunday in Michigan, shot a 67.

Friday was Lopez's long-awaited day to standout, though, much to the delight of the pro-Arkansas crowd.

After missing the cut her last two times out, Lopez took some time off and returned home to Mexico City to rest her mind and work on her game. The work paid off with two straight birdies to open her round and a 6-under 30 on her front nine.

Lopez needed only 25 putts and finished two shots off the course record of 61, and she overcame a poor drive on the par-5 18th to finish with a par and keep her place at the top of the leaderboard. Her previous low score was a 64 last year, and she matched her career best by finishing at 8 under.

''(Rest) is a key that no one really truly understands until you're out here,'' Lopez said. ''... Sometimes resting is actually the part you've got to work on.''

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Harman rides hot putter to Travelers lead

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:28 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – There are plenty of big names gathered for the Travelers Championship, and through two rounds they’re all chasing Brian Harman.

Harman opened with a 6-under 64, then carded a 66 during Friday’s morning wave to become the only player to finish the first two rounds in double digits under par. The southpaw is currently riding a hot putter, leading the field in strokes gained: putting while rolling in 12 birdies and an eagle through his first 36 holes.

“Putted great today,” said Harman, who ranks 22nd on Tour this season in putting. “Got out of position a couple of times, but I was able to get myself good looks at it. I started hitting the ball really well coming down the stretch and made a few birdies.”


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Harman, 31, has won twice on the PGA Tour, most recently at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship. While he doesn’t have a win this year, he started his season in the fall by reeling off five straight finishes of T-8 or better to quickly install himself as one of the leaders in the season-long points race.

Now topping a leaderboard that includes the likes of Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy, he realizes that he’ll have his work cut out for him if he’s going to leave Connecticut with trophy No. 3.

“The putter has been really good so far, but I’ve been in position a lot. I’ve had a lot of good looks at it,” Harman said. “I’m just able to put a little pressure on the course right now, which is nice.”

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10-second rule costs Zach Johnson a stroke

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:06 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – Zach Johnson heads into the weekend one shot back at the Travelers Championship, but he was a matter of seconds away from being tied for the lead.

Johnson had an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 3 at TPC River Highlands, his 12th hole of the day, but left the ball hanging on the lip. As Johnson walked up to tap the ball in, it oscillated on the edge and eventually fell in without being hit.

Was it a birdie, or a par?

According to the Rules of Golf, and much to Johnson’s chagrin, the answer was a par. Players are afforded “reasonable” time to walk to the hole, and after that they are allowed to wait for 10 seconds to see if the ball drops of its own accord. After that, it either becomes holed by a player’s stroke, or falls in and leads to a one-shot penalty, resulting in the same score as if the player had hit it.

According to Mark Russell, PGA Tour vice president of rules and competitions, Johnson’s wait time until the ball fell in was between 16 and 18 seconds.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Once he putts the ball, he’s got a reasonable amount of time to reach the hole,” Russell said. “Then once he reaches the hole, he’s got 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, the ball is deemed to be at rest.”

Johnson tried to emphasize the fact that the ball was oscillating as he stood over it, and even asked rules officials if marking his ball on the edge of the hole would have yielded a “bonus 10 seconds.” But after signing for a 2-under 68 that brought him within a shot of leader Brian Harman, the veteran took the ruling in stride.

“The 10-second rule has always been there. Vague to some degree,” Johnson said. “The bottom line is I went to tap it in after 10 seconds and the ball was moving. At that point, even if the ball is moving, it’s deemed to be at rest because it’s on the lip. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just the way it is.”

While Johnson brushed off any thoughts of the golf gods conspiring against him on the lip, he was beaming with pride about an unconventional par he made on No. 17 en route to a bogey-free round. Johnson sailed his tee shot well right into the water, but after consulting his options he decided to drop on the far side of the hazard near the 16th tee box.

His subsequent approach from 234 yards rolled to within 8 feet, and he calmly drained the putt for an unexpected save.

“I got a great lie. Just opened up a 4-hybrid, and it started over the grandstands and drew in there,” Johnson said. “That’s as good of an up-and-down as I’ve witnessed, or performed.”

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Travelers becoming marquee event for star players

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 11:29 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Get lost in the throngs following the defending champ, or caught up amongst the crowds chasing the back-to-back U.S. Open winner, and it’s easy to forget where this tournament was a little more than a decade ago.

The Travelers Championship was without a sponsor, without a worthwhile field, without a consistent date and on the verge of being jettisoned to the PGA Tour Champions schedule. The glory days of the old Greater Hartford Open had come and gone, and the PGA Tour’s ever-increasing machine appeared poised to leave little old Cromwell in its wake.

The civic pride is booming in this neck of the woods. Main Street is lined with one small business after the next, and this time of year there are signs and posters popping up on every corner congratulating a member of the most recent graduating class at Cromwell High School, which sits less than two miles from the first tee at TPC River Highlands.

Having made it through a harrowing time in the event’s history, the local residents now have plenty of reason to take pride.

The Tour’s best have found this little New England hamlet, where tournament officials roll out the red carpet in every direction. They embrace the opportunity to decompress after the mind-numbing gauntlet the USGA set out for them last week, and they relish a return to a course where well-struck shots, more often than not, lead to birdies.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Ten years ago, this tournament was also held the week after the U.S. Open. Stewart Cink won, and for his efforts he received a paltry 36 world ranking points. But thanks to a recent influx of star-power, this week’s winner will pocket 58 points – the same amount Rory McIlroy won at Bay Hill, and two more than Justin Rose got at Colonial. Now at the halfway point, the leaderboard backs up the hefty allocation.

While Brian Harman leads at 10 under, the chase pack is strong enough to strike fear in the heart of even the most seasoned veteran: McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson, they of the combined eight major titles, all sit within three shots of the lead. Former world No. 1 Jason Day is one shot further back, and reigning Player of the Year Justin Thomas will start the third round inside the top 20.

Paul Casey and Bryson DeChambeau, both likely participants at the Ryder Cup this fall, are right there as well at 8 under. Casey lost a playoff here to Watson in 2015 and has come back every year since, witnessing first-hand the tournament’s growth in scope.

“It speaks volumes for what Travelers have done and how they treat everybody, and the work that Andy Bessette and his team put in to fly around the country and speak highly of this event,” Casey said. “And do things which matter, to continue to improve the event, not just for players but for spectators.”

Part of the increased field strength can be attributed to the Tour’s recent rule change, requiring players who play fewer than 25 events in a season to add a new event they haven’t played in the last four years. Another portion can be attributed to the short commute from Shinnecock Hills to TPC River Highlands, a three-hour drive and even shorter across the Long Island Sound – an added bonus the event will lose two of the next three years with West Coast U.S. Opens.

But there’s no denying the widespread appeal of an event named the Tour’s tournament of the year, players’ choice and most fan-friendly in 2017. While Spieth’s return to defend his title was assumed, both Day and McIlroy are back for another crack this year after liking what they saw.

“Anyone that I talked to could only say good things about the tournament about the golf course, how the guys are treated here, how the fans come out, and how the community always gets behind this event,” McIlroy said. “Obviously I witnessed that for the first time last year, and I really enjoyed it.”

After starting the week with all four reigning major champs and five of the top 10 players in the latest world rankings, only Masters champ Patrick Reed got sent packing following rounds of 72-67. The remaining top-flight contingent will all hit the ground running in search of more low scores Saturday, with Spieth (-4) still retaining a glimmer of hope to keep his title defense chances alive, perhaps with a 63 like he fired in the opening round.

The Tour’s schedule represents a zero-sum game. Outside of the majors and WGCs that essentially become must-play events for the game’s best, the rest of the legs of the weekly circus become victim of a 12-month version of tug-of-war. Some players like to play in the spring; others load up in the fall. Many play the week before majors, while a select group block off the week after for some R&R far away from a golf course.

But in an environment where one tournament’s ebbs can create flows for another, the Travelers has continued a steady climb up the Tour’s hierarchy. Once in jeopardy of relegation, it has found its footing and appears in the process of turning several of the Tour’s one-name stars into regular participants.

Rory. Jordan. Bubba. JT.

It’s been a long battle for tournament officials, but the proof is in the pudding. And this weekend, the reward for the people of Cromwell – population 14,000 – looks to be a star-studded show.

“All the events are incredible,” Thomas said. “But this is kind of one of those underrated ones that I think until people come and play, do they realize how great it is.”