QA Rules for Different Players

By Frank ThomasNovember 14, 2007, 5:00 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
Has the time come for two sets of rules: one for us, the common folk of golf, and another for the elite members of the PGA Tour?
-- Jim

I truly thank you for the question, which has been considered by many.I think we are all feeling frustrated with the way that we, 99+% of the golfing population, are being affected by some of the very questionable recent proposals by the USGA to limit equipment performance.This frustration leads to a seemingly obvious solution: bifurcate the rules.
I feel very strongly about this, as do the USGA and R&A in their recent Statement of Principles:
The R&A and the USGA continue to believe that the retention of a single set of rules for all players of the game, irrespective of ability, is one of golf's greatest strengths.
Golf is unique in that amateurs and professionals play on the same course at the same time with and against each other. In excess of 8,000 golfers enter the qualifying stages of the U.S. Open; at what point, when qualifying for an elite competition, would the rules switch from the everyday set to the elite set? If an elite ball is introduced, when are you required to use it? State and Local qualifying for the Championship? State events? What about the rounds at ones club where golfers establish the handicap that is a part of their qualifications?
Other than the practical side of this, about 35 million people around the world play golf, and its integrity has its foundation in a reasonably good understanding of and adherence to a single set of rules. We admire and aspire to be like the very elite and best of us. As spectators, we fantasize that we could be what we see, if we only had the time ' and this feeling is reinforced by some of our outstanding feats on our own courses every now and again. If there were two sets of equipment rules, this relationship would crumble and our extraordinary feats would feel less meaningful.
I have proposed a ten club rule for the elite golfers in high-level tournament play (.001% of the golfing population), which could serve to rein them in (if this is really necessary) and make them more effectively exhibit their wonderful skills. This proposal is a form of bifurcation of the rules, but not of the all-important equipment rules that affect all of us, and therefore it would not sever the relationship we have with our superstar heroes.
The real issue, however, is that all of the recently adopted equipment rules or proposals stem from a belief that the performance of the elite is creating a problem. Without evidence that the game will be better after the adoption of such proposed changes ' better for all of us -- we must rightfully question the logic and rationale for the potential disruption, and ask whom the guardians are truly representing.
The specific concern is distance at the Tour level, and the governing bodies in their Statement of Principles go on to outline some factors that contribute to improved distance, including improved athleticism, coaching, conditioning, equipment, etc.They then state:
The R&A and the USGA will consider all of these factors contributing to distance on a regular basis. Should such a situation of meaningful increases in distances arise, the R&A and the USGA would feel it immediately necessary to seek ways of protecting the game.
This means that 99% of golfers are not being considered in the ruling bodies decisions. My concern is that if we (most golfers) are affected by equipment restrictions to relieve a problem that exists at the elite level only, then we may well choose not to follow those restrictions. This would not be good for golf.
Jim, stay on the course. I believe the USGA will soon turn the corner and do what is in the best interests of the game. I do not believe it is necessary to divide the rules between the professionals and the rest of us. One set of rules has been good enough for over a hundred years. It still is today.
-- Frank
Hello Frank,
I started playing golf very recently, as the country I moved from did not have many facilities for golf. I'm in the process of buying my first set of golf, clubs, but I'm a bit confused when it comes to the fairway woods and the hybrids. Frank, what is the difference between them, and which one should I go for? Kindly help.
-- David

The hybrid club is now close to being perfected and it definitely has a place in every serious golfers bag. It works differently than a fairway wood because it has an MOI (Moment of Inertia) that is slightly less, its center of gravity (c.g.) is positioned low and to the rear but not as far back as on the fairway wood, and in most cases it is much shorter than the comparable fairway wood -- about 2 to 2.5 inches shorter.
Because of these differences, the Hybrid will hit the ball with a lower trajectory than the fairway wood, and will be more accurate because of the difference in the length of the club, making it easier to control but shorter in distance than a fairway wood of similar loft.
As compared to an iron, the hybrid of similar loft is more forgiving because of its higher MOI and rearward positioned and low c.g. It will hit the ball a little higher and farther than an iron with the same loft. It is also about to 1 inch longer than the iron.
The shaft flex of a hybrid should be the same as the iron it is replacing. If you select a graphite shaft (not a bad choice) be aware that with every graphite shaft the length is increased by 1/2 inch compared to its steel counterpart, to compensate for the lighter shaft weight and to maintain the same swing weight.
The bottom line is that every serious golfer should have at least one hybrid in his bag. To make room for it (or them) you will need to drop one of your fairway woods (preferably the 5- or 7-wood) and/or the 3 and 4 iron. The 4-hybrid (22 to 24 degree loft, depending on the make) will not allow you to hit that low-under-the-branches shot as well as the regular 4-iron, so it may be a good idea to keep this club in the bag for when you need a low iron trajectory.
If you are going to get two hybrids and presently have a 3-iron, then go for the 21 and 24 degree and dump the 3-iron and a wood. In general, hybrids augment your collection of fairway woods and irons; they dont replace the woods completely. Most golfers who love their hybrids use them to substitute for hard-to-hit long irons.
Hope this will help in your selection.
-- Frank
Dear Frank:
It has taken me 74 years to figure out that one's physical fitness is probably the single most important factor in being able to play a decent round of golf. After bypass surgery and five years of fitness-and-strength training I play better now than I did when I was a younger man. Having said that, equipment has played a big part of the improvement. I have taken advantage of the technology over the years and recently traded in my old forged blades for a set of Adams senior clubs with a 4- and 5-hybrid and beefed up 6 through PW. I have had a nagging question over the years, however, about shaft length because I am 5' 6' and getting shorter every year it seems. Are off the rack clubs ok for the shorter person, or do they require adjustment? Will choking up accomplish the same thing? Thanks. I enjoy reading your insight into the game.

When you were younger, you probably didnt need to go out of your way to become physically fit. As we move through life and our normal athletic activities change and we slow down, thats the time when we need to go out of our way to do something extra to keep the body in shape. Experiments show that a three-month stretching and strengthening regimen (not too vigorous) can in many cases increase your range of motion by making you more flexible and a little stronger, increasing your club head speed by about 5 mph. This is more than any new driver can give you in improved distance -- about 15 extra yards, all else remaining the same.
As far as club length is concerned, a standard length set should be fine for your stature, but as your swing speed decreases you should consider using more flexible and even lighter-weight shafts in your irons.
Joe, well done on the fitness/strength thing, but do keep up with technology changes. This does not mean change your clubs every year, but every five years or so is a good rule of thumb. And get a good putter and take a lesson.
Next time youre in Orlando, come and visit our Frankly Frog Putting Studio. I know you will shave stokes from your score and have more fun on the greens. See for details.
Hope this helps
-- Frank
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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Lincicome grouped with two rookies in Barbasol

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 9:54 pm

Brittany Lincicome will tee it up with a pair of rookies when she makes her first start in a PGA Tour event Thursday at the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, is scheduled to go off the 10th tee at 9:59 a.m. ET in the first round with Sam Ryder, 28, and Conrad Shindler, 29. They’re off the first tee Friday at 2:59 p.m. ET

Lincicome will become just the sixth woman to play in a PGA Tour event, joining Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie.

“The first three or four holes, I’ll be a nervous wreck, for sure,” Linicome said.



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Lincicome thrilled by reception from male pros

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 8:31 pm

Brittany Lincicome wondered how PGA Tour pros would greet her when she arrived to play the Barbasol Championship this week.

She wondered if there would be resentment.

She also wondered how fans at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky., would receive her, and if a social media mob would take up pitchforks.

“I can’t stop smiling,” Lincicome said Tuesday after her first practice round upon arriving. “Everyone has been coming up to me and wishing me luck. That means a lot.”

PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, husband of LPGA pro Gerina Piller, welcomed her immediately.

Other pros sought her out on the practice putting green.

She said she was also welcomed joining pros at a table in player dining.

Fans have been stopping her for autographs.

“It has been an awesome reception,” said Dewald Gouws, her husband, a former long-drive competitor. “I think it’s put her much more at ease, seeing the reception she is getting. There’s a lot of mutual respect.”

Lincicome, 32, wasn’t sure if she would be playing a practice round alone Tuesday morning, but when she made her way to the first tee, Domenico Geminiani was there, just about to go off.

He waved Lincicome over.

“He said, `Hey, Brittany, do you want to join me?’” Gouws said. “Come to find out, Dom’s a pretty cool guy.”

Geminiani made it into the field as a Monday qualifier.

“The two of us were both trying to figure things out together,” Lincicome said.

Keene Trace will play to 7,328 yards on the scorecard. That’s more than 800 yards longer than Highland Meadows, where Lincicome finished second at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic last weekend. Keene Trace was playing even longer than its listed yardage Tuesday, with recent rains softening it.

Nicknamed “Bam Bam,” Lincicome is one of the longest hitters in the women’s game. Her 269.5 yard average drive is 10th in the LPGA ranks. It would likely be dead last on the PGA Tour, where Brian Stuard (278.2) is the last player on the stats list at No. 201.

“I think if I keep it in the fairway, I’ll be all right,” Lincicome said.

Lincicome is an eight-time LPGA winner, with two major championships among those titles. She is just the sixth woman to compete in a PGA Tour event, the first in a decade, since Michelle Wie played the Reno-Tahoe Open, the last of her eight starts against the men.

Lincicome will join Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Wie in the elite ranks.

Zaharias, by the way, is the only woman to make a 36-hole cut in PGA Tour history, making it at the 1945 L.A. Open before missing a 54-hole cut on the weekend.

What are Lincicome’s expectations?

She would love to make the cut, but . . .

“Just going to roll with it and see what happens,” she said. “This is once in a lifetime, probably a one-and-done opportunity. I’m just going to enjoy it.”

Lincicome grew up playing for the boys’ golf team at Seminole High on the west coast of Florida. She won a couple city championships.

“I always thought it would be cool to compete against the guys on the PGA Tour,” Lincicome said. “I tend to play more with the guys than women at home. I never would have gone out and told my agent, `Let’s go try to play in a PGA Tour event,’ but when Tom Murray called with this opportunity, I was really blown away and excited by it. I never in a million years thought I would have this opportunity.”

Tom Murray, the president of Perio, the parent company of Barbasol and Pure Silk, invited Lincicome to accept one of the tournament’s sponsor exemptions. Lincicome represents Pure Silk.

Lincicome said her desire to play a PGA Tour event is all about satisfying her curiosity, wanting to know how she would stack up at this level. She also wants to see if the experience can help take her to the next level in the women’s game.

As a girl growing up, she played Little League with the boys, instead of softball with the girls. She said playing the boys in golf at Seminole High helped her get where she is today.

“The guys were better, and it pushed me to want to be better,” Lincicome said. “I think playing with the guys [on the PGA Tour], I will learn something to take to LPGA events, and it will help my game, for sure.”

Lincicome has been pleased that her fellow LPGA pros are so supportive. LPGA winner Kris Tamulis is flying into Kentucky as moral support. Other LPGA pros may also be coming in to support her.

The warm fan reception Lincicome is already getting at Keene Trace matters, too.

“She’s already picked up some new fans this week, and hopefully she will pick up some more,” Gouws said. “I don’t think she’s putting too much expectation on herself. I think she really does just want to have fun.”

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Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.

Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.

"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”

Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.

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Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

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Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”