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QA Sharpening Grooves

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

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Every week we will select the best question and Frank will send one lucky golfer a personally signed copy of 'Just Hit It'. Last week's lucky winner was Gary, with his question on length and loft.
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Loved your answer to Mark last week about his Ping Eye 2s. Also liked the tie-in to the cheating that goes on with loft angles on more modern iron sets.
I have a question about whether it is legal to sharpen the square grooves with a square groove tool on my Eye 2s. I have been doing it and really dont compete in anything where that kind of a rule would make any difference, but I am curious none-the-less. The square groove tool does work as I really rip curlie-Qs off the covers of soft balls with my PW. Also am I being foolish sticking with my Eye 2s even though I have over $2000 credit on the books at my Country Club pro-shop? Plus I think I like being different.

Thanks for your kind comments.
When it comes to reworking your grooves with a square groove tool, I would be careful. This will very likely make the grooves non-conforming by increasing the size of the groove. The groove pitch (grooves per inch) will not change but with wider grooves, the ratio of land area between grooves, to groove width to will most likely be reduced to less than the required minimum of 3:1. This will make them non-conforming with the rules of golf. You say you, dont compete in anything where that kind of a rule would make any difference which is not true because the rules apply even if you are playing by yourself.
If you dont play by the rules this is OK, but you do need to have some rules to lend order to your game and should adopt these every time you play. If you compete for a beer or something else against your buddies then you must let them know what your rules (Bruces Rules) are so they too can play by your rules. For most of us it is too cumbersome to develop a new set of rules so we find is easier to adopt those drawn up by the USGA & R&A in Scotland. I must agree there are some rules, which dont seem to make intuitive sense and need to be changed. If a lot of us agree that a particular rule needs modification then we should lobby to get it changed rather than intentionally violate it.
I think, if you have been reading my columns you know that I am on your side and trying to stop the USGA from making meaningless and silly rules which will affect all of us, because it is trying to solve a perceived problem created by less than .001% of the golfing population i.e. some members of the PGA Tour. The game is hard enough and we need all the help we can get.

With regard to help, the fact that you are tearing the cover off your ball with your sharpened grooves does not mean you are getting the maximum spin available to you. The cover actually needs to stay intact, like an elastic rubber band and allowed to fully recover once it has been stretched. If the cover rips after it has been stretched, it would be like cutting a rubber band when it is fully stretched. It will lose its potential energy to recover and spin the ball to it maximum. Also as the ball is leaving the club face it wants the very least shear resistance as possible allowing it to slide off the face. The sharp grooves will reduce the potential spin by holding it back while the cover is stuck in the grooves on the face. There is a fine line between what groove configuration is most efficient under certain conditions but really sharp groove are not the best.
The second thing, which you must consider is that feathers on the surface of the ball ' created by the sharp grooves --will affect the aerodynamics significantly and you will lose distance and accuracy. So this ball should find a place in your shag bag and this can become very expensive if you use premium balls.
Lastly, you are not foolish by sticking with you PING Eye-2s especially if you have made good friends with them, have a good level of confidence and they are performing well for you. These are the classic clubs, which started the cavity-back high MOI revolution. Having said this I must admit that even though iron technology hasnt moved as rapidly as wood (driver) technology, because there is not much room to move, things have changed and many of the good concepts have been refined. So even if you love your Eye-2s at least look around, especially because the grooves on your Eye-2s are soon going to be over worked.
By the way, I discuss these and many such issues in my book Just Hit It which is now available... see to order.
I know you will have a lot of fun reading it.
Enjoy the book and your game.
-- Frank
Hi Frank, I am a 55 year old golfer who has been playing golf for over 40 years, I now have a set of Callaway X-14 irons with 5.0 Rifle shafts. I am thinking of changing to either the Callaway X-20's or the new Ping G10's. I am a 10 handicap player. Will I see any changes? I enjoy reading you weekly. Thanks.


If you think it is time to change then this means one of two things:
a) You are not very happy with your present set and have lost confidence in the way they perform and/or
b) You are caught up in the net of hype and marketing directed at those of us who are gullible and believe in magic -- most of us. This belief in magic is augmented by implications, which imply that last years model doesnt work as well anymore because the latest new model has wonderful enhancements which will significantly improve your performance.
If it is a) then yes, I think you should start looking around. I dont think it will be the new head which will affect performance as much as a better fitted shaft and the correct lie angle. A new set will certainly improve your outlook and give you a new sense confidence. The new clubs, after all, havent hit any bad shots so why wouldnt you trust them especially if you paid a lot for them.
If it is b) then be careful because there are few technical improvements in irons, which will significantly enhance your performance. You may be better off reconfiguring your set by dumping the long irons and including a couple of hybrids and check to see if you have the right loft, lie and bounce on your wedges. These are your scoring clubs.
If you are going to change sets then I can say that the X-20s are a good set of clubs as are the Ping G-10s which you have indicated you are looking at. But make sure you dont get a 2-iron or 3- iron in the set. They will sit in your bag, feel very lonely, and only take up valuable space needed for you hybrids.
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As a golf instructor and a club fitter, I have occasionally been asked by parents of aspiring teenagers to do whatever it takes to take their son/daughter through the High School, College, and Pro levels of golf instruction. The world now knows the adverse results of what can happen when a very good teenager golfer is given financial and notoriety options based on their early performance. I want to protect my students, but also give them sage advice. Since you have been the source of golf information that I can trust and promote, I am inquiring if you have recommendations on what to read, who to consult with, and how to proceed with this 6-8 year step by step project that keeps knocking on my door.
I look forward to your sage advice.


Thanks for the kind comments.
At our Putting Studio in Orlando we have experienced similar problems. Unfortunately, many parents are trying live out a fantasy through their children. This, in most cases, is very innocent and they may not even know the long term effect. Many truly believe pushing their children is in the childs very best interests. This is sometimes very destructive.
A very good reference guide to help both parents and children keep things in perspective is Golf Parent for the Future, which can be found on Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson -- the authors -- are good friends of ours and have done a super job in helping parents in this respect.
Next time you are in Orlando come in and visit our Putting Studio at ChampionsGate. You can learn more about the programs we offer at the Studio by clicking here.
-- Frank
Frank 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
Frank Thomas