QA Titanium Magic Wedges

By Frank ThomasApril 24, 2007, 4:00 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
Please settle an argument for us: At the same loft, same weight, same length, same swing speed, would a Titanium clubface fly the ball farther than a regular steel face? If so, what is the downside of using a Ti faced iron? Loss of control, less spin, or both?
Thank you,

Please understand that titanium is not in itself a magic material that will make everything right in your world of golf. Some have made implied claims that titanium in the cover of a golf ball will increase the distance. In fact, titanium dioxide is used in the cover of balls -- as it is in toothpaste ' because its what makes white paint white. It has no effect on performance, but such is the way of marketing.
The answer to your first question is YES. A titanium face in a wood club does have properties which allow a spring-like effect to be designed into the club by having a extremely thin face. Steel doesnt have these same properties. If the spring-like effect (COR) Coefficient of Restitution is increased to the limit of .830 then you can expect (all else being equal) about 5 mph increase in ball speed. This will equate to about 12 yards or so. But because other launch conditions are also affected this could have an even greater effect on yardage. See COR made easy by clicking here.
Titanium in irons as you have described, if used purely as a substitute for steel, will make the club head lighter, because the density of titanium is less than that of steel. If you make the head the same weight by making it thicker or bigger and all else is equal, then the balls speed off the face will be the same. Under the conditions you describe -- same loft, length, weight, and swing speed ' the distance will be the same.
Generally titanium is used in the design of iron clubs for two or more reasons:
a) to allow for a better weight distribution -- i.e., to increase the MOI (forgiveness) by moving more weight from the face to the perimeter and back of the head as well as to help move the c.g. (center of gravity) back away from the face; and
b) to design a spring-like effect in the face of the iron to increase the ball speed.
Increasing MOI is a legitimate advance that can be helpful but expensive. But trying to design spring-like effect into the face of an iron is in my opinion a waste of time. It is possible, but in order to take advantage of it you must hit the ball high in the center of the face, which is not normally the spot where most of us make contact when the ball is on the ground.
If there is a designed spring-like effect, then the ball will come off the face faster, so you will gain a little increase in distance. But so what? If you arent hitting your 6-iron far enough, why not just take out your 5-iron instead? Thats why we have different clubs in our bag.
The other reason for using titanium in irons is to market the product. This too is an expensive move for relatively little real gain.
I hope I answered your question and settled the argument. If there was any money involved and you won, buy your buddy a beer.
I carry a 3 handicap, and while I choose my equipment carefully and always based on the advice of a professional, Im struggling with what wedges should be in my bag. I currently carry three: sand, gap and pitching wedge.
Im in the market to replace all three and wonder what advice you would give for going through the process of selecting the right clubs. One area that Ive been reading about is getting the bounce right for my gap and sand wedge. This coupled with what loft is right and countless other questions has me confused. Please un-confuse me!

Dont feel bad about being confused. Your wedges are very important; these are your scoring clubs, along with a very good and forgiving putter, so making the right selection is important. Dont dump your existing wedges until you have had an opportunity to assess what you need. These may fit into the gap that manufacturers have created for all of us.
For your information, todays PW is very much part of the iron set and not merely a utility club the way it used to be. It has a loft of about 46 degrees, which was the loft of a weak 8-iron about 35 years ago. Wedges are designed for specialty and short approach shots to the green or to get out of the problem areas in which we sometimes find ourselves.
When manufacturers started to violate the unwritten standard for lofts associated with specifically numbered clubs in an effort to hype their irons (declaring that their clubs hit the ball farther than everybody elses), they started de-lofting the entire set except for the sand wedge, which has remained at about 55 degrees. The PW, which was 50 to 52 degrees in the mid 70s, now has a loft of 46 degrees or even less in some cases. This leaves a gap of nearly ten degrees between the SW and the PW. Traditionally the difference between consecutive clubs in short irons has been 4 degrees, so we can fit about two clubs between the todays so-called PW and the SW.
This change has created the need for a gap wedge (GW), which should have about 4 degrees more loft than your pitching wedige. If the PW is 46 degrees, then the GW should be about 50 degrees. This still leaves you with about 6 degrees between this GW and the SW, which may be awkward if you want to maintain a 4-degree difference between wedges (though this is only a guideline). You may also want to select a 54, and increase the SW to 58. These new GWs would be used for pitching and controlled chipping when you dont have a lot of green to work with.
I have a 48 degree PW, and so Ive added a 52-degree and a 56-degree wedge. Because the 52 is really my PW, I have an 8 degree bounce, which is a good all-round bounce for my skill level (5.0 Hcp index). When I hit a normal full shot with my 52 degree, I can count on about 85 yards of carry. I use this as my approach wedge as well as for those short shots I want to spin from the fairway or light rough.
I use the 56 with a 14-degree bounce as my SW, which is a good bounce for most Sand Wedges. I can open the face of this from soft lies or out of the rough to pop it up. This is enough bounce to enable the club to slide through the sand without digging too deeply.
I dont carry a lob wedge, because I can do most of what I need to by opening the face of my 56-degree SW. For those who want and have a place for the lob wedge, Id suggest that you not get any more than 8 degrees of bounce, and in some cases a little less unless you are also using it as an SW. I do, however suggest that you practice with your lob wedge, and I dont just mean taking practice swings during a round.
Don, check the loft on your PW and fill the gap between it and your SW evenly, making sure you have enough bounce on the wedge that will be your main weapon out of the sand. For more on selecting a wedge please click here.
Hope this helps.
Hello Frank,
I am currently playing a Cleveland Launcher Comp driver, 9.5 degrees with a Fujikura Tour Platform 26.3 X-flex shaft. I was fit 2 years ago, and at the time my launch monitor numbers were really good. I recently got refit for irons and was able to sneak in a dozen shots with my driver just to check up on the launch numbers. The average launch numbers from this fitting were as follows:
Average carry: 263 yds
Swing speed: 112 mph
Ball Speed: 159.9
Spin (RPM): 3371 & -168 side spin
Launch Angle: 13.8
Basically I hit it real high (which I like) but I get very little roll. Do you have any suggestions on what I could do as far as changing shafts and/or lofts to get the spin rate and launch angle down to somewhere around the 2,700 RPM and 12 degree range? The guy who has fit me for the last 5 years is over an hour away and charges a lot for a fitting, and the other options in my area are not that good. I really want to update my driver or get a new one, but I dont know where to go with this. I like hitting it high (it gets me over trees on the many doglegs on my home course), but a little roll would help! Thanks for your help.

Frankly speaking, you cant have everything.
You can change your launch conditions a little to get more roll by decreasing the loft of your driver. At your swing speed you should be launching the ball at about 12 degrees, and with less loft on your drive you will also reduce the spin to something closer to optimum, which is 2,200 to 2,500 for you. This will not, however, allow you to get over those trees you talk about unless you develop some trick shots.
My next suggestion is to get two drivers to cope with each of the conditions you are going to encounter. Dump one of your long irons to make room for the extra driver. I personally would prefer to add a hybrid and /or a short iron to my set than increase the number of drivers but it all depends what makes you happy.
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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Davies wins by 10 on 'best ball-striking round'

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 1:53 am

WHEATON, Ill. - Laura Davies immediately recognized the significance of having her name inscribed on the first U.S. Senior Women's Open trophy.

It might be a long time before anyone secures the title as emphatically as Davies did.

Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday's final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.

''It's great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?'' Davies said. ''This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner - obviously a proud moment for me to win that.''

The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club.

It was the English player's 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger.

''I haven't won for eight years - my last win was India, 2010,'' Davies said. ''So that's the pressure you're playing under, when you're trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.

''So this ranks highly up there. And obviously it's a USGA event. It's hard comparing tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements.''

A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster and what she said would be a sleepless night worrying about the pressure.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The World Golf Hall of Famer widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey. Davies said a par she salvaged at the 10th was another turning point.

''It wasn't the greatest hole I ever played, but I think that, to me, was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.''

Inkster shot an even-par 73. England's Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back.

''I mean, she was absolutely spectacular this week,'' Johnson said about Davies. ''I've played against her for 35 years. Yesterday was the best I have ever seen her play in her entire career.

''She just said walking down 18 it was best ball-striking round she ever had. Considering she's won 85 tournaments, that's quite some feat.''

Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth. Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.

Davies plans to play in the Women's British Open next month, and called this win a confidence-booster as she continues to compete against the younger generation. She finished tied for second at the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.

''You build up a little bit of momentum, and a golf course is a golf course,'' Davies said. ''Sometimes the field strength is a little bit different, but in your own mind if you've done something like this, 16 under for four rounds around a proper championship course, it can't do anything but fill you full of confidence.''

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Romo rallies to win American Century Championship

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:42 am

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''

Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.

Full-field scores from the American Century Championship

''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''

Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

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Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.

Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players

The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

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Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

The week was more than nostalgic. 

It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

“I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

“It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

“It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

“Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

“Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

“A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

“It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.