QA The Truth About Shafts

By Frank ThomasOctober 25, 2006, 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 letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com
 
Frank,
After reading your September 26, 2006 feature on finding the proper shaft, I'm still a little confused. I'm looking at the Titleist 905R driver, which has four standard shafts offered, Aldila NV 65, Speeder by Fujikura, UST Proforce V2 75 and graphite Design YS-6+. You stated in the feature that 90% of all golfers, which would include me, would be okay with the standard shafts offered by the manufacturer. Being a 12 handicap and currently using a R-flex shaft in the 50-60 grams level on my current Titleist 585D, I am looking for a higher launch with low spin. Some of the standard shafts above mention high or medium spin. Should I then rule out those standard shaft options?
 
Can I get a very lightweight shaft that can indeed help me with the higher launch and low spin? Should I get a higher loft, say 12 degrees rather than the 10.5 that I currently have? At 56 years old, I'm not only looking for more distance, but more carry and accuracy. I know how important finding the right shaft is and I'm sure that others have the same questions.
Jim Fujioka, HI

 
Jim,
First you are right about the four different shafts offered as available 'stock' shafts. Some of these are better suited to the better golfer and are not what I would call a 'standard shaft', so let me try to guide you through this maze of shaft options if I can.
 
The weight of the shaft will not affect the launch angle but the shaft flex and face loft will. There are high and low kick points in a shaft which will also affect ball flight and spin. The low kick point (same flex shaft) on an otherwise similar lofted head will tend to increase the launch angle and increase the spin. The high kick point will generally do the opposite, i.e. lower the flight and decrease the spin. These are relatively small increments compared to the effect of changing the overall shaft flex and club loft.
 
So if you need to change your ball trajectory and you are not a low single-digit handicap golfer, and hitting the ball consistently, the first suggestion is to work with club loft. The higher loft will launch the ball higher and add more spin.
 
Next, and seeing you are a Titleist man, I would suggest you skip the four 'stock' shaft options and go for the 'standard' Titleist 4560 which is very good for 90% of us. Look at the different flexes of the standard Titleist 4560 shafts offered. Most important is to select a flex X, S, R, or other, which will best suit your swing speed and swing type. For example; if your swing speed is about 85 - 90 then an R-flex should be your first choice. But it must also feel comfortable for you and only you can make this determination.
 
If these options don't seem to do the trick then, and only then, start a search for a specialized shaft. You may also want to try a different ball type, which has different launch conditions and acts in concert with the club head type.
 
Titleist offers 54 different shafts so the 'Techies' can do their thing.
 
The reason why so many shafts are being offered is to allow a golfer who loves to tinker or believes that, 'a different shaft will work wonders' or that 'If the pros are using them then they must work for me' to have fun doing his thing. If, however, you have a swing like the pros then you can work with the fine-tuning that some of the exotic shafts may have to offer.
 
For most of us, messing with these (sometimes very expensive) shafts may make us feel good but might not have any real effect on our game.
 
The only golfers who are in a position to really take advantage of the various options are the very good single-digit handicap golfers or those who hit the ball very consistently and need to tweak their trajectory. These golfers hit the ball regularly on the sweet spot and are looking for a ball flight, which the combination of club loft, c.g. location and overall shaft flex will not provide.
 
So, Jim, I recommend that you select a head design that looks good to you with the appropriate loft followed by the correct shaft flex X,S, or R standard shaft (in the case of Titleist the 4560 is very good).
 
As a last resort only, go to a shaft with a different flex point, weight and torsional properties. When you get to this point you had better be hitting the ball consistently otherwise the journey to fine tuning the club would have been a waste of time.
 
This doesn't mean that the final product you come up with, working all the variables, will not perform as well as a standard shaft but it does mean that the odds that it will be better than a standard shaft of the correct flex are slim and also you will spend a lot of time and money getting there.
 
Specialized customizing has done wonders for a number of people who have gone through the process and therefore believe that they have the perfect fit. Knowing that our equipment is right for us and having this belief is very important and does wonders for our game.
 
I play golf about once a week. I am about an 8 handicap. My average score is in the 70's. I hit my 45 degree PW about 125-130, with the mid 120's being ptimal. In this set I hit my 9 iron (full) in the mid 140's.
 
My driver carry is approx. 250+. I can hit it 290 on some holes, less on others depending on the hole design. My irons have stiff shafts.
 
Here is my question. I can hit my three iron and four iron. BUT, I find that after I play more and more holes, my swing gets more and more tired, and late in the day it is much, much, harder to hit those two clubs. I hit them better off the tee than the ground. This is not the case with any other club.
 
Would it be smart, to change out the Stiff flex in the three and four iron to a regular flex? Would this allow me to swing in a more controlled fashion and still benefit from the clubs?
 
Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Mike Dugger

 
Mike,
If you get tired toward the end of the round, then this probably means that some strength and flexibility exercises are in order and will probably help. You may also need to work on increasing your stamina. Walking three or more miles a day at a reasonable speed will soon get you in good shape for your golf and your general quality of life will also improve. Check with your doctor before you get into any exercise regimen.
 
The three iron is the first to go wrong when you get tired. But you may find you have a rogue club in your set, so check the frequencies. If these are not all progressing evenly throughout the set then this may be another problem. As the shafts (clubs) get shorter the frequency should increase from club to club.
 
Also you should recognize that even the pros are going to hybrids replacing the long irons. So don't feel bad about dumping the long irons for hybrids.
 
More flexible shafts in your irons as well as converting to graphite is not a bad idea but I would suggest the exercise thing as a good first step followed by the hybrid substitution for the three and four iron.
 
Frank, you're the best. I've developed a fade that's driving me crazy. I just hate that ball flight. Is my shaft too stiff or vice versa? I hit the same shot with several different drivers, all stiff, 8.5 to 9.5 loft. I just can't figure it out.
Thanks.
Henry Carnes

 
Henry,
The slice can be due to a couple of things. Yes, one reason could be the stiff shaft but generally this would result in more of a push fade than a bad slice. Second and most probably the cause is in your swing: I would get a good teacher to look at your swing and correct the error if this is the cause, which should be reasonably evident.
 
A more flexible shaft will tend to hit the ball a little higher and farther left than a stiff shaft which will tend to hit the ball a little lower and right. A bad slice is almost always a swing that has gone wrong so find a good teacher to look at what you are doing and make the corrections if this is the problem. It will generally be a lot less expensive than messing with equipment to correct the flaw.
 
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 letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com
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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.