QA Tweaking for the New Year

By Frank ThomasDecember 27, 2006, 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
What is the difference between a graphite iron shaft and a graphite hybrid shaft that are both .370 tip?
Why can't I use a 38' iron shaft instead of a 38' hybrid shaft if I am making a hybrid 23* club?
Is it just marketing hype, or is there a real difference? Thanks, Woodman

This depends on the flex pattern, not necessarily the tip diameter.
From the shaft point of view, hybrids are still in the experimental stage. The fairway wood shaft is generally smaller at the tip than an iron shaft, and its also more flexible than the iron shaft. Neither the iron shaft (too stiff) nor the fairway wood shaft (too flexible) seems to be just right for the hybrids. As a result, a number of manufacturers are turning to a special hybrid shaft for the best results. (As an aside, woods and irons are distinguished in the rules by their shapes, not by material, so I prefer to call these clubs simply woods and irons rather than metalwoods etc., so as not to confuse the issue further.)
The hybrid club is, in most cases, 1 inch longer than the similarly-lofted iron club it replaces, and will get the ball in the air a little better thanks to its slightly more flexible shaft than the irons and its rearward-positioned c.g. (center of gravity). The hybrid head in most cases also has a higher MOI (moment of inertia) than the iron it is replacing and thus be more forgiving. The shaft difference is not just marketing hype, but has a real effect on the performance of the club.
The difference between the two shafts you are considering is probably in the flex pattern even though they have the same tip diameter. Graphite seems to be the shaft material most manufacturers are leaning toward for hybrids.
The modern hybrid (even though it was originally introduced in a slightly different form many years ago) is probably the best innovation in the game for some time.
Hope this helps.

Hi Frank,
I just turned 60 and am about a 15 handicap. Should I move to the seniors tees? My game was never good enough for the back tees, but I always played the tee box closest to the 6500 yardage. If I'm driving the ball into the fairway, what iron should I be hitting into the green? I feel that if Im hitting a sand wedge into the green I should be playing from a tee box further back.
Frank, love your stuff. - Joe from Vegas

I would recommend you go to the senior tees -- but dont think of them as being senior tees, just more enjoyable tees.
Our research indicates that the average golfer prefers to play from tees at about 6,200 yards. This is a very good length that provides the most appropriate challenge to golfers shooting between 90 and 95 on longer courses.
Your question about which iron you should be hitting into the green is a tough one because it doesnt have any one answer. I do believe you should use a set of tees that gives you a chance to score par on every hole you play. It may not be easy, but it should be possible.
If you drive the ball a maximum of 200 yards and hit your three-wood a maximum of 185 yards, then a par four of more than 400 will be tough, unless you are outstanding at the up and down shots. If this is the case for you, then move forward and explain to your fellow golfers -- assuming they have similar handicaps -- that you would rather have a good enjoyable day on the course than a bruised ego. They might try it too, and be relieved that someone had the courage to step forward and make the game more fun.
It is sometimes hard to accept the fact that we dont hit the ball as far as we think we do. In general, golfers overestimate the distance we drive the ball by 30 to 40 yards. This information comes from our study and survey of more than 18,000 golfers.
Move up a set of tees, and youll find that theres still plenty of challenge, but a bit less strain on your body and mind. Youll probably enjoy the game more, and play better; quicker, too.

Thanks for your comments, and Im glad you are enjoying my stuff. Have fun on the course, Joe.

About two months ago I broke my Callaway X-14 pitching wedge where the shaft met the hosel. I sent it to Callaway and asked to have the club fitted to 1 degree flat. Previously I had my clubs fitted at an Academy in Orlando and was told my clubs were fitted at 1 degree flat. I received my wedge back, but for some reason I cannot hit it very well. That wedge was my favorite and most deadly club. I have lost confidence in it, and I dread using it instead of using my 9-iron. What can I do or should I do? All I want is my old club back.
Crying for help!

Hi Gary,
Unfortunately, because you broke the shaft in your wedge, and we cant fix broken shafts, you cant have the old club back. We can, however, try to assemble a new wedge using the old head to reproduce the club that gave you so much confidence before the accident.
First, I would suggest you check the lie angle of the club you have in hand, to make sure that it is not TWO degrees flat. The original fitting was a one-degree adjustment in the neck of the club, not the shaft; when you indicated to Callaway that you wanted it one degree flat, they may have reasonably interpreted that you wanted them to add a degree. The effect of this flatter lie angle will be that the ball goes right of the target even though you think you are lined up properly.
Next I would check the shaft. Make sure it is similar to the original shaft flex and model that was in the club you broke. If you have the original broken shaft and it has some identifying marks on it, check these and compare them to the shaft in the repaired club.
If the lie angle is correct, then the differences you are experiencing must be in the shaft. Also make sure the swing weight and the grip size are the same. These can make a little difference, but the change should not be so drastic as to have you lose confidence in your trusty wedge.
If everything checks out ' and from your description, it sounds like something is indeed wrong ' then my only advice is to drown her and start over with a new club that hasnt had an evil spell placed on it. Or perhaps take her to the range for a few sessions to build back your confidence. Confidence is a magical thing, and a little practice helps it grow.

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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Casey in line to make Ryder Cup after Travelers T-2

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:30 am

Despite coughing up a four-shot lead at the Travelers Championship, England's Paul Casey moved into a qualifying position to make his return to the Ryder Cup this fall in Paris.

Casey struggled Sunday at TPC River Highlands, shooting a 72 as Bubba Watson raced to victory with a 63. But a four-way share of second place was still good enough to lift Casey into fourth place among those not already qualified on the World Points list, with the top four Europeans from that list in August punching their tickets to Le Golf National.

Casey has played in three Ryder Cups before, but none since 2008. After renouncing his European Tour membership a few years ago, he reinstated it for the 2018 season in order to be eligible to return to the biennial matches.

Here's a look at the updated standings for Europe, with the top four players from each points list ultimately joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari


5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Matthew Fitzpatrick

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Paul Casey


5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

6. Ian Poulter

On the American side of the ledger, Watson jumped two spots to fifth with his third win of the year and seemingly locked up his spot on the squad, while Bryson DeChambeau moved inside the top eight with a top-10 finish in Connecticut.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship earning automatic bids:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Bryson DeChambeau


9. Webb Simpson

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

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Watson cracks top 15 in world with Travelers win

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:15 am

After his third win in the last five months, Bubba Watson is back on the cusp of the upper echelon in the world rankings.

Watson started the year ranked No. 89 in the world, but after a three-shot victory at the Travelers Championship the southpaw moved up seven spots to No. 13 in the latest rankings. It marks his best position since a missed cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February 2017.

Watson stayed one spot behind Paul Casey, who was one of four runners-up in Connecticut and rose one position to 12th as a result. Beau Hossler's T-2 finish helped him jump 24 spots to No. 64, while J.B. Holmes went from 93rd to 75th with the same result. Stewart Cink, who grabbed a share of second with a final-round 62, went from No. 149 to No. 95 and is back inside the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time since September 2011.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

Matt Wallace, who won the BMW International Open on the European Tour, went from 91st to 66th.

There was only one change among the top 10 in the rankings, as an idle Jon Rahm moved past Jordan Spieth at No. 5 despite Spieth's T-42 finish at TPC River Highlands. At No. 6, Spieth is at his lowest point in the rankings since before last summer's victories at Travelers and The Open.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Rahm. Spieth slid to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Poised to return to competition this week at the Quicken Loans National, Tiger Woods fell three spots to No. 82 in the latest rankings.

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After Further Review: Spieth needs a break

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 1:11 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Jordan Spieth's much-needed break ...

Jordan Spieth is heading for a break, and that’s probably a good thing.

Spieth just wrapped a run of six events in seven weeks that featured largely underwhelming results. A third-place finish at the Masters that stemmed from a nearly-historic final round deflects attention away from the fact that Spieth has yet to enter a final round this year less than six shots off the lead.

A return to his home state didn’t work, nor did a fight against par at Shinnecock or a title defense outside Hartford where everything went so well a year ago. His putting woes appear to have bottomed out, as Spieth finished 21st in putting at Travelers, but now the alignment issue that plagued his putting appears to have bled into other parts of his game.

So heading into another title defense next month at Carnoustie, Spieth plans to take some time off and re-evaluate. Given how fast things turned around last summer, that might prove to be just what he needs. - Will Gray

On the difference between this week and last week ...

There wasn’t a single outraged tweet, not a lone voice of descent on social media following Bubba Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, a 17-under par masterpiece that included a closing loop of 30.

Nobody declared that golf was broken, no one proclaimed the royal and ancient game a victim of technology and the age of uber athletes. The only response was appreciation for what Watson, a bomber in the truest form, was able to accomplish.

At 6,840 yards, TPC River Highlands was built for fun, not speed. Without wild weather or ill-advised hole locations and greens baked to extinction, this is what the best players in the game do, and yet no one seemed outraged. Weird. - Rex Hoggard

On the emergence of another LPGA phenom ...

Add another young star to the favorites list heading to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago next week.

Nasa Hataoka, the 19-year-old Japanese standout who needed her rookie season last year to acclimate to the LPGA, broke through for her first LPGA title Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

This wasn’t a surprise to LPGA followers. Hataoka won the Japan Women’s Open when she was 17, the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour, and she has been trending up this year.

Her tie for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago was her fourth consecutive top-10 finish. She won going away in Arkansas, beating a deep field that included the top nine in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She outplayed world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson on Sunday. - Randall Mell

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Bubba waiting for Furyk's text about Ryder Cup

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:39 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – After winning his third PGA Tour title in the span of five months, Bubba Watson is now waiting by his phone.

Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, his third at TPC River Highlands since 2010, accompanies recent victories at both the Genesis Open and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from earlier this year. It also moved the southpaw from No. 7 to No. 5 in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically.

After serving as an assistant captain at Hazeltine despite ranking No. 7 in the world at the time, Watson made it clear that he hopes to have removed any doubt about returning to the role of player when the biennial matches head to Paris this fall.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“It still says in my phone that (U.S. captain) Jim (Furyk) hasn’t texted me yet. So I’d really like for him to say I’m going to pick you no matter what,” Watson said. “The motivation is I’ve never won a Ryder Cup, so making the Ryder Cup team and trying to win a Ryder Cup as a player would be another tournament victory to me. It would be a major championship to me just because I’ve never done it, been a part of it.”

Watson turns 40 in November, and while he reiterated that his playing career might not extend too far into the future as he looks to spend more time at home with son Caleb and daughter Dakota, he’s also hoping to make an Olympic return in Tokyo in 2020 after representing the U.S. in Rio two years ago.

“Talking about the Olympics coming up, that’s motivating me,” he said. “It was the best experience of my life to watch all the other events, and then the golf tournament got in the way. I’d love to do it again. I’d love to watch all the events and then have to play golf as well.”