QA Using Your Putter - To Hit Another Player - COPIED

By Frank ThomasOctober 10, 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,
I am a 14 handicap and looking for a new driver. Mine is 8 or 9 years old and need(s) something new. But I am confused when I go into any big golf store(s) today because there are so many new drivers available, all of which claim to drive the ball farther. What are the key things to look for, if I want to upgrade?
 
H. Seleck
LA, CA

 
H. Seleck,
Join the crowd. Because the market is not growing as rapidly as it has in the past,
manufacturers are finding it harder to compete and one of the methods used is to frequently turn out new products. The technology is not changing as fast as the products are coming out, so it has become confusing and difficult to sort out what to get or how to find what we need.
 
First, you certainly do need to upgrade if you have a driver 8 to 9 years old. The technology in drivers has changed significantly over this period of time. The choice you make will depend somewhat on the clubhead speed and your skill level.
 
With a 14 handicap you are a little better than average. Let's assume that you can generate a clubhead speed of about 85-to-90 mph. This will result in a driving distance between 220-240 yards. (Most of us overestimate how far we drive the ball by about 30-40 yards). At this head speed you need to launch the ball at about 14 degrees with a spin rate of about 3,000-3,500 rpm.
 
With this in mind:
  • Select a driver of 400-460 cc in size.
  • Loft of 10-11 degrees.
  • Maximum COR (resilience creating maximum ball speed); most drivers
    are at the limit.
  • Drivers are all so good that there is very little difference in the
    type you select. Select what looks good to you.
  • For accuracy try a 44-inch rather than the 45-inch club length.
  • Select an R-flex shaft before the S-flex.
  • Most big stores have a net into which you can try hitting some balls
    to get a general feel.
  • If there is a launch monitor get some data on your launch conditions
    and try to get close to what I have suggested above without getting out of
    your comfort zone.
  • Last and most important, find a head cover that will make your new
    driver happy. An unhappy driver is not something you want in your bag.
     
    For more on driver selection check out my website.
     
    Frank thanks for the interesting and frank (sorry) information you provide on The Golf Channel. My question is, how long has the 14-club maximum been in the rules?
     
    Bruce Hamlin
    Georgia

     
    Bruce,
    The rule was adopted on Jan. 1, 1938, because golfers were carrying as many as 30 clubs. Both the R&A and USGA decided in 1936 that the art of shotmaking was being lost because of the finely graduated and matched sets, and the game was becoming mechanized. Golfers were no longer exhibiting their skills by changing their swing to make a shot, but rather were simply just changing
    their club.
     
    Other benefits cited for the reduction in the number of clubs were:
     
  • Relief to caddies from unfair burdens;
  • Improved speed of play because the decision-making process was simplified;
  • Give those who cannot afford an unlimited arsenal an equal chance.
     
    My personal feelings are that a further reduction, especially for the PGA TOUR pros, is in order. See my article printed in The New York Times last April. I suggested that the number be reduced, for the PGA TOUR level of competition only, to 10 clubs. This would be in conjunction with modifying course set up to reward distance ONLY when it is accompanied by accuracy and thought provoking penalty for a stray long shot.
     
    The advantages are that it would allow golfers to exhibit their true skills and with the modified course set up better identify the true champion.
     
    Frank,
    During our club championship this past weekend we had an incident where a contestant threw his putter in anger and it struck another player. We could not find a rule that covers this situation. Is there a rule that would penalize or DQ the offender?
     
    Scott, IL.

     
    Scott,
    I have had to dig deep to get some sound information to you on this one. The answer is fairly complex and has nothing to do with how the Attorney General would rule on this violation of etiquette.
     
    The multifaceted answer is as follows: First it depends on whether or not the club conforms to the Rules of Golf. If you can determine this then it will be a good start.
     
    If it doesn't conform then he (the thrower) would be disqualified for carrying a non-conforming club. If it conforms but the impact resulted in blood being deposited on the face of the putter then the intent of the action needs to be established. If intentional and the result was to deposit foreign material on the face of the putter, this is not good.
     
    One is not allowed to apply foreign material by whatever means, during a round, to the putter face for the purpose of influencing the movement of the ball. Also, if the playing characteristics of the club were changed as a result of the impact, and this is action is considered 'not in the normal course of play' so in either case of this, the penalty is disqualification.
     
    There is no reason to be concerned about whether the impacted player lived through the incident or not as this is irrelevant as long as the thrower yelled 'FORE' during the flight of the putter.
     
    If, however, 'The Committee' established prior to the event that as a 'Conditions of the Competition' it was not permissible to throw putters at other players, and posted this notice appropriately, then it (the committee) is entitled to request the player to relinquish his putter for the rest of the round.
     
    The most serious penalty is that his buddies forget his phone number.

    My area of expertise covers the equipment and in some cases its trajectory rather than the conditions of the competition established by the committee.
     
    By the way how is the victim?
     
    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
  • Getty Images

    Lopez fires flawless 63 for lead in Arkansas

    By Associated PressJune 23, 2018, 12:41 am

    ROGERS, Ark. – Since its first year on the LPGA Tour in 2007, the crowds at the NW Arkansas Championship have belonged to Stacy Lewis.

    Another former University of Arkansas star staked her claim as the hometown favorite Friday when Gaby Lopez shot a career-low 8-under 63 to take the first-round lead at Pinnacle Country Club.

    Like Lewis, the two-time winner of the tournament, Lopez starred as a three-time All-American for the Razorbacks before joining the LPGA Tour in 2016. Despite flashes of potential, Lopez had yet to join Lewis among the ranks of the world's best - missing the cut in her last two tournaments and entering this week ranked 136th in the world.

    For a day, at least, the Mexican standout felt right at home atop the leaderboard in her adopted home state.

    ''I feel like home,'' Lopez said. ''I feel so, so comfortable out here, because I feel that everyone and every single person out here is just rooting for us.''


    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


    Moriya Jutanugarn was a stroke back along with Minjee Lee, Catriona Matthew, Nasa Hataoka, Lizette Salas, Mirim Lee and Aditi Ashok. Six others finished at 6 under on a day when only 26 of the 144 players finished over par, thanks to some mid-week rain that softened the greens and calm skies throughout the day.

    Jutanugarn finished second at the tournament last year and is trying to win for the second time on the LPGA Tour this year. Her younger sister, Ariya, is already a two-time winner this year and shot an opening-round 66.

    Lewis, the former world No. 1 who won the event in 2007 in 2014, finished with a 66. She's expecting her first child in early November

    Defending champion So Yeon Ryu, coming off a victory Sunday in Michigan, shot a 67.

    Friday was Lopez's long-awaited day to standout, though, much to the delight of the pro-Arkansas crowd.

    After missing the cut her last two times out, Lopez took some time off and returned home to Mexico City to rest her mind and work on her game. The work paid off with two straight birdies to open her round and a 6-under 30 on her front nine.

    Lopez needed only 25 putts and finished two shots off the course record of 61, and she overcame a poor drive on the par-5 18th to finish with a par and keep her place at the top of the leaderboard. Her previous low score was a 64 last year, and she matched her career best by finishing at 8 under.

    ''(Rest) is a key that no one really truly understands until you're out here,'' Lopez said. ''... Sometimes resting is actually the part you've got to work on.''

    Getty Images

    Harman rides hot putter to Travelers lead

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:28 am

    CROMWELL, Conn. – There are plenty of big names gathered for the Travelers Championship, and through two rounds they’re all chasing Brian Harman.

    Harman opened with a 6-under 64, then carded a 66 during Friday’s morning wave to become the only player to finish the first two rounds in double digits under par. The southpaw is currently riding a hot putter, leading the field in strokes gained: putting while rolling in 12 birdies and an eagle through his first 36 holes.

    “Putted great today,” said Harman, who ranks 22nd on Tour this season in putting. “Got out of position a couple of times, but I was able to get myself good looks at it. I started hitting the ball really well coming down the stretch and made a few birdies.”


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Harman, 31, has won twice on the PGA Tour, most recently at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship. While he doesn’t have a win this year, he started his season in the fall by reeling off five straight finishes of T-8 or better to quickly install himself as one of the leaders in the season-long points race.

    Now topping a leaderboard that includes the likes of Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy, he realizes that he’ll have his work cut out for him if he’s going to leave Connecticut with trophy No. 3.

    “The putter has been really good so far, but I’ve been in position a lot. I’ve had a lot of good looks at it,” Harman said. “I’m just able to put a little pressure on the course right now, which is nice.”

    Getty Images

    10-second rule costs Zach Johnson a stroke

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:06 am

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Zach Johnson heads into the weekend one shot back at the Travelers Championship, but he was a matter of seconds away from being tied for the lead.

    Johnson had an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 3 at TPC River Highlands, his 12th hole of the day, but left the ball hanging on the lip. As Johnson walked up to tap the ball in, it oscillated on the edge and eventually fell in without being hit.

    Was it a birdie, or a par?

    According to the Rules of Golf, and much to Johnson’s chagrin, the answer was a par. Players are afforded “reasonable” time to walk to the hole, and after that they are allowed to wait for 10 seconds to see if the ball drops of its own accord. After that, it either becomes holed by a player’s stroke, or falls in and leads to a one-shot penalty, resulting in the same score as if the player had hit it.

    According to Mark Russell, PGA Tour vice president of rules and competitions, Johnson’s wait time until the ball fell in was between 16 and 18 seconds.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Once he putts the ball, he’s got a reasonable amount of time to reach the hole,” Russell said. “Then once he reaches the hole, he’s got 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, the ball is deemed to be at rest.”

    Johnson tried to emphasize the fact that the ball was oscillating as he stood over it, and even asked rules officials if marking his ball on the edge of the hole would have yielded a “bonus 10 seconds.” But after signing for a 2-under 68 that brought him within a shot of leader Brian Harman, the veteran took the ruling in stride.

    “The 10-second rule has always been there. Vague to some degree,” Johnson said. “The bottom line is I went to tap it in after 10 seconds and the ball was moving. At that point, even if the ball is moving, it’s deemed to be at rest because it’s on the lip. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just the way it is.”

    While Johnson brushed off any thoughts of the golf gods conspiring against him on the lip, he was beaming with pride about an unconventional par he made on No. 17 en route to a bogey-free round. Johnson sailed his tee shot well right into the water, but after consulting his options he decided to drop on the far side of the hazard near the 16th tee box.

    His subsequent approach from 234 yards rolled to within 8 feet, and he calmly drained the putt for an unexpected save.

    “I got a great lie. Just opened up a 4-hybrid, and it started over the grandstands and drew in there,” Johnson said. “That’s as good of an up-and-down as I’ve witnessed, or performed.”

    Getty Images

    Travelers becoming marquee event for star players

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 11:29 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Get lost in the throngs following the defending champ, or caught up amongst the crowds chasing the back-to-back U.S. Open winner, and it’s easy to forget where this tournament was a little more than a decade ago.

    The Travelers Championship was without a sponsor, without a worthwhile field, without a consistent date and on the verge of being jettisoned to the PGA Tour Champions schedule. The glory days of the old Greater Hartford Open had come and gone, and the PGA Tour’s ever-increasing machine appeared poised to leave little old Cromwell in its wake.

    The civic pride is booming in this neck of the woods. Main Street is lined with one small business after the next, and this time of year there are signs and posters popping up on every corner congratulating a member of the most recent graduating class at Cromwell High School, which sits less than two miles from the first tee at TPC River Highlands.

    Having made it through a harrowing time in the event’s history, the local residents now have plenty of reason to take pride.

    The Tour’s best have found this little New England hamlet, where tournament officials roll out the red carpet in every direction. They embrace the opportunity to decompress after the mind-numbing gauntlet the USGA set out for them last week, and they relish a return to a course where well-struck shots, more often than not, lead to birdies.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Ten years ago, this tournament was also held the week after the U.S. Open. Stewart Cink won, and for his efforts he received a paltry 36 world ranking points. But thanks to a recent influx of star-power, this week’s winner will pocket 58 points – the same amount Rory McIlroy won at Bay Hill, and two more than Justin Rose got at Colonial. Now at the halfway point, the leaderboard backs up the hefty allocation.

    While Brian Harman leads at 10 under, the chase pack is strong enough to strike fear in the heart of even the most seasoned veteran: McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson, they of the combined eight major titles, all sit within three shots of the lead. Former world No. 1 Jason Day is one shot further back, and reigning Player of the Year Justin Thomas will start the third round inside the top 20.

    Paul Casey and Bryson DeChambeau, both likely participants at the Ryder Cup this fall, are right there as well at 8 under. Casey lost a playoff here to Watson in 2015 and has come back every year since, witnessing first-hand the tournament’s growth in scope.

    “It speaks volumes for what Travelers have done and how they treat everybody, and the work that Andy Bessette and his team put in to fly around the country and speak highly of this event,” Casey said. “And do things which matter, to continue to improve the event, not just for players but for spectators.”

    Part of the increased field strength can be attributed to the Tour’s recent rule change, requiring players who play fewer than 25 events in a season to add a new event they haven’t played in the last four years. Another portion can be attributed to the short commute from Shinnecock Hills to TPC River Highlands, a three-hour drive and even shorter across the Long Island Sound – an added bonus the event will lose two of the next three years with West Coast U.S. Opens.

    But there’s no denying the widespread appeal of an event named the Tour’s tournament of the year, players’ choice and most fan-friendly in 2017. While Spieth’s return to defend his title was assumed, both Day and McIlroy are back for another crack this year after liking what they saw.

    “Anyone that I talked to could only say good things about the tournament about the golf course, how the guys are treated here, how the fans come out, and how the community always gets behind this event,” McIlroy said. “Obviously I witnessed that for the first time last year, and I really enjoyed it.”

    After starting the week with all four reigning major champs and five of the top 10 players in the latest world rankings, only Masters champ Patrick Reed got sent packing following rounds of 72-67. The remaining top-flight contingent will all hit the ground running in search of more low scores Saturday, with Spieth (-4) still retaining a glimmer of hope to keep his title defense chances alive, perhaps with a 63 like he fired in the opening round.

    The Tour’s schedule represents a zero-sum game. Outside of the majors and WGCs that essentially become must-play events for the game’s best, the rest of the legs of the weekly circus become victim of a 12-month version of tug-of-war. Some players like to play in the spring; others load up in the fall. Many play the week before majors, while a select group block off the week after for some R&R far away from a golf course.

    But in an environment where one tournament’s ebbs can create flows for another, the Travelers has continued a steady climb up the Tour’s hierarchy. Once in jeopardy of relegation, it has found its footing and appears in the process of turning several of the Tour’s one-name stars into regular participants.

    Rory. Jordan. Bubba. JT.

    It’s been a long battle for tournament officials, but the proof is in the pudding. And this weekend, the reward for the people of Cromwell – population 14,000 – looks to be a star-studded show.

    “All the events are incredible,” Thomas said. “But this is kind of one of those underrated ones that I think until people come and play, do they realize how great it is.”