QA Wacky Wedges Name Brands

By Frank ThomasAugust 29, 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
 

Good day Frank,
I enjoy you informative articles. If I recall in a previous article you had mentioned that your wedge shafts should be the same length and brand. I also recall a show on TGC with the guy from Golfsmith stating that they should drop down by a quarter of inch for each wedge. Is one way better than the other? Im confused. -- Scott Elsby, Canada

 
Scott,
Let me assure you that when pitching wedges were wedges instead of 9-irons and even weak 8-irons, then all of them in the set were about the same length. For many years there were only two wedges in the set, the PW and SW. The SW was, and remains at about 55 degrees of loft and about 35 inches in length.
 
But since the mid to late '70s, manufacturers, trying to compete and proving that their irons hit the ball farther than their competitors, started to violate the unwritten standard of lofts associated with the numbers on clubs. The lofts were strengthened from 4 to 6 degrees so the PW, which used to be about 52 degrees of loft and 35 inches long, became 45 degrees in loft, which is two degrees stronger than what the loft of 9-iron used to be. It (the new PW) is also the same length as the 9-iron used to be - about 35 1/2 inches or a little longer.
 
All the clubs in the bag were thus affected by this domino effect and the 1-iron, which was impossible to hit anyway, became even harder to hit with three or four degrees less loft. This is the reason the 1-iron is now extinct. The 2-irons are now also close to becoming extinct, except for some of the very elite (Tiger and his crew) who still carry this club from time to time.
 
Because the PW today is similar to what the 9 'iron used to be, it is now about inch longer than the gap wedge (50 to 52 degree loft). But the GW, SW, and the LW (60 degree loft) are generally all the same length. You cant go wrong by keeping the wedges (real wedges GW, SW, LW) all the same length.
 
Hi Frank,
I recently bought some new Mizuno MP60 irons. I had previously played 11 years with some 'knock off' Cobras. I'm hitting my new irons really great, but seem to have lost distance, almost a club to a club and a half.
 
Is there anything I can do to get the distance back? I've heard that I could change shafts or tweak the loft of the irons. Any suggesstions would be appreciated. -- Thanks, Johnny Culpepper

 
Johnny,
First of all, I am pleased to hear that you have moved away from knock-offs, the names of which have been purposely chosen to be similar and to intentionally confuse the public with the real thing. I have a major problem with theft, be it of an idea, product design or anything else. In most cases also these products are not of the quality nor carry the support of the product they are trying to copy.
 
The reason for the loss in distance is most probably because the lofts are different. This should not bother you because what you had in the knock-off set as number 6-iron is probably equivalent in loft and length to the 5-iron in your present set. The good thing about irons is when the 6-iron doesnt hit the ball far enough, you can take out the 5-iron. It is the distance that the club hits the ball which is important, not what number is stamped into the sole of that club.
 
I dont know what shaft flex you have in the new legitimate set, but this is also important. Most of us have shaft flexes which are too stiff, so if you have a chance to try a similar club with a different (more flexible) shaft, then do so and see how it feels. If you feel more comfortable with the more flexible shaft and dont feel you are fighting the club to get it to perform, then this is a good result. Try then to change the shaft in the 6-iron of your new set to the same more flexible shaft. If this works then change the shafts in the whole set.
 
Dont worry about the numbers on the clubs, just remember how far you hit each and use that club at the appropriate time.
 
Hi Frank,
I have a set of expensive irons that I have been hitting well. The steel shafts in these clubs are standard shafts that I see in many OEM irons. I can buy that same shaft online from a well-respected clubmaker golf company for $11.00. With an index of 5.8, should I re-shaft the irons to a better shaft to get more accuracy? Even though I am 60, I do not concern myself about distance. -- Sam Jones

 
Sam,
Re-shafting the irons, which you are hitting well, is not a good idea. The standard shafts, which come with the set, are generally very good and would not be used by the manufacturer if it (the manufacturer) thought that they would not work well in that product. Also dont think that another shaft will improve your accuracy unless you have a really bad shaft to begin with.
 
Accuracy is generally a result of a consistent swing, and a new shaft will not improve your swing - you have to do this. The bottom line is, dont change something that is working well. Also, shafts are important because they are the only connection between you and the business end of the club - the head. We have taken about 400 years to find the right flex and flex pattern in shafts and manufacturers are providing that to you in their standard set, so have faith and dont change a good thing.
 
Hi Frank,
Ninety percent of all the Tour players seem to be using TaylorMade, Callaway or Nike golf equipment. Are these brands so much better than the rest, or are there other forces at work here?
 
I use an Orlimar Hip Ti 420 driver, which in my opinion is as good if not better than any of the above brands, and I've tried most of them. Each week I check the 'What's in the Bag' segment on the Golf Channel site hoping for something different, hoping for an Orlimar user to show up, but each week the same big brands dominate.
What's the story? -- Cheers, Bob & Lisa Shirley

 
Bob,
Lets be Frank, there are other forces at work. The most popular clubs are those marketed by the major manufacturers. The pros have (in many cases) contracts with the manufacturer to use its equipment.
 
However, this equipment would not be used unless it was reasonably good and satisfactory to the pro. The endorsement money may be good, but if he cant use the clubs effectively then this is not going to be a good or long lasting relationship. By the way, you should include in your list Titleist, Ping, Mizuno and a few others. This said, it doesnt mean that the driver you have is not the very best for you.
 
Dont be concerned about who else is using your driver. As long as it works for you, then you are very lucky and well done on the find. It is hard to find a good frien, but it doesnt mean that everybody else also has to like your friend for your relationship to last. Maybe they are being paid to like someone else. Hope this is of some comfort.
 
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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Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

“I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

“I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

“We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

“My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

“Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”