QA Weight-Adjustable Drivers

By Frank ThomasMay 2, 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 letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
 
Frank,
I noticed that the new series of drivers, even TaylorMade's new burner, are non-adjustable. I have a TaylorMade R7 HT and have only used the low or high neutral positions. Since shape seems to be the hot item on drivers at the moment, I was wondering if you feel the weight-adjustable drivers have run their course?

John

 
John,
I do think that the concept of weight-adjustable ports makes some sense and can make some differences in the flight of the ball. It also is a neat way to change the weight of the head. But the promotion of these clubs seemed to promise ' and we were quick to believe ' that adjusting weights would correct some of our swing flaws, and we therefore didn't have to practice or get a lesson. This is not so. Yes, changing the center of gravity (c.g.) has an effect on the reaction to the ball on off-center hits and changes the face presentation to the ball. But it wont correct our swing flaws or other bad mistakes.
 
A golfer needs to hit the same spot on the face of the club consistently in order to take advantage of a fade or draw bias that hes building into the club when he makes an adjustment to the weights. Most of us who buy clubs dont have such reliably repeating swings; were happy to make contact somewhere close to the sweet spot 50% of the time. So the real answer to correcting a slice is a lesson, not a weight adjustment on the driver head as we are sometimes lead to believe.
 
Today the cool thing is high MOI, which comes with the flatter shape. This is designed to forgive your mistakes even more than the adjustable weights.
 
So, YES, I think that the sparkle of adjustable weights is fading, but it may never go away because it does give some flexibility we didn't have before, some of the best golfers can take advantage of this concept, and it doesnt do the rest of us any harm.
 
Unfortunately, as much as we don't want to believe it (because we like to believe in magic), the distance race for drivers is rapidly approaching the finish line. What I think will come next is designing drivers to specifically allow us to launch the ball closer to its optimum conditions. Manufacturers have been working on this and are at last offering higher lofted drivers, but it is still only a distant, sometimes hidden option rather than a specific recommendation.
 
Slower swing speeds generally need more lofted drivers, and we are starting to recognize that when we use more loft on the driver we actually get closer to the distance we think we hit the ball. For most us, the gym is the place where relocation of weight is a real possibility and will be most effective. For more equipment updates be sure to sign up as a Frankly Friend by clicking here.
 
Hope this helps.
Frank
 
Hi Frank,
Love your articles. I have a question regarding swing weight. Which is better, a driver with a high swing weight (D5) or lower swing weight (D2)? I have a swing speed of 105 and was wondering which is correct for me as well as which stiffness of golf shaft -- regular or stiff?
 
Thanks with any help,
Clifton

 
Clifton,
With your 105 mph swing speed, youre in the bracket where an S shaft may work well, but this is really a choice you must make based on your comfort level and performance. Some golfers with the same swing speed you have successfully use R-shafts, while others have done well with an X-shaft. Your acceleration rate to impact and the degree of control youre looking for will influence your choice. You need to develop confidence in your club so that youll make a better swing and in turn increase your average driving distance.
 
With regard to the question about what is the best swing weight, D2 or D5, my real answer is there isnt one. Swing weight is not all its cracked up to be if its misused. With the right adjustments I can bring a telephone poles swing weight to D2.
 
The swing weight system is based purely on a balance beam concept, with the fulcrum placed 14 inches from the grip end. With an average grip, shaft and head weight for a driver, the swing weight is a measure of how much additional weight I need to add to the butt end to keep the club in balance about the 14-inch fulcrum. This is then converted into a table with letters and numbers such as C2, C3, up to C9 and then D0 and so on to the Es and Fs (not usual, but some long putters are up there even though we should not even think about swing weighting putters unless we intend to make a full swing with this club).
 
The average acceptable swing weight for men is about D2. As the clubs get shorter, more head weight is needed to keep the balance the same. The lightest club in the bag is the driver and the heaviest is the putter (fun fact worth a beer).
 
Very few golfers can distinguish a difference of three swing weight points, even though many insist on having all the clubs in the set be exactly on the money. This is where the problem starts as club makers, in trying to satisfy the customer, may back-weight a club to get the scale to read the right number.
 
In some case of real abuse, lead plugs are forced into the hosel section of the shaft to increase the swing weight instead of upping it with a heavier head. This will move the center of gravity (c.g.) up and toward the heel of the head, which is exactly in the wrong direction. Probably worse is the case where clubs have weight added to the grip to reduce the swing weight when the head is too heavy; the club remains too heavy, but it does have the right numbers on the scale (which tells you theres something wrong with relying on the words swing weight when the basic concept is abused).
 
We all know that wearing a glove will not affect the overall dynamics or swinging feel of the club, compared to not wearing a glove. However, when you wear a glove it becomes part of the grip. Next time you measure the swing weight of a club on a swing weight scale, after its in balance, place the glove on the grip. Youll see the swing weight drop about 5 to 6 points. Does a glove really make a difference of such magnitude in the feel of a club?
 
Bottom line; dont get hung up on swing weight numbers. If you want to experiment with swing weight, add a little lead tape on the head and see if it feels better to you. Swing weight, if not abused is a good first step for matching but feel is more important than this so-called precise number.
 
Clifton, your question about what is best, D5 or D2 ; how about going for a D3.5 so you can sleep at night?
 
Frank
 
Dear Frank,
Ive recently been custom-fitted for irons. I need standard length, but 2 degrees upright. I have ordered 3-PW and GW in that configuration.
 
The fitter recommended that I not have my SW and LW bent upright as well, because these are more feel clubs and I will be hitting from so many different lies, it wont make much difference.
 
What do you recommend? (FYI, my putter is 2 up as well.) Thanks!
 
Brian

 
Brian,
You are obviously an upstanding and upright person and may need an upright club to match your uprightedness. But this does not have to extend to your putter, which is dependent on your putting stance style and putter length.
 
When it comes to your wedges, recognize that the PW is an extension of your iron set, and the Gap Wedge should be too. The Gap Wedge is the same loft that the PW or even the 9-iron was thirty years ago. Just because the manufacturers decreased the loft of all the irons without changing the numbers on the bottom of the club doesnt mean that you should consider them Utility clubs, a designation that applies to the Sand Wedge, Lob Wedge, Driver and Putter (and more recently the Hybrid, although these are starting to find a real place in the set). The truth about your wedges, all your wedges, is that they should match the lie angles of the rest of your set.
 
If you attempt to use these to fashion a shot in an unusual way now and again, then you can work around the norm. Dont intentionally have these wedges out of spec with the rest of your set because you will use them for normal shots most of the time. If you are going to be upright, do it all the way.
Frank
 
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 letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
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Snedeker leads by one heading into final round

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 3:26 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Brandt Snedeker took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the weather-delayed Wyndham Championship after finishing the third round Sunday with a 2-under 68.

Snedeker was at 16-under 194 through three rounds of the final PGA Tour event of the regular season. Brian Gay and David Hearn were at 15 under, with Gay shooting a 62 and Hearn a 64.

Thirty players were on the course Saturday when play was suspended because of severe weather. After a delay of 3 hours, 23 minutes, organizers chose to hold things up until Sunday morning.

Snedeker, who shot an opening-round 59 to become just the 10th tour player to break 60, is chasing his first victory since 2016 and his second career win at this tournament.

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Olesen edges past Poulter in Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 3:10 pm

With only two weeks left in the qualification window, Thorbjorn Olesen is now in position to make his Ryder Cup debut.

Olesen finished alone in fourth place at the Nordea Masters, two shots out of a playoff between Thomas Aiken and eventual winner Paul Waring. Olesen carded four straight sub-70 rounds in Sweden, including a final-round 67 that featured three birdies over his final seven holes.

It's a tight race for the fourth and final Ryder Cup spot via the World Points list, and Olesen's showing this week will allow him to move past Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, both of whom didn't play this week, into the No. 4 slot. Olesen is now also less than 40,000 Euros behind Tommy Fleetwood to qualify via the European Points list.

The top four players from both lists on Sept. 2 will qualify for next month's matches, with captain Thomas Bjorn rounding out the roster with four selections on Sept. 4. Poulter and Casey will both have a chance to move back in front next week at The Northern Trust, while the final qualifying week will include the PGA Tour event at TPC Boston and Olesen headlining the field in his homeland at the Made in Denmark.

Even if Olesen fails to qualify automatically for Paris, the 28-year-old continues to bolster his credentials for a possible pick from his countryman, Bjorn. Olesen won the Italian Open in June, finished second at the BMW International Open three weeks later and has now compiled four top-12 finishes over his last five worldwide starts including a T-3 result at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month.

In addition to the players who fail to qualify from the Olesen-Poulter-Casey trio, other candidates for Bjorn's quartet of picks will likely include major champions Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.

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Thompson bounces back from rule violation

By Randall MellAugust 19, 2018, 2:22 am

If Lexi Thompson’s trouble in the sixth fairway brought back any painful memories Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, she shook them off in a hurry.

If the approach of another rules official amid a spirited run of brilliant play rattled her, she didn’t show it.

Thompson posted an 8-under-par 64 in the third round despite another awkward rules infraction.

Her round was impressively bogey free but not mistake free, and so her work will be a little harder Sunday chasing Lizette Salas.

After incurring a one-shot penalty for violating a local rule in effect for preferred lies, Thompson will start the final round five shots back instead of four.

She knows she’s fortunate she isn’t six back.

If a rules official hadn’t witnessed Thompson in the middle of committing the infraction, she could have been assessed an additional penalty shot for playing from the wrong spot.

Thompson got the penalty after stepping on the 10th tee and blowing her drive right, into the sixth fairway. She got it after picking up her ball over there and lifting, cleaning and placing it. She got it because she wasn’t allowed to do that in any other fairway except for the fairway of the hole she was playing.

The preferred-lie rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

The story here isn’t really the penalty.


Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


It’s Thompson’s reaction to it, because she opened this week in such heartfelt fashion. After skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open to take a month-long “mental break,” Thompson revealed this week that she has been struggling emotionally in the wake of last year’s highs and lows. She opened up about how trying to “hide” her pain and show strength through it all finally became too much to bear. She needed a break. She also candidly shared how the challenges of being a prodigy who has poured herself into the game have led her to seek therapists’ help in building a life about more than golf.

That’s a lot for a 23-year-old to unload publicly.

Last year may have been the best and the worst of Thompson’s career. She said dealing with that controversial four-shot penalty that cost her the ANA Inspiration title, watching her mother battle cancer and losing a grandmother were cumulatively more difficult to deal with than she ever let on. There was also that short missed putt at year’s end that could have vaulted her to Rolex world No. 1 for the first time and led to her winning the Rolex Player of the Year title. She still won twice, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and was the Golf Writers Association of America Player of the Year.

That’s a lot of peaks and valleys for a young soul.

That’s the kind of year that can make you feel like an old soul in a hurry.

So seeing a rules official approach her on Saturday, you wondered about Thompson gathering herself so quickly. You wondered what she was thinking stepping up and ripping her next shot 215 majestic yards, about her hitting the green and saving par. You wondered about how she  bounced back to birdie 13 and 14 and finish bogey free.

With this week’s soul bearing, you wondered a lot about what rebounding like that meant to her.

We’re left to wonder from afar, though, because she wasn’t asked any of those questions by local reporters afterward. The transcript showed three brief answers to three short questions, none about the penalty or the challenge she met.

Of course, there were other questions to be asked, because local rules have been an issue this year. Did she read the local notes with the preferred lies explanation? She got hit with another local rules issue in Thailand this year, when she hit her ball near an advertising sign and moved the sign, not realizing a local rule made the sign a temporary immovable obstruction.

Of course, there were other good stories in Indy, too, with Sung Hyun Park poised to overtake Ariya Jutanugarn and return to Rolex world No. 1, with Salas holding off Park so brilliantly down the stretch Saturday.

Thompson, though, is the highest ranked American in the world. She’s the face of American women’s golf now. A face more tender, resolute and vulnerable than we have ever seen it.

Folks along the ropes watching her on the back nine in Indy Saturday got to see that better than any of us.

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Salas capitalizes on Park gaffe to take Indy lead

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 2:07 am

INDIANAPOLIS – Lizette Salas waited patiently for Sung Hyun Park to make a rare mistake Saturday.

When the South Korean mishit her approach shot into the water on the par-4 16th, Salas capitalized quickly.

She rolled in her birdie putt then watched Park make double bogey – a three-shot swing that gave Salas the lead and the momentum heading into the final round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship. Salas closed out her 8-under 64 with a birdie on No. 18 to reach 21 under – two shots ahead of Park and Amy Yang.

“I have been striking the ball really well, and I just had to stay patient,” Salas said. “And yeah, putts dropped for sure. I just really felt comfortable.”

If she keeps it up one more day, Salas could be celebrating her first tour win since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship and her second overall. With five of the next six players on the leader board ranked in the world’s top 30, Salas knows it won’t be easy.

The changing weather conditions weather might not help, either. If the forecast for mostly sunny conditions Sunday holds, the soft greens that have kept scores at near record-lows through the first three rounds could suddenly become quicker and less forgiving.

But the 29-year-old Californian seems to have the perfect touch for this course, which weaves around and inside the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

She shot three sub-par rounds and finished tied for fifth last year here. This year, she has three more sub-par rounds including a course record-tying 62 on Thursday and has been atop the leader board each of the first three days.

“I have been so confident the whole year,” Salas said. “I have a different mentality, I’m a different player. So I’m just going to go out and play as if I’m behind.”


Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


Salas’ toughest challenge still could from Park, who spent most of Saturday flirting with a 54-hole scoring record.

She birdied the last four holes on the front side and made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to reach 21 under with a chance to become the sixth LPGA player to ever finish three rounds at 23 under.

The miscue at No. 16 changed everything.

She never really recovered after dropping two shots, settling for par on the final two holes for a 66 after shooting 68 and 63 the first two days. Yang finished with a 65 after going 68 and 64.

“I was a little weary with right-to-left wind,” Park said. “I think a little bit of weariness got to me, but overall, it’s OK.”

Defending champion Lexi Thompson was five shots back after completing the final nine of the second round in 2 under 34 and shooting 64 in the afternoon.

She made up ground despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty after hitting her tee shot on No. 10 into the sixth fairway and lifting the ball without authority. Rules officials had implemented the preferred lies rule because more than an inch of rain had doused the course.

Thompson still made her par on the hole though it temporarily broke her momentum after making six birdies on the front nine in her first appearance since taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion.

“Twenty-seven holes, I definitely had a few tired swings toward the end,” said Thompson, who finished each of the first two rounds with 68s. “But overall, a lot of positives. I hit it great. I made some really good putts.”

Three players – Nasa Hataoka of Japan, Jin Young Ko of South Korea and Mina Harigae – were tied at 15 under. Ko started the third round with a share of the lead but had three bogeys in a round of 70.

Now, all Salas has to do is cash in one more time.

“I’ve been knocking on the door quite a bit in the last four years, haven’t been able to get it done,” Salas said. “I’ve got good players behind me, I’ve just got to play my game.”