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Ask the Pro Archive - 2004
Golf Questions and Answers on a variety of topics


Here are all the golf questions and answers that appeared on the "Ask the Pro" page in 2004, from most recent to least recent, top to bottom. Links in the left menu column give a "keyword" indication of the topic and will take you directly to that entry on this page. Also see the Ask the Pro Archive Index for longer descriptions in categorized and somewhat alphabetized form.

Golf Questions and Answers (2004)
(most recent to least recent, top to bottom)

Long Game > Woods > Tee flight characteristics

December 30, 2004

Question:

Why does the tee fly backwards when you hit a good drive with a wood?

Rob Clayden
London, England

Answer:

I've never thought about that, Rob. smile It's probably like a catapault or rebound of a bouncing ball, though it doesn't always fly backwards: sometimes it breaks, sometimes it goes forward and sometimes it just sits there, depending on the firmness of ground and grass, where the club contacts the tee, etc. Next time you see a really slow motion replay of impact close up maybe it will become clear. I'll be keeping an eye out too.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Playing into another fairway to shorten dogleg hole

December 23, 2004

Question:

At my local golf course number 2 fairway is alongside number 6 fairway separated by a line of small trees. Number 2 fairway is on a rather steep slope, and some golfers are deliberately aiming their shot from number 2 tee to number 6 fairway in order to get an easier shot to number 2 hole. Is this legal? Is it ethical? Is it cheating? Or is it as some have suggested course management?

Hugh Hyslop
Ayr, Scotland

Answer:

Hi Hugh,

Unless there is an internal out of bounds marked there it is within the rules and, therefore, certainly ethical. But if it is an unsafe situation the course would, or should, mark it as out of bounds. And it only seems prudent that people teeing off toward that fairway make sure that nobody is playing there. I have seen many such shortcuts and have taken a few myself. When there is no danger of hitting into other players it can be pretty fun. But one of the disadvantages might be that there are no distance markers once you leave the correct hole. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > Adjusting alignment direction for sidehill lies

December 19, 2004

Question:

I am a lefty, and am aware that striking a ball that is located above or below your feet will change the direction of the ball flight, and that I should aim more to the left or right of the flag. Which is it for above or below the feet? And is there an easy way to remember it?

Patrick von Wistinghausen
Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Answer:

Hi Patrick,

For a lefty, above-the-feet would tend to go right, and vice versa. As for an easy way to remember it, the ball will always be influenced in the downhill direction. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Short Game > Take off glove on the greens

December 14, 2004

Question:

Why do professional golfers take off their glove when on the greens?

Carl Zimba
Homosassa, FL

Answer:

Hi Carl,

To have better touch. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > Having a forward press to begin the backswing

December 8, 2004

Question:

At adress I have a "foward press" on the ball. It helps me start the swing with one piece. Do you agree?

Daniel Yoon
Los Angeles, CA

Answer:

Hi Daniel,

I'd have to see your move to comment for sure, but it sounds fine to me. There's lots of personal preference involved in mannerisms and triggering the backswing, and what you describe is a fairly common preference. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB

Short Game > Heavy or light putter head

December 2, 2004

Question:

Is there a rule of thumb as to putter head weight? For example if the greens are fast, do you want a lighter headed putter? Or, if they are slower do you want a heavier putter?

Richard Smith
Roseville, CA

Answer:

Hi Richard,

It's totally personal preference -- that's why there are so many different types of putters out there. I have always preferred rather heavy putters for all speeds. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Equipment > Driver length for player height

November 28, 2004

Question:

What is the recommended length on a driver relative to your height?

Steven Sowinski
Mokena, IL

Answer:

Hi Steven,

It depends on ability level and personal preference -- it's not as easy as just using height alone. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > General > Which type of grip to use

November 22, 2004

Question:

Does your grip matter that much? Do you need to overlap your fingers, or can you use a baseball grip?

Jason Simmering
Jordan, MN

Answer:

Hi Jason,

The grip and its details matter HUGELY, but how you connect your hands doesn't matter beyond personal preference, feel and effectiveness -- see this page for more on the grip. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Having course information in written form

November 18, 2004

Question:

My question is about having with you information about the golf course that you are playing. For example, what if there was a booklet with local knowledge of the slopes of greens and the proper club to use, on say the downhill par 3's. This kind of information would be available from a good caddy, can a golfer have this kind of written information with him or her and use it during a round?

Robert Lee
Salt Lake City, UT

Answer:

You mean like the yardage books that some courses provide... Yes, Robert, you can have any information like that you want (though most valid printed info of that kind would not likely suggest a particular club to use, as players' abilities vary too widely). You just cannot receive advice from another person (other than your caddy, if you have one) or use any devices (like yardage finders or other similar tools) during a round.

Touring pros keep yardage books for all the courses they play during the year and they have all kinds of notes and yardages in them. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Equipment > Drivers with no grooves on the face

November 11, 2004

Question:

I recently saw Titanium Drivers without score lines and wondered what do score lines do for a driver and what difference would it make with or without?

Chris Western
Cedar Falls, IA

Answer:

Hi Chris,

Supposedly, they effect the direction of the spin, but on a straight-faced club like a driver the effect is negligible, thus the drivers without score lines that perform fine. As a matter of fact, I have even seen wedges without grooves and entire iron sets with only partial grooves and other areas of the face that were perfectly smooth. I haven't experimented with clubs like this myself enough to offer any first hand observations, but my understanding is that unless there is water present (wet grass or very lush grass with a lot of water in it) the effect of grooves is minimal. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Short Game > How to stop pulling putts

November 6, 2004

Question:

How do you stop pulling your putts? I know it sounds stupid but I do it quite a lot.

Rebecca Wilson
Wales, Great Britain

Answer:

Hi Rebecca,

If your face alignment is correct initially, and the problem is indeed "pulling" the putts, then there is independent movement in the hands and/or arms that is getting the face turned off line. See if you can eliminate those extra movements -- shoulders only.

Of course, I'd have to see you in person to give you any meaningful analysis and correction. If you ever visit the San Francisco bay area of Northern California and would like to work with me in person on your game contact me for a Private Golf School or even just one golf lesson.

Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Terminology - Words and Phrases > The term "skins" or phrase "skins game," origin

November 2, 2004

Question:

I know what the Skins game is, but what is the etymology of the word Skin? Why was it chosen? Did golfer's play for pelts in the past?

Woody Smith
Las Vegas, NV

Answer:

Hi Woody,

I don't know the origin for certain but I did read an amusing (albeit very unsubstantiated) account that, believe it or not, it actually was because of [furriers] playing for pelts way back when. I suspect that paper money has been referred to as "skins" before also, but have no idea if that is at all relevant here. If anybody knows anything about the origin of the word skins or the phrase "skins game" please .

Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > Professional golfers' fitness training

October 30, 2004

Question:

Do most professionals do any weight or fitness training to improve their game?

Denise Lassaline
Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Answer:

Hi Denise,

If you're talking about tour professionals, these days I would say undoubtedly yes, but I don't have any actual stats on that. You might check with the PGA Tour directly or the Darrell Survey might have that info (darrellsurvey.com). See also the Ultimate Golf Fitness Guide.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Who plays the shot first?

October 24, 2004

Question:

What is the order of play when a player who is on the green but further away than a player that is in a bunker off the green?

Michael Roche
Arlington, MA

Answer:

There's no one answer to that, Michael. In match play it is farthest from the hole whether on the green or not. But in stroke play and less formal play it may vary from situation to situation (speed of play should probably be the determining factor in most cases). "Farthest from the hole plays first" is the general rule but, if for some reason it would be more reasonable for another player to play first (and you see this quite frequently in tournaments on TV) there is no penalty for playing out of turn, unless the Committee (officials for any given tournament) determines that competitors have agreed to play out of turn to give one of them an advantage, in which case they both would be disqualified. smile Learn more about rules, procedures and etiquette. Also see my article on honor, order of play, etc. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Pitching from on the green

October 17, 2004

Question:

Can you use your pitching wedge on the green or is that against the rules? I believe you can and remember Ernie Els doing so in a competition last year (I remember him taking a huge divot out of the green!)

Adam Binney
Exeter, Devon, UK

Answer:

Hi Adam,

You can't putt over the bunker can you? Yes, you can use any club you want on the greens -- no rules against that or taking divots. Obviously, however, common sense and etiquette would dictate not doing it unnecessarily, and repairing to the best of your ability any damage created if it was necessary (like what Els did). For those of you wondering why you'd need to do this, it is in situations where the green is cut in a shape such that the fringe or even a bunker or mound is between the ball and hole (see picture). Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > "Disconnecting"

October 14, 2004

Question:

My local pro says that I'm "disconnecting". What exactly does that mean?

Hunter Downs
Marietta, GA

Answer:

Hi Hunter,

Disconnecting is basically using your arms independently of your torso rotation, particularly through impact, rather than having the torso and arms turning together, which is usually more efficient, powerful and consistent. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Equipment > Golf club wear, do golf clubs wear out?

October 6, 2004

Question:

Do golf clubs ever wear out? I've had mine for many years and really like them, but I'm wondering if I need new ones because of age.

Mark Sadowski
Scottsdale, AZ

Answer:

Hi Mark,

The grooves may wear down or the lie and loft angles may change over time and need to be adjusted, stuff like that. But even those things don't really keep the clubs from being playable. Steel shafts sometimes rust inside and eventually break. If in doubt take them to a reputable club repair shop for assessment. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB

Equipment > Adjusting golf clubs to fit

October 1, 2004

Question:

I just bought a new set of irons that I am really pleased with, but I read your tip on getting clubs fitted. Is this something I can do "after the fact" or am I out of luck now?

Dan Glenn
Vidalia, LA

Answer:

Hi Dan,

Sure, many things can be done after the fact, depending on how big the adjustments have to be. Get with a reputable club fitter in person. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > Mini tour information

September 29, 2004

Question:

Where would be a good place to find information on getting started in the mini tour competition?

Kenneth Byers
Horton, MI

Answer:

Hi Kenneth,

See my links page (under "Tours * Tournaments"), for starters. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Equipment > Fairway wood numbers with a plus "+" sign

September 24, 2004

Question:

I'm looking at a set of fairway woods and next to the wood number it looks like a plus (+) sign. What does this mean? I haven't seen this on other woods. Thank You.

Bill Pardon
Toledo, OH

Answer:

Hi Bill,

The plus (+) sign usually means that the loft is stronger (less loft) than what is normally associated with that number wood. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Tee block location relative to yardage marker

September 18, 2004

Question:

Is there a recommended maximum distance for the tee markers to be set from the distance marker? Tee markers seem to be placed in a haphazard manner.

Donna Mavor
Sun City West, AZ

Answer:

Hi Donna,

Not really, no. It is usually based on allowing the grass to heal to best advantage on most courses, so it should move around quite a bit on courses with heavy traffic -- it's up to the superintendent. In tour events there are other things taken into consideration as well, like varying the length and playing characteristics of holes each day, prevailing wind, and so on. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > Flex in forward knee

September 10, 2004

Question:

As a right-handed player is it right or wrong for me to flex my left knee during a golf swing? Having had lessons from three different professionals I can't seem to get a straight answer on this.

Chris Smith
Lincoln, Lincolnshire, UK

Answer:

Hi Chris,

Your forward (left) knee should remain flexed through impact and then can (and does with most good players) straighten completely at the finish (unless there's some good reason for it not to straighten, e.g., an injury, etc.). It doesn't really matter if the leg straightens in the finish or not, as it is after the ball is already gone, but it seems to be the most efficient and comfortable way of finishing the swing with good balance for most players. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > Scooping

September 6, 2004

Question:

I am a 60 year male and consistently hit all woods very high. Recently I had my swing diagnosed. I was told that I was "scooping" the ball in my swing. How is this corrected?

Jerry Wimpee
Rockwall, TX

Answer:

Well Jerry,

That's a pretty broad topic but the general idea would be to create the swing with the turn of your body, letting your arms, hands and club swing rather than flipping your hands at the ball in an attempt to swat, scoop or lift it. I could give you much more detailed analysis and correction in person -- if you ever visit the San Francisco bay area of Northern California and would like to work with me in person on your game contact me for a Private Golf School or even just one golf lesson.

Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > Woods > Hitting it straight off the tee

September 3, 2004

Question:

Confidence or lack of it off the tee - why can't I hit it straight off the tee? It is destroying my game.

Steve Smith
Brimingham, England

Answer:

Hi Steve,

Suggestion #1 - Use a 3 wood instead of a driver unless your handicap is less than 10 (this suggestion is unpopular but effective if you are interested in lowering your score).

Suggestion #2 - Do not try to hit the ball straight, play a consistent shape (a fade is usually easiest) instead -- the most accurate drivers of the ball in the world do not hit it straight, they curve it.

Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Short Game > The difference between a chip and a pitch

August 28, 2004

Question:

What is the difference between a chip shot and a pitch shot?

Patrick Bocchino
Spartanburg, SC

Answer:

Hi Patrick,

A chip is usually thought of as having a lower trajectory and more roll, and a pitch is usually thought of as higher, softer and less running. But there is lots of overlap and there are many "shades of gray" between the two.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Long Game > General > Callus on finger problem

August 23, 2004

Question:

The last 4 years I have developed a big callus on the outside first knuckle of my right ring finger. I am right-handed and use the overlapping grib and in need of some quick help. It gets real sore. Thanks.

Gary Crossley
Grantsville, UT

Answer:

Hi Gary,

I'd have to see you in person to say for sure, but it sounds like your left hand's index finger is rubbing on the ring finger knuckle during your swing. Your hands should not rub or move on the grip during the swing. You could try interlocking or ten finger grips, even if only temporarily, but you'll have to address the rubbing/movement problem at some point. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Lift, clean   place

August 17, 2004

Question:

What does lift, clean and place mean?

Greg Lukshaitis
Kalamazoo, MI

Answer:

That means you can pick up your ball and clean it and place it back down on a nice lie (usually within a club length of the original location, but local rules vary). It's usually for when the golf course is muddy. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Short Game > Putting with a cross-handed grip

August 13, 2004

Question:

How do you feel about cross-handed putting?

James Thomas
Ada, OK

Answer:

Hi James,

If your stroke is good it doesn't matter what grip you use -- if it feels good (and works for you) do it -- there are lots of successful putters using many different grips. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Equipment > Full set of clubs or half set (starter set)?

August 7, 2004

Question:

I am a beginning golfer but really love the game and am going out about twice a week. I purchased a set of clubs consisting of a driver, three woods and even numbered irons, 4 through 10. I really love the irons. Do you recommend I purchase the odd numbered irons as well? Why do some people believe a beginner only needs an abbreviated set?

Anna Mendez
San Diego, CA

Answer:

Hi Anna,

Glad you're enjoying the game. I wouldn't bother with the other clubs for a while -- until your swing is very consistent and you reach a high level of skill you wouldn't notice any difference between consecutive irons anyway.

4, 6, 8 and 10 (somtimes called a "half set" or a "starter set") are plenty for now, though at least one sandwedge of some kind would be nice to add. And, of course, there would be a putter and at least one wood in the set too (maybe a 3 wood or 5 wood -- I'd avoid the driver for a while). Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB

Equipment > Why are club shafts different lengths?

August 1, 2004

Question:

Why are golf club shafts different lengths? Wouldn't a shaft with the same length but a club head with a different degree of loft allow an individual to have the exact same swing and still have them vary their length by their chosen club?

Jason Leiser
Cumming, GA

Answer:

The distance variations would not be as big without the shafts getting progressively longer. In addition to less loft for a lower trajectory the longer the shaft the faster the clubhead swings. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Long Game > General > Spine tilt at address

July 28, 2004

Question:

What is the reason for tilting the spine to the right (for a right-handed golfer) at address?

Bill Wall
Ellsworth, WI

Answer:

Hi Bill,

It's usually very slight, and just the result of the right hand being lower on the club (perhaps not noticeable, with the shorter clubs). The farther forward the ball position the more pronounced it may appear. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Miscellaneous > Golf course-related > Yellow stakes, red stakes, water hazards

July 24, 2004

Question:

What does a yellow stake mean?

Jennifer Pope
Hickory, NC

Answer:

Yellow stakes indicate water hazards, which are usually directly in the line of play and must be crossed enroute to the hole. Red stakes demark lateral water hazards, which are usually next to, or to the side of, the line of play and that, therefore, do not necessarily need to be crossed to reach the hole. There are two additional options within the rules for dealing with lateral water hazards. See the rules of golf. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Miscellaneous > Other > When were the first golf carts?

July 20, 2004

Question:

What year was it that golf carts were first used?

Emmett McLaughlin
Fairfield, CT

Answer:

Early 1960's. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > A problem with taking divots

July 10, 2004

Question:

I currently have a range pass at a local driving range. Recently I have been getting heat from the owner about making to many divots. I believe that if I'm going to hit 50 iron shots correctly I should leave 50 divots. I'm afraid that if I adjust my swing to not take divots I will be hurting my game. What should I do differently or should I just find a different place to practice?

Gabriel Wilson
Boise, ID

Answer:

Hi Gabriel,

If you are taking divots on practice swings I can understand the complaint. But if you are only taking divots when you hit your iron shots that is a good thing, and should be no problem. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > Try to hit or just swing?

July 6, 2004

Question:

I've read recently that driving is all about contact. However, a teacher once taught me to not worry about hitting the ball, or not to try to hit the ball. He told me to simply make a nice swing and the club will hit the ball. Is this true?

Kurt Channing
Seattle, WA

Answer:

Well Kurt,

There is a lot of potential for misinterpretation with vague generalizations. Contact is crucial in driving. And if you swing with enough fundamental components in place the club will certainly automatically hit the ball (how well is another issue). These statements are both taken out of context and drastic oversimplifications, I'm afraid. They could be interpreted as true, in a very general way, but they are incomplete -- it's just not that simple. The intention behind the statement about not trying to hit the ball is important, as most golfers have a horrible time with the instinct to "hit" the ball instead of swinging through, and the first thing you have to have before you can talk about anything else in driving is good quality contact -- but there is far more involved.

Miscellaneous > Other > Golfers' scoring statistics

July 3, 2004

Question:

I heard once that if you can break a score of 100 you are in the top 10% of all the golfers. Is this true?

Steve Tanner
Coto de Caza, CA

Answer:

Hi Steve,

I read recently somewhere on the web that there are around 26 million people who play golf, and only 22% can shoot 90 or below consistently on a full-size, 18-hole course (not a pitch and putt or an executive course), according to the National Golf Foundation. Supposedly, around 25% of men and 7% of women and can break 90. And only 6% of men and 1% of women break 80 on a regular basis. The average score for U.S. male golfers seems to be around 97 and the average for women is 114 -- overall average - 100.

Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > Why do most higher handicappers slice?

June 27, 2004

Question:

Why do most high handicappers or amateurs develop a swing that more often produces a slice rather than a hook?

Tom Burley
Grand Rapids, MI

Answer:

It's mainly because of the instinct to HIT with the arms and hands, Tom. See this info on correcting a slice.

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Long Game > General > Late hand action

June 23, 2004

Question:

How effective is very late hand action for long(er) drives?

Tom Wild
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Answer:

Hi Tom,

Essential, actually. The hands and club should be the last thing happening prior to impact (of course, taken out of context/sequence it means very little). Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Other > High golf club prices

June 17, 2004

Question:

Why do some clubs cost so much if they all serve the same purpose?

Jordan Davidson
Louisville, KY

Answer:

Advertising costs is probably the main reason, Jordan. Perhaps research & development also, in some cases. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Terminology - Words and Phrases > The term "sub par"

June 13, 2004

Question:

I was just wondering if sub-par would be considered bad in golfing, just as in real life.

Nate Sexton
Valpo, IN

Answer:

Hooah!! (LOL) smile,

That's a great one, Nate. Nope, that's one of the funny things about language (or golf). Sub-par in golf means under, or less than, par -- and that's a real good thing! Maybe we should change it so that when a person isn't feeling well or is having an "off day" it's called feeling, or performing, over par. Who can we talk to about that, I wonder... Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > "Embedded" ball

June 8, 2004

Question:

What would they call a shot that went up in the air and buried itself in the ground?

Kenn Clement
Howell, MI

Answer:

Plugged, buried or embedded. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > Tournament formats

June 2, 2004

Question:

I am going to be running some competitions on my local par 3 courses over the winter period. I will be holding a winter league (a singles event) and a top dogs trophy (a doubles event) approx. 10 rounds in the former and 5 in the latter. I was wondering on what formats could be used in the doubles competitions. I understand greensome, foursome, scramble and a simple combined medal, but how does a four ball better ball medal work, does each player use handicaps at the relevant holes or is it taken off at the end?

Simon Walshe
Scunthorpe, North Lincs, UK

Answer:

Hi Simon,

Wow, that's a huge topic. Rather than write you an essay on tournament formats I will refer you to this FAQ on golf tournament formats. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. Best of luck with your game and your tournaments. MB

Equipment > Creating a home practice area

May 29, 2004

Question:

I plan on setting up a practice area for the coming winter. I want to have a hitting net with mat and putting aids. I also want to have a swing plane practice unit (e.g., groove tube type). Any suggestions?

Roger Gandini
Hollister, MA

Answer:

Hi Roger,

Sounds like you're getting serious about working on your game -- good for you, that's great! I'd get a high-quality mat, with different levels/thicknesses of turf if possible, and a mirror to watch yourself. You can get some other great ideas in my Home Practice Studio section. You can find pretty much everything there. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > Woods > 5 wood goes farther than driver

May 23, 2004

Question:

How come I can hit my 5 wood about 200-220 yards on average but I can barely hit my driver about 200 yards?

Blake Harlan
Centennial, CO

Answer:

Pretty common, Blake. Driver is the most demanding club in your bag, really. Unless you're a single digit handicap forget driver and stick with 3 wood. Your overall performance (scores and average distance) will be better. See also this tip on woods off the tee. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com -- best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Other > What grades for scholarship?

Question:

Im 16 years old and a 2 handicap what kind of grades do I need to have to have a chance for a scholarship?

Taylor Micacchi
Woodstock, Ontario, Canada

Answer:

I'm sure that varies, Taylor. Contact the colleges you hope to attend for that info, or check with your high school counselor/advisor. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > Woods > What is the "gear effect"?

May 10, 2004

Question:

What is gear effect for wood clubs? Do metal woods have gear effect?

Val Poncio
Houston, TX

Answer:

"Gear effect" is the tendency of the face of a wood (wood or metal) with it's horizontal bulge to impart opposite spin to the ball (club face twisting one way; ball spinning the other way -- which looks like two gears turning in opposite directions from above). For example, when the ball is hit on the toe, the club twists clockwise (for a right-hander) and the ball spins counterclockwise. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > Woods > How big a driver is too big?

May 6, 2004

Question:

Drivers are very big now. How big is too big?

Eric Stoffa
West Mifflin, PA

Answer:

It's totally personal preference, Eric. For size limit to conform check the USGA Rules.

Equipment > Driver shaft flex and loft

May 2, 2004

Question:

I am a 15 year old amateur golfer. I have been playing almost every day for one summer, and right now I havean up-to-date titanium driver with a stiff lightweight (60) graphite shaft and an 8.5 loft. I have been told that because I do not swing very hard, I am slicing some of my shots because my shaft is too stiff (among other reasons). I have also been told that the loft is too low, but there isn't much I can do about that now. My question is (1) Should I reshaft my driver with a lightweight regular graphite shaft? and (2) Should I have gotten a higher loft? Thanks for your time.

Nick Pantaleo
Rye, NY

Answer:

Hi Nick,

From the sound of things a softer shaft and more loft probably would work well for you. But you'd need to work with someone with club fitting expertise in person to tell for sure. See also this FAQ on which clubs or specifications to get.

Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Short Game > How to grip with a long putter

April 28, 2004

Question:

What is the proper grip for a broomhandle putter?

Paschal Troy
Dublin, Ireland

Answer:

Hi Paschal,

There's really no such thing as "proper" for the long putter -- lots of variations, based on personal preference. I've seen putting grips with the hands in just about every possible position they can get into. smile Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > Who has shot 59 on tour?

April 24, 2004

Question:

Who were the players that shot 59 on tour?

Donald Eagleson
Manchester, CT

Answer:

If you mean the PGA Tour, as of 2003, Al Geiberger, Chip Beck and David Duval. Annika Sorenstam did it on the LPGA Tour, and Doug Dunakey and Notah Begay did it on the Buy.com Tour. There may have been others that I don't know about on smaller tours. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Golf course-related > Bermuda grass playing characteristics

April 18, 2004

Question:

A golf course in my area recently switched to using Bermuda grass. I have not played this course since the conversion. Does Bermuda grass typically play different than other grass types?

Averill Anderson
Salisbury, MD

Answer:

Hi Averill,

Sure, each type of grass has its own textures and playing characteristics. Bermuda rough can be brutal (thick and fluffy), and older styles of Bermuda greens can be very grainy and tough to putt. Sometimes the ball can sit up like it's on a tee in Bermuda fairways. And Bermuda can play very differently depending on the time of year (e.g., most Bermuda goes dormant in the winter and turns yellow-ish). It also depends on the type of Bermuda and how it is maintained.

As you can see there are a lot of variables, but learning to play from different grasses is part of the challenge of golf, another aspect of the game that makes it interesting and part of every golfer's development. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > What is hitting from the top?

April 12, 2004

Question:

Can you explain what "hitting from the top" means? I do this periodically and I have a tough time visualizing what happens and how to correct it. I don't seem to do it as much when I concentrate on my shoulder turn on the back swing and remember to initiate the down swing by pulling the butt end of the club down. Can you elaborate and tell me if I am on the right track? Thanks.

Tom Reed
West Hartford, CT

Answer:

Hi Tom,

Hitting from the top means that your arms and hands initiate the downswing (or that they contribute mightily to, and very early in, the downswing). The most common results are fat shots or over-the-top/outside-in swings, which commonly cause sliced, pulled, shanked shots.

You may be on the right track; I'd have to work with you in person to say for sure, and would have to know exactly what you mean by "pulling the butt end of the club down" (that sounds a bit generic -- if you mean the club gets pulled down because your shoulders turn and your arm is connected that's probably okay; if you mean you literally pull the club down with active movement of your arm itself that is still basically the same hitting from the top problem).

Again, I'd have to see you swing and work with you in person to give you any meaningful analysis and correction. If you ever visit the San Francisco bay area of Northern California contact me for a private golf school or an individual lesson. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Diameter of the hole

April 7, 2004

Question:

I'm wondering what the diameter of the hole is.

Sheila Terpin
Danbury, CT

Answer:

4.25 inches -- seems smaller sometimes, though, huh? smile

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > Hand position at address

April 2, 2004

Question:

I am confused about where your hands should be at address. My uncle who used to be number one in Northern California barely has his hands in front of the ball. I have lately put my hands well ahead of the ball at address. I was wondering where the right hand placement for irons and woods should be. Thank You.

Douglas Trinchero
Santa Cruz, CA

Answer:

Hi Douglas,

Different players (e.g., your uncle, a random tour player, a weekend golfer) can make a lot of different things work with enough other things (e.g., talent, experience, feel) in place. As a general rule, try making your left arm and shaft form a straight line from the face-on view when you look in the mirror -- that should at least get you in the ballpark. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. Best of luck with your game. MB

Equipment > All the clubs and what they're for

March 30, 2004

Question:

I am just a beginner and I am wondering if you could describe the different types of golf clubs to me and what their uses are, such as an 8 iron, when is it best to use that club, and so on.

Kim O'Dwyer
Dawson Creek, BC, Canada

Answer:

Hi Kim,

See my free online book for beginners for all that kind of stuff. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Mental Game > Focusing

March 22, 2004

Question:

I am a 11 handicapper, 54 years, trying to stay up with 15 and 16 year old sons. Still have the distance, but lately I have trouble focusing on the ball which of course causes some real nasty hits. Any drills for focus?

Bob Geise
Hagerstown, IN

Answer:

Hi Bob,

If you mean visually I suppose the obvious answer is glasses, no?

If you mean mentally, I can suggest this great book and CD on the mental game -- it's the best. Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com -- best of luck with your game. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > Are "range finders" allowed?

March 19, 2004

Question:

Are handheld "range finder" devices really legal in Tour play?

Jeffrey Camden
St. Petersburg, FL

Answer:

No, Jeffrey, not in competition. You can use them when you practice, though. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > "Hit Fairway" statistic

March 11, 2004

Question:

If you drive the green on a par four and are putting for eagle, is your drive considered in the "fairway" for statistical purposes?

Dan Adams
Cleveland, OH

Answer:

I've never considered that, Dan. But I don't see how it couldn't count as a fairway hit. I guess you'd have to contact the statisticians at the PGA Tour to find out for sure how they do it, but I assume it is a fairway hit. Interesting aside: if you reach the green in two on a par 5 you'd think you had a "green in regulation," right? But what if your first putt (your third shot on the hole) ran off the green? Don't be counting those chickens... Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Professional golf-related > What does "Open" or "Invitational" mean?

March 5, 2004

Question:

I asked my husband, the golfer, what the difference was between and "open" and an "invitational" tournament? He wasn't sure.

Jane McDonald
Reno, NV

Answer:

Hi Jane,

Open means it's open to all qualifiers and Invitational means it's by invitation only.

Mental Game > Blow up holes

March 1, 2004

Question:

I will golf the first 5 or 6 holes on any course at -2 to +2 but after that my game goes consistently downhill. I usually end the first 9 at about +10 to +12 and end the round at +18 to +24. I know that my swing is sound (at least for those first 5 or 6 holes so there are only 2 things I can think of that could be causing the problem. 1. My golf muscles get tired after five or six holes (I only golf about once a week) or 2. It's something mental that I just can't figure out and don't know how to fix if I do figure it out. ANYTHING you can tell me to help would be GREAT!

Ron Baker
Gansevoort, NY

Answer:

Hi Ron,

You play the first 5 or 6 holes on the front nine between 2 under and 2 over par, and the last 3 or 4 holes between 8 and 14 over par? Sounds like a mental issue, from your description. It's unlikely golf would tire a healthy individual out after 5 or 6 holes, and certainly not that much. I recommend this great book and CD for the mental game. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Short Game > Putting one-handed

February 29, 2004

Question:

My golfing buddy putts one-handed, is this legal?

Charles Lacaspar
Orlando, FL

Answer:

Sure is, Charles. As a matter of fact, PGA Tour player Mike Hulbert from down your way had at least one very good season and I believe he even won on the tour putting one-handed (though I'm not sure he does it any more). Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB

Miscellaneous > Golf course-related > The term "Links" for golf courses

February 23, 2004

Question:

Why are golf courses also called links?

Clem Caron
Essex, Ontario, Canada

Answer:

Hi Clem,

Originally golf courses were made on "links land," which meant any seaside grassy area. Over time the term has been generalized to refer to any golf course.

But, to me, golf holes also seem like links of a chain (when seen from above and in the way they are connected: the green from one hole adjacent to the tee of the next, etc.). Of course, that is just my take and has nothing to do with the official etymology of the term, or anything I've actually ever heard. smile (See also "links") Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > Irons > Should you use a tee or not?

February 19, 2004

Question:

When teeing off with an iron is it better that you play from the ground and not a tee?

John Marc Edun
London, UK

Answer:

Hi John Marc,

It's totally personal preference. I always play the ball on the ground unless I'm using a driver (and occasionally I play it from the ground as well). Most players put the ball on a tee. Again, it's up to you. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Equipment > Is Firm the same as Stiff?

February 11, 2004

Question:

Is a firm flex the same as a stiff flex in a golf shaft?

Tom Morley
Colchester, VT

Answer:

Hi Tom,

Probably, but it depends on the manufacturer and their quality control. You'd need to test the frequency (see frequency) to say for sure. After all, the label on the shaft is just paint or a stick on -- could be any flex. See also this previous answer about shaft flexes. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > Tennis elbow problem

February 7, 2004

Question:

Since the beginning of spring I've been hitting 300 balls every day on the practice range and I must say my swing has improved tenfold. Ever since I started "passing my right hand" I've gained more power and lost the slice. Only problem is that I've developed a sharp pain in my right elbow. I am told its a "tennis elbow." At 51 years old, healing could take a while. Should I stop practising or go back to my original swing which was much "flatter" and created monster bananas?

Larry Hebert
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Answer:

Hi Larry,

If your injury is a result of the new swing there's something wrong with the swing -- there shouldn't be any "tennis elbow" or pain (though 300 balls a day might be a lot, especially if you practice on mats and/or didn't build up to it). You'd be best advised to have the swing checked and corrected. But while healing you might consider spending the amount of time that it takes you to hit those 300 balls on short game -- may be a big payoff. smile

Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com and best of luck with your game. MB

Equipment > Larger grip sizes terminology

February 1, 2004

Question:

When it gives dimensions of a grip, for instance plus one thirty second of an inch, what exactly does that mean?

Rachel Anter
Providence, RI

Answer:

Hi Rachel,

It means that the diameter of the grip is 1/32 of an inch wider than standard (standards may vary between manufacturers). Larger grip diameters are usually achieved by adding layers of masking tape (or some other kind of tape) on the shaft before installing the grip. These layers of tape are also sometimes called "wraps." Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. Best of luck with your game. MB

Miscellaneous > Golf course-related > Why do golf courses have 18 holes?

January 30, 2004

Question:

Why are there 18 holes on a golf course?

Rob Cline
Los Angeles, CA

Answer:

Hi Rob,

Pretty arbitrary, really. St. Andrews, the most important, if not the original, course in golf's history, ended up with 18 holes and it stuck. There were golf courses with different numbers of holes, but after about 1900 18 holes became traditional. Thanks for your question and for visiting PGAProfessional.com. MB


Long Game > General > Previously injured finger problem

January 24, 2004

Question:

I'm a right handed golfer so my left arm and hand play a major role in my swing. I broke my left hand ring finger several years ago and I'm unable to grip my club with this finger. Will this limit my ability effectively hit a golf ball?

Craig Chamberlain
Grand Haven, MI

Answer:

Hi Craig,

I suppose it's possible that the injured finger could diminish your effectiveness (I'd have to see the hand in action with your swing to really comment), but the pinky and middle finger can usually cover it in most cases. The grip, ideally, involves light pressure and a reaction to the centrifugal force rather than a voluntary contraction, anyway. I'm sure you can adjust in some way. After all, there are one-armed golfers that do just fine Thanks for visiting PGAProfessional.com -- best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > General > Flying elbow question

January 19, 2004

Question:

I find that I strike the ball better when I do the flying elbows rather than the classic (and "correct") elbow 90 degrees to the body posture. Now should I do the flying elbows style because it works for me, even though it's wrong or am I grooving in a bad habit that I will regret later?

Zul Othman
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Answer:

Hi Zul,

Well, not knowing your game and without seeing your swing I couldn't possibly say. If it's a "mild case" it may be workable, there have been a few good players that had flying elbows. It's certainly not the most efficient way to swing, but individuals can vary widely in their abilities and the adjustments they make.

Of course, I'd have to see you in person to give you any meaningful analysis and correction. If you ever visit the San Francisco bay area of Northern California contact me for a golf school or an individual lesson. I can help much more effectively in person.

Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Equipment > Which one club would you use?

January 12, 2004

Question:

If you could play with only one club and a putter, which club would it be?

Ed Brown
Hattiesburg, MS

Answer:

Without knowing the specific course I'd have to say I'd probably take a 4 or 5 iron, Ed. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Rules, Etiquette and Procedures > When to move from white to blue tee blocks

January 4, 2004

Question:

How do you determine when you are ready to move from the white tees to the blue tees? Is there any easy way?

Mike Cowell
Boston, MA

Answer:

Hi Mike,

Well, the criteria that I would use is if you can comfortably reach all the par 4's in 2 shots from the blues then you might give them a try. Of course, if you have enough distance to reach the par 4's in two but your consistency is such that you can't break 90 from the blues, I'd reconsider moving up. But that's just my opinion. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

Long Game > Irons > Short yardage approach shot distance control

January 2, 2004

Question:

I can't seem to hit the ball under 120m, even with my pitching wedge. How do I shorten the distance the ball is going?

Phillip Cowell
Beijing, China

Answer:

Hi Phillip,

You need to control, or vary, the size/length of the swing to control the distance (example: half backswing with half follow-through). Thanks for visiting and best of luck with your game. MB

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