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Subject: rec.sport.golf Golf FAQ
This article was archived around: 27 Jan 1998 19:05:54 GMT
Last Modified: Thu Nov 6 12:52:50 EST 1997
This is the Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) list for GOLF
FAQ for GOLF
This FAQ list is intended to cut down on the number of "often asked
questions" that make the rounds here on rec.sport.golf and GOLF-L. This
FAQ list will be posted at least once a month. If you don't understand
something in the FAQ List, contact me and I'll attempt to help or else
point you to someone who can. In any case, let me know how I can make
the list more clear.
Send your additions/modifications to:
Marcelo Gallardo - marcelo@dunkin.Princeton.EDU
Contents and Changes
Changes and Additions are noted by an *
1. Resource Information
1. List of Contributors
2. Electronic Newsgroups and Mailing Lists
3. List of Golf Archives
2. Equipment Information
1. Types of Golf Clubs
2. Types of Golf Balls
3. Types of Irons
4. Types of Woods
5. Types of Shafts
6. Types of Grips
3. Score and Handicap Information
1. Handicap Information
2. Scoring/Handicapping Systems
4. Instructional Information
1. What is a push/pull fade/draw hook/slice
2. What causes/How do I cure a slice/hook
3. What clubs should I buy
4. Should I buy Name Brand Clubs, or CustomFit/CustomBuilt Clubs
5. How does one find/pick a Custom Clubmaker
6. How do I build my own clubs
7. USGA Course Rating Information
1. Etiquette Tips
2. Hitting in Regulation
3. USGA Information
List of Contributors to the GOLF FAQ List
I would like to thank all the various people who have contributed to
the GOLF FAQ List (both those that submitted questions as well as those
who submitted answers). If I've left you out, PLEASE E-mail me!
In no particular order:
o Dave Tutelman
o Mark Koenig
o Paul Bardak
o Brian Zimmerman
o Paul Jones
o Lothar Bittner
o Steve Blessing
o James F. Tims
o Chester Lee Barber
o Jonathan Reeve
o York Davis
o Jack Davis
o Paul Stroud
o Hal Hansen
o Steve Blessing
o John Campbell
o Randy Schrickel
o Peter Rigsbee
o Mark Dowdy
o Jeff Lovelace
o Dana Dawson
o Dave Stokes
o Alan Greenspan
o Martin Olivera
o Chris Tanski Jr.
o Iggy Konrad
o Ray Owen
o E. Reed Wilbur
o Bertil Engelholm
o Jeffrey Seymour
o Bob Ray
o Michael Wang
o Bruce Fisher
o Jack Miller
o Jerry Sy
o Phil Yastrow
o J. Gilliard
Electronic Newsgroups and Mailing Lists
rec.sport.golf is a newsgroup which discusses ANY subject as it
pertains to golf. For those people interested in the rules of golf,
handicapping procedures, golf equipment, swing techniques, or you just
want some information on golf courses across the globe this is the
place you want to be.
Recently there has been a discussion regarding COMMERCIAL postings on
rec.sport.golf. A COMMERCIAL posting is one in which you attempt to
SELL or ADVERTISE a product.
The readers of rec.sport.golf have decided that they DO NOT want to see
To aid the readers in stopping these advertisements, a directory on
dunkin.Princeton.EDU has been allocated for thise purpose. In this
directory, people/companies wishing to advertise their merchandise may
place an "ad". You may connect to the directory via the WWW at
http://dunkin.Princeton.EDU/.golf/misc/Ads, or via anonymous ftp.
GOLF-L@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU is a mailing list which has a gateway to the
rec.sport.golf newsgroup. This means that messages sent to the GOLF-L mailing
list will show up in rec.sport.golf, and messages posted to
rec.sport.golf will pass through the GOLF-L mailing list. So for those of you
that can't access USENET, you can still have access to all of the
information posted to rec.sport.golf.
In order to be placed on the GOLF-L mailing list, you will have to send a mail
message to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU. The body of the message should
contain the following command...
SUBSCRIBE GOLF-L Greg Norman (use your name instead of Greg Norman)
You should receive a message within a few hours from Listserv asking
you to confirm your subscription. You must then follow the instructions
and confirm your subscription within 48 hrs. or the command will be
cancelled. After the subscription is confirmed, you will be added to
For help or more information regarding the GOLF-L Mailing List, send a message
to email@example.com (owner of GOLF-L).
firstname.lastname@example.org is a mailing list discussion group on topics
relating to the craft of custom clubmaking and golf club repair. You
can exchange clubmaking tips and questions with fellow clubmakers.
To subscribe to the ShopTalk mailing list, you will need to send a mail
message to email@example.com. The body of the message should
contain the following command...
The SUBJECT line should be left blank.
For more information regarding the ShopTalk Mailing List, send a
message to firstname.lastname@example.org (owner of ShopTalk).
List of Golf Archives
An archive consisting of information related to golf is being kept on
The "articles" deal with things ranging from course information and
desciptions, to club making and design, and even a few GIFs of famous
The files in this archive are available by ftpmail server, anonymous
FTP, and WWW on dunkin.Princeton.EDU.
If there is any information you would like to see placed in the
archives, either drop them off via Anonymous FTP on
dunkin.Princeton.EDU, or send them via mail to
There lives an ftpmail server that will get files from the archive and
mail them to you. If you send mail to ftpmail@dunkin.Princeton.EDU,
with the commands in the body of the message, you should receive the
files via mail within a few days (usually the same day).
FTPMail works almost like anonymous ftp, except that commands are sent
via email, and the files are returned via email. ALL commands should be
put in the message BODY and NOT in the headers.
So for example if you wanted the clubdesn.0 article, you would send
mail to ftpmail@dunkin.Princeton.EDU with a line in the body which
looks like this...
You can retrieve several files at the same time by adding the commands
on separate lines like so...
or for the same set of files...
or for the indexes...
If you need any more help, you can send a message to the mail server (
ftpmail@dunkin.Princeton.EDU) with the message of "help" (without the
quotes), or send mail to marcelo@dunkin.Princeton.EDU.
The golf archive is also accessible via anonymous FTP on
For those of you unfamiliar with anonymous ftp, here is an anonymous
ftp session to help guide you. I recommend looking through the
news.answers and news.announce.newusers news groups for further
% ftp dunkin.Princeton.EDU
Connected to dunkin.Princeton.EDU.
220 dunkin.Princeton.EDU FTP server (Version wu-2.1b(2) Tue Jul 20
14:35:05 EDT 1993) ready.
Name (dunkin.Princeton.EDU:marcelo): anonymous
331 Guest login ok, send your complete e-mail address as password.
Password: marcelo@Princeton.EDU < (you will not see this on the screen)
230 Guest login ok, access restrictions apply.
ftp> cd pub/golf < (top directory for GOLF archive)
250 CWD command successful.
ftp> dir < (gets directory listing)
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for /bin/ls.
drwxr-xr-x 6 1000 bin 1024 Aug 4 16:02 .
drwxr-xr-x 4 bin bin 512 Jun 10 02:54 ..
drwxr-xr-x 2 1000 bin 1024 Aug 4 23:27 clubmaking
drwxr-xr-x 2 1000 bin 512 Aug 4 23:28 gifs
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 33951 Sep 29 03:26 golf.faq
drwxr-xr-x 2 1000 bin 512 Sep 16 23:42 misc
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 202574 Aug 4 16:04 pkz204g.exe
226 Transfer complete.
507 bytes received in 0.57 seconds (0.87 Kbytes/s)
ftp> cd clubmaking
250 CWD command successful.
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for /bin/ls.
drwxr-xr-x 2 1000 bin 1024 Aug 4 23:27 .
drwxr-xr-x 6 1000 bin 1024 Aug 4 16:02 ..
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 1021 Jul 16 01:37 cast.forged.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 3355 Jun 10 03:07 clubdesn.0.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 5912 Jun 10 03:07 clubdesn.1.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 11287 Jun 10 03:07 clubdesn.2.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 8177 Jun 10 03:07 clubdesn.3.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 5579 Jun 10 03:07 clubdesn.4.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 13144 Jun 10 03:07 clubdesn.5.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 1956 Jun 10 03:07 clubmake.start.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 5727 Jun 10 03:07 clubmake.tips.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 2344 Jun 10 03:07 clubmake.tips.addendum.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 1224 Jun 10 03:07 golf.assoc.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 5021 Jun 10 03:07 golf.comp.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 781 Jun 10 03:07 golf.paint.tip.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 898 Jun 10 03:07 grip.tips.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 1140 Jun 10 03:07 grphite.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 3764 Jul 16 01:38 ladies.clubs.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 1399 Jun 10 03:07 more.grip.tips.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 608 Jun 10 03:07 swgwght.cht.Z
-rw-r--r-- 1 1000 bin 6339 Jun 10 03:13 swingwht.tar.Z
226 Transfer complete.
1446 bytes received in 0.68 seconds (2.1 Kbytes/s)
ftp> bin < (set FTP into binary transfer mode)
200 Type set to I.
ftp> get clubdesn.0.Z < (requests clubdesn.0.Z to be sent to you)
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening BINARY mode data connection for clubdesn.0.Z (3355 bytes).
226 Transfer complete.
local: clubdesn.0.Z remote: clubdesn.0.Z
3355 bytes received in 0.7 seconds (4.7 Kbytes/s)
ftp> quit < (self explanatory)
For more information on how to use anonymous FTP, please send mail to
For those of you that have a WWW client, the archives are available via
WWW on dunkin.Princeton.EDU.
General Golf Club Information
What is a WOOD/IRON?
Historically the "wood" was made of wood (hence the name), but they
now come in a variety materials. They are also generally "bigger",
in terms of size, than other clubs. "Woods" are typically long
distance clubs meant to be used when distance is more important than
accuracy. A driver is usually a '1' wood with somewhere between 8
and 12 degrees of loft (0 degrees of loft would be perpendicular to
Irons were originally made using "iron", but are now genarally made
from steel. "Irons" are smaller than "woods", and are considered to
be "finesse" clubs, meant to be used when accuracy is needed rather
What does the number on the club mean?
For the most part, the number "represents" the loft of a club. The
lower the number, the lower the loft and the longer the club. The lower
loft and longer club will result in greater distance with a loss of
accuracy. This also equates to lower numbered clubs being more
difficult to hit.
What makes a "set" of clubs?
A "set" of golf clubs is restricted to no more than 14 clubs. What
constitutes this "set" depends on your preferences.
In general, a "set" will include the following clubs:
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW
1, 3, 5
and a putter
This is not to say you have to carry all of these clubs. For example, a
beginner may carry a Driver (1 wood) or 3 wood, a 3, 5, 7, and 9 iron,
as well as a putter.
Types of Golf Balls
Balata vs Surlyn
Balata and Surlyn are ball-covering materials. But there are typically
other differences between balata and surlyn balls besides the cover.
A balata covered ball is typically a three-piece ball: a core wound
with rubber and covered with balata. There has been a lot of discussion
as to what "balata" is. Let's just say that balata is a soft substance
which leads to cuts and nicks. This "softness" is said to offer "better
playability" which is to say that the golfer can "shape" his/her shot
(fade/draw), and get more "action" (backspin) on the greens.
A surlyn covered ball is typically a two-piece ball: a solid core with
the surlyn cover. Surlyn is a man made "uncuttable" substance which is
designed to eliminate the cuts and nicks. The drawbacks of the harder
ball are that it is more difficult to "shape" his/her shot (fade/draw),
and get "action" (backspin) on the greens.
** Balata **
1. Softer cover
o Better spin
o scuffs and cuts easily
2. "Works" the ball better because of spin (Draw, fade, backspin)
3. Usually three-piece ball (Liquid-filled core, wound rubber, and cover)
4. Usually more expensive:
o Higher first cost
o Shorter life
** Surlyn **
1. Harder cover
o Not as much spin
o resists scuffs and cuts
2. More distance
3. Usually two-piece ball (Solid core and cover)
4. Usually less expensive:
o Lower first cost
o Longer life
Compression of a golf ball is designed to match the "feel" of the ball
to the golfer's preference. Typical compression ratings are between 80
and 100, with most players using a 90 compression ball as a compromise.
Many above average golfers tend to agree that hitting a 100 compression
ball feels like "hitting a rock". Contrary to golfing myth, there is no
correlation between compression and distance.
Now what you really want to know: Determining the type of ball you
should use, as well as the compression is purely preference. Some
people find that a surlyn covered ball is quite playable, while others
feel they need the "action" a balata ball gives. I generally play
whatever ball I find while searching for the ball I lost, but then
again I'm not on the PGA tour.
Types of Irons
A "positive" or master model of the clubhead is made, usually made of
aluminum, which contains all engraved markings, scoring lines, and even
the hosel hole. Wax is injected into the master, which yields a
positive "wax" clubhead. The clubhead is then dipped into ceramic
several times to produce the negative mold. The wax is then melted, and
stainless steel poured into the ceramic mold. When the ceramic casting
is removed, you have the clubhead ready to be painted.
Forging a club is very similar to what the village blacksmith used to
do. Dies are "sunk" or cut, by milling the desired impression, and
forging is accomplished with a "drop hammer". The manufacturer is then
presented with a raw forging, which is a close approximation of the
clubhead desired. The clubhead must then be finished by milling,
grinding and drilling.
A Muscleback iron, also known as a "blade", has generally been
associated as a "forged" iron. While the manufacturing process isn't
really important, the design of the clubhead is. The muscleback iron
distributes the weight evenly throughout the entire head, producing a
small "sweet spot" in the center of the head. This is to say that a
shot hit in the center of the face will produce a longer, straighter
flight trajectory. Shots which aren't hit pure (off-center) will
produce a shorter, unpredictable flight trajectory.
A cavity back iron, also known as perimeter weighted, has generally
been associated as an investment cast iron. Again while the
manufacturing process isn't really important, the design of the
clubhead is. The cavity back iron distributes the weight around the
perimeter of the head, producing a large "sweet spot". This makes the
off-center shots more forgiving, flying longer and straighter, than an
off-center shot with a muscleback iron.
** Investment cast **
o Usually a Cavity back
o Peripheral weighting, if cavity back
o More forgiving, due to cavity back
o Stainless steel
** Forged **
o Usually a Blade or Muscleback
o Central weighting, if a blade or muscleback
o Better "feel", due to muscleback design
o Carbon steel & chrome
Now what you really want to know: When investment cast heads were first
introduced, several companies claimed that the "feel" of the head was
lost. These same companies also claimed it was more difficult to "work"
the ball with the cast heads. Keep in mind that most golfers tend to
believe that a muscleback iron (usually forged) produces more "feel"
than the cavity back models (usually investment casted). They also say
that it is easier to "shape" the shot using the blades over the
perimeter weighted clubs. Before making a decision, you should try a
few muscleback and cavity back irons and see for yourself. For more
information please refer to Dave Tutelman's "Designing golf clubs"
Types of Woods
There are basically two types of wood used, persimmon and maple.
o Solid heads are usually persimmon.
o Laminated ("plywood") heads are usually maple.
Persimmon heads are made by using a sophisticated turning machine. The
process is much like making a duplicate key for a lock. The second, and
most commonly used, wood is laminated maple. Generally, 1/16-inch
veneers of maple are laminated together much like a sheet of plywood.
Then the veneers are heated and pressurized, and finally turned like
the persimmon heads. While many golfers indicate that they have a more
solid feel at impact with persimmon heads, studies show no support of
this. Other golfers prefer the laminated maple, reasoning that they
Investment cast metal heads have gained popularity, mainly because of
the added control of peripheral weighting (which was not a true design
goal, but a product of the casting process to achieve proper weight).
The stainless steel heads are cast hollow to restrict excessive weight,
and usually filled with polyurethane to muffle impact noise. Metal
"wood" heads have also been noted as adding distance to center and
The same material that is used for shafts is also used to make graphite
heads. There are two subtle variances in manufacturing techniques. In
one case, the graphite prepreg is mixed with an ABS plastic, and is
injection molded into a head. In the second version the prepreg is
given an epoxy base and the mixture is compression molded. Graphite
heads are manufactured with the same weight as the wood and metal
heads, but are generally much larger than conventional heads. This
increases the size of the "Sweet spot". No tests yet have proven
graphite heads to be more forgiving or longer than other materials.
The general consensus is that "oversized" heads, generally made of
stainless steel or graphite, create a larger "sweet spot". This
produces a longer and straighter flight trajectory on off-center hits.
When using stainless steel, the walls of the head must be made thinner
to keep the overall weight "normal" (191-205 grams for a 1 wood). This
has caused some metal "wood" faces to "crush" or dent. For this reason,
some manufacturers are bringing "Mid-sized" metal woods to market,
which allows the "sweet spot" to stay large, yet keeps the walls of the
head thick to prevent denting.
Metal with Composite Face
In conjunction with "oversized" clubheads, manufacturers are starting
to use "face inserts" (normally plastic, graphite or lightweight
metals). This allows them to produced the larger sized heads without
worrying about the face crushing or denting. This also allows them to
keep the overall weight of the head down. Face inserts, in metal
"woods", is a fairly new design, and tests regarding their playability
and forgiveness have not been published.
Now what you really want to know: The type of "wood" you should use can
only be determined by what "feels right". While metal and graphite
heads can offer forgiveness on off-center shots, some argue that you
lose the feel you receive from true "wood" heads. Like the irons, you
should try several before buying.
Types of Shafts
I found this to be the most difficult FAQ to answer. The shaft is the
most complex piece of a golf club, and probably the most important.
With varying degrees of flex, flex locations, weight, length,
materials, torque, etc., an article devoted entirely to the shaft is
needed, but not available. I'll do my best to answer some of the
questions regarding them.
Steel shafts are generally made from carbon steel or occasionally from
stainless steel. For the most part, the manufacturing process between
the two are similar. A steel strip is rolled into a tube, and is drawn
over a mandrel until the diameter and wall thickness are reduced to
their exact specifications. At this point the step pattern is formed on
the shaft. Then the walls are made thinner at the grip and thicker at
the tip to give the shaft its flex characteristics. Then it is
hardened, tempered, straightened and stress relieved. The final step is
to polish and chrome plate the shaft. One of the best features of the
steel shaft is the ability to have the same "feel" throughout the
entire set. This means that the stiffness in the 3 iron will will be
the same as the 9 iron. Other features are its durability and price.
Graphite shafts are made from a graphite tape. The tape, which has an
epoxy binder, is wrapped around a steel mandrel. The wrapped shaft is
then temperature cured and the mandrel removed. The raw shaft is then
sanded and cut to proper length, at which point it receives a clear or
colored paint coating. Its most talked about feature is its light
weight. It also helps dampen the vibration caused by clubhead impact
with the ground. A few of the drawbacks are the "feel" of the shaft
(some people complain that a stiff graphite shaft does not feel like a
stiff steel shaft), the stiffness may not be consistent throughout a
set, and its price tag. A new manufacturing process called "filament
winding" can produce a set with more consistency, but at a higher
I have very little information regarding the titanium shaft and its
manufacturing process. Among some of its features are its weight
(lighter than steel), and its vibration dampening. Some complaints are
that the shafts are too stiff, and it carries a big price.
The stiffness, flex, or deflection of a shaft defines the bending
characteristics of the tube, when a load is applied to the shaft. The
most common shaft flexes are designated as X (extra-stiff), S (stiff),
R (regular), A (man's flexible), or L (ladies'). For people with high
swing speeds, it's desirable to have a stiffer shaft to keep the club
head from lagging behind. For people with slower swing speeds, the more
flexible shafts offer an extra "kick" at the bottom of the downswing to
help propel the ball.
Some shafts are rated for "frequency", an alternative way to express
stiffness.The "frequency" indicates how how fast a "standard" club
would vibrate if made with that shaft. The stiffer the shaft, the
faster it will vibrate. A rough guide to translate between frequency
and traditional stiffness ratings is:
Generally torque is a rating applied to a graphite shaft. It specifies
the "twisting" characteristics of the shaft. The normal torque rating
of a steel shaft for woods is about 2.5 degrees, and 1.7 for the irons.
The general range of torque ratings found on graphite shafts are from
3.5 to 5.5 degrees, although it is possible to get shafts with lower or
higher ratings. The higher the torque rating, the more the shaft twists
for a given twisting force. The torque rating also seems to be tied to
the stiffness of a shaft. The lower the torque rating, the stiffer the
The kickpoint, bendpoint, or flexpoint defines where the shaft will
bend. It affects the trajectory of the shot; the higher the kickpoint,
the lower the trajectory. The effect in trajectory is small but
measurable. For someone that generally hits the ball with a high shot
trajectory, a High kickpoint is desirable in a shaft. For someone with
a low shot trajectory, a Low kickpoint helps get the ball airborne and
on a higher flight path. The kickpoint also affects the "feel" of the
shaft. A golfer who can feel the difference finds the high bend point
makes the shaft feel like "one piece", while with the low bend point,
the shaft feels as though the tip whips the clubhead through the ball.
Now what you really want to know: The type of shaft a person should use
is one of the most often asked questions. It is also one of the most
unanswered questions. Choosing the material, flex, and kickpoint of a
shaft will depend entirely on what "feels" right when you swing the
club. Someone with a high swing speed may choose a steel shaft with a
flex rating of X and a low kickpoint, while someone with the same swing
speed may choose a graphite shaft with a flex rating of R and a high
kickpoint. The general consensus is see your local Pro and see what
he/she recommends. Make your decision from there. For more information
please refer to Dave Tutelman's "Designing golf clubs" articles.
Types of Grips
Rubber grips are made by adding granulated cork, as well as other
materials in the liquid rubber. The "cork" serves to displace the
rubber, and is the reason many grips are called "composition" grips. It
also makes the overall weight of the grip lighter. The rubber/cork
blend is checked to assure the proper viscosity, and is then molded in
a high pressure molding machine. After molding, the grips are sanded
and painted. Some of the features of rubber grips are: easy
installation, "reminder ribs" for hand placement, and they are less
Most of the "stars" over forty use leather, while the younger players
use various rubber molded grips. The reason has very little to do with
the quality or playability of the grip, but simply a difference in what
each generation has been accustomed to. One of the features of leather
grips (generally made of cowhide or calfskin) is that they have a nice
soft, pliable, tacky feel. A few of the drawbacks are its difficulty to
install, and its price.
Most of the more popular rubber models come in an optional "cord" grip,
in which strands of fabric thread are embedded in the rubber grip. This
makes for a better non-slip contact with hand or glove, especially when
wet with rain or sweat. However, it does wear out gloves faster than
non-cord grips. (Hands, too. :-)
Many of the "cord" models also come as "half-cord", in which the top of
the grip (where your thumbs are) are smooth rubber and the bottom
(where your fingers wrap around the club) are cord.
** Rubber Grips **
o Slip-on design
o Easy to install
o Less expensive
o Rough when corded
** Leather Grips **
o Usually wrapped spiral design
o Harder to install
o More expensive
o Natural soft, tacky feel
Grips come in a standard size, but can be padded to a larger diameter
with tape on the shaft under the grip. It is also possible to get
larger and smaller diameter grips. A few of the pros and cons:
** Oversized **
o For larger hands
o Minimize arthritis pain
o Decreases hand action, promoting a slice
** Undersized **
o For smaller hands (most women)
o Increases hand action, promoting a hook
Now what you really want to know: The type of grips a person uses will
be based on "feel". Some people like the natural soft feel of the
leather grips, while others refuse to use anything but corded composite
grips. Try going to a local golf shop and seeing which grips "feel"
right - and you can afford.
Most of the following information was taken from articles posted to
rec.sport.golf with permission from the authors.
A handicap is only an Official USGA Handicap Index if you get it from a
golf club which follows the USGA Handicap System. The good news is that
becoming a member of a golf club doesn't have to be difficult or
Many public courses host golf clubs with modest membership fees. Club
membership often entitles you to a few extra benefits - such as reduced
green fees, preferred starting times, as well as a chance to play in
club sponsored tournaments and meet new people. At the other end of the
scale are private clubs which can cost thousands of dollars per year
and may have long waiting lists.
Can't find a reasonably-priced golf club to join, or you don't want to
feel tied to one golf course? Then consider joining, or forming, a golf
club that doesn't have its own course. The USGA doesn't require a club
to have a course, and the minimum membership is just 10 golfers who
have a reasonable and regular opportunity to play golf with one
another. Some clubs call themselves traveling clubs and host regular
outings at different courses throughout the year. Check with the USGA
for specific information on forming a "Golf Club".
More information regarding the USGA Handicap System can be found at
http://www.usga.org/handicap/index.html, or you can contact the USGA
** Handicapping Systems **
Quick Reference Allowance (QRA)
The USGA has developed a simple, but relatively effective estimator of
a player's ability called "QRA" for "Quick Reference Allowance." QRA is
not a substitute for the USGA Handicap System, but can produce fairly
equitable results and is the best system for handicapping the otherwise
To create a player's QRA, the tournament committee simply asks each
un-handicapped player to submit his three best scores made on a
regulation course (with par of 68 or more) in the last 12 months.
Combine these scores with any previous scores that the player has made
in a tournament in the past two years.
The player's QRA is the second best score minus 70 for men or 73 for
Modified Peoria System
The next best alternative, according to USGA studies, is to use a hole
score selection system, often called the "Peoria system." Under this
system, a player learns his handicap after the round is completed. By
this method, the committee secretly selects a par-3 hole, a par-5 hole
and four par-4 holes from an 18-hole course. The par-4s should be
representative in length and difficulty with two chosen from the front
nine and two from the back nine.
A modified Peoria handicap is calculated by adding the player's strokes
over par on the six selected holes, and multiplying by 2.8. This will
equal the player's allowance to be deducted from his gross score. The
maximum hole score for allowance purposes is three over par on par-3s
and 4s and four over par on par-5s.
The Callaway System is a so-called "one-round" system or "worst-holes"
system that compresses the spread of gross scores when converted to net
scores. It is not a reliable handicap system and produces a result such
that the player with the lowest gross score almost always becomes the
low net score winner. Most players with higher gross scores are given
net scores within a few strokes of the winner so that most players can
By the Callaway System, a player's allowance is determined after each
round by deducting from his gross score for 18 holes the scores of the
worst individual holes during the first 16 holes. The table below shows
the number of "worst hole" scores he may deduct and the adjustment to
be made, based on his gross score.
-- -- 70 71 72 scratch - no adjustment
73 74 75 -- -- 1/2 worst hole and adjustment
76 77 78 79 80 1 worst hole and adjustment
81 82 83 84 85 1 1/2 worst holes and adjustment
86 87 88 89 90 2 worst holes and adjustment
91 92 93 94 95 2 1/2 worst holes and adjustment
96 97 98 99 100 3 worst holes and adjustment
101 102 103 104 105 3 1/2 worst holes and adjustment
106 107 108 109 110 4 worst holes and adjustment
111 112 113 114 115 4 1/2 worst holes and adjustment
116 117 118 119 120 5 worst holes and adjustment
121 122 123 124 125 5 1/2 worst holes and adjustment
126 127 128 129 130 6 worst holes and adjustment
Maximum Handicap - 50
-2 -1 0 +1 +2 Add or Deduct to Handicap
1. No hole may be scored at more than twice its par.
2. Half strokes count as whole.
The Scheid System is an alternative "worst-score" system, that has two
advantages over the Callaway method:
1. It allows for a wider range of scores (up to 151)
2. It gives players who normally cannot compete for low gross score an
opportunity to win.
** Scoring Systems **
(also called Medal Play)
Low gross -- no adjustment for handicap
Low net -- subtract your handicap, low score wins
Two players play head to head. Total strokes are not important. The
winner is based on who wins the most holes. The match is over when one
player is ahead by more holes than the number of holes remaining.
Points are allocated based on the net score of each hole. Handicaps are
allocated based on the index of each hole.
You deduct the allocated handicap per hole from the score on the hole
and the points are allocated against the equivalent net score for the
The exact points which are allocated seem to vary.
This refers to a team event which may comprise 2, 3 or 4 players. Each
player will have his/her stroke allowance and the lowest net score
would be recorded at each hole. The total for the complete round would
be the teams best-ball score.
Normally a team of 4. Each player tees off at each hole and then the
team selects the ball which is in the best position and ALL play from
that spot. This repeats for all shots until the hole is finished.
This is where 2 players play one ball hitting alternative shots. One
player will tee off at all the odd numbered holes and the other at the
even numbered holes, no matter who was the last player to play on the
Similar to stableford as far as the allocated shots are concerned but
you either win, halve or lose the hole (+ 0 -). Its a little tougher,
as anything worse than a net par is a loss. At the end you add up your
wins against your losses.
(2 man teams)
Each player hits a tee shot. They then each play a second shot using
their partner's ball. At this point, they select the best ball and the
player who did not hit it plays, alternating shots until the ball is
holed (only the first two shots are hit by both players).
(2 man teams)
Pinehurst is similar to the Chapman format, except that each player
hits a drive, and the best drive is then chosen and players alternate
in from there.Unlike the Chapman, players do not BOTH hit second shots
from their partners drives.
(4 man teams)
The best and worst scores are counted (net or gross).
What is a push/pull fade/draw hook/slice?
A ball whose flight path is straight, with negligible sidespin, that
ends up right of the target. The incidence angle of the clubface is x
degrees to the right of the target , and where the PATH of the clubface
is also x degrees to the right of the target (inside to outside path).
The opposite of push: A ball whose flight path is straight that ends up
left of the target. The incidence angle of the clubface is x degrees
to the left of the target, and where the PATH of the clubface is also x
degrees to the left of the target (outside to inside path).
A straight shot with some sidespin, such that there is slight but
noticible left to right travel by the ball at the end of its flight.
The key words are slight sidespin. Since the forward energy force must
be much greater than that of the sidespin, such that as the ball slows
down at the end of its flight, using up the forward direction energy,
the sidespin takes over and gives the ball its left to right 'fading
action'. The club face is generally open a few degrees at impact, but
the club path is straight along the intended path (directly at the
A curving shot from left to right whereby severe sidespin has been
imparted to the ball such that this spin is of a great enough rate to
govern its direction in a more Left to Right mode than straight. The
clubface is open several degrees relative to the club path.
The opposite type of shot than a fade. A straight shot with a minimum
of sidespin, such that there is slight but noticible right to left
travel by the golf ball. at the end of its flight. The key phrase is
slight sidespin. Since the forward energy force must be much greater
than that of the sidespin, such that as the ball slows down at the end
of its flight, using up the forward direction energy, the sidespin
takes over and gives the ball its right to left 'drawing action'. The
club face is generally closed a few degrees at impact, but the club
path is straight along the intended path (directly at the target).
The opposite of a slice. The clubface is closed more than a few degrees
relative to the club path.
Hope this helps. For more info, see: "The Search For The Perfect Swing"
by Alistair Cochran and John Stobbs.
What causes / How do I cure a slice/hook?
What causes it?
For the most part, a hook or a slice is caused by the clubface being
opened or closed upon contact. Most people also tend to agree that an
inside-to-out swing plane causes a hook, and an outside-to-in swing
plane causes a slice.
o = ball x = clubhead path
o x o x x x o x
HOOK STRAIGHT SLICE
---- -------- -----
How do I cure it?
There are many swing faults that can cause the clubface angle and the
club path to lead you to a hook or a slice. Because it's very difficult
to tell which particular fault(s) causes your hook or slice, it's best
to see your local Golf Professional for an assessment and lesson/.
For those of you that just can't or wont see a Professional, here are a
few swing faults that can promote a hook or a slice:
Outside-in path Inside-out path
Incomplete hand release Too much/early hand release
"Coming over the top" "Casting" from the top
Collapsed left wrist Bowed left wrist
Swing too upright Swing to flat
Not enough legs Too much/early legs
Ball too far back in stance Ball to far forward in stance
What clubs should I buy?
Well, you could start by sitting down and reading through this
document. By honestly judging your abilities, you may be able to decide
if you need peripherally weighted or muscleback clubs. For more
information regarding the characteristics of clubs, download the Club
Design notes from dunkin.Princeton.EDU. The notes are primarily
intended for clubmakers, but the information contained in the notes can
make you a much smarter shopper.
The next logical step is deciding on how much money you want to or are
willing to spend for new clubs. Keep this number in mind when your
shopping for new clubs, if you don't you could wind up spending much
more than you planned on.
Once you have an idea of what type of clubs you want and how much you
plan on spending, go down to your local golf shop or club and try to
hit a few clubs. If your allowed, try to play a round or two with demo
sets. By actually using the clubs in a "golf round" situation, you may
be able to decide if the clubs look, feel, and play the way you would
like them to. If you feel uncomfortable with the clubs don't buy them -
just because your golfing buddy swears by XYZ, doesn't mean you should
If after doing the above, you still can't decide for yourself, go see a
local professional or clubmaker and ask for some help. Either should be
more than willing to help you make a well informed decision.
Should I buy Name Brand Clubs, or CustomFit/CustomBuilt Clubs?
That is a choice left up to the reader. Keep in mind these factors when
making a decision:
1. CustomFit/CustomBuilt clubs are just that. They are built according
to current swing characteristics. Name Brand clubs are built based
on an "average" golfer.
2. CustomFit/CustomBuilt clubs are generally less expensive than Name
3. CustomFit/CustomBuilt clubs may have less of a resale value than
Name Brand clubs.
The most compelling reason to buy CustomFit/CustomBuilt clubs is the
fact that they are built for you. Although price may be a
consideration, don't make it top priority. If it is you may not have
enough confidence in your clubs, which could result in more harm than
You should also note that most Name Brand club manufacturers will make
up a set to your custom specifications. You could order a set of
Titleist DCI's, for instance, with a nonstandard length and lie angle.
The "customization" will usually involve an increase in the purchase
price, and well as add several weeks to delivery.
How does one find/pick a Custom Clubmaker?
There are several ways to find a Custom Clubmaker. Keep in mind that
you will want to shop around, and possibly talk to several clubmakers.
There are a number of referral services that can help. The PCS,
Professional Clubmakers Society, can be reached at 1-800-548-6094 in
the USA and Canada. Their recommendations indicate whether the
clubmaker is qualified as a Class A Clubmaker (based on competence
certification administered by the PCS). You can also call up the major
component vendors (GolfSmith, GolfWorks, Dynacraft) and ask for a
referral. They generally keep a list of clubmakers, and should be more
than happy to give you names, numbers, and possibly even references.
You could also ask your local Pro, or a Golf shop. Generally both the
Pro and Golf shops, will send out clubs repairs to a local clubmaker or
repair shop. If this is the case, they shouldn't have a problem giving
you a the name or telephone number.
You may be able to get a few names and numbers by talking to other
golfers you meet at a range or course. This is also a good way to see
what kind of work the clubmaker will do, and how satisfied some of
his/her customers are.
There is also a directory on dunkin.Princeton.EDU that contains a
listing of Custom Club Builders. This list is available via the Web at
http://dunkin.Princeton.EDU/.golf/clubmaking/Clubmakers/, or via
anonymous ftp. Clubmakers that wish to have themselves added to the
list can contact Marcelo Gallardo at marcelo@dunkin.Princeton.EDU.
Remember that the reason you want to buy CustomFit/CustomBuilt clubs is
the fact that they are built for you. This should give some pointers in
"picking" out a clubbuilder.
One of the first things you should do when talking to a Custom
Clubmaker is to inquire about his/her knowledge. If the "clubmaker" is
just that (a clubmaker), he/she will not do a very good job fitting
clubs for your game.
Don't be afraid to ask questions like how long they've been custom
building clubs. Did they have any formal training. How many
happy/unhappy customers have they had. These are just a few questions
to help you get to know your clubmaker.
One of the first things the clubmaker should do, even before discussing
what it is that you want, is to assess your skills. This can be done by
taking a trip to a range, so the clubmaker can analyze you swing.
Taking a look at your current set, and noting any problems you may have
with them, would probably be an indication of a knowledgable clubmaker
A good clubmaker should tell you what characteristics your swing calls
for. Examples of this are shaft flex, torque, and kickpoint; head
characteristics such as weight and COG location. With this is mind
he/she will most probably have a few "demo clubs" for you to try. don't
be afraid to say you don't like any of the clubs you try, it's the
clubmakers job to fit you with clubs that you will be happy with.
As with anything else in life. If you talk to a clubmaker and don't
feel totally confortable with him/her, don't buy a set of clubs from
How do I build my own clubs?
Start off by ordering some catalogs from some of the component vendors
(an annotated list is available in the Component Suppliers List). While
you are waiting for the catalogs to arrive, get some of the articles
regarding club design and assembly ( Club Design Articles, Look-a-like
List, Clone FAQ) which are available in the archives as well.
You'll probably want to start off slowly. Start by building yourself a
putter. This will give you a chance to build a club, without having to
have too much concern regarding shaft length and flex.
If you're happy with you putter, move on to an iron. This will give you
a chance to try different shaft lengths and flexes to see which suits
Once you feel comfortable, you may want to try your hand at an entire
set of irons, or possibly a wood.
Don't forget to let us know how your clubs turn out!
USGA Course Rating Information
The following information is a brief explanation. For more detailed
information, please review the USGA Handicap Manual available from the
"Yardage Rating" is the evaluation of the playing difficulty based on
yardage only. It is the score a scratch player on his game is expected
to make when playing a course of average difficulty.
USGA COURSE Rating
"Course Rating" is the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course
for scratch players. Course Rating is expressed in strokes and decimal
fractions of a stroke, and is based on yardage and other obstacles to
the extent that they affect the scoring ability of a scratch player.
Courses are rated by authorized golf associations, not by individual
USGA SLOPE Rating
"Slope Rating" reflects the relative playing difficulty of a course for
players with handicaps above scratch, whereas Course Rating is based
solely on difficulty for the scratch player. The lowest Slope Rating is
55 and the highest is 155. The average Slope Rating for men and women
** Proper Etiquette **
o Do not leave your ball in the hole when you make a putt/chip.
Golfers are a superstitious lot and many think that their ball will
not fit in the hole if there is already another one in there.
o If you putt/chip your ball near the hole and do not plan to putt
out, mark your ball with a coin or ball-marker. Aside from being a
distraction, other players will incur a 2 stroke penalty if they
play a putt from the green and their ball hits yours.
o As much as it may interest you, do not stand directly behind another
player's intended target line. This is a violation of the rules if
the player is your partner and otherwise distracting because the
player can usually see you out of the corner of his/her eye.
o When playing for the first time with someone, be conservative at
first about complimenting or critiquing a shot. Follow the lead of
his friends, pay attention to his comments, and wait until you have
a good understanding of what is a good and bad shot for a particular
player. Don't assume that everyone's standards are the same as
o Invite faster groups to play through.
** Slow Play **
o Be ready to play when it is your turn. Proceed to your ball as soon
as it is safe and begin preparing for your shot. On the green,
survey the contours and grain while other players are putting if you
can do so without being distracting.
o Do not write your scores on the scorecard until you reach the next
o When playing from a cart, drop one player off at his/her ball with
several clubs and, if it is safe, drive the cart to the second
players ball. This way, the two players sharing the cart can both
prepare for their shots at the same time.
o If you take a cart and you are not allowed to leave the cart path,
drive the cart until it is roughly even with your ball and take
several clubs (maybe the one you think you will need and one above
and one below) with you to your ball. If you really have no idea
what club you will need, pull your bag off the cart and take the
whole thing with you to your ball.
** MOST IMPORTANT **
o If attending a pro tournament, never say "You're the man!" after a
drive. If you do, and are publicly identified as such, your
rec.sport.golf privileges will be revoked for a period of not less
than 2 years per incident.
Hitting in Regulation
Hitting a fairway is exactly that, your ball comes to rest off the tee
(except par 3's) in the fairway cut of grass.
Hitting a green in regulation means that your ball will be on the
putting surface in 1 shot on a par 3, 2 shots (or less) on a par 4 and
3 shots (or less) on a par 5.Just subtracting 2 putts from the par
gives you the "Regulation" number of strokes to reach the green.
Joining the USGA, a non-profit organization, costs $25 per year (may
be tax deductible). You get a current rule book, nine issues of Golf
Journal, with special issues for the US and Senior Open, as well as
their catalog of golf goodies and a bag tag.
The money helps support the USGA which sponsors various amateur
tournaments, administers the Rules of Golf, conducts equipment tests,
does turf research and much more.
Visit the USGA's WWW Site:
P.O. Box 708
Far Hills, NJ 07931-0708
1 (800) 345-GOLF