You are in the market to buy a new set of golf clubs, but you don’t know how to determine golf club length. Don’t worry. I’ll break it down for you.
Finding a set of golf clubs can be as easy as looking through a golf review site, and ordering their suggestions for best driver, iron set, and putter. A couple of clicks later, and your clubs will be shipped right to you. Welcome to our world of today.
As a result, it’s certainly possible to buy a standard set of clubs off the web and play golf. Thousands of people do it every day.
Of course, most golfers also don’t break 100. To get an edge over your competition, you’ll need to get a proper fit. I am going to show you how to determine golf club length to get the right fit.
A Little Background on golf club length
The rules of golf state that all clubs must be at least 18” long but no more than 48”, except the putter (more on that later). This is a measure from the top of the grip to the last part of the clubhead. That measurement would make a straight line with the shaft. Why did golf’s governing body make this restriction?
If you’ve ever watched the World Long Drive competition on television, you might have an idea. Sure, the contestants are physical specimens, but they are also using the maximum length clubs allowed. They are looking for the maximum clubhead speed and achieving that velocity with the longest shaft available.
Check this out: Linear Speed = Angular speed X Radius of Rotation. Okay, you caught me. I tried to slip in a little physics. In layman’s terms, it means – with all else the same, the longer the shaft, the faster the clubhead moves. And speed equals distance.
Two other aspects determine how far a golf club will hit a ball – launch angle and spin. On the manufacturing side, this is controlled with the clubhead loft. Simply put, the more loft the club has, the higher the launch angle.
The construction of golf club shafts has changed over the years. When golf first became popular, in the late 1800s, shafts were made of wood. These hickory shafts faded away in the 1920s. They were replaced with the steel shaft because of the reliability and durability of the material.
Graphite was introduced in the 1970s and has made steady advances over the years. Graphite is lighter than steel and has a quality that dampens vibrations. Most woods are equipped with a graphite shaft because the lightweight enables faster swing speeds. The majority of irons utilize steel shafts because distance control and feel are of the utmost importance.
How to determine golf club length With The Driver
The driver is a specialized club designed for maximum distance. The standard driver length is 45.5”. As mentioned earlier, 48” is the maximum allowed. Why would you choose a shorter length? For starters, you have to play your second shot.
The best players in the world compete on tight tree-lined courses with thick rough. Since accuracy is mandatory, the average length driver on the PGA Tour is 44.5”. Most of us play friendlier setups than the PGA Tour. Giving up a little accuracy for a few more yards might be in order.
If you buy a driver and find out you don’t like the shaft length – don’t worry. Most golf club manufacturers have developed adapters that allow for quick changing of shafts. As quickly as you can change a lightbulb, a shaft can be exchanged.
The role of the iron is for controlled distance and accuracy. There are two theories on how to determine golf club length with irons. The conventional method uses 1\2 inch increments in length between clubs, which is by far the most popular with amateurs and pros alike.
The other theory, single length irons, has gained momentum in recent years with the success of its most vocal proponent, Bryson DeChambeau. Either method would benefit from a professional fitting.
The standard length of irons in most manufacturers sets the 3 iron at a length of 39”. To achieve an even distribution of distances between irons, lengths are decreased incrementally by half an inch until the wedge is 35.5” long. Also, the clubhead loft is increased by 3 or 4 degrees throughout the set.
The standard set can fit anyone between 5’9” and 6’2”. Adding an inch to all the specifications for those taller or subtracting an inch for those shorter is an easy way to get a better fit. Most major manufacturers have their own fitting systems.
For example, PING has a color code system that uses overall height and wrist to floor measurement to determine the lie angle of the head and the length of the shaft. The main disadvantage of this standard iron length distribution system is that it requires the player to change their body posture or ball position for each club.
The inspiration for the one-length iron set was the creation of a set of clubs that require just one ball position and posture. All the irons are the same length, usually the length of a standard 7 iron. Distance variation is achieved solely through the increased loft.
People have been experimenting with this setup since the 1920s. In fact, Bobby Jones designed a set of clubs using pairs of irons the same length. Interest was lean, and the idea was abandoned.
In 1989 the Tommy Armour Company introduced a single shaft length set called the EQL. This set failed to gain traction due to complaints about ball flight – short irons went too high, and long irons launched too low.
The conversation has been reignited n recent years because of the success of US Amateur Champion Bryson DeChambeau. As the first player to win a PGA Tour event with single length irons, he brought legitimacy to the idea. The set he helped design for The Cobra Golf Company uses differing weight distribution in the club heads.
The differing weight distributions help overcome the problems experienced in previous attempts at the one length system.
If you don’t mind the cost, graphite shafts are also an option for irons. Graphite shafted irons are less common than steel shafted irons because of the increased cost and the loss of feel. The lighter weight of graphite allows for faster swing speed and, combined with the vibration dampening, makes them an excellent choice for seniors. Likewise, to achieve proper club balance, manufacturers make most graphite irons are about one inch longer than steel irons.
There is no maximum length restriction for the putter shaft. However, other rules may affect your decision. In 2016, the USGA banned anchoring the putter to the body. Because of this, most putters are now made between 33” and 35” long.
To find the right length putter, you should try a variety of lengths. Set up in your normal putting posture, let your arms hang freely, and hold the putter. The right length putter will allow the putter head to lay flat on the ground with about an inch of the grip sticking out the top of your hands.
It is important to note that the length of a putter can affect the path of the stroke. A shorter putter will encourage a more bent over posture conducive to a straight back and straight through stroke. A longer putter promotes an upright posture, which leads to an arcing putting path.
PGA Tour pro Matt Kutcher has made famous the arm-locking putting method, which requires a longer shaft than conventional length. Since the putter shaft runs up the lead arm past the hands, a change in putter loft is needed. Finding the right model is best done with the help of a PGA professional that specializes in putters.
In the past, junior golfers were introduced to the game by merely taking an adult club and cutting it shorter. Today, there are clubs made, especially for kids. These clubs have lighter heads than their adult counterparts to balance the shorter shafts. US Kids Golf has sizing charts to fit the kids based on height.
Because kids grow so fast, I recommend buying a set of irons a size longer than the chart size. This allows the junior to grow into the clubs, and it cuts down on the cost of constant upgrades.
What length of golf clubs do I need?
Golf clubs are an expensive investment, and it’s worth your time to get what suits your game. Whether you decide to follow the conventional path with a set of PING irons or take the less traveled road with the Cobra F-Max one length irons.
I hope this was a useful guide. If you have any questions, please leave a comment. Golf is a sport with about as many approaches as there are players, and a customized set may be just what your game needs.