Having the correct shaft length for your golf club is crucial to golfing consistency and how you affect the flight of the golf ball. If you are a beginner golfer or a seasoned pro, you’ll want to get fit for your clubs. If you are a tall person, short clubs might be detrimental to your game and your health, likewise for the shorter golfer with longer clubs.
If you start playing the game at incorrect club length, you’re more likely to pick up bad habits, hamper your technique and never shoot a low score – poor club length may even lead to a potential injury. If you are a competitive player this is an area you’re going to want to investigate further if you want to get better and you plan on reducing your handicap.
Why Is It Important?
Club length affects distance and flight by determining which angle the clubface meets the golf ball. The trajectory is something that is defined by your clubhead. Likewise, if you cannot generate enough speed from the club head to ball to generate better, more consistent flight and distance, it can be addressed by club/shaft length.
In the past, golf clubs were limited in terms of options and upgrades, length and type. But modern players now have plenty of options regarding their equipment and can invest thousands into the top of the range of clubs and gear but if you are just looking for a place to start improving then club length would be a reasonable starting point.
Mastering the Basics
When considering why you might need to consider club length you must first ask yourself what your current skill level is and if it is worth the investment? If by now you’re happy with your golf swing and are ready to go further into your golf game or you are just a beginner looking to progress, your setup must be your first consideration.
When setting up to the golf ball, stance and repetition is key, especially if you plan on getting better at the game. In my experience, a lot of people overlook these factors when trying to groove out a swing and fall into a category whereby they rely on how they’re feeling that day and as to whether or not they will play a certain way! Confidence in your swing is integral to a consistent game.
Although golf is considered a sport, I think of it more akin to learning a musical instrument. If you start relying on a solid foundation and trusting muscle memory, then you’re on a great path to good consistent golf in my opinion and getting the correct equipment in the first instance will help you get to where you want to be a lot quicker.
Stance and Set Up
As a rule of thumb, we should assume your driver is your longest club, maxing out around 44” inches on average. But if, like me, you are on the shorter side, you might consider taking a little off the length of the shaft. Note that this isn’t always the case however and you’ll find plenty of short players who have full-length clubs without alterations.
Your lower irons should then get shorter down in sequence until you are at your wedges finishing with a putter; putters are personal preference and there is no hard and fast rule when buying a new one. Drivers and irons are really the meat of where you will want to analyse your club length with a mixture of swing type and handicap level.
Without being too technical about stance, assuming you don’t address the ball from a vertical upright position and addressing the ball comfortably with a natural bend at your waist, you should find your hands naturally rest vertically down and roughly 7” inches away from your waist. At this point, your clubhead should then sit flush with the ground below.
I think it’s important to find a good balance in the soles of the feet; it should not feel too heavy in the heel or toes. The grip is super important but can sometimes be overlooked but for the purposes of this article, we will assume you have a good comfortable grip of your club that is not too near the shaft and not too close to the butt.
There are a few exceptions to this rule; take Bryson DeChambeau for instance, all his irons are of equal length and he gets the best of this setup given his technique, physique and swing – he is however a tour pro!
How to Tell If Your Clubs Are Too Long or Too Short?
At this point, considering you have a solid setup, if during your swing you find you take too many divots before striking the ball or do not strike the ball consistently or cleanly, you’re probably prime for a good club fitting.
The same can be said regarding your driver – If you suffer hooks or slices off the tee box and consistency is a struggle, then again you should consider club length alteration.
However, if you don’t suffer any of these annoyances, you’re probably in a good place regarding your club’s length.
So, what can I do?
From your driver to your putter, it’s important to get the measurements done in a pro shop or your local golf centre and take your game to the next level.
Most pro shops work with a brand or brand and usually encourage you to buy with their partners but do not be pressured into using a brand you don’t feel suits your game or doesn’t give you good feedback both from the presented data and how it feels with your swing. You should be able to get fit for either a small fee but usually, it’s a free service at most reputable outlets.
If you think about going the whole hog with fittings, then brands like Ping and Taylor Made are leading the way in terms of technology and feedback for the average player. These guys are at the top of the market when it comes to custom fitting and they give you all the feedback and options you need to make an informed decision on what is suited to you. You may look into different types of the shaft as another way to assist your game.
My local pro shop uses Wilson Staff which I find is a very good underrated brand, I also play Wilson Staff DX3 balls as I find they are the closest brand to elite urethane balls. Again, this is a preference and I encourage anybody to try a lot of products before you invest in one specific brand, especially a good ball, as I think it can really make a difference to your game, certainly as a low 20’s to a high teen handicapper.
For me personally, I must have gone through 5 or 6 different length drivers before being measured. Being 5,8”, I found I was better off with a 42” stiff shaft. This was the beginning of resolving a wicked driver slice I had fought for many years and being able to bring my handicap down whilst stepping up to the tee full of confidence knowing I was in control of my driver!
It’s an important investment to get the correct club length for your game if you want to lower your handicap and get the best out of your game, certainly if you’re a competitive player but also if you’re not. Let’s face it, if you’ve got the golf bug, you might as well invest in your hobby! Incorrect form, stance, and technique all play their part and should be considered but, in an effort to master this difficult game, club length is a great place to begin!