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wackychan

Why Shorten Golf Clubs if Clubs Are All Different Lengths Anyway?

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This was asked by a newbie friend of mine and I'll admit I actually didn't have a good answer for this (enough to satisfy him anyway). If, say, I'm shorter or have longer arms, I may be a candidate of shortening my clubs, say, half an inch or an inch. But how does really make a difference if all my clubs are different lengths anyway? I mean, aside from the loft, is there some fundamental difference between a 7 iron and a 5 iron that has been shortened to be 7 iron length (so, same length, different loft)? If I can get used to swinging a (standard length) 5 iron, why couldn't I similarly just get used to swinging a 7 iron that is the same length and build my swing around that (just as much as I would have to build my swing around a 5 iron length, if I needed to)? 

Granted, I know "building your swing around your clubs" is the total opposite of what you should be doing, but I'm asking this more on a theoretical level. If I could physically learn to hit a 5 iron (with the length being what it is), why would it be inefficient or suboptimal for me to swing a 7 iron that is the same length? Why is it any more ideal to shorten the club (if the fitting or measurements say I should)?

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I'm pretty sure there is one particularly slow tour player, who is partial to maths and flat caps, who would say there isn't any point. And he's done ok! 

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33 minutes ago, wackychan said:

This was asked by a newbie friend of mine and I'll admit I actually didn't have a good answer for this (enough to satisfy him anyway). If, say, I'm shorter or have longer arms, I may be a candidate of shortening my clubs, say, half an inch or an inch. But how does really make a difference if all my clubs are different lengths anyway? I mean, aside from the loft, is there some fundamental difference between a 7 iron and a 5 iron that has been shortened to be 7 iron length (so, same length, different loft)? If I can get used to swinging a (standard length) 5 iron, why couldn't I similarly just get used to swinging a 7 iron that is the same length and build my swing around that (just as much as I would have to build my swing around a 5 iron length, if I needed to)? 

Granted, I know "building your swing around your clubs" is the total opposite of what you should be doing, but I'm asking this more on a theoretical level. If I could physically learn to hit a 5 iron (with the length being what it is), why would it be inefficient or suboptimal for me to swing a 7 iron that is the same length? Why is it any more ideal to shorten the club (if the fitting or measurements say I should)?

That’s an interesting question, and I’m looking forward to hearing the answer too.

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A club that is too long will play too upright, and vice versa.

So, you can change the lie angle, but then you've got a club to which you're trying to adapt: maybe if it's too long, you're standing too upright or stretch your arms out too far from you (or vice versa if the club is too short).

Imagine if I gave you a 43" 7-iron. You'd not only have to stand VERY differently to accommodate it, but the performance of the club itself would be askew: it would launch and spin at bad angles or rates, etc.

It's about maximizing the performance of not only the clubs, but you as a golfer.

A half inch, even an inch, probably doesn't matter much. But then again, if it's as simple as chopping off an inch, or cutting shafts an inch longer… why NOT do it?

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You are not taking the lie angle into consideration.  If the lie angles of all one's clubs were exactly the same...there would be an optimal length.  That isn't the case.  Even if you have single length irons there are both shorter, and longer, clubs in the bag.  

I have long arms for someone my height.  As such I have to either shorten some clubs or have them bent in order to get the lie angles right.

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There is no reason why you have to play the club at any given length. The lengths are in the end all arbitrary numbers decided on by OEMs and based on what an average player would need. However, a big caveat, to this, is that if you are going to play the clubs at these longer lengths, then you would have to make numerous other adjustments to the club in theory to make it play correctly and feel right for you. This would include reweighting the heads to lower the swing weight, changing the lie angles to fit based on your swing with the longer clubs, changing the lofts to achieve the correct gapping you are looking for, possibly changing the shafts to a different flex to achieve the feel you want, that may have been lost from the length and or head weight changes.

But in theory, the club might just work right out of the gate and require no alterations.

Heck the clubs I am using right now, have a 1/2 inch step down length from the 4-6 and then move to a 1/4 step down from the 7-P. I did however have to adjust the weight, lie, and lofts for the clubs to balance the set correctly.

All this is to say, find what works for you.

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What the OP is talking about is the Single Length concept.  The basic problem with it is you wind up with one lie and length, which affects launch angles for all clubs, while only giving you the optimum numbers for maybe three clubs (one above and one below the ideal club), so in his case say 4, 5 and 6 if he is using a 5 iron length for all clubs.  Now, when he hits the 9 iron with that lie and length, he will not get the ideal loft and launch angle for a 9 iron to drop and stop on a green.  It will give him more run because the 5 iron length will encourage that, even if the loft is a 9 iron due to the clubhead.

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16 minutes ago, pganapathy said:

What the OP is talking about is the Single Length concept.

No he's not.

1 hour ago, wackychan said:

This was asked by a newbie friend of mine and I'll admit I actually didn't have a good answer for this (enough to satisfy him anyway). If, say, I'm shorter or have longer arms, I may be a candidate of shortening my clubs, say, half an inch or an inch.

 

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2 hours ago, wackychan said:

Why is it any more ideal to shorten the club (if the fitting or measurements say I should)?

I'm going to take a stab at answering your question by saying -
A. Posture would change for each club.
B. Ball position would also change with each club in reference to position being nearer or further from body. 
C. Lie and Lofts would need adjustments for all clubs.
D. Swing weights would differ.
E. Shaft flex would be different.
F. Custom Build would cost quite a bit, as it would be considered as a "Tinker in Progress"

A player could probably become accustom to playing clubs in this manner, but it would require hours of training and club adjustments over the process.

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If it’s a matter of a half inch adjusting lie angle makes a lot more sense than shortening the clubs. Shorter clubs generate less club head speed and lower swing weight, both could lead to shorter shots.

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

No he's not.

 

I thought that is what he meant when he said the 5 and 7 iron can have the same shaft length.  Thanks for correcting that misconception

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7 hours ago, pganapathy said:

What the OP is talking about is the Single Length concept.  

Not really.  He’s talking about leaving all the clubs standard length, but just leaving them a little over long or over short...

... Never mind, I see you understand what he was talking about now… 

Edited by David in FL

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I was having a terrible time hitting my Ping G15 irons. I went to a very reputable golf shop. The Professional had me hitting my 7 iron with tape on the sole. It was clear that my lie angle was not right. He then put a label over the face with a circle and a x on the face. All of my marks were close to the hosel. He had me move back away from the ball, plus he put a piece of tape one inch down from the butt of the handle and told me to keep my grip below it. My strikes were right in the center of the face and my shanks were gone. He then told me he would remove and save my grips and cut one inch off the butt end of all my clubs. It made a huge difference and I now can hit my irons. He did take one inch off all my clubs except the putter. I actually hit them all farther, because more of my strikes are in the center. My Vokey wedges do feel kind of odd due to the shortness.

Did. I make a mistake having them cut?

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17 hours ago, CharlieB said:

 It made a huge difference and I now can hit my irons. 

Did. I make a mistake having them cut?

Doesn't sound like it. Best, -Marv

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There's quite a bit of this in Tom Wishon's book In Search of the Perfect Golf Club. In one chapter he writes about fitting some NBA players for clubs. You might intuitively think that because they are so tall they would automatically need longer clubs. Not so! It's all about arm length. Wishon uses the "wrist to floor" measurement to determine club length, not the "fingertip to floor"  method. He feels that large hands with long fingers would skew the measurement. This could surely be the case with guys who can palm a basketball like it's a volleyball.

He wrote about one particular player who was 6'10", but had a wingspan of 7'4". His hand were hanging down by his knees! He needed shorter than normal clubs.

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I have thought about this subject a lot.

The answer is how long do you want your wedges (the shortest club) to be?

If you need the wedge shortened to suit your height, then the gap between the wedges and 9-iron may be too large a gap and you need all the irons shortened to maintain the gap.

 

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Think in reverse.

Instead of thinking the length of the golf clubs, think what you want to golf clubs to do.

The standard distance gap for the set of irons used to be 10 yards between the irons, these days could be 15 yards depending on the set up.

Think also the golfers are not cut from the same mold, we all have different physical frame and different physical ability, eye-hand coordination...…… etc. etc.   

For creating the ball trajectory and the distance we want, combining the loft angle and the length of the golf club to make necessary adjustment for the purpose of having the gap between each of the golf clubs.

Why do some of us find shortening the driver or the fairway woods work "better" for us ?

One, the driver does not need to be precise in distance ( I've heard, the longer the distance the better), and the longer the shaft , the more effort to keep it under control to put the tee shot in the targeted area.  Shorter length typically = easier to control, hence some of us shorten the drivers.

Regarding the set of irons, recently there been popular practice of MOI matched iron set, and the traditional 1/2" slope in the length between the individual irons in the same set does not work as well as 3/8" slope in the length differential.  Why ?  because It works on the spread sheet.    A lot of the golfers swear that they felt the difference, and some said there is not a noticeable benefit.

" Feel" is a very individual issue and in itself has no continuant through the change of time for a person.   How we feel about substance or non-substance will change over time.

a custom fitted set of golf club is good for the moment of fitting.  A strong golfer whom keeps his physical condition in check will benefit from the current fitted set longer,   Most of us will enjoy this fitted spec.  for several years at the most.

A simple answer to your friend's question of why shorten the golf clubs if they were at different length to start  with, is that we're trying to find solutions to achieve the endless search for the perfect golf club for the individual golfer.

An even better answer is, the off the shelve golf club is not the best for everyone.

I can tell you this, a good golfer with above athletic ability can play any set of golf clubs, may not play his very best of golf.   It's a great game for anyone to enjoy, most of us will never play at the level we see on the broadcasting Tournaments.

 I heard sometime ago that one does not have to be good at golfing to enjoy playing it.  True, if the expectation is not unrealistic.

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Interesting turns to this conversation.  I've read and reread the OP's post and it seems that he is asking a couple of things, for example in the original question, i.e. does shortening a 5i to 7i length have major changes on the club such as lie angle, swing weight, etc.  It begs to ask, do the manufacturers "build" clubs to have the same swing "feel", so that your swing feels the same whether its a 5i - 7i - 4h - PW, where the only real adjustment is knowing that the swing plane shifts slightly based on the varying club lengths which is what the latter part of the OP's post seemed to ask. 

For me, I know that I am, based on the static fitment charts such as Ping's, that I need clubs that are 1/2" shorter w/standard lie.  In the same respect if I do take and put tape 1" down on the hand from the butt end and use that as my gauge for gripping the club, I swing straighter with more carry.  The clubs make better contact all around.   One thing I have wondered - does taking a 7i that is 36* loft and shortening the shaft by 1" which would make it in effect a 36* deg loft 9i?  (referencing Tommy Armour 845s Silver Scots here)  I know its still technically a 7i w/a shorter shaft.  To be honest I work off the loft of the irons (which is why I love the TA 845s as the lofts are stamped in the club face) rather than the number stamped in the bottom.   FYI - I have already been using drivers that have shafts shortened from 45.5 to 44.5 and can tell you I have a better sense of feel and control.  

wt   

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