Are Your Golf Clubs Too Long?

Even if You Seek Distance it Might Be True

June 16, 2009

There is a good chance that your golf clubs are too long. Over the past twenty years, golf club manufacturers have been making clubs stronger (meaning they have less loft on the face), and longer so that they can sell hopeful golfers the newest “hot” weapon that will knock the ball unimaginable distances. But when golfers arrive at the driving range with long clubs, what I see is a lot of people with poor posture, inefficient shaft angles, awkward or mismatched swing planes, off-center contact with the ball, unhelpful trajectory, little accuracy, and none of the distance the long clubs were supposed to provide.

Having watched approximately 1 million swings in my fourteen years as a teaching professional, I have seen the many tendencies that cause golfers to struggle in their search for consistent ball striking. I have also seen hundreds of golfers benefit from the following: bending the spine forward more than they usually do, moving closer to the ball than they usually stand, creating slightly steeper planes during the swing, and learning to “trap” the ball with the center of the club-face (which generally produces more of a divot with the irons). But there is literally something standing between the average golfer and the changes that allow pure ball striking. It is his golf club. Even a “standard” length club can be too long for many golfers to achieve the things mentioned above.

It takes a shorter club for most people to create the desired spine and shaft angles, swing planes, and contact with the ball. As would be expected, the shorter club and improved planes create better accuracy with the golf shots. It surprises people, though, that they can actually hit the ball farther with these changes, mostly because of the solid contact.

A shorter club technically should improve control and accuracy. A longer club technically should increase distance. A club that is properly fitted in terms of the length of the shaft will maximize accuracy and distance. What I am saying is that the clubs most golfers are playing with, and even fitted for, are too long to maximize either; even when we call them “standard” in length.

Comparing tour players to average players gives some anecdotal evidence. Notice that tour players look “big” compared to their clubs. Even with a longer iron, say a 4-iron, they seem to be standing “on top” of the ball, meaning the ball is not too far from their feet. Their spines are generally bent forward a fair amount, and the shaft of the club points at the belt-line, and often higher.

The average player, on the other hand, looks like he is swinging a flag pole when he picks up a 4-iron. He stands almost vertical in his posture, the club reaching across two time zones to reach the distant ball, and the shaft points at his belt-line and sometimes lower (except for beginners, who tend to stand upright and reach their arms straight out, which raises the handle much higher at address).

The results from these two setups are very different too. The tour player creates planes with his setup that allow him to attack the ball with a fairly steep angle that produces solid contact, high trajectory, tons of distance, and even some of that backspin that so many amateurs worship. The average player, with his upright posture and flat shaft angle, has a shallower attack on the ball that leads to “picked” shots, inconsistent trajectory, blocks, and hooks; unless he tries to match the swing planes of better players (which does not work without the benefit of the posture and angles at address), in which case he will likely see fat shots, slices, and contact on the toe of the club.

There are some aspects of tour swings that I do not encourage average golfers to emulate (such as the length of the arm-swings), and some people cannot physically duplicate the posture and swings of elite players; but most weekend warriors would do well to copy the setup of the world’s best players, which might mean a club that makes them look “big”.

For years, and with many average golfers, I have seen how the setup and then the swing can be made less effective by long clubs. Sometimes a shorter player who struggles to get the ball airborne can see dramatic results just by choking down on the club, bending over from the hips more, and moving closer to the ball. Unfortunately their friends, instructors, club-fitters, and club manufacturers try to get longer clubs in their hands so that they can supposedly hit the ball farther. The result is that these struggling golfers can hardly make contact at all, and even when they do, they learn a tortured swing that produces inconsistency rather than distance.

Some more evidence that club length is overrated as a source of distance: In most sets of clubs, each iron is one-half inch shorter than the number below it. That is what creates the change in distance, right? Not really. Usually the clubs stop getting shorter above the 9-iron, meaning the various wedges are the same length as the 9-iron. And yet each wedge above the 9 hits the ball less far. Why? Because of the loft; the angle of the clubface has more to do with the change in distance from club to club than the length of the shaft.

I recently read about a driver test carried out by a club-fitting company. They used a hitting machine to test a driver at a swing speed of 90 miles per hour, and made variations in the length of the driver from 42 to 46 inches. The distance gain when they added four inches to the shaft was a miserable 1.3 yards. And in human hands the 46-inch version of the driver will likely induce off-center contact with the ball, which makes it possible that the 42-inch driver would provide significantly greater distance from the tee.

From a teacher’s perspective, I think over-length drivers are one of the worst things that ever happened to the swings of average golfers. Thank goodness the long shafts are attached to melon-sized clubheads with tons of forgiveness, because the swing planes that result from these long clubs make it nearly impossible for most golfers to hit the sweet spot. And the club is so disproportionately long compared to the rest of the set that it almost requires its own swing—which sometimes leads a golfer to foul up his swing with the other clubs in pursuit of the long tee ball.

Tour players, who play golf courses that are hundreds of yards longer than the courses we play, and play for millions of dollars, have drivers that average about 44 inches in length. If longer drivers helped them maximize their distance and accuracy, they would definitely use them. But they do not use them, and yet duffers with less ability insist on playing with the longer, more challenging clubs.

Some club-fitters have come to the same conclusions that I have as a teaching professional. Tom Wishon, one of the top club designers in the world, said in his book The Search for the Perfect Golf Club, “Ninety-eight percent of men’s drivers these days are built to a “standard” length of 45 or 45.5 inches, and I am here to tell you that a 45-inch driver will not fit 90 percent of all golfers and will never allow them to achieve their best combination of distance AND accuracy.” This agrees completely with what I have seen on the driving range.

Golf is an oxymoronic game. Swinging easy creates power. Hitting down makes the ball go up. And in many cases, shorter sticks lead to longer shots. As Wishon said in his book, “It appears that, in the hands of real people…the shorter club might very well hit the ball not just with more accuracy, but farther as well.”

Comments


  1. Brian L Thomas says:

    Good advice John. I will check my fitted Driver. Thank you! Brian

  2. Jim Noel says:

    John,
    From your teaching on the range, I have come to realize that choking down on my longer clubs has produced more accuracy and distance. I wish I had started earlier with your instruction. Thank you for your help.
    Jim Noel

    • Joe Hoener says:

      Without any teaching, but just trying new stuff on my own, I’ve begun choking way up on all my standard men’s clubs. I’m pretty much a beginner, 68 years, 5′ 5-1/2″ and wiry and strong, with a strong swing. Choking up by 4-5″ (actually ahead of the grip) and lightening my swing immediately gave much more accuracy, without any sacrifice in range. FWIW, I’ve also stopped using any backswing, and that seems to improve my body motion/weight shift, apparently producing more power, and also improving accuracy and reducing my slice.

      • John Rogers says:

        Joe, what a backwards game when playing a club 4-5″ shorter and taking a more compact backswing can hit the ball more accurately WITHOUT losing distance! It just goes to show the importance of quality contact over some other aspects of the swing. Good luck as you get more into the game!

  3. Ray Burkart says:

    John,
    Excellent article, Great new web-site. I love my Wishon High and Long clubs. They have
    shorter shafts than equivalent clubs. Anthony Kim does pretty well with his choking down!!
    Thanks,
    Ray

    • John Rogers says:

      Ray, great point about Anthony Kim! And he really murders the ball. Thanks for your feedback, and I’d love to check out the clubs if you have a minute to “swing” by the driving range.

  4. Mike Rhodes says:

    Great article John. After Sunday’s round and reading this article, I may try a driver shaft length of no greater than 6 inches! 🙂 Regardless of my game, it was a pleasure to play with you and your partner David – I enjoyed it. Keep up the good work!

    All the best,
    Mike.

    • John Rogers says:

      Mike, thanks on all counts. It was fun playing with you Rhodes boys. The coach in me was feeling your pain with that tee ball, but you guys hung in there and still played a good round. Did you notice how short my driver was? It’s probably 43 inches, but I hit it 30 yards farther than I used to hit it with a long driver, and I went all three days without hitting it into trouble once. Gotta love it! Now if I could just reach that stupid 3rd green on the Miller Course. 🙂

      Thanks again, and let me know if you ever want to mess with the driver on the range.

      John

  5. Jeb Ramsey says:

    John,

    I read a fair amount of golf instruction, but this is one of the best tips I have ever encountered. I started choking up on ALL my clubs after reading your article a week ago (I feel like Anthony Kim now, as he appears to choke up on all his clubs). Two practice sessions, and one round later, I am a believer in the concept that the clubs I am playing with, which are “standard” length, are too long for me.

    The result of choking up on my grip has been many more solid shots hit on the sweet spot, and in many cases, much more distance and accuracy. For example I laced a drive yards yesterday on a very short 285 yard par 4, that ended up just 6 feet past the hole (yes I made the eagle putt)! My previous long drives have been in the 255-270 yard range, maybe 275-280 max. I also clobbered another drive, with the help of a slight downhill fairway, a whopping 310 yards!

    Choking up about 1 inch on my clubs has produced much more solid shots, and choking up about 1-1/2 to 2 inches on my driver has allowed me to hit my tee shots more solidly and much farther. Thanks for a Great tip!

    Jeb Ramsey
    Potomac Falls, VA

    • John Rogers says:

      Jeb,

      It does my teaching-pro heart a lot of good to hear stories like this. I’m glad you found my article helpful and that you seem to be enjoying better (and longer!) golf shots. Eagles are always fun, aren’t they?

      Keep up the good work, and come by Lakeview to say hello and play a few holes if you ever pass through the Valley! I’d be glad to meet you.

      Best Wishes,
      John

  6. John Rogers says:

    I do not prefer some of the methods used by Teaching Pro Don Trahan (Peak Performance), but here is an article about club lengths by a club-fitter who works with Trahan:

    http://www.peakperformancegolfswing.com/is-long-really-longer

  7. Tom A. says:

    John, I read your article about club length and am curious about your interest in answering a question. I live in CA, golf once/mo, am a 12 handicap, and recently bought Titleist AP2 irons after hitting a number of forged irons since last July. I was eyeing Mizunos but the results of my hitting into the net were dead on that the AP2s were right.

    I ended up buying last year’s model, which includes the Project X 5.5 shaft. The guy who fit me in the store suggested I add 1/4″ length to the irons. When compared with my 16 year old Great Big Berthas they are closer to 1/2″ longer. I found myself hitting bizarre banana slices at the range and shooting in the high 90’s when I was used to shooting 83-86. I golfed last weekend with my old sticks and shot 85.

    Today I went to a local pro who told me I’m not shifting my weight to the left side but said my swing plane and swing in general were very strong. When he looked at my AP2s, he thought they were way too long. I have been hitting the Titleist 7-iron about 165-170 yards, compared to 155 with my Callaways. Problem is, I’m pulling them 20 yards left of target.

    Would length be the issue here, or am I not just skilled enought to hit the Titleist? Can the extenders be removed? I know they are epoxied, but hopefully I can get them shortened to standard length. BTW, I am 5’10” and my WTF measurement is 37″, and lie is standard (although 1st time I tested he thought 2-deg up). If I get them back to standard, what lie adjustment should I consider?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Tom A.
    California

  8. John Rogers says:

    Tom,

    Thanks for reading my article and taking the time to write to me.

    It will be tough to properly answer some of your questions without seeing you at address, and throughout your swing, but I will do my best:

    1) If your AP2s were made longer through extenders (rather than ordered new at the longer length) it should not be difficult to remove the extenders (the end of the shaft will have to be heated until the epoxy melts/burns off). I would definitely encourage you to do this, because it would not be tough to add the extenders once again if you felt the need.

    2) As for your skill level in regards to hitting the AP2s: I generally encourage my clients to take forgiveness over the sleek appearance and moderately improved playability of most forged/blade style clubs. I would not dare to say “You can’t handle this club” or some such thing, but even a fair number of tour players use “player improvement” style clubs. I am a Titleist fan, but generally I recommend them for single-digit handicappers. Having said that, you should play a club that you like looking at, and that helps you perform the way you want.

    3) At least the way things are now, the choice seems clear in terms of scoring. What good is an extra 10-15 yards of distance if you are missing the target line by 20 yards and adding 10-15 shots per round? I would play with the old sticks, and practice with the new sticks to see if I can figure things out (especially after taking out the extenders).

    4) A swing possibility: is it possible some of the bizarre slices were off of the hosel? And are the hard pulls also a little chunky? If so, you might have a balance issue during the swing. If you have a chance, have someone put a little pressure on your forehead while you take a few swings. If it feels like they are pushing you back (toward your rear), then you have a common imbalance toward the ball, which leads to shanks and pulls; and this could be made more troublesome if longer clubs are added to the mix.

    5) I am roughly your build, though I measure a bit shorter on WTF. My clubs are now 1″ under-length (a full 2″ shorter than I used to play!), and I choke them down more! My distances are greater and my accuracy and ball-striking are much better too than it was with the over-length clubs. I’m not necessarily saying you should go a lot shorter because your swing planes would need to adjust as well, but I am saying that most people pay dearly when they go into over-length clubs….

    6) A shorter club will generally swing in a slightly steeper plane, which would fit well with a slightly more upright lie angle (notice this is opposite of how manufacturers generally sell clubs), but I’d be careful about going more upright while you are fighting a pull.

    Tom, I hope some of this is helpful. Thanks again for reading my article. Best wishes!

    John

  9. Tom A. says:

    I got the extenders removed and am very pleased with the way I’m hitting my irons. Had a buddies’ golf weekend away this weekend and played 3 days in a row for the first time ever. Mid-high 80’s each round but with way way way too many putts. My irons were the strength of my game all weekend. Your advice paid off, so thanks.

    Tom

  10. John Rogers says:

    Tom,

    Glad to hear you are making sense of those AP2s! Best wishes for continued success and low scores!

    John

  11. Dave Varnell says:

    John, I had Mizuno Irons custom made for my heightlast year as I am six feet three inches tall. We thought that longer clubs would match my height and reduce stress on my back. I have had back surgery and found that I was having trouble getting my hands and hips synchronized at contact which resulted in sprayed shots that lost lots of distance. I have been choking down on all clubs after reading your article and have been bending over the ball more and notice a more confident and secure feeling all the way through my swing. Yes there are some subtle distance changes, but accuracy and trajectory are returning to my game. I am also shortening my backswing and slowing my take-away and transition to downswing. The choke down adjustment is allowing me to stabilize my swing plane which had been a drastic outside in/cut swing. Thanks for the advice, the choke-down and posture change increase my power at contact-a great tip.

    • John Rogers says:

      Dave, I really appreciate your feedback. I find with tall golfers like yourself that lowering the center of gravity by bending over (shorter clubs) and getting a decent knee flex really helps stabalize the body and can lead to better ball striking. I wonder how your back is holding up, though?

      I hope you continue to improve and get more enjoyment from the game!

  12. Don says:

    I just read your article on how clubs sold today can be too long for most golfers. I have a question for you that I hope you can answer. My current driver is 45″ long and my 3 wood is 43.5″ and my 5 wood is 42.5″. I measure my swing speed most every time I go to the driving range. My driver swing speed is 105-108MPH. What I’ve been finding lately is that my 3 wood and 5 wood swing speeds are very close to what I’m seeing with my driver, and in some cases HIGHER than my driver speeds. A few weeks ago I hit 112 with my 5 wood, highest speed of the day in fact. I’d be interested in reading your thoughts on this and see if this is something that you have seen in your own testing. Thanks in advance for your reply.

    Don

    • John Rogers says:

      Don, I don’t know if I can completely explain the phenomenon of shorter clubs generating higher speeds, but it doesn’t surprise me much. I regularly see people hit longer shots with shorter clubs, but a lot of this is due to the fact that they can generally find the center of the face and compress the ball better with shorter clubs.

      A few thoughts: first, isn’t it interesting that your 3-wood is the length that drivers were made before titanium, etc? Do you have similar shafts in your fairway woods and driver? Could it be that you have lighter shafts in the shorter clubs and can get them moving a little better? Another thought: do those same results occur even if you don’t hit a ball?

      The reason I ask this last question is because the over-length drivers we use these days do not allow us to swing very aggressively because we would never get the club “back in front” or the face squared up if we went all-out at the ball. Personally, I think that’s part of why good female players with long drivers look so fluid–they can’t afford to go fast through the ball. You can be pretty aggressive with the 5-wood and still get it squared by impact, but maybe not the driver. Can you measure your speeds without worrying about the resulting golf shot?

      It also seems possible to me that the long drivers make our mechanics sloppy and inefficient to the point that our instinctive swing fixes by impact might introduce tension or other undesirable elements which slow the action.

      I really appreciate your comments and sharing this interesting phenomena about your swing speeds. Are you considering going with a short driver? (Sounds like you might max-out at about 43 inches!). Please let me know if you figure anything else out, and good luck!

  13. Don says:

    Thank you for your reply. I have measured my swing speed with drivers with shafts weighing from 47 to 78 grams, and I get the SAME 105-108 MPH with all shaft weights. As for my shaft weights when I measured my swing. my current driver has a 75 gram shaft, and my 3 wood and 5 wood have the 87 gram S flex EPIC shafts. So it is NOT a case of a lighter shaft in my woods, just the opposite in fact.
    Can’t really tell you what my speed is when I don’t hit a ball. What I can tell you is that my speed is lower with all my clubs when I take a practice swing. I can also tell you that I NEVER try to make an aggressive swing at the ball. Instead I try to make a nice EASY and RELAXED swing, as I get more clubhead speed this way. Any time I try to swing harder, my swing speed goes DOWN, not up, so I use a relaxed easy swing that gets me more speed. The more I swing easy, the more I can start my downswing with a hip turn back to the ball, and the more my swing is in the proper sequence. hips first pulling the upper body around which in turn pulls my arms and hands back to the ball. I try to swing like Fred Couples, totally relaxed with no sign of any effort envolved. I hope that makes sense to you.

    YES, I am thinking of going to a shorter driver. I cut down one driver to 44.5″ and didn’t see any lose of speed when I mesaured it, so I’m thinking of choking down another 1/2 inch and see if I see a change. If not I’ll try another 1/2″ again and maybe keep going until I do see a lose in speed. At which point I can pull the grip and cut the shaft to the last length before I saw a lose in speed. With any luck, the shorter shaft will give me improved ball contact at the same clubhead speed and end up gaining me distance. I might need to add some weight to the head to get the swing weight back up, but that’s not a problem. Thank you again for your reply.

    • John Rogers says:

      Don, it sounds like you are on the right track. I’ll be curious what length your driver ends up. I’m not sure most guys wouldn’t do as well or better with a driver about the length of a 5-wood.

      Good luck!

  14. Don says:

    The weather is not helping any at the moment, but I’ll let you know what I end up with for the length of my drivers when it warms up a bit and I can do some good testing. I have a TM CBT driver with 3 screw weights that I can use for the testing as it will allow me to change the swing weight as I try shorter shaft lengths just by changing out the screws with different ones. I’ll be in touch.

  15. bobby ambers says:

    Very interesting article. I have been golfing & reading articles for 50 years and your article is among top 5 I have read. Extremely timely as well since I am interested in purchasing a set of irons 1″ shorter than standard. My wife’s clubs are about 1″ shorter than mine, and I feel more in control when swinging her clubs than mine. And as you correctly point out, on a steeper plane with its benefits. But of course I can not use them because the flex is too whippy for my swing speed.

    So, my question is will the shorter by 1″ shafts increase stiffness too much, or very little to affect me. I use regular flex graphite shafts swing speed is 85-90.

  16. bobby ambers says:

    And another question, how to deal with the drastic drop in swing weight with 1″ shorter clubs?

    • John Rogers says:

      Bobby, I really appreciate the comments about my article, and I’m glad if it has helped you feel more confident about your future clubs. The questions about flex and swing-weight are very good, and it can be tough to resolve these issues perfectly. I’m hoping the club manufacturers will figure out some of these things before long–and I think they might because they always need something “new” to sell, and they can only make clubs so long and so strong. The pendulum should swing one of these days.

      If you try to cut down some existing clubs, you will likely stiffen them some. I’ve had pretty good luck with cut-down irons in the past, but every once in awhile a club will seem to lose playability when shortened. You might try shortening just one or two clubs at first and make sure you are comfortable with the flex. If you are buying new clubs at a shorter length, the manufacturers should be able to give you the flex you desire even if the clubs are shorter than standard.

      Swing-weight is even trickier, and I feel your pain because I like jumbo grips which drop the swing-weight even more. There aren’t great options until the club companies finally weight the clubheads for something other than the fishing poles they sell these days. You can try adding some lead tape to the head; order lighter shafts; and try thinner/lighter grips if it doesn’t bother you. I like a fairly high swing-weight but unfortunately my irons are probably only C7 ( at one inch under standard). In the end, I have chosen the improvement in the playability, my swing, and the shots I hit, over the “feel” I like. Again, someday hopefully the manufacturers will let me have all of the above.

      I would encourage you to get with a good club-fitter or builder if you can find one willing to help you with the shorter clubs.

      Good luck, and let me know how it turns out!

  17. pete says:

    Wow! Great article! I knew I wasn’t crazy! I kept telling people that the pros clubs on TV were short, like they were using kids clubs or something. I just took an inch off my irons tonight and hope to try out tomorrow. A tip, I used my air compressor to take my grips on and off! (I was able to reuse them) look for how to videos on you tube. Thanks and I will let you know. Oh I also took an inch and a half off my putter, it was always getting caught up in my shirt or jacket!

    • John Rogers says:

      Pete, thanks for reading, and I’m glad if this helped you make some sense of what you noticed on TV. Thanks also for the tip about saving your grips. If you didn’t already, read the other comments above for some issues you might experience when shortening the clubs. And I hope the shorter putter helps too (mine is probably 32 inches, three inches under “standard”, and I still choke it down)! Good luck!

  18. DON says:

    I notice one mistake in John Roger’s reply about swing weight. John mentioned that Mr. Ambers might want to try using lighter shafts in his shortened irons to compensate for the swing weight drop. Problem is that using lighter shaft will make the swing weight LOWER, not higher. I also like a higher than standard swing weight for my clubs. My irons are at D5 compared to the norm of D2. Being a club builder, I just add lead weight “inside” the tip of the shaft, below the top of the hosel. This increases the swing weight with no effect on the flex of the shaft. There is usually little to no effect on shaft stiffness from “Butt” trimming an inch off of the shafts. If you tip trim the shafts, then YES, the flex will most likely to up. Butt trimming isn’t a big deal unless the shafts have a really soft butt section, which isn’t very common. If you do shorten your clubs, any good club maker should be able to add some lead weight down the shafts to bring the swing weight back up to what you like. If they can’t do this for your, they aren’t good club makeres.

    • John Rogers says:

      Don, thanks for “weighing in” again. And thanks for your insight about the lead weight being added inside the shaft, below the top of the hosel; and thanks for pointing out that trimming from the butt end of the club usually only has marginal impact on the flex of the club. As for the effect of lighter shafts on swing-weight, you are correct at least in some instances–with drivers for instance. The random nature of the 14″ fulcrum used as an industry standard in swingweight can create some weird results in an era where we use so many different materials to make clubs of such great length. For instance, putting a lighter shaft in a 45″ driver means I have lightened 31″ on the head-end of the club, versus the usual 14″ on the butt end–even with the shaft getting thinner as it nears the clubhead, there’s probably going to be a net “gain” of weight on the butt end relative to the head end of the club (lower swing weight). However, the club is still likely to “feel” more head-heavy to the golfer with the lighter shaft because the golfer is not subject to a random 14″ fulcrum when feeling the club in their hands. This is where the industry standard for swing weight might be diverging from the idea that it measures the “feel” of the distribution of weight. And I wonder if this strange result would be the same for shorter clubs, where the 14″ end of the club is not so proportionally small compared to the remaining portion of the club (pitching wedge, etc.). One more thing that strikes me about this conversation (and I really appreciate your input in this comment section, by the way)–perhaps the 14″ fulcrum, which I believe came into use about 80 years ago, does not make as much sense in an age when clubs have become so much longer? This brings us back to the original point of the article–clubs have gotten so long, that it is possible to REDUCE the swing weight by introducing a lighter shaft, which technically should not be the case. In reference after reference, the swing weight “should” be increased by a lighter shaft. As just one example, here’s how Golfsmith refers to the question:

      “Place lead tape near the grip to reduce swingweight. This technique is referred to as “counterbalancing.” Putting lead tape around the grip won’t affect the ball’s flight, but it can improve a club’s feel. For example, if you’ve switched to a club with a lighter shaft, the club’s weight may feel too concentrated in the clubhead. Adding weight near the grip may give you a more comfortable feel. Said two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen: “I put (lead tape) on a few wraps below the grip. It feels more balanced with the tape.”

      Step 3
      Change the club’s shaft. Take your clubs to a professional club fitter and have him put in a different type of shaft. If you’re looking for a higher swingweight, for example, you can have your heavier steel shafts replaced by shafts made with a lighter material, such as graphite. However, a longer club shaft made from a lighter material may weigh the same as your former shaft and have no impact on a club’s swingweight.

      Again, thanks for your insight and contribution on this topic.

  19. Don says:

    As you mention, Feel and Swing Weight of a club are NOT the same thing. I have no idea why they came up with a 14 inch folcum point for doing swing weighting of clubs. They had to come up with some standard, but why 14″ is a mystery to me. The shortest wedge in my bag is 35 inches, so 14 inches is much less the half of the shortest clubs most golfers use, even back then. I have to wonder if anyone has ever built a SW scale that uses a longer folcum point and what effect it would have in how a set of irons would Feel if they were matched using a different length than 14″.

    • John Rogers says:

      Don, I agree, and wonder about some of the same things. In fact, swing weight seems a rather meaningless measure to me when it’s separated from “feel”, other than possibly being a strange way of anticipating the load on the shaft that a higher swing weight suggests. Something like this would make more sense to me: find the fulcrum where the club balances itself (if you hold the club on one finger without either the head-end or butt-end making the club tip off your finger) and then measure the ratio of the segments of club on both sides of the fulcrum. The longer the head-end portion of the club, the lower the swing weight, and vice versa. It seems to me this measure might correlate better to “feel”. Or use the middle of the club as a fulcrum, and relate the mass on each half. There’s got to be a better standard than the one we use, especially since the equipment has changed so much.

  20. DON says:

    Some custom club makers are using MOA instead of Swing Weighting a set of clubs. I have to think this MOA idea might be closer to matching a set of club for FEEL rather than Swing Weight. I might have to talk for some of these club makers to get their reasoning behind using MOA to match a set of clubs.

  21. Yanick says:

    Hi john, i’m from Canada and my main language is french so sorry in advance for my english ! I’m 5’8 and my handicap is 5 but I have never been a pure striker with my irons. I always felt like my irons are too long for me and I very often hit the ground first with my 8-7-6-5 irons which prevents me to hit it pure. I got hybrids to replace my 4 and 3 irons because I felt I was swinging lonnng sticks ! The only irons I hit goods are the very short irons. I’ve been saying for years that my clubs are too long for me but everywhere I go, they tell me that cutting the clubs will do terrible things to the balance of my clubs and not to do that… So I choke the clubs but choking John feels very awkward to me, I feel like the rest of the handle is in the way… I would like to cut down my irons and feel big with them in my small hands which would give me confidence like a 6’2 tour player looks with a 6 iron in his hands. I feel I could hit down and aggressive in the ball with my mid irons which I never did like I do with the short irons. I play Callaway Razr X with regular graphite shaft and I think Stiff graphite shafts might have been a better choice for me when I bought them. Do I understand correctly that if I cut my irons, the shafts will be more like a stiff graphite shaft which could solve 2 problems at the same time for me ? Last question, how much can we cut down the irons ? Is 1 inch 1/2 too much ? And without being too technical, how do I make sure the get the balance Ok in my clubs after they cut them ?

    Thank you in advance,

    Yanick

  22. Yanick says:

    Hi John, before you answer my question, I just wanted to correct that I meant cutting down 1 inch OR 1/2 an inch and not 1 1/2 inch ! Also, on a previous post you said you are putting with a 32 inch putter. Did you cut down a normal putter to 32 inch or you ordered from the company at 32 inch to make sure the balance was perfect ? My putter is 35 inch and I would like to cut it down to 33 inch but again, they tell me it will affect the balance and the putter won’t work as it should be ? What is your suggestion for me ?

    Thank you,

    Yanick

  23. DON says:

    Hi Yanick; While you are waiting for your answer from John, here is what I’d tell you. I’d say that you can cut your putter down to 33″ with NO problems at all. I did exactly that after I purchased a 35″ Dart putter last year. The Dart comes with a few different weights that you can change out in case you need to. With your putter, the best thing to do would be to add some lead down the shaft as far down as you can get it. I make a 22 Gram lead weight just for this purpose that I’ve used a few times to increase the swingweight of clubs. My advice would be to add some lead down the shaft and try it out, then add more if you need more. Easy enough to do.
    As for your irons, I’d say that you could cut off an inch off the butt end of the shafts and NOT effect the stiffness much at all. Butt triming your irons, will NOT make them play much if any stiffer. You have to TIP trim the shaft to increase the stiffness, and that would be a lot more work and more costly to do. You also have to remember that most graphite shaft irons are 1/2″ longer the steel shaft irons. so your graphite shaft irons are already 1/2″ longer than standard would be for steel shaft clubs. Steel shafts weigh more than graphite shafts, which would make your irons have a higher swing weight if you had steel shafts instead of graphite. I’d recommend you DEMO a set of Womens’s irons with steel shafts and SEE if they work out about right for length for you. Then if you like the length, you would know before hand what your clubs would be like if you were to change length of your clubs. And a set of Ladies graphite irons should be ONE inch shorter than your current set, and that would again give you a good way to TEST your idea about cutting off an inch from your clubs. You could DEMO a set and know before you cut, which is always the best way to got. I hope this helps. Let me know what you decide to do, and good luck with your project.

  24. DON says:

    About your irons. Steel shaft irons would be 1/2″ shorter in steel than your current graphite set, So that would be one option for your to try. Graphite irons for women would be ONE inch shorter than your current set. Steel shaft womens irons would be 1-1/2″ shorter than your irons. So you have third options to try just by DEMOing a set of irons before you cut the shafts in your irons.

  25. Yanick says:

    Thanks a lot for your advice Don, I really appreciate the time you took for me. I went and tried out women’s irons and 1 inch might be too much of a cut to begin with. I was thinking starting with a cut of 1/2 of an inch. Now a Stupid question for you Dan to make sure I understand correctly, when you say cut off from the butt end of the shafts, you mean the end where the grip is right ? Plus they tell me that cutting 1/2 inch will feel more then that because when they will but the new grip in, there’s between 1/8 to 1/4 more I won’t use because it’s the end of the grip so the 1/2 inch cut will feel more to close to a 3/4 inch cut because of that reason, does it make sense Don ?

    Finally, I play a Odyssey White Ice #9 Putter. I want to cut only half an inch of it. Do I need to add lead tape for only half an inch ? If the chances are slim I will even feel the difference after the 1/2 inch cut, I won’t add lead tape. If you tell me that I will feel it, I will have to find somebody that really knows what there doing. At my local golf town store, the offer all these services but the kids that are working at the shop look like there 19 years old… I’m kind of worry to give them my clubs for the job !!

    Thanks again !

  26. DON says:

    Yanick; What you were told about cutting 1/2″ off your irons feeling more like 3/4″ due to installing a new grip. that makes NO SENSE at all. You have a grip on the club, now, so why would installing a new grip make any difference? Truth is it will NOT. So what they need to do is just cut off 1/2″ from the shaft, and then install a new grip, or they could re-install your current grip if it’s in good shape, NO need to install new grips if the current grips are okay. And YES, butt trimming the shaft means cutting off from the end with the grip. TIP trimming is cutting the shaft at the tip end by the clubhead.

    As for the putter, my advice would be to “choke down” 1/2″ on your putter at it is, and SEE if it feels okay to you. If it feels too light in the head, then you would be wise to add some weight down the shaft when the shaft is cut. If it feels okay when you choke down 1/2″, then it should feel okay after you have the shaft cut the same 1/2″.

    You mentioned that you tried women’s irons and you think 1″ might be too much. From this infomation, I would recommend you try steel shaft Men’s irons, and they should be half inch shorter than your current graphite shaft irons. That should tell you if 1/2″ is about what you need. One question for you. If there a reason you are playing with graphite shafts in your irons? If you check the irons being used on the PGA Tour, you will see that most ALL of them have steel shafts, Same for the LPGA
    Tour, all steel shafts in their irons. The reason for this is that steel shafts perform better in irons than graphite shafts do. Especially when you compare them side by side with the factory installed shafts. Ttuth is most of those factory installed graphite shafts in irons are NOT very good quality. The OEM’s charge about $200 more for graphite shafts in their irons, but the shafts only cost about $3 each, so you don’t get what the extra $200 should give you. If you want graphite shafts that perform as good as factory installed steel shafts, you’d have to pay at least $30 per shaft. Those $3 factory shafts just don’t do the job. Not trying to tell you what you should be playing, only letting you know that the pros play steel in their irons for a reason, and the reason is higher quality performance with steel shafts. Also remember that is you want with steel shafts in your irons, they would be 1/2″ shorter as standard. so you wouldn’t need to worry about them being 1/2″ too long. Let me know if you have any questions on any of this, and I’ll be happy to try answer any questions you may have. I build clubs so I don’t mind helping out other golfers in need of advice about clubs and shafts.

  27. Yanick says:

    Thanks Don, you are really quick on the answers and very generous with your knowledge which I really appreciate. As I said before, I’m a low handicap golfer and the strength of my game is regularity. I’m always straight and I make a lot of par’s. I don’t hit the ball as far as I would like, (around 240-245 of the tee) so I have fairly long second shot left a lot of time. It’s my second set of graphite irons and I have notice that I get nearly one club longer with the graphite shafts and I keep on being pretty accurate. One club longer makes a big difference in my situation because as I said before, i get dangerous and score well with short irons in my hands. I don’t hit middle irons pure and we won’t even talk about long irons. So thank for the great advice, I already choke the putter and it feels fine so i’ll take 1/2 an inch from it and as far as my iron are concerned, for some reason they already are the same length as mi steel shafts irons (an other set I have ?). So I’ll see what decision I take with them, thank you again for your time Don

  28. DON says:

    It looks like you are hitting your irons okay, so if graphite shafts in your irons are working for YOU, than that is what really matters, It’s not what others use, but what works best for YOU. Let me know how it goes with the putter after you cut 1/2: off of the butt end of the shaft.

    • John Rogers says:

      Yanick, I’m sorry for the slow response (I recently changed my email address and wasn’t getting notification about your comments), but it looks like Don has been steering you in a good direction. To answer a few of the questions: I have cut down several putters without re-weighting them, and have putted well. Good results with cutting down several sets of irons over the years as well. I’m hoping someday the big-name club manufacturers will reverse their tendency to keep making clubs longer, and will sell properly-weighted clubs that are shorter. I give over 1,000 golf lessons a year, and what I see is a lot of poor posture, balance, and swing planes that result from long clubs. Until the manufacturers wise up, cut your clubs down and follow Don’s advice for getting the swingweight back up, or custom order a new set at the length you want, and ask them to get the swingweight up.

      I agree with Don about the consistency of steel shafts (and about the ridiculous mark-up for shafts that are sometimes inferior), but I actually fit a lot of my clients in graphite for the reasons you mention. I am a fairly strong, 41 year-old golf professional, and my shafts are graphite. There’s an over-blown notion that anybody who’s not old or weak, or arthritic, should use steel shafts. I disagree, and as Don said, use what helps you hit good golf shots. I don’t know how long the link will stay up, but I happened to see a video by a club-maker on this topic just this week, and I had to agree. He surprised me by saying that Matt Kuchar is currently playing graphite-shafted clubs. I don’t know if you will enjoy it in English, but here it is: http://www.revolutiongolf.com/home/video/1656886059001 .

      Also, if you guys are on Facebook, I’d love to have you “Like” my golf page: http://www.facebook.com/golfthingsconsidered .

      Yanick, best wishes to you. I hope you enjoy a good, long, and successful season up there in Canada!! Don, thanks again for your insight!

      John

  29. DON says:

    You are most welcome John. I learned a lot reading your posts on this website, and it’s my pleasure to be able to help others with what I’ve learned over the years. Have a nice weekend

    Don

  30. Dan Campanaro says:

    I’m only about 5 – 7, and I bought some new Calloway irons and TaylorMade woods last summer. I’m not very good, so I recently signed up for a golf class run by a teaching pro. I have no question that the info he is teaching is good, but I’m really struggling making good contact with the ball. I used to stand too far from the ball, according to the instructor, and now that I’m closer to the ball, I can’t hit it straight at all. Often I hit the ground behind the ball, or I hit the ball off of the heel of the club and many times off of the toe of the club. I top the ball alot too. Anyway, I’m wondering if my clubs are too long, and now that I’m standing closer to the ball, that this has thrown off my ability to make good contact? Any words of advice from anyone? Thanks!

    • John Rogers says:

      Hi, Dan. Thanks for checking out my article.

      I do think it’s very likely your clubs are too long (assuming they are “standard” length) but the pattern of shots you describe, and the fact that it got worse when you got closer to the ball also sounds like a common swing issue. My guess is that one of two things (or both) is giving you trouble: your left arm (if you play right-handed) goes too far outside on the takeaway and/or your weight goes toward the ball. That’s why you felt more comfortable away from the ball, because it gave you “room” to get away with moving the arm or the body toward the ball. Moving the weight and the arm closer to the ball leads directly to chunks and shanks, and then your attempt to “fix” this situation before impact leads to topped shots and toe impacts as you chicken-wing or “flip” through impact.

      I would recommend choking down on the club, staying closer to the ball, and learning to swing the left arm and the weight more to the inside on the way back (being careful not to wrap the club itself too far inside). At first you will hit the ball thin, but then you will start releasing the arms/wrists better at impact and soon enough hit some really good shots.

      If you want me to verify my guess about all of this, feel free to send me a video with a view down the target line ( john.rogers.golf@gmail.com ). Good luck!

      John

  31. DON says:

    They could very well be too long for you. My best advice would be to talk to the instructor you took the lesson from and ask HIM or HER. That is the person that should be able to tell you whether the clubs are too long or not, assuming the instructor is any good at the job. Either this or go to a good club fitter in your area and work with them to test your clubs for length and lie angle.

  32. Dan Campanaro says:

    Don and John,

    Thank you both for your ideas and comments! I will do/try all of the above. John, not sure I can send you a video as I’m not too “tech-savvy” but my son might be able to help me out in that area. I am planning on getting some individual instruction from the teacher of my class, so hopefully he can figure out my issues, and I will also see a local golf center that does club fittings to see if its my swing, the club length, or a combination of both. Yes, my clubs are “standard” length, by the way.
    Thanks again to both of you for taking the time to give me some insight! Greatly appreciated!

  33. DON says:

    Most Welcom and good luck with the lessons.

  34. John Lea Rogers, Jr. says:

    We’re not related unless the Rogers’s in your family are from Prince Edward Island, Canada. I’m the only family member in the US, all are PEI.

    Your length of club article has really helped me. Two ways: those you mention and the fact that I had to choke down demonstrated to me that I had been holding to much to the “bell” of the grip in my left hand.

    Had the driver shaft shortened exactly one inch. Will have irons shortened and re-gripped when the shop guy isn’t so backlogged.

    Thanks much, John

    • John Rogers says:

      John, always glad to hear from a happy golfer, especially one named John Rogers! As far as I know I have no family on PEI, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there were a connection somewhere along the line. Glad you enjoyed the article, and I hope you continue to improve at the game. Best wishes!

  35. DON says:

    I try to ALWAYS have about 1/2″ of the grip sticking out of my left hand when I grip my clubs. I don’t want the very end of the grip touching my hand as the end of the grip has a rather SHARP edge that can cut into my glove and cause the glove to wear out much faster. Most golfers would be surprised at how much longer their gloves would last if they held the clubs with the end of the grip NOT in their hands.

  36. David C. says:

    John,

    Thanks for the article. It has really helped tremendously! I am 5 ‘ 9″ with a WTF of 34″. My irons were “standard” length and my Cobra ZL driver was 46″. All my clubs have always felt heavy, especially the driver 3w and long irons. I fixed my casting issue a long time ago and I retain the angle quite well all the way till my leading wrist passes into my trail thigh but it was still very difficult to release the club without feeling like the shaft was flexing too much and the head was being steered all the way to impact. Because of this same feeling, I had to swing the driver slowly to make consistent contact.

    My distances averaged before(with long standard length):
    Driver 240 yds
    3w 230yds
    3iron 215yds
    7 iron 155yds
    PW 125yds

    After reading this article I started choking down on the grip until it felt comfortable and was able to swing the clubs with a lot of snap at the bottom. I was all the way down to the bottom of the grip on the irons and wanted to be lower than the grips on the wood and driver. I was able to hit the ball consistently on the sweet spot and started getting balls that would make that “zing” sound as they took off and I was getting 8-10 feet of backspin on my wedges.

    A few days ago I bought 13 new Lamkin Crossline grips and proceeded to cut down all my clubs. I took 3″ off my driver, it’s now 43″. I took 2″ off my 3w, 1.5″ off my 3 hybrid and 1.5″ off my irons and wedges. I still choke down on all the clubs longer than 9iron. The swing weight feels perfect now on all the clubs. I don’t feel the need to throttle back on everything. I can swing all clubs at 80-90% with confidence.

    The best thing I have gained is contact and consistency but I have also gained a lot of head speed because I can swing much faster and maintain my balance through my finish very well. I have played twice with the cut down clubs and it’s a whole new ball game. I shot my best score yet which was a 73 yesterday.

    Using my GPS, I got some averages from 2 rounds.

    Driver 275yds
    3w 260yds
    3iron 235yds
    7iron 180yds
    pw 140yds.

    Thanks again, John. Your advice has made this game very fun for the first time in a long time. Just being out on the course is fun but playing well is very fun!

    • John Rogers says:

      David, I am excited to hear about your results. I am just a bit taller than you and my experience from applying my own theories has been almost identical (my driver distance went up slightly more than yours, but my irons not nearly as much). You pin-pointed a couple of my main points: that while longer clubs technically hit the ball farther, there are other factors that can result in greater distance gains than increased club-lengths (with accuracy gains as well). You nailed the point about longer clubs generally requiring a SLOWER swings–everyone loves the tempo of the female tour players, but part of their tempo is the fact that they NEED to swing slow because the clubs are proportionally so long! In other words, people take a long club wanting to hit it far, then have to give the distance back by slowing down. And shorter clubs not only allow faster swings, but improvements in balance, swing planes, contact, and even side-effects such as the improved spin you saw on your wedges. Thanks for your feedback, and I’m really glad golf is fun again!

  37. DON says:

    It really interesting how you gained distance with each of your club going with shorter club lengths. With ALL of the OEM’s going to longer and longer drivers these days, you would think they would know better. Some of todays irons aare a 1/2″ longer than standard now. The new Burner 2.0 irons are longer then my standard length irons from a few years ago. I’m glad you took the time to post your results as I’m sure a lot of other golfers could learn from your experience. Your gain of 35 yards by cutting 3 inches off your driver is pretty impressive.

  38. Sai says:

    John, thanks for writing this article. I was always aware of the things you have explained when watching tour players on television but I could never put one and one together. I thought the reason they hold their 4 iron like how I hold my 9 iron is because they are much taller than me (I’m only 5’5″).

    However, after reading this article, I’m very disappointed at my club fitter. I’m a self-taught golfer who bought a set of standard sized clubs in 2009. I read about more accuracy in shorter clubs so I cut an inch off all my clubs. In 2011, I decided I wanted to get fitted for my clubs so I went to a very reputable club fitter (rated by Golf Digest one of the top 100!). What the club fitter told me was my clubs were too short and should be reshafted back to the standard length because my swing plane is very flat. Being the uneducated golfer I am, I accepted what he told me and had all my clubs reshafted.

    As of today, I feel I stand very upright in my swing . On my next outing, I will grip an inch or 2 down and see how that feels. In regards to club fitting, if I ever decide to get fitted again, what should I do to prevent getting screwed again?

    • John Rogers says:

      Sai, thanks for checking out my article, and I’m glad it struck a chord with you. Sadly, the world of club-fitting has simply followed the world of club manufacturing, which means the prevailing paradigm is that everyone needs long clubs. It’s not all the fault of the people doing the fitting because even if a fitter suggests shorter clubs, the heads and shafts are not really designed for shorter specs, and it becomes trickier to provide clients with great clubs. Also, most golfers have played long enough with over-length clubs that their swings evolve to fit the long clubs (as might be the case with you if you now have a flat swing)–which means when they go for their next fitting their specs test out as, guess what, long clubs! As for your own future fittings, perhaps you should just tell the fitter that you want clubs a half or full inch short and tell them to do the fitting based on that. Unfortunately even that is tough for the fitter though, because a lot of fitting sets do not even have under-length clubs in them! Hopefully the industry will catch up to what you and I know one day. Until then, best wishes, and thanks for your comments!

  39. Hi John
    I stumbled across this article some months ago and it has changed my game. I always felt “uncomfortable” over my clubs but didn’t know why. This article was like a light going on. It suddenly all made sense. That image of the pro’s looking “big” over their clubs nailed it for me. As I soon as I read that I realized THAT was why I was feeling uncomfortable. I felt like my clubs dominated me instead of me dominating them. I started gripping down on everything and immediately things started to improve. (I’ve since gone to a set of 1 Iron Golf clubs – they’re significantly shorter across the range except for wedges – and things are getting even better!). So thanks very much for this article. Its actually worth re-reading a few times too to get all the good stuff thats in it 🙂

    • John Rogers says:

      Grayden, your comments made my day! I’m glad you have found a way to get more enjoyment from the game. What you said about the clubs dominating you is something that resonates with a lot of people. I’m glad you are starting to feel back in control and wish you many great rounds in the future!

  40. DON says:

    I did a little test on Friday. I was hitting my 5 wood and noticed my clubhead speed was only a few MPH lower than my normal driver speeds. After checking my speed with my 5 wood a few more times. I hit some balls with my driver with my right hand just ON the end of the grip, as close to the shaft as I could get. When I measured my clubhead speed with the driver choking down this much it was within a MPH or 2 of what I normally get with my driver. I then hit some balls with the driver holding the club as usual, and I got the same clubhead speed I was getting with my 5 wood and with the drive when choking down. The ONLY real difference I could see with the driver was that when I choked down to the bottom of the grip, I was hitting drive after drive down the center of the driving range, within a few FEET of my target. Launch angle looked about the same, so I have to assume my carry distance was pretty much the same, only closer to the intended target line.

    • John Rogers says:

      Don, I think that was a great experiment, and agrees perfectly with the articles and the clubfitter, Tom Wishon, I referenced in my column. Most people do not lose clubhead speed with a shorter driver, but they make better contact and hit the ball straighter–in other words, they hit the ball more accurately AND farther with a shorter club. Thanks for sharing your results!

  41. Steve Penrose says:

    Hi John,
    I am brand new to golf. I’ve only been playing for a few months. My father in law had given my wife and I his old set of clubs. After a few lesson’s from my father in law and a friend of mine, I am able to hit the ball pretty straight with the irons but I still cannot use the driver without a slice.

    Not knowing anything about golf clubs I figured out on my own that when I choke up on the grip with the irons it feels comfortable to me and I’m able to hit the ball straight. When I choke up on the driver at the same position as I do on the irons it feels very akward when I swing. Is this something that I can work through or should I try to find a driver with a much shorter shaft?

    I’ve been wanting to get fitted for clubs, but after reading your article, I’m concerned that the fitter would set me up with clubs that are too long for me. How can I know what length would be best for me?

    Thank you John for your information!

    • John Rogers says:

      Steve, welcome to the game, and thanks for reading my article!

      It’s tough to answer your questions without seeing your swing, but given that you fight a slice with the driver, you probably need to learn to flatten your swing planes before you’ll get comfortable with a long club like that (even if you’re choking down!). If you take a long club like that and swing it in a very vertical or upright plane, you will feel jammed and uncomfortable during the swing and experience a lot of mis-hits, including the slice.

      How tall are you? I’ve found that most “average” guys (5’9″-6’0″) do well with clubs 1/4″ to a full inch shorter than the length that most manufacturers consider “standard”. If you decide to get fitted, just speak with the fitter first. Tell him/her up front that you definitely want under-length clubs and ask them to fit the remaining specs accordingly. If they try to talk you out of it, just tell them you will look elsewhere for your clubs.

      I wish you the best, and feel free to write back with questions, or to share your success!

      John

  42. Carter Bloom says:

    I’ve been golfing for 27 years and even though I was down to an 11 handicap I would say that I played consistent good golf.
    Recently I used a ladies clubs and they were for a lady that was about 5’2″ and found that my golf was consistent and straight and accurate.

    Could clubs this short be my problem. I’m using clubs in a standard length. I’m about 5’8″ but I have very short legs. When I bend forward to address the ball I feel the clubs are way too long. The shorter clubs shafts made golf fun and I felt very competitive.
    Regards, Carter

    • John Rogers says:

      Hi, Carter. Thanks for reading my article, and for the email you sent separate from this comment. I think it’s very likely that the “magic” you experienced with the shorter clubs is no coincidence, as you can see by all the comments from other people with similar experiences. It’s also possible that the clubs you mentioned have a shaft that happens to “kick” right for your swing, or that they are appropriately lighter or something; but if you sense as soon as you take a stance that your own clubs are too long, then I think it’s obvious. I hope you are able to find some shorter clubs to match the ones you used and are able to regain some of the consistency you had before! Best wishes.

  43. blair harvey says:

    I tried choking down yesterday, and the results were instant. I went from hitting the ball the worst I ever had, to hitting them the best I ever had in 1 day. I was desperate and I read this article. Thanks for the info I feel more confident than ever in my golf game!

    • John Rogers says:

      Blair, that’s great! Hopefully these results will stick around, or at the very least let you maintain some level of confidence and enjoyment. Best wishes, and thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

      • John Rogers says:

        I just saw a video by club-fitter Bronson Wright. He studied a group of golfers comparing 44-inch drivers to 46-inch drivers. With the 46-inch drivers, the golfers picked up an average of 1 yard, while there dispersion (measure of accuracy) fell off by 50%!! This agrees with other studies I have seen. And I still see a lot of cases where center contact with a shorter club hits it straighter AND longer!

  44. Jerry R says:

    Hi John, I just picked up your site from Bronson’s Blog on Rev. Golf-like what you say in your piece and it makes since to me.
    Thanks

    • John Rogers says:

      Hi, Jerry. I was really happy to see Bronson cover the issue of driver lengths. I really think a lot of people struggle unnecessarily because they play with clubs that are too long. Thanks for checking out my site, and best wishes with your golf game!

  45. John Dorenski says:

    Hi,just read your article and have to say that for years I’ve always wondered about the difference in using shorter irons,well I have now taken drastic steps,I bought a set of irons that have 3deg.stronger lofts and took off 21/2 “in length off shafts and found that with a better suited ball compression,I am actually hitting more consistent and accurately than ever(5 handicapper).I will never fall for the trap in going for custom fitted again,anyone can do it themselves as it mainly goes on you feeling in control of the club at a certain length and not the club bullying you.Easy peasy!

    • John Rogers says:

      John, thanks for weighing in on this issue. I’m glad you have found a way to enjoy the game more! Two and a half inches seems like a crazy adjustment, but I am a firm believer in doing what it takes to play better golf. And I also wish that more club-fitters were willing/able to step outside the narrow box offered to them by manufacturers. Hope you keep up the success!

  46. Tom Earls says:

    John,
    Thank you for the article and the discussion. I am a 16 handicapper and haven’t moved from there despite being retired for 2 years and practicing. I know that over the years I would suddenly get better results by choking down on the irons but I couldn’t seem to stick with it. This summer I picked up a set of women’s irons on ebay for my granddaughter and they hit the ball better than anything else I own, but they’re hers. I have a set of standard length Adams A7OS clubs that hook nearly everything I hit which I think now is due to their being too long. My next step is to take an old set I have and cut them down an inch. Based on your article, I expect much better results. Thank you. I’ll let you know.
    Tom Earls

    • John Rogers says:

      Tom, thanks for reading the article and commenting. Just a handful of comments back you can see someone with an almost identical experience. I think the shorter clubs are likely to help; don’t underestimate the possible value of lighter and more flexible clubs as well–you might want to get as close to those ladies’ clubs as possible! Also, a 16-handicapper will likely have quite a bit of room for improvement in the chipping and putting category. You might check out my tip about short-game “black marks”. http://www.golfthingsconsidered.net/tips/?p=54

      Hope you get the handicap down and enjoy many years of retirement!

  47. DON says:

    I did a test a few weeks ago. I took my 45.5″ driver out to the range and measured my clubhead speed using my Swing Speed Radar/Tempo Timer. I hit a dozen balls to get a good average over the 12 swings. I then choked down on the grip a full 2.5″ to give me the equivilent of a 43″ driver. I hit another dozen balls and got a second average. Turns out my average was within ONE MPH when I choked down as when I didn’t. And my drives were a lot closer to the middle of fairway when I choked down compare to when I didn’t. The club did FEEL a bit weird due to the swing weight being so much lower choking down that much. but it did NOT feel bad, just different. As a result of this last test I’m going to be building a few driver soons with 43 inch lengths to see how it works out. I’ve got a TaylorMade R7 CGB that hase three screw weights in the head that will allow me to change the head weight to get the swing weight to what ever feels and performs the best with the 43″ club length. Should make for a fun time trying out different weights in the head. Will be interesting to see if my center of face impact improves with the short club length, and to see if my BALL speed going up or down with the shorter club but I hope better center face contact.

    • John Rogers says:

      Don, as always, you are right on point. One strange thing to consider, and you probably know more about the individual clubs than I do, but it seems to me that some of the manufacturers have moved the sweet spots away from center because they made the clubs so long that people struggle to hit the center. A lot of the sweet spots are located high in the face and toward the toe, I believe, right where people hit the face when they can’t get the telephone pole in a flat enough plane. I have little doubt you will hit the center of the face more often with a shorter club, but the question is, will you hit the sweet spot more often?! That might depend on each individual driver. Thanks for weighing in again.

  48. DON says:

    Good point John. I use a layer of car wax on the face of my driver and woods when I’m doing range work to see exactly where I’m hitting the ball on the clubface. My goal is to hit the ball maybe a 1/4″ above the center of the clubface with the driver and as close to dead center as I can with the fairway woods. Any ball hit from the center of the face to slightly above center with a modern driver is ideal. It’s nat very hard to test a driver to locate the sweet spot so you can compare it to the exact center of the face. Most of the driver heads I use are a few years old, 5 or 6 at most, so the sweet spot is pretty close to the center of the face, and as I mentioned, maybe 1/4″ above at most.

  49. Mark Nakagawa says:

    Wonderful article John! At 5’8, and with shorter than usual arms, I have always fought with the choke down or don’t choke down issue. Today, after reading you’re article (a few years too late I might add), I went to the range and choked down a good 2 inches on all of my clubs. The improvement on accuracy was amazing with zero loss on distance!
    Being a high handicapper this may be a real game changer.
    My only question is; should I now get my clubs re-shafted to the shorter length or can I get by with just choking up?

    • John Rogers says:

      Mark, thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to see great success! I’m not sure there’s a correct answer to the choke down/reshaft question. A lot of guys struggle to make themselves choke down if there’s still club there to grip. And it also tends to mean you are gripping a thinner section of the grip when you choke down, and some people don’t like that. If those things concern you, then I’d consider cutting off the clubs at least part of the way, or eventually getting new, shorter shafts. You might want to read some of the comments above as they pertain to swing-weight, though–cutting off your clubs can affect the weighting and feel you get from them. Keep up the good work!

  50. John Rayner says:

    Great article. This is something I’ve suspected for a while. I’ve been playing golf on and off, without a handicap, for about 3 years now. If I had a handicap, it would probably be about 30. I’ve been using an old set of ultra budget womens clubs someone gave me (I’m 5’8, male and 39 years old), and unsurprisingly, they’re quite short. Then, this Christmas, my father very kindly bought me a brand new set of TM Burner Plus irons, which are, no joke, 2+ inches longer. And guess what? With my old womens clubs, my best ever 7 iron at the range was about 155 carry, off artificial grass. But with my new 7 iron, I so far haven’t managed to exceed 110 yards carry! To be fair, the extra soft shafts on my old clubs (compared to uniflex on the new) was probably giving me extra distance, but that much distance??!? Also, I suspect the manufacturers have been misleading us all for years about which shaft flex we should be using. I suspect most men with average swing speeds would be better off with soft men’s shafts, and men who think they swing fast, might be better off with men’s regular shafts. I’ve been measured at 106mph with a men’s driver, but out on the range, I seem to do at least as well with my old womens 3 wood! Machismo has taken over the marketing of golf equipment.

    • John Rogers says:

      John, thanks for checking out my article, and welcome to the game!

      You raise some very valid points. You and I are very similar in numbers–I am a bit taller and a few years older, but our swing speeds sound comparable, and I play with short, graphite-shafted clubs. I think a lot of guys want to be able to claim they play with extra stiff clubs because it will somehow testify to their strength and manliness. No doubt this has been reflected in club-makers’ marketing and their “standards”.

      It is possible that as your swing develops and evolves, that your fitting will change drastically. It’s possible that 3 years from now, you will play better with the Burners than the set you have started with; but what you have experienced so far is a fairly common experience, as you can tell by reading the previous comments.

      Thanks again, and good luck!

  51. Roy Baylis says:

    This article was SUCH a blessing to me.
    I have just bought my first Miura irons and assumed that I would need them lengthened, as with previous clubs, because I am 6’2″.
    But, before doing so, today I did exactly as you suggested – stood closer to the ball, more spine bend, knees more flexed and …. Bingo! Everything you said – worked.
    I cannot thank you enough and truly believe this will help me get down from 12 to single figures almost immediately.
    I am SO grateful.

    • John Rogers says:

      Roy, I’m glad you had a good experience after experimenting with some of my suggestions, and I hope it does indeed help you get into the single-digits! I have a young protege who is about 6′ 3″ and he has yet to go beyond “standard” length clubs, yet he hits it a long way and has been a 4-time Player of the Year in his high school district. The ability to bend over, stand close to the ball, and steepen the shoulder turn (if all this can be done without back issues) tends to be very good for accuracy and ball-striking. I hope you are able to keep building on your success!

  52. Sam says:

    John, what I read on your website was just what I was looking for (and just a great read). It made me confident in my choice to get my irons cut down. I am in love with the game of golf and have recently started to really pay attention to my swing and my mechanics so that i could be more consistent. This past year I choked down on the club which helped me get over the ball which has helped but I think that cutting 1/2 inch off my irons and possibly 3/4 inch off my 4 iron would help to get a steeper swing for a higher ball flight. My question for you is how long my irons should be for my height. I am 5’5″. Thanks, Sam.

    • John Rogers says:

      Hi, Sam. Thanks for checking out my article, and I’m glad you are enjoying the game!

      It’s hard for me to say exactly how short you should go with your clubs without seeing you and your swing, but I am almost 5′ 11″ and mine are a full inch short. Just be aware that you might want/need some weighting adjustment if you cut them down very much. You can always take a half inch and still choke down a little as needed, or take a little more off later. Good luck!

  53. Cindy Skip says:

    Hello John. I am currently in the market for my first new set of clubs. I am a beginner player and have been borrowing everything available from men’s standard clubs with steel shafts to ladies standard graphite shafts. I seem to get conflicting advice on choice of irons, and flexibility of shaft. Because I am a 5′ 8″ female, and have been told I have a good athletic swing and club head speed of about 70, I am being advised by a club fitter to go with a senior flex graphite shaft game improvement iron. Please advise.

    • John Rogers says:

      Hi, Cindy, and welcome to the game! A few thoughts: I cannot give you a definitive answer without seeing you in person, but there is a chance that you will do better with something like a senior flex shaft–the only thing is that I would encourage you not to go with the standard men’s length if you end up with a men’s shaft. You would likely want to get the clubs at least a half inch shorter than men’s standard (which would make them women’s standard), but you might even like them a bit shorter. I am about 5′ 11′ and my own clubs are 1/2 inch below WOMEN’S standard. I would trust your fitter in terms of shaft flex, but I suggest you not let them talk you into a men’s length. Also, as you are learning the game, your swing will change enough in the first few seasons that you might consider a more budget-conscious set now with the idea of getting another fitted set in a couple seasons. I think you might also benefit from graphite over steel, but the proof will be in the pudding–make sure you demo quite a few clubs to find out what feels good, and what helps you get the ball flight you like. I hope this helps a little, and best wishes for many years of enjoyable golf!

  54. Joshua says:

    Hey John:

    Couldn’t be happier reading this article. Not only a good read but extremely insightful. I have been wanting to cut down my irons for a long time but have time and time again been talked out of doing so. Every time I leave a bit confident in with the advice I had been given but that confidence soon fades with a couple weeks.

    I am 5’5 – 5’6 and play a standard length club 2 degrees flat because that is what fitters have told me is what I should be playing after my fitting sessions. I have the ability to go out an shoot low 80’s on the card some rounds but also find a lot of inconsistency in my game and ball striking and in the same right can easy shoot mid to high 90’s on the card. This frustrates me extremely because I am never truly confident at address about my club length.

    Being 5’5 – 5’6 I have seriously contemplated for 2 years now cutting down my clubs 2″ in length but everyone tells me I am completely crazy to do so. I feel in my mind it is the best thing for my game, when I choke down as much as that I feel most confident. The real concern is I am a former college football player and at 26 years old I would consider my strength above average so the stiffness of shaft as well as weight of shaft poses a huge concern for me about doing this.
    Am I crazy for thinking about taking 2″ off???? Really looking for your help and insight here. Thanks and great job wih this article!!!!

    • John Rogers says:

      Hi, Joshua, and thanks for commenting on my article! First things first–don’t hesitate to take ownership of your game. I know guys who wear knickers to play, men who play women’s clubs, people who go barefoot, cross-handed swingers, players with persimmon woods, and golfers with a thousand other “quirky” ways of enjoying the game. Until someone is paying you to play their equipment, I say you do whatever you want with your clubs, especially if you can afford to experiment and then fix the situation if it doesn’t work out.

      I will tell you this–I am almost 5′ 11″, and I probably have slightly above-average strength too. But my clubs are one inch short and I use graphite shafts. Not typical for sure. And I generally choke them down some more!!

      You probably don’t have to worry about the flex of your shafts–cutting them down will slightly stiffen them, but it sounds like you can handle that. The bigger problem is weighting. Manufacturers weight the club-heads based on the ridiculous length they build clubs, so you might find a fitter/clubmaker who will help you get your swing-weight back up after you cut down the clubs–it might take weights down the shaft, lead tape on the club-head (which I have), ultra-light grips (now available from Winn) or some other trickery to keep the head-end of the club from feeling too light in your hands. Lie angle is also a concern–taking two inches off your clubs when they already have a flat lie will make them play very flat (could make it hard to close the face at impact). Typically when I fit someone in a shorter set, they will get a degree or two upright angle to off-set the shorter shaft. You might want to look into having yours bent upright, or just look into a new set.

      If your experience is like mine and hundreds of other people I’ve worked with or heard from on this topic there’s a chance you will develop a more comfortable setup, a better swing, make better contact, and even hit the ball FARTHER even though distance is the concern that keeps people from playing shorter clubs.

      Good luck, and please feel free to comment again some day with your results!

  55. gordon lee says:

    Hi John. I decided to try cutting my driver and 5 iron one inch first before doing the rest of the clubs. I’ve always felt the standard length Mizuno Mp-53 ‘s I use were too long. I decided to get the MP-53, hoping it would inspire me to strike the ball cleaner.
    I’ve struggled with slices and mishits since I started playing 5 yrs ago. I’m 62.
    Can’t break 100 consistently. Interestingly, I came upon your article AFTER I cut my 2 clubs. Def. positive reinforcement and encouragement. Going to range tomorrow to test it out. But from taking practice swings in the back yard it seems to feel right.
    Thanks.
    I’m 5’9. My ‘floor to wrist’ is about 34″. Those charts tell me I should use std lengths.
    I disagree.

    • John Rogers says:

      Gordon, thanks for commenting. If you struggle with slices and poor contact, there’s a chance that you swing the club in too vertical of a swing plane. If this is the case, shortening the club might well help quite a bit as shorter clubs are more “comfortable” in an upright swing. Good luck! Also, you are doing well–you are not far from the average male score after just five years and having waited until age 62 to play. Keep up the good work!

  56. DON says:

    To all of you thinking about cutting down the length of your clubs, here is my advise. CHOKE down the same amount you are thinking of shortening your clubs FIRST. This will allow you to try out the clubs ate a shorter length BEFORE you cut down the shafts. IF you then hit the ball better you will know your idea is correct If you find the clubs feel too LIGHT in the head. again you will know this before having your clubs shortened, and you can have weight added inside the tips of the shaft while the grips are off for cutting down the shafts. And IF for some reason you don’t like the results you get when you choke down on the grips, you haven’t done any harm to your clubs. It’s really a win win way to test your club lengths for yourself. My own experience says that everything John Rogers is telling golfers is CORRECT. So try out his advise and see how it works for you.

  57. Carter says:

    Hi John, just to let you know that I’ve shortened all my clubs and it has been a tremendous improvement to my golf and no loss of distance. I average 270-300 meters off the tee with my driver. Irons are way more accurate and with them being shorter I feel each iron is more specific. I even let a fellow much taller than me try my driver and he was amazed with the distance over his driver that was half inch longer than standard. He actually hit his drive farther with mine than his.

    Regards, Carter

    • John Rogers says:

      Carter, good to hear from you again. Glad to know you are not only still swatting the ball, but doing so with more confidence. And now you are “corrupting” your friends! Congrats on your success, and keep up the good work!

  58. DaveP says:

    Greetings John, I am the new owner of a set of standard length irons and looking to add a set of hybrids. I stand 5’6″ and now wonder if should I purchase the hybrid (3,4,5)clubs with an inch or two shorter shaft from the factory. I also wonder what the impact would be to my fiberglass shafted irons if I took them down an inch? Choking down has always improved my shot making but I don’t want to lose the clubs balance. Will the impact be dramatic if cut down an inch? I would appreciate any guidence…
    Regards,
    Dave

    • John Rogers says:

      Dave, thanks very much for reading and commenting. It will take a little while, but one of the best things you can do is read back through all the comments that have been attached to this article. It will help you understand the advantages and the potential downsides to shortening your clubs. There’s a fellow, Don, who is a club-fitter and has posted quite a few comments–he offers some good advice. I suggest reading the comments and making a few notes before you make a final decision about your clubs. Concerning the hybrids–feel free to order them short, but request that the manufacturer do what they can to keep the swing-weight up (this is generally the biggest problem when shortening clubs, that the head-end becomes too light compared to the overall weight). They might place weights down the shaft, or a few other tricks, to maintain a decent swing-weight. There are also some new ultra-light grips out there that can help the problem. Concerning the irons–my clubs are graphite shafted and a full inch short. I love them. I have had to add lead tape to the cavity to get the swing-weight back up a little, but I am very comfortable with them. You could always cut down one or two of them first as an experiment, and it’s not impossible to extend them back out if you’re not happy. Thanks again, and best wishes!

  59. DaveP says:

    sorry….meant Graphite shafts…..not sure what I was thinking

  60. DON says:

    Hi Dave. The thing I noticed from your first post was that you mentioned that choking down has ALWAYS improved your shot making. I have a question for you. When you choke down on your clubs, do they FEEL okay to you? IF your answer is YES, then I feel totally comfortable in telling you that if you cut your shaft down the SAME amount as you were choking down in the past. your clubs will FEEL just as good cut down as they did when you choked down on the grips. Most likely they will feel a LITTLE BETTER, due to not having part of the grip sticking out past your hands. Bottom line is that if you LIKE the way the clubs perform and feel when you choked down on the grips, you will LIKE them just as much after you cut the shafts down, So go for it.

  61. Dan says:

    John, Great article! I’m going to shorten the length of an old driver I have in my garage and will let you know the results.

  62. Bill says:

    Just read this great article . I’m about to buy new irons and it made so much go sense . I usually play 1 inch longer but tried standard length and got great results .
    Many thanks and best wishes from Northern Ireland ,
    Bill Stewart

  63. Chad says:

    Thanks for the great info. I am 6 ft and a 4 handicap. Just bought Nike VR Pro blades that are 1/4 shorter than standard. Being that I am playing blades for the first time in my life, it’s hard to say that my accuracy has improved. But, I can tell that my lie angle is a lot better. With standard length irons with standard lie angles, I noticed they were a little upright with me. After hitting my new Nikes, I have noticed my lie angle is more even with the ground. No longer hitting pull hooks like i used to. I think being able to stand closer to the ball has fixed that.

    • John Rogers says:

      Chad, everything you said makes sense. Shortening the clubs effectively makes them play flatter, which could help with pull-hooks. And being closer actually can help that too, mainly through a change in balance or weight-movement during the swing. Good luck with the blades, and thanks for reading!

  64. Lew Ottavi says:

    Just read this great article. I to know that I grip my clubs too long but fight it so much that I wear out my gloves but when I choke down it just feels out of place, been doing it so long now it’s become a mental thing. Will definitely get over it and try this next time I go to the range. Oh by the way I love Lakeview what great tracks that and Packsaddle.

    VA Beach,VA

    • John Rogers says:

      Lew, thanks for reading and commenting! One thing you might experiment with since you are uncomfortable with choking down–try fatter grips. Part of your discomfort might be that the grip gets too narrow for you as you choke down. Glad you enjoy playing Lakeview. Stop by the range and say hello when you’re in town!

  65. DON says:

    Hi John;
    Reading your posts on this site makes me wish I lived a lot closer to where you teach. My bet is that you give very helpful lessons that really work for your students. You don’t get that from a lot of other golf instructors out there.

    • John Rogers says:

      Don, thanks very much. I’ve been teaching for 17 years and given close to 20,000 golf lessons, but every year I keep learning important things about the game of golf, and about the people who play it. I enjoy the time I spend with my students, and do everything I can to help them enjoy the game more. Appreciate your kind words!

  66. Ken says:

    Hi. I went to 3 Ping fitters for G25 irons: Swing is 80 mph 7 iron: One recommended red dot, minus 1/2 inch on regular graphite shaft. The other said purple dot, plus 1/2 on reg graphite. The combo and length would bring it back to a red dot but add distance and allow me to dig more. The other said red dot, reg steel standard shaft. Totally confused

    • John Rogers says:

      Ken, I understand your frustration, and I wish I could clarify things for you. A couple of thoughts: I hate to second guess other fitters without seeing their process or results, but I’d probably throw out the one that said purple and longer–you see, Ping does something unique; they adapt the lie to any length change you order, so you would not order a purple dot to compensate for the added length. In other words, the lie angle of a purple dot club at standard length will not match the lie angle of a purple dot club at +1 inch, etc. Not to mention, as you can tell by my article, I’m very skeptical of adding that length to begin with. As for the difference in fittings, it’s a lot like taking lessons, you’re going to get different results wherever you go. It’s not an exact science. My advice is to make the final decision based on feel and ball-flight (and cost if need be). Make sure you hit each option off of turf so that you get a realistic sense of the ball flight, and go for the one that gives you consistently the best control over direction and trajectory. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

  67. Alan says:

    Your analysis about the length of drivers makes sense to me. My colleagues have been puzzled as to why I hit longer with my 4 woods than my driver. I always felt that my swing was some how different for the driver as compared to other clubs.

    I was thinking of shortening my driver but I will now try to chock down on it to see if it makes difference. I also wonder whether long drivers can create stress for your back, shoulders and wrists.

    • John Rogers says:

      Alan, I think you are right on track. A lot of golfers do very well with the length of a 4 or 5-wood, and the loft of about a 3-wood. Unfortunately, they don’t really make drivers like that. Modern drivers really do not relate to the rest of the set, and really require a completely different setup and swing. Best of luck, and thanks for reading!

  68. Terry Devin says:

    I have been struggling hitting irons below about a seven iron. I now choke down on all my shafts driver included. The result is that I am swinging better and making good contact with all my irons. I have in effect shortened the shafts. The distance is excellent compared to previous sets ups. I am now able to put all the good stuff I have learnt into action most of the time. I am excited by the results of shortening the club. Maybe I should get the pro to take half an inch of all my clubs – putter included. Yes I go down the shaft on that one too. I am 5 foot 8 inches tall.

    • John Rogers says:

      Terry, I’m glad to hear you are finding your swing, and your length for the clubs. I had the same experience myself–I once used over-length clubs, and mine are all now about an inch UNDER standard length, but I hit the ball more flush, more accurately, and LONGER. By the way, my putter is probably about 32 inches. I am almost 5′ 11″. Best wishes!

  69. DON says:

    Terry; For what it’s worth, I’ve using a 33″ putter ever since I read a test report that showed that good golfers will sink MORE putts with a 33″ putter than with either a 35′ or a 34″ putter. Most common length is 35″, but most golfers do BETTER with a 33″ putter, Go figure. Makes me wonder WHAT the top OEM putter makers are thinking.

  70. Joe H. says:

    John,
    Great article! I am a one handed player (right hand playing right handed). I place my hand on the grip in the same location as if I had both hands. I had a fitting recently and he suggested shorter clubs and gripping them at or near the end of the grip to increase clubhead speed. He even mentioned possible trying womens length clubs. I know I grip my current set too tightly as my glove wears quickly.

    • John Rogers says:

      Joe, it sounds like you are on the right track, and I’m glad you are enjoying the game! As for the glove wearing, there’s a chance that you have some extra lateral motion in your hand-action, and that tends to increase the rub of the glove against the club. It’s also likely that you need a little more pressure and/or hand action to maintain control and generate force. Thanks for reading, and best wishes!

  71. DON says:

    Went to a local club swap Saturday and picked up two clubs. Picked up a TaylorMade R7 Quad 10.5* driver and R5 3 wood. I got both clubs because I want to do some testing of shorter than normal wood and the movable weight system of the TaylorMade clubs will allow me to adjust the weight of the head to compensate for cutting down the length of the shafts of both clubs. This is a great way to figure out what length works best for each golfer as it allow for adjusting the swing weight as you cut down the shaft one step at a time until you find the BEST length for you or a customer. Only paid $35 for the driver and $25 for the 3 wood so I don’t have very much invested in the heads. Will do some testing with the factory shafts but will install a good after market shaft before either club goes in my bag.

  72. Chase says:

    John,

    This is a great article, and based on my experience (I have been playing since I was a kid and grew up taking lessons and honing my swing fundamentals), I want to believe you. Last week, I got my first custom set of irons at Golfsmith. I spent 3+ hours hitting clubs and ended up liking standard length stiff shafts the best. I am 5’5″-5’6″, so based on their measurement of me, I should’ve taken 3/4 of an inch off of my shafts, but as you noted in the article above, the salesman recommended that I stick with the standard length. My guess is that he was worried that I wouldn’t see the same results with a shortened club that I was off the matt with standard length and that I shouldn’t take the risk of this without hitting the shorter option first. Given that I am well shorter than average, I stuck with my gut with a slight compromise by getting 1/2 an inch off standard length. Last weekend, I played my first round with the clubs with mixed results.

    At address, they look and feel fantastic. However, I had a few swings where, although the ball seemed to fly higher and pretty consistently straight, the distance was a good 5 to 10 yards shorter than how long I used to hit the same irons (Note: my old set was standard length). That said, when hit purely, the contact felt better than ever, my accuracy was excellent, and I rarely had serious mis-hits.

    Should I be worried that I should have gone with standard length? Is it normal to see the results that I saw? Could this be an effect of me just having to get used to a slightly shorter club than the ones I have hit over the past 20 years playing? I feel like consistency with my new clubs will come with time, and keeping in mind your pointers of posture and approach above would help as well…

    Cheers,
    Chase

    • John Rogers says:

      Hi, Chase. Great comments and questions. Here are some things to consider, and some possible explanations for the results you saw:

      1) Are the lofts similar between your old set and new, and/or is he trajectory different between the sets?
      2) Are the shafts very similar in weight and flex?
      3) Was the head style drastically different?
      4) Would you say you have a fairly flat swing (if so, the shorter clubs might not fit your planes at the moment)?
      5) Has the distance change held up over time (meaning the weather/temperature any given day could give you different results)?
      6) It’s also quite likely as you mentioned that there will be an adjustment period. Playing with one set for 20 years will make your swing evolve to fit those specs, which is why I asked if you have a somewhat flat swing. If you play with the new clubs for several years, your swing will likely evolve to fit them too.

      So, I’ll be curious to hear what you find over time. If all factors were consistent, you SHOULD hit the longer clubs farther. The point of my article was that most people can create more distance by focusing on other factors before adding length to the club. It’s quite possible that you are one of the exceptions. Best wishes, and thanks for reading!

  73. Hey John: Great column, plenty of valuable tips explained in layman’s terms. Here’s my problem. I have a son who just turned 12. He’s roughly 4’8″ and slightly built. I bought him a set of rental return Nike VRs from our golf course as a reward for not playing tackle football (afraid of head injuries like many others unfortunately as he really enjoyed playing). Anyway, the clubs are probably 5 to 6 inches too long, the driver probably even more based on your points in your column. He hits them Ok, but struggles to get the ball flight that he had when he was playing his junior clubs. He is a pretty good player, so I don’t want him to regress due to playing adults clubs. He feels embarrassed going back to junior clubs because all of his friends have adults clubs (they are too big for some of his friends as well so these kids must want to grow up too fast these days!). Any advice for my son to adjust his stance as he doesn’t want to give up the adults clubs? PS Yes, he chokes down on all of them, but the shaft almost pokes him when he swings, ugh! Thanks for any help you can give, take care!

    • John Rogers says:

      Brian, thanks for reading and responding to my article. I see this kind of “conflict” all the time–I have approximately 75 junior golfers in my weekend programs, and have been teaching junior golfers for 18 years. There’s a constant battle between clubs they want (or the parents want) and clubs that help them develop their skills. One brief story: I taught a young lady a while ago who went from being a complete beginner to being the national girls’ player of the year on the Plantations Junior Tour in three years. She was phenomenal, and she had this amazing swing based around the angles created by choking down on her junior clubs. Eventually her dad decided he did not like her choking down and she was removed from my junior programs. She went on to play college golf and is a respectable player to this day, but her scores were never better than when she was 13 years old. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if she had been allowed to stay on the path she had started down.

      My point is this–what’s more important, playing according to everyone else’s expectations, or playing good golf? One of my methods is to try to create angles and planes for juniors that will not change when they are adults. As they get taller, the clubs get longer, but the angles are consistent. Juniors playing with long clubs tend to learn swing planes that are not entirely effective, and tend to be less effective when they are taller and stronger.

      My suggestion is this–at the very least, cut an inch or a little more off those clubs. Your son will still have some growing room (he can still choke down, but hopefully without the club hitting him in the gut), and still have the “big boy” clubs in his hand. You might consider having a club-fitter help you add some weight to the head to keep the swing-weight decent. And even then, have your son honestly evaluate which set he hits better. Perhaps a third set (a short, light-weight adult set?) would be worth considering–certainly better than those head injuries you mentioned!!

      Thanks again for writing. Best wishes to you and your son!

  74. Chase says:

    John,

    Here are some responses –

    1) Are the lofts similar between your old set and new, and/or is he trajectory different between the sets?
    I’m not sure and would have to look into this.
    2) Are the shafts very similar in weight and flex?
    My old shafts definitely had more flex and were lighter. This was once of the biggest inconsistencies w/ my swing, though, which is generally pretty fast and lent me towards a stiffer flex. I hit my driver ~260-270 on avg. and swing my 6 iron head around 80 mph. The salesperson at Golfsmith recommended I go with a stiffer flex, which I think is resulting a a more consistently straight ball flight.
    3) Was the head style drastically different?
    No, they are fairly similar.
    4) Would you say you have a fairly flat swing (if so, the shorter clubs might not fit your planes at the moment)?
    No, I think my swing is probably more vertical on average.
    5) Has the distance change held up over time (meaning the weather/temperature any given day could give you different results)?
    6) It’s also quite likely as you mentioned that there will be an adjustment period. Playing with one set for 20 years will make your swing evolve to fit those specs, which is why I asked if you have a somewhat flat swing. If you play with the new clubs for several years, your swing will likely evolve to fit them too.
    I’m guessing this is the case, but time will tell.

    • John Rogers says:

      Chase, I’d have to agree with what Don said. And while it sounds like you needed a stiffer shaft, you also could lose a few mph in the swing if the new shaft is heavier. But loft and “centeredness” of contact are likely the big factors. I also find it unlikely that a half-inch of length translates into a one-club change in distance. Hope you get adjusted to the new sticks, and either get your yardage back, or at least hit them accurate enough that less distance is worth it!

  75. DON says:

    Chase; I would have to think that the main reason you are hitting your new irons shorter and higher is due to the loft of the new clubs being higher. I have a set of SnakeEyes 600C irons, and compared to most of todays current irons, the loft of all of the clubs is Higher with the SnakeEyes set. For example, the loft of my 6 iron is 32*, compared to 27* for the TaylorMade Burner 2.0 I demoed. And just like you, I was hitting the SnakeEyes 6 iron both Higher and Shorter than the newer clubs. A good 15 to 20 Yards shorter, all due to the higher loft on my older irons. I also was hitting the ball 5 degrees Lower with the newer Burner irons. Again due to the lower loft. I’d bet that if you were to check the loft of your new Golfsmith irons and compare them to your old set, you will see a similar difference in loft.
    And as I’m sure John can confirm, there is little chance of losing 5 to 10 yards of distance just by going 1/2″ shorter in length. I know that if I want to take 7 or 8 yards off my iron carry distance, I have to Choke down a good FOUR inches on the grip to do it. So if I’m cutting down my distance 8 yards by choking down 4 inches, I’d bet money you would at most lose ONE yard by going 1/2 inch short on your irons. It’s pretty easy to check for yourself. Just choke down 1/2 inch on a standard length iron and compare. My money is betting on you not seeing much if any difference in distance do this test.

  76. Greg says:

    excellent discussion on club length. After a 10 year lull while my weekends were locked by Little League and such, I have started golf again.

    I leave my Driver out of bag because it always slices. 3 woods too … until I started to choke down on the shaft. Striking the 3 wood better now, heavy slice is gone. I am thinking this explains my ability to hit a 2 iron with better accuracy. Except that two iron is a graphite shaft, while the rest are steel.

    So now, it is time to buy a modern set of clubs. And I am concerned with loft and shaft. At age 55 and 5.7 I am thinking keep the shafts shorter.

    • John Rogers says:

      Thanks for reading, Greg, and welcome back to golf! I would definitely take a look at shorter clubs, and make sure you demo some graphite-shafted clubs since you’ve had luck with one before. Best wishes!

  77. DON says:

    I Wish that more clubs came with Weight Ports or weight screws that could be used to Increase the weight of the head. They would sure come in handy for building a set of clubs with shorter shafts to get the swing weight back to normal. Changing out a few screws with heavier ones is SO much nicer than having to use Lead Tape stuck somewhere on the head, and so much NICER looking. I really hate the look of lead tape on a clubhead. It’s so ugly and so NOT professional looking.

  78. Mark says:

    John,

    Thanks for the article. I’ve been playing golf for a little over a year and am just now starting to get some type of understanding of a golf swing. However, one thing that I noticed right away was that I felt pretty comfortable hitting wedges, 9 iron and 8 iron, and generally hit them as well – and as long – as my friends who are much better players. Things start going downhill the lower I go with the driver feeling like I’m swinging a telephone pole.

    I understood that swing flaws come out more as you move toward the driver, but it was more than that. My swing with the shorter clubs felt comfortable, like my shoulders just rotating around my spine, while the longer clubs just felt out of control. I wished that I could have the same type of swing for my driver and long hybrids as my higher clubs, but the shaft tended to put me in an more upright position, so I figured that that was the position that I was supposed to have. Besides, everyone kept telling me that a driver swing is a “sweeping” swing, so maybe a more upright position was best.

    Then, a few weeks back, a friend was watching a PGA event. Don’t know why, but I noticed Keegan Bradley standing over a long iron. As you mentioned, it looked like he was playing with kid clubs. He was bent over more that I was with a 9 iron. But I noticed how it allowed him to use his shoulders to turn his arms and hands. I was blown away. I watched him hit a driver. Same thing. Much more spine tilt.

    I noticed something else. His hands gripped the club just a bit above his knees with his driver. My hands are around my pockets, maybe my crotch, a good foot higher! That was amazing to me. I have a similar build to Bradley, being around 6’1 and with somewhat longer arms, so, in theory, we shouldn’t be too different in our setup. (I noticed that most pros grip is around mid-thigh, again, much lower that where I setup.)

    I’m beginning to realize that my setup posture probably isn’t correct, so that’s something that I can try and fix. But I’m also thinking that overly long club shaft lengths are part of the problem. They push you toward a much more upright address position, particularly the driver and other woods.

    I’ll try choking down, but I’m concerned that it might cause the shafts to move from regular to stiff. Also, from a mental perspective, two inches of club sticking out kind of messes with my concentration, but I can get used to it.

    Anyway, I guess that this is a long-winded way to say thanks for the article. It’s really changed what I thought and confirmed some other things that I noticed, and could make the game a lot more enjoyable.

    Too bad you’re down in Harrisonburg. I’m up near Leesburg. Bit far to drive for a lesson.

    Best,
    Mark

    • John Rogers says:

      Mark, thanks for checking out my article, and I’m glad it resonated with you! I think you are spot-on with the things you saw in Keegan Bradley. The longer clubs will always likely put you in a slightly more upright posture, and you’ll hit them better if you learn to flatten the plane with those clubs–but there’s no doubt in my mind that a lot of drivers and fairway woods are dis-proportional to the rest of the set and cause people a lot of grief, even tall people like you.

      A lot of people struggle getting comfortable with choked-down clubs, though I don’t think you need to worry much about the flex changing drastically. Consider going through a fitting for new, shorter clubs, or consider cutting your clubs down a little (read the earlier comments to get a lot of good info about club adjustments).

      I’m less than two hours away if you want some help! In the meantime, I’m glad you are enjoying yourself. And if you ever go into the Blue Ridge Grill, say hi to the bartender, Mark, who is one of my best buddies.

  79. Mark says:

    John,

    Funny you should mention the bar. I did play down there once. (Probably scored around 110 – a generous 110 – though I did birdie a hold and hit some pars, which shows what the other holes were like.) My friends mentioned the Blue Ridge Grill, saying that it was a great place to grab a drink.

    By the way, I went to the range yesterday to test choking down. It definitely made me feel more comfortable. Unfortunately, it didn’t help my driver and longer clubs. However, I took some video of my swing when I got home and realized that I was going way outside the target line on my takeaway, which led to me laying off my club, which led to swing from the inside (I’m not an over-the-top swinger, which apparently is unusual for beginners), which, I’d suspect leads to blocked shots and very little release and some really God-awful shots with little distance, especially with the driver.

    So I was working on keeping my 3-wood on plane in my office today using my phone’s video app. It might help.

    Thanks again for the help.

  80. Steven Lyles says:

    Excellent article… after a 30 year break from golf I started playing last August. Three things that I have learned with today’s new gear; (1) spend money on quality shoes that are comfortable, give you a solid foundation and keep your feet and legs “quiet; (2) stock grips likely do not fit your hands well – if they feel uncomfortable, loose, make your hands hurt, change ’em – and do not be afraid to use mid or oversize grips – use the same grip for all clubs except the putter, and you will forget the “club” you pulled out of the bag and think more about the shot; (3) shaft length for almost everyone is too long, and like a new watch that you adjust the band to best fit, shorten your clubs to fit your swing. I made all of these “changes” and gained a ton of yards and accuracy, my feet are relaxed, hands don’t hurt OR grip the club too tightly… and I saved money buying new clubs that were at least a generation behind. Taylormade R11 TP 10.5 driver carrying 275 cut down 3/4″, 1/2″ off the Callaway Razr X 6 iron at 185, wedges hit the green… all with Winn DriTac Oversized grips ( I wear a size large glove). 35″ Ping putter cut down to 33 3/4″. All of these changes, including shoes, for less than a new driver – golf is just plain fun now.

    • John Rogers says:

      Steven, these are fantastic points, and I’m glad you are enjoying the game! I actually wear a cadet-medium glove but play with jumbo lamkin grips. They fill the hand while the hand is in a relaxed position–not to mention that some of us choke down to get the right length on the clubs, and the oversized grips keep the handle from getting too narrow as the hands go down the shaft. And I absolutely agree about the shoes adding stability to the swing. Great stuff!

  81. john says:

    Thanks John for posting the article, I feel more comfortable on cutting my driver down to size now, I found at 3.75 inches on my burner it straightend out, just hope i didnt hurt the shaft chopping that much off..

    • John Rogers says:

      John, time will tell about the performance of the shaft, but I can tell you that most people do better with a driver that is close to 5-wood length, which is pretty close to where you have ended up. Good luck!

  82. Fred Cowan says:

    I am 6’4″ and for years have used clubs that are 3/4″ longer than standard. I was told that I needed these and I never really questioned it. Last night, I went to golf store and got on fitting machine for new clubs. I hit balls with standard length and then with either 1/2″ or 1″ more than standard. To my astonishment, I hit the standard length 6-iron close to 10 yards farther than the longer clubs, even when I felt like I was hitting the longer clubs flush. The swing speed and ballhead speed were correspondingly greater with the standard length. My arms are not excessively long (quick measurement shows about 36 1/2 inch from wrist bone to floor), so I am really surprised by this since it would just make more sense that a longer club if swung with the same force would create a faster clubhead speed. But in my case, it created a slower clubhead speed. What is the explanation for this?

    • John Rogers says:

      Fred, thanks for reading and commenting. While I am not surprised by the results, I would not assume that the clubhead speed was less with the longer club (unless you actually saw it on a monitor or something)–it’s possible that the longer club had MORE speed while hitting the ball LESS far because speed is not the only factor. You could easily make up for a few mph by striking the shorter club better, more in the center. It’s also possible, as Don points out, that the added length of the club just does not add any benefit at all.

  83. DON says:

    I can’t give you an answer based on Science, but I can tell you that I don’t lose clubhead speed with I go from my driver to my 3 wood or my 5 wood. Both of my woods are a good bit shorter than my driver but the swing speed is the same as often as not.

  84. Eugene says:

    Great article.
    I started golfing about six months ago. I became hooked pretty fast. My short game caught on much faster than my long game. My driving started out okay, but I was slicing way too much. The more I tweaked my swing the worse I became and eventually my driving became terrible. So much that was afraid to even take out my driver on the course. This has kept me from attempting a par 72 course. Earlier this afternoon I was hitting balls at range with little to no progress. For the heck of it I decided to choke down. My first shot went straight about 200 yards. I figured it was probably a fluke, but nope, every ball I hit after that was straight and in the 200 yard range. I’ve watched dozens of tutorials on youtube and read many articles on the golf swing. I’m amazed that nobody ever mentions anything about club length or choking down or something of that nature. Now that I think about it. I t kind of makes sense that I’m able to hit my irons better than my driver.

    Thanks for the read! It makes complete sense.

    • John Rogers says:

      Eugene, I’m glad you had that revelation, and I hope you continue to hit the driver well–and continue to enjoy your journey in golf!! Thanks for the note!

  85. What are the advantages of using all same length iron golf clubs?

    • John Rogers says:

      Richard, there’s actually at least one company out there making one-length clubs, as you might know. What I’ve found is that loft and centered-contact generally have more to do with distance than the length of the club, at least if the clubs are anywhere near the same length. I think the bigger advantage of having same-length clubs would actually be having all clubs with the same lie angle–meaning each club could be swung in the same plane. Same setup, same plane, consistent results–seems a lot easier than 14 different setups and planes! Thanks for the question!

  86. DON says:

    One less Variable. It’s a pretty simple idea. If all your irons are the same length, then you only have to learn how to make ONE swing. Good idea, but not everyone agrees that it works out to be a Better way to go.

  87. DON says:

    I just finished doing a like checking on the features of TaylorMade drivers. Seem like the best model to use for building shorter than normal drivers will be the R7 models. The R5 doesn’t have movable weights, they came out with the R7, And the R9 went with adjustable shaft adjustments instead of movable weights. So that leaves the R7 as the best option for adjusting the swing weight using different screw weights.

  88. DON says:

    John; I looked at the One Iron Golf club idea and came up with a little different idea on my own. As you know, irons have a 1/2 inch difference in length between clubs. What my idea is is to start with a standard length 9 iron at 36″, and then add 1/4″ to each club instead of the usual 1/2″. Your 3 iron would go from being 39″ standard to only 37.50″. That happens to be what a standard 6 iron length is. So in effect your 3 iron would be the same length as a normal 6 iron, and everyone will agree, it’s a lot easier to hit a 6 iron than a 3 iron consistently. I did a test of my idea a few years back. I built a 37.50″ 3 iron to compare it with a 39″ 3 iron. Bottom line was I hit the 37.50″ club a lot better than the 39″ club, and I only lost about FIVE yards of carry distance compared to the standard length club. Overall, I was much more consistant in terms of accuracy and distance with the 6 iron length 3 iron. After that test I built up a full set of irons using the 1/4″ inclements between clubs and they are doing fine in my bag.

  89. Frank says:

    Hi John, like Mark I too have been playing a little over a year(49 years old. A little late in life but..). I love the game and regret I didn’t take it up sooner. Well, all my crying out of the way, I too have nearly the same problem that he has. I recently viewed a video on You-tube about this very issue. A PGA instructor said that driver shafts should not be any longer than 1 inch higher than your belly-button. I have been struggling with accuracy also. I took a few lessons at the PGA Golf store in Paramus, NJ and the golf pro said that I should keep my spine almost straight up, nearly verticle, on my tee shot with my driver. It took almost 2 hours to go through a fitting and I still don’t think they did it right.

    I golf every week with my 22 year old nephew who has been playing for 6 years. He is a 10-15 handicap. He said right from the start that I was too upright and looked uncomfortable at address. Just from continuous practice I am getting my game to consistently high 90’s from 100+. I read your article and I checked my driver. My club shaft is about 3 1/2 inches above my belly button(if that is an accurate gauge). I have always felt it was too long and my swing was not comfortable and fluid. And similarly my irons, 4-6 and sometimes 7, I have some accuracy and distance issues. Your thoughts.

    • John Rogers says:

      Frank, welcome to the game!! I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself, and continue to enjoy the journey for many years. I think you are realizing some important things. I’ve never used the belly-button test, but it sounds like a decent gauge. I tend to use my eye with my clients, and if they can take a decent posture, with at least some forward flex from the hips, and get the shaft pointing at their belt-line or higher at address, then they should be able to learn a decent swing with the driver. I found it funny last week when I ordered a junior driver for one of my clients–one of the options was for a 43-inch driver. Before the titanium era in club-heads. 43 1/2 inches was considered standard for grown men. Now it’s practically the standard for kids! I think this is a big mistake–it forces people into unusually upright postures and compensating swing planes. Most people hit better drives with clubs closer to the old standard (or shorter!). Just to encourage you if you experiment with shorter clubs, I am almost 5′ 11″ and my irons are a full inch under standard length. My driver is probably about 43″. These changes have helped my ball-striking without sacrificing distance. Hope this helps. Good luck!

  90. Johnny walker says:

    I read Tom Wishons book and took one inch off my R9 driver and Superfast 3 wood last weekend. Have played with them twice since, and I can honestly say I have never driven better…only missed one fairway in 36 holes…and that was just because I tried to “smash it” and opened up the shoulders too much and pulled it left. Distances are the same as when the clubs were longer, but more often longer, as I have way more confidence to swing fully now (note I previously just tried to execute a good swing and hoped to keep it straight…now I am actively trying to swing a little stronger and getting consistent results). I am now saving up to be measured for a new set of irons as well……

    • John Rogers says:

      Johnny, I think Tom Wishon knows what he’s doing, and everything you said makes perfect sense. A longer club creates a longer and often flatter swing, which isn’t all bad, but it also requires a SLOWER swing to get the club back in front of the body and squared up. So what you gain in arc, you lose in speed, plus the quality of contact tends to suffer. With your shorter club, you are able to swing more aggressively and make better contact. Hope you continue to experience success with your driver, and good luck with the new irons when you get them!

  91. Adam says:

    I was at Dick’s sporting goods today. I just started playing a month ago with my bosses 15 year old clubs. He’s 6’3″ I’m 5’9″ and I’ve been thinking my clubs are too long.

    I grabbed a massive NIKE driver in Dick’s and asked “Is this club too long for me?” the “golf expert” said “no. you’re just standing too close to the ball.” I choked up all the way on the grip and held my hands at a normal position and the lines on the clubface were still pointing up at almost a 45 degree angle. What a moron.

    • John Rogers says:

      Adam, I hate to be critical of some of the things people do in the golf business, but I’m afraid there are a lot of people out there who will tell a person almost anything to sell a club. Unfortunately, I see clients show up at the driving range with all these new clubs they buy at Dick’s or other shops, and I know those clubs will not help them get the most out of their games. I share your frustration. Good luck and welcome to the game!!

  92. Adam says:

    I would like to add that I was driving about 120 yds with that massive driver. I hit my 9 iron farther than that.

  93. Facundo S. says:

    John,
    it gets even worsen if I’m 5ft…
    Would you recommend that I adjust my swing in any way?
    Do you have any recommendation on clubs length for different heights? –(I already flattened them -2.
    Thanks!
    Facundo

    • John Rogers says:

      Facundo, I cannot give a definite answer on the length of the clubs for you without seeing your posture and swing, but my guess is that you will do better with clubs more than an inch below “standard”. It probably was a good move to get them in a flatter lie as well. Just try to get your posture with at least some forward flex of the spine and the shaft of the club pointing at your belt or higher, and make sure your clubs let you do that! Good luck!

  94. david r. says:

    I struggled for years with my golf game until about a year ago. I bought a set of single length clubs. I had them (5 – pw) made to a standard 8 iron length. My game improved immediately. I have lost a little distance with my 5, 6 and 7 but my accuracy has gone up greatly. I now have a 42″ driver and am getting the same results. My drives are much straighter and I have lost NO distance. I know there are those that will disagree with me but for the average golfer I say shorter is better. Now, folks just have to get over the stigma of playing something outside the box. Me I just want a better golf game.

    • John Rogers says:

      David, I think you are right–a lot of people would do better if they let themselves use “unorthodox” clubs. Mine certainly are, and I’m thinking about making my next set even crazier! If you read my reply, would you be willing to tell other readers where you got your single-length irons? By the way, my driver is probably about 42-inches without distance loss as well. Good luck!

  95. Darryl says:

    I just finished your article on club length. Thanks for posting it.

    After a fortyfive-year layoff from the game, I decided this past summer to give it another whirl at age 71.

    Needless to say, equipment has seen drastic changes since the late 1960’s. When I last played I still had the same “department store” clubs that I used in highschool, 1956-59. They were no doubt standard length or even shorter than today’s standard. Somehow I managed to hit a few decent scores with them.

    But those old Jack Burke MacGregor sticks are long gone, and I decided to avoid the high-tech madness of today’s equipment and stick with some older style blade irons and wooden woods, steel shafts on everything..

    One of my first thoughts is that I should look for longer clubs than what I swung in 1960. I’m about the same height now as I was then (6′-1″). My wrist-to-floor measurement is 37.5″.

    Any suggestions as the what my driver length and 5-iron length should be? The old standard driver length of 43-43.5″ does not cause me undue strain in reaching or bending, but a 45″ driver seems more comfortable. Likewise, a 38″ 5-iron feels better than the standard of 50 years ago, whatever that was..

    I look forward to your response.

    • John Rogers says:

      Darryl, welcome back to the game! I’m glad you commented because your one of the few who seems to be favoring the modern lengths of clubs–which brings up an important point to remember: that longer clubs will fit some people better based on their height, posture, and swing. I cannot give you a very precise answer about the length you ought to use without being familiar with your posture and swing, but if you are more comfortable and achieve better ball striking with longer clubs, then the proof is in the pudding! It sounds like today’s standard lengths might suit you well–but one thing that’s funny: you mentioned wanting to avoid today’s “high tech madness” but the 45″ driver you are comfortable with is part of the modern “high tech madness”, a result of the era of titanium. I currently have a gentleman taking lessons who recently came back to the game like you, and he has been using his old Wilson blades. I appreciate the respect of the heritage of golf, and I hope both he and you really enjoy your return to the game but while I am suspicious of the lengths of modern clubs, the improvements in club-head designs and shafts in recent years are amazing and helpful. My guess is that you will struggle to achieve results with the older equipment that you could with newer equipment, regardless of the length. That doesn’t really mean much if part of your enjoyment is simply using the traditional equipment, but if results are your goal, you might consider getting fitted for some new gear. Best wishes and good luck!

  96. TJ says:

    I’m a junior golfer who recently got in to the game a month before this article was written. I started out as a lefty and I was alright, I found out I could swing a golf club both ways. (I was better at righty). So I switched. I got a set of irons from a relative and I held the clubs to low because I’m not the tallest so the heel of the club would always hit the ball and would slice or duff it. I was playing a round of golf when I decided to choke up a little bit on all my clubs… I was hitting the ball straighter farther with accuracy. I was amazed on something so small could do so much. All I have to say is the club length matters the most when your not the tallest person

  97. TJ Glinski says:

    I’m a junior golfer who recently got in to the game a month before this article was written. I started out as a lefty and I was alright, I found out I could swing a golf club both ways. (I was better at righty). So I switched. I got a set of irons from a relative and I held the clubs to low because I’m not the tallest so the heel of the club would always hit the ball and would slice or duff it. I was playing a round of golf when I decided to choke up a little bit on all my clubs… I was hitting the ball straighter farther with accuracy. I was amazed on something so small could do so much. All I have to say is the club length matters the most when your not the tallest person

  98. Jon says:

    Great article, thanks for the information. I wonder if simply gripping down on my irons would be worth trying. I’ve started to do this with my driver and I believe this is one reason why my driving has improved slightly.
    My question is, should I grip down to the point where the lie of my irons is somewhat flush with the ground at address? I think because of my height (5’6″), my lie angles tend to be upright – the toe is off the ground when the heel makes contact.

  99. DON says:

    I’m sure John will get back to you in a bit with his advice. My advice until then is to choke down on ALL your clubs and see how it works for you. IF you get the results you want, then you KNOW cutting down your clubs will do the same thing, only a little better. Shorter clubs WILL help with the issue of the toe being off the ground at address too much, but your stance will also have an effect on this. Standing a little taller with less knee bend might help as well. Hard to give more advice without seeing your setup position. I hope this helps a bit until John can post something.

    • Tim O'Hagan says:

      Aww man Don, I wish you would have made that recommendation sooner. After reading this I just had all my clubs cut and now they don’t even touch the bottom of my golf bag!

      I hope you can tell I’m Kidding. You’ve recommended the choke-up more times that my little league baseball coach. (For good reason too, there have been lot of people who seem way to excited about chopping up their clubs)

  100. Jon says:

    Thanks Don. John doesn’t have to reply. I’ve been trying out a lower grip in my yard but with as many swing flaws as I have, it’s hard to tell what effect it has had. I don’t think it has hurt my swing but I can’t say that it has improved it. The ball flight may be more of a fade now but as I said, there’s a lot of other things going on. I will continue to work on it because it feels like I have more control by gripping down.
    As you said, it makes the sole of the club lay flush on the ground. I’d heard that is correct if one’s stance is sound (???).
    Thanks again.

    • John Rogers says:

      Jon, I’m sorry for not answering more promptly, but it sounds like you are doing some good experimentation anyways. As for the club soling in a flush manner–that is definitely ideal, but the reality is that most people do not return the club to the same lie angle as they start the swing. You might want to get some tape for the sole of the club and see which part of the club is contacting the ground during actual swings. It would be ideal to start flush and return to flush (center contact on the sole), but it’s actually quite rare for the average player. It sounds like your swing is definitely a work in progress right now, but there’s a good chance that playing the clubs shorter will reduce the number of variables that make this game so tough. Good luck!

  101. DON says:

    YES. the sole of the club should be flush with the ground, not toe up nor toe down. This is one of the main things they do when you have a good iron fitting, they make sure the center of the sole touches the ground and not the toe or heel. Keep at it with gripping down on your clubs and you should see an improvement with a bit of practice.

  102. DON says:

    With the advancement of FALL and Winter not far behind, now would be a great time to do some testing with Shorter clubs. Now is a great time to see if shorter clubs in your bag would be an improvement for your game. If you decide that Shorter clubs are what you need, you will have the off season to have your clubs shortened or have new clubs built to shorter lengths. And you’d be all set for Spring and next season.

  103. Jon says:

    Don and John,
    Thanks for the advice and information. As I may have already stated, I’m certain that gripping down on the driver has helped tremendously.

  104. Steve says:

    Hi John, loverd your article. I just got an Ping i20 driver for Christmas based on my request and specs based on a fitting. I had tested it out before but my first time on the range I hit about 30 balls and just could not make solid contact or get the ball into a solid flight (I’m about a 15 handicap with an athletic but “handsy” swing). I felt my hands were not getting through, so, in frustration, I choked up 2-3 inches and swung away. My hands got through easily and the ball had my normal slight draw. I cut back to 1-1.5″ choke up and was hitting the ball better than I have in years.

    I checked Ping’s website and the standard length is. 45.25″. Since I just got the club, now I ‘m wondering if I should get a shorter shaft. What do you think?

    • John Rogers says:

      Hi, Steve. Thanks for reading and commenting. If you scrolled through the other comments on this article, you will see that a lot of people are having the same epiphanies when it comes to club lengths. Have the results you saw after Christmas held up in more practice sessions? If you’re still hitting it great, you might leave it alone and just choke down rather than changing the shaft in your new Ping. But if you can get the same shaft in a shorter version at little cost, then more power to you! Good luck, and happy new year!

      • Steve says:

        I played over the Christmas break and the new driver and choking up 1″ worked great. I hit 8 fairways nearly all my drives in were in playable positions. That is a big improvement for me. For 10+ years, whenever I’ve started to hit a groove, I’d badly mishit or chunk a drive, which changes the whole flow of the game. After a while it was mental (hard to feel confident because I did not trust my driving). With the new approach, I found myself expecting to hit a good drive and was able to relax! Choking up works, but there is some uncertainty on how much to choke up. I’m thinking of using a white marker to designate a line on the grip. I’ll need to experiment on the range.

        Of course, once my driving was under control, I noticed that I have been hitting my approaches pretty well, but missing most greens slightly left. A new challenge – but it is exciting to put the “driving demons” behind me!

        • John Rogers says:

          Steve, I’m glad to hear that you have held things together as the new year started! I like your idea of experimenting on the range and marking the grip where you choke down. Keep up the good work, and good luck on the approach shots!

  105. Christian says:

    Hi!

    Really glad that I found this article about something that not many fitters actually want to touch. I have always felt that standard clubs are too long for me. The articles on the internet ends up about the driver length, but yours is about the fact that the irons is too long as well. Finally!

    The most common thing I hear is that everything will be the same if I just play flatter clubs, well, thats ok with me, but my longest irons is like swinging a 1 or 2 iron for a person with the normal wrist to floor length. So my 7 iron is like hitting a 4 or 5 iron in feel of length, and as everyone know – thats a lot harder to hit well.

    Im a 1 handicapper but without solid shots. I can play at my hcp and below that cause of im straight and chip and put ok. But I tend to hit the ball towards the toe on the club, not center and the most common fail is a fat shot – that I really hate! It makes my confidence weaker and then we go… I do get a lot of backspin and got a quite normal swingplane, but I do stand quite upright and my shoulders points a little to long beyond the ball at top of backswing – that is not full – more of a 6/8 but with my shoulders turn fully. Im 40 years old and not that loose longer, so I have to take it from there. But my guess is that I have this swing (that everyone think is quite good, but not perfect) cause playing with too long clubs all my life.

    For a couple of years ago I cut my driver and 3-wood -0,75″, my hybrid -0,5″ and my irons from 4-W -0,25″, my 52 and 58 are -0,5″. I play some Ping s59 with Shimada Pro shaft in stiff flex, maybe a little stiffer and the swingweight is D1,5 4-7 and D2 8-9 and D4 on W and 52. The 58 is D8. This is made by Pings rep with the tuning ports. I do also play -2,25 degrees flat (orange dot) on 4-W and brown -3 on 52 and 58. One issue is that hybrids and spoon, but driver as well it too upright and can´t be changed. So move down on shaftlength make them a little flatter and I can hit them better from fairway.

    But… After the change to shorter shafts I am now on the edge to cut them down further. I thinking of cut the irons 4-w -0,25″ so that they are total -0,5″ shorter and match the rest of the set. I do feel that the clubs got a little weird balancepoint and feels headheavy. This cause of the standard swingweight for theese clubs is D0 but they are both shortened and heavier than standard -so the head in itself is a lot more heavy than it was from the beginning. I do think that shorten them another -0,25″ will fix the headheavy feel and the swingweight will be back to std D0. But what happens to the balancepoint? Will that be all messed up? I do think of get another -0,25″ off my hybrid just to hit it more well from the fariway with a little better lie and control.

    To choke down on the grips is not my kind of thing as I feel it strange, but when I do can feel that it´s more comfortable at adress and I also think that a little shorter clubs will help me fix a little better adress, more bending from the hips.

    I am 5,6 tall and my wrist to floor is 2 feet and 99 inches.

    Thanks from sweden for a great site and article!

    • John Rogers says:

      Christian, hello to you in Sweden! Thanks for reading my article and responding. Golf can be a game of opposites, can’t it? As you said, you stand quite upright, creating a pretty flat shoulder-plane, your swing plane apparently is fairly neutral, your clubs are flat lie-angles, and yet most of your issues are issues usually associated with a swing that’s very upright–contact on the toe, heavy contact, lots of spin, and so forth. Here’s a possibility that fits with what you have sensed: if your clubs are too long, you will set up too far from the ball, and for many golfers this makes them come off balance toward the ball during the swing, creating heavy shots. As a compensation, golfers then learn to chicken-wing or pull the left arm out of the shot, which can cause contact on the toe. It’s possible that shorter clubs will allow you to move closer to the ball, improve your balance, and eventually be able to go to full extension through impact, creating better contact, accuracy, and distance.

      As for cutting your clubs down, I cannot predict the exact results. Yes, you can count on the swing-weight dropping, and there are likely to be modest effects on the flex and balance of the clubs. This is the problem with the way clubs are manufactured. But I recommend you find a fitter to help you get your clubs balanced and weighted in ways you like, at whatever length you want–even if they do not understand or agree with the shorter clubs. Good luck!

  106. Mike Barnett says:

    Very interesting and informative topic. I was wondering if my irons were too long for me. I am 6’0″ tall, WTF 36 inches. Just recently got a set of Bridgestone J38 DPC irons that are 1/2″ longer than standard (38″ std. today). Love how they feel, but I need to hover the club above the ball to make good contact and avoid fat shots. Without seeing my swing I know it is tough to really say if I should cut them down or not but certainly some experimentation with choking up makes sense. One other thing, last year I went into to a golf fitter for an analysis of my set of clubs. He said I should use a 36.25″ 6 iron and a 44″ driver SW D4. I never changed anything then and now wonder after reading your article and all the posts that might be the way to go. I do have a backup set of irons and another driver I that I just might cut down. Thanks.

    • John Rogers says:

      Hi, Mike. Sorry for the slow response, but it sounds like you are on the right track. I wonder if you have already experimented with your backup set? I would definitely encourage it. Your contact problems could be the result of swing-plane or balance issues, but sometimes the shorter clubs help straighten those things out. Good luck with the process, and if you get a chance, update us on what you figure out!

  107. Jason says:

    Great article and five years strong!

    I just purchased a set of MP irons after getting fitted. I was fitted for soft-stepped x100s +1/2″ and standard lie but did feel after the fitting that when I first picked up the standard length DG X100 and started hitting balls, it felt smoother and more free flowing than when I switched to the shaft +1/2″. I did make some adjustments and was more upright and still struck the ball well, but I did have a few “fat” shots. I’m 6’2″ with abnormal long arms. I’ve had two other sets of irons within the past year just prior to hitting the Mizunos that were 2 degrees upright +1/2″ (JPX Pro & X-Hot Pro). With both sets, I found myself placing the ball far back into my stance, almost off by back foot, in order to make decent contact with a straight flight. I have always had a natural draw but could not find it after becoming a new Dad and giving up golf for a couple of years. I knew something was not right but couldn’t figure it out.

    I found a set of the MP-64s that had only been used on the range in the specs I was fitted for but 1 degree flat. I hit them on a makeshift range I have put together beside my house and thought the felt incredible, there was something off. They simply felt too long and clunky at times.

    I finally took them in to get shortened by 1/4″ and 1 degree upright with a couple of extra wraps in addition to the midsize grips. However, I suspect they reduced the length by 1/4″ under Mizuno’s standard length as the feel a lot shorter. I have yet to actually measure them since they’re working well. It has made a world of difference and is much easier to hit down into the ball. I could possible have taken more off, but shafts were also pured and thought I can take more off later if necessary.

    Like the others who have posted, I have been told by nearly every “fitter” in Golfsmith, Golf Galaxy, and the PGA Tour Superstore I need to be 1/2 and two upright. During each fitting, I did start out with a standard length club and found something I liked. The sales staff then discovered I was seriously interested and immediately swapped me out with a longer shaft and began their fitting process. Again, like everyone else I assumed I needed to work my swing into the clubs. I just simply discovered I was making better contact when moved my hands further down the grip but my hands were too big for the grips.

    As another side note, I also turned in my 56 degree wedge to get reshafted with an S300. Today I discovered my 56 is at least 1/2″ longer than my 9 iron. I attempted to make it work, but when I transition between clubs, I either hit fat or thin shots. You would think the PGA Tour Store would have caught that one.

    Well, I thought I would share my experience and the discovery I made in regards to shortening my irons. I’m certain my driver with soon be next as I’ve been struggling to find some consistency.

    *To validate your point about swing speed and club length, my driver swing speed is only 5 to 7 MPH above my 6 iron.

    Again, great article

    • John Rogers says:

      Jason, thanks for the comments, and everything you said makes sense. The shape of shot you play and the ball position you mention all fit each other and suggest you play an inside-out path–which might fit better with a slightly flatter lie. Shortening the club effectively makes it play flatter. The way it moves you closer to the ball helps contact as you noticed (it’s sometimes harder for inside-out swingers to “trap” the ball because of the shallow arc). I use larger grips for similar reasons even though I have a fairly small hand. So, keep up the good work and good luck as you move onto the driver!

  108. Rose Anderson says:

    John,
    Wow!… great article! Thank you so much! I have learned more in this one article than I have in the past two months of researching about club length.
    I am a beginner and yet I have known my clubs are too long for me. It’s frustrating when professionals and stores tell you to never cut your clubs. Really?… It’s like trying to swing with a telephone pole! Even more so when you’re just learning HOW to swing. I am 5′ 2″ on a good day. I just purchased a new set of ladies standard Cobra clubs and they are 1″ LONGER than the no-named brand of ladies standard I was messing around with. In my opinion the no-named brand was too long for me, so now these new ones are extremely long to me. Am I crazy to want to take 2″ off my new clubs? I am physically fit with average strength and have no other details to give you because this is all so new to me. I absolutely love golf so far and want to learn the proper techniques, but with the proper equipment for my size. What would you recommend? Thank you again for such a great article and also for your time. I truly appreciate it.

    • John Rogers says:

      Rose, welcome to the game, and I’m glad you found some helpful information here! There’s always a little risk of affecting the feel and performance of your clubs when you cut them down, and two inches is quite a lot. Having said that, you might be able to find a local club-repair person who would be willing to help you by cutting them down and then adjusting the swing-weight so that they still have good feel. The sad thing is that even if you you “damage” the new clubs when you shorten them, you still might hit them better than you do at full-length. I wish you the best, and if you are ever passing through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia stop by for a lesson!

  109. Ron K says:

    John,

    I’ve found over the past 2-3 months that choking down considerably on my clubs (3-4 inches) not only puts me into a really comfortable posture but, also has allowed me to get some of the best club/ball contact I’ve ever experienced. I know that you’ve stated you probably won’t see much difference in butt trimming up to an inch off the shaft. What differences would I see if I were to take 2 – 2 1/2 inches off the shaft by butt trimming?

    • John Rogers says:

      Ron, I am not surprised by what you have found. My last set of clubs were 1″ under-length and I still choked them down quite a bit. I am almost 5′ 11″ tall. The main things that change when you shorten clubs are the swing-weight and shaft flex, though the flex is changed a lot more by trimming the tip end rather than the butt end of the shaft. Honestly, I’ve never had a full understanding or good explanation from anybody as to how much these specs change when we simply choke down. My guess is that you are experiencing almost the exact same reactions when you choke down as when you cut-down a club; if that’s the case, and you have already experimented with choking down, then there’s no reason to worry about cutting off a good amount of club. I have cut off many clubs, and only one set seemed like it did not react well to the change. If the club feel too light in the head, you might need to add some weight; and there are some small concerns, such as the fact that cutting a large amount from the butt end will tend to make a grip reach down to the tapered section of the shaft–you might have to build it up with extra tape to prevent the bottom of your grip from “gapping”. In the end, I think you will be ok shortening your clubs that much, but it might not be a bad idea to have a backup plan in case. Good luck!

  110. Tim says:

    Hello John,

    I think yours is a wonderful and insightful article. I haven’t incorporated choking down on the clubs yet since I’ve just read your article. One question I have is should all my irons be the same length from the PW to the 3 iron? If not, then what increments should they be increased per club?

    TIA.

    • John Rogers says:

      Tim, thanks for commenting. Traditionally clubs get a half-inch shorter as you go up from each number to the next higher number (although clubs often stop getting shorter after 9-iron). Your set should already be like this so all you have to do is choke down a consistent amount on each club to maintain the proper “relative” length from club to club. Having said that, I have found that the loft has a bigger impact on the distance the club provides than the length of the club–so if you struggle a bit with the long irons, feel free to try choking down a little extra. Good luck!

      • Tim says:

        John,

        Went to the range today and choked down about one and a half inches. I’m 6-2, thus it felt like I had to bend over a significant amount, even though I didn’t (only felt like it). I struck 40 of 45 balls very well, and hit about by normal length. I generally hit a very slight fade, yet most of my irons were straight to a slight draw. I choked up about 3 inches on my driver and that’s where I noticed the most consistency outside of normal. I’d say my distance was about the same, but my fade was gone and replaced by a straight to a slight draw. One thing I never do is hit a draw with my driver, so I was pretty surprised at this result. I did hit five balls a bit fat, which perplexed me since I rarely do that. I attributed that to bending forward more along with lack of reps hitting this way.

        So far I’m pleased with the results, and am confident a few more days at the range will see me ironing out the mishits. Will report later.

        • John Rogers says:

          Tim, that’s great! If you are bent over more and therefor turning the shoulders on a steeper plane, you will potentially get more divot and/or occasionally fat. Usually you want to be sure at that point to prevent the weight from moving toward the ball to prevent the fat shots. Good luck!

  111. joe says:

    Hi John,

    This is a great article and really makes a lot of sense! I am a shorter golfer standing at 5foot4 with a WTF of 29. I have gotten my clubs shortened 1.25 inches off standard from the Adams redline irons and 2 degrees flat. Even with these clubs shortened I still find myself choking down almost 2 inches! So here are my questions for you John..

    If I cut my irons down which were regular flex shaft down to my desired length will they actually play like an extra stiff shaft?

    Could or should I consider buying a more whippy shaft like a female set and cut them down so the flex then plays like a regular flex shaft?

    I’m not super concerned with swingweight as I can always add lead tape to the clubface. Also I have a swingspeed of about 90-95 mph with my driver and a handicap of 19.

    Thanks in advance John,
    Joe

    • John Rogers says:

      Hi, Joe. Sorry for the late response. Golf season keeps me busy! About cutting down your irons and changing the flex: cutting from the butt end of the club does not change the flex nearly as much as trimming from the head-end. Having said that, at some point I’m sure the flex does start to change. But if you’re willing to completely re-shaft anyways, then I’d go ahead and cut the current shafts and see how they play. I’ll be curious myself. By the way, if your driver speed is 90-95, I’d say your sort of between R flex and S flex anyways, so maybe you will actually like the slightly stiffer cut down shafts. Good luck, and if you have a chance, let me know how it goes!

  112. Ken says:

    Hi John,

    Great article!

    Was very skeptical about my Titleist fitting yesterday. I’m a little over 6′ and have always been told to go +0.25in in my iron shafts. However this time around, fitting instructor suggested -0.5in. Thought that was quite drastic and not exactly comforting since I’ll be paying $$$ with no return policy (custom order). Not anymore thanks to you!

    Now you don’t happen to know how to magically fix my overswing do you???

    Ken

    • John Rogers says:

      Ken, thanks for writing, and I hope the new sticks treat you well! One thing to make you feel better–while you cannot return your irons, it would not be hard or expensive to extend them a little if you feel lost with the shorter irons. And there’s a good chance you will actually feel more comfortable with them. I find it interesting that somebody actually fitted you for under-length clubs–pretty rare! As for the over-swing, come on down to the Shenandoah Valley and we will take care of that! Good luck!

  113. John Hester says:

    All I can say is “Yes, cut ’em down.” I took 3/4 inch of all my clubs. I’ve never hit ’em better. No more trying to adjust my swing for the clubs. I just swing and its AWESOME!! Directional control, distance and overall accuracy has never been better. Now, if I could only putt…

    BTW – I’m 5’10
    Titleist ZM blades
    Project X 6.0 Xtra Stiff

    Cut those things already!!

  114. Stuart Lawther says:

    This is good advice, I visited my local Golf shop last week with my standard Taylor Made RKZ driver and asked if it was too long as I felt it was, every shot is sliced right, choke down 2 inches and I get a much better shot with no lost distance. I am 5ft 5ins, the 2 Pro’s who were both around 6 ft 2ins said you should never cut down a driver ? I asked them why if that was the case did they cut down my irons ? And also, how can the head of the driver sit true if I have the shaft at such a low angle, it makes me have to completely change my swing to drive from that of all my other clubs.
    I searched the Internet and found your advice, 100% spot on in my opinion and makes perfect logical sense.
    Thanks

    • John Rogers says:

      Stuart, funny that a 5’5″ amateur should use a 45″ or 46″ driver, when those tall tour players use closer to 44″. Sometimes the “standard procedure” is not the most helpful. Good luck!

  115. Hanani says:

    Hi John,

    This article is a WINNING LOTTERY TICKET!!!

    I too was one who noticed that the PGA Player’s were dwarfing their clubs and had a SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF SPINE TILT. This triggered a thought to google the internet to see if Standard Irons were TOO LONG for my 5′ 9″ height. I am already a believer of cutting down my Driver Shaft and the past 18 months are proof of more CONSISTENCY!!! Now to test this theory on my IRONS, I cut down an old set and the FEEL IS AWESOME!!! I still need a few more practice rounds to scrub out those old habits of UPRIGHT SPINE TILT.

    One QUESTION that I have for you, which I do not recall being addressed in the earlier threads: Now that I have more Spine Tilt, do I still stick with the OLD ADAGE of making sure the BUTT OF THE CLUB points to my belt buckle? Or do I mainly focus on just letting my ARMS HANG DOWN?

    Btw….Whats funny is that you do not see a lot of main stream articles on choking down or cutting down your IRONS.

    • John Rogers says:

      Hanani, thanks for your feedback. I’m afraid the dominant paradigm is that longer is always better when it comes to clubs, but some people are starting to have other realizations. As for shaft angle, instead of spine up and shaft down, I like to see the spine come down a little (if the golfer physically can handle it) and the shaft point a little higher (which it can do if it’s not a mile long), closer to a 90-degree angle between the spine and the shaft. Hopefully you can achieve this with the arms hanging freely and fully extended below the shoulders. Good luck!

  116. Eddy says:

    Hi John,
    I know this article has been out a while but ai just recently found it. Your thoughts really rang true for me. I had my driver cit down to 43 and my 3W to 41 last week. It has made all the difference in the world. Last week I drove the green on a 308 yard par four. I don’t know if that will ever happen again, but I am definitely more confident at address and find myself striking better… Going after it more.

    Thanks John. Simple, common sense recommendations like this are the key to getting more people playing better which in the end can only,further the sport.

    • John Rogers says:

      Eddy, thanks for the nice comments. I’ve spent 20 years trying to help people enjoy the game more. And unfortunately our industry needs all the help it can get right now, so make sure you get out there and keep playing golf!! Thanks again, and good luck with your game!

  117. Jineen says:

    Hi John,

    I am only 4’9″ tall and when I did get to a golf store, there were not any petite sets, but the guy wanted to make a sale, so I got regular size women’s clubs. I have been able to play with them, but I have to make more adjustments then I see the other golfers I am with make. They feel way too long for me!!! I choke up quite a bit and my game has been pretty inconsistent. I have seen petite sets, but after reading this article, they are probably an inch shorter than standard women’s clubs….so I want to know:

    Could I get a juniors set — I found a junior set for 52-60″ and thought that might be a good start to see if it makes a difference in my game. I am definitely older though than the recommended ages…:( I have about a 29″ wrist to floor measurement and I’m 57″ tall.

    • John Rogers says:

      Hi, Jineen. Thanks for reading the article. Are you fairly strong, and do you have pretty good speed to your swing? My concern for the junior clubs is not the length, which will likely be much better for you, but the flexibility of the shafts. If you swing fairly slowly and smoothly, then you might give the junior clubs a try–otherwise the trick is to get something close to that length but with a more adult shaft (at least a ladies’ flex). I would think that if you got women’s clubs about an inch short and then still choked them down a little it would do the trick. Good luck!

  118. Steven says:

    Hello John,
    I happen to try choking up on the club during my last round of golf. I’m a bogey golfer ,90-94 usually. I found that every shot WAS more accurate and consistent. I dropped 8 strokes on that day..82. Everything felt easy and sometimes it felt as though I couldn’t feel striking the ball. So today I investigated on line “choking up on the golf club” and found this book. One from 2007 and the New one from 2011. Which one would be a better read? Thanks for the great article>

    • John Rogers says:

      Steven, I’m sorry I did not respond sooner. This message slipped past me–but I also don’t see where you named the books you referred to. What books are they? In the meantime, congrats on a great round, and I hope you are continuing to find success!

  119. John says:

    John,

    I was wondering how much to shorten each club I am 5′ 6″ with a wtf of 34.25″ any help would be appreciated

    thank you

    • John Rogers says:

      John, I hesitate to give a specific number without knowing anything about your swing or your clubs, but all things being the same, you will probably feel better about your clubs if they are a full inch shorter. Good luck!

  120. Christian says:

    Hello again!

    I still think of this a lot. I have changed clubs since last time – about a year ago. I was told by a fitter from Ping (don´t know what skills he got) that I should go with std lie and that this would change my swing to the better by myself. Well, it had worked so to speak that im not strike the ball worse, maybe a little better. But not perfect! 😉

    Anyway. I still think that you are up to something and this is not a misjudging question at all. But how come that the pros don´t play with shorter shafts on the irons? I have heard of one – Ricky Fowler – that plays -0,25″. But there must be more pros out there that by wrist to floor measurement would benefit from shorter irons as well. Do you know anyone more or why they don´t?

    Cheers – Christian

    • John Rogers says:

      Hello again, Christian! Glad to hear that your game is coming along!

      I’d love to know the stats from the tour players, but I’ve never had the time to research it. But here’s a couple things to consider: on average tour players do use shorter drivers than the drivers that we all buy off the rack. Also, I’m willing to bet that the average height of tour players is greater than the overall population, which means a standard club might be ok for most of them while being too long for so many weekend warriors. This is anecdotal, but I always refer to how “big” tour players look at setup–the clubs appear short, and they are able to setup close to the ball. Very few amateurs have this same appearance at address, and I think it shows up in their swing planes and quality of contact. Picture Jim Furyk at address. I’m not sure what happened to him, but Anthony Kim used to choke down quite a bit on his clubs. So, while I don’t know the stats on tour players clubs, it’s obvious to me that their clubs are “effectively” shorter–meaning the clubs are either shorter, or they are taller, or both. Another thing to consider: even if their clubs are not shorter, a person who hits 1,000 balls a day might have a better chance to use a longer and therefor possibly less-forgiving club, whereas golfers from the “real world” seem to benefit from shorter clubs.

      Thanks for checking in, and good luck!

  121. Dave S. says:

    Hi John,

    After many hours on line searching for help, this may be the first information that I have found that may help me get my game on track. I am 6′ 7″ and have relatively short arms or my height, I am not sure of my WTF but it is longer than the sizing sticks they use. I also am a big guy at 285 and a 52″ chest (former athlete going soft). I have been working hard on my game buy to no avail, (think Rotary Swing) My clubs are 2″ over and 4 degrees up and while I know this varies by brand they are Nakashima if that helps. If I set up properly (per the perfect posture) my club won’t reach the ground. So do I flex the knees or bend more from the hips? If I bend from the hips, there is absolutely no way to get the club over the toe line at the 1/2 way back position with the toe up without massive manipulation. My club swing weight is up in the e6 range on irons and d2 on driver (which is probably my biggest problem club). Is shorter even a possibility here? Any advise or pics you can send me to that would show me someone of my rough size in a good set up position? Ready advice from Rickie Fowler (who I have met and could fit in my back pocket) and trying to apply it to my body does not correlate well. I am stuck at shooting 90 and am willing to do the work to get to a 10.

    Thnks

    • John Rogers says:

      Dave, I never like to upset people who are 6’7″ and 285, so I think I’ll shoot you a private email if that’s alright. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • Dave S. says:

        that is absolutely fine with me, and no worries on upsetting me, Virginia is a long way from California….and nothing could be worse than my current frustrations. I have been reading and listening to too many people and have myself all buggered.

  122. Mike Barnett says:

    After a season of being all over the map with my driver, I recently cut it down from 45.75″ to 44.5″. Seems like all the new drivers are so long and light that I find I cannot be consistent in direction. Tired of the dispersion, I am finding better center contact thus distance is as good and I am hitting more fairways. Good discussion here that I learned from .Thanks.

    • John Rogers says:

      Mike, thanks for checking in. I think you nailed it, and you can see by the comments on this article that you’re not alone. Hope you continue to find improvements in your game!

  123. Tony says:

    This is a great article. I have been thinking my clubs are too long for some time. I hit a low right-to-left shot every time. I have always been told by my friends that I come too far from the inside. I never take a divot. I always attributed this to my baseball background until I was sitting around thinking about what my swing would look like with a 10-foot club versus a 24-inch club when it dawned on me. my clubs could be too long. I’m 5’10” on a good day, so standard length is probably for a 6- footer. I was just thinking about my theory andgoogled it. the funny thing is that I graduated from Bridgewater college in 2004 and was on the golf team there. I’m sitting in my house in Penn Laird typing this. you had all this knowledge just a few feet away and I never thought to ask the question! tell Coach Williams I said hello! great article. puts my mind at ease that it’s the club’s fault and not mine! PS – share this with Miles at Dick’s. he seemed to think length doesn’t matter ( insert inappropriate joke).

    • John Rogers says:

      Tony! Good to hear from you, and thanks for checking out the article. I should be seeing more of you at Lakeview if you are still in the area. Hope the idea of shorter clubs helps you. Feel free to stop by my range one day if you need some help. I’ll reserve comment on Dick’s if anyone there thinks the length of the club doesn’t matter; but I’ll tell Coach Williams you said hello!

  124. tim c says:

    Awesome article! I’m 6’5. 250 and arms that are a little short for my size. My torso and legs are about the same length with a wtf of 37.5. ive been playing with clubs from 1″-4″ over forever. I have shortened all my drivers to 43.5-44″ and everytime i try longer, I suck! After reading your article I went to an independent clubfitter, ADS Golf in San Marcos, CA. After fitting me on trackman3 and a 2 hour observance he fit me for standard length clubs. Ive never hit my irons better. I’m currently a 5 but i can see that dropping quickly.

    Thanks again, Tim
    PS does taking length off the butt end stiffen up the shaft?

    • John Rogers says:

      Tim, I’m really glad the article helped you clarify things, and I’m also glad you found a fitter who would take some serious time with you and be willing to think outside the box. I hope you do see the handicap drop, or at least feel better about your ball-striking in the meantime! As for butt-trimming clubs, it can slightly stiffen the shaft (and lower the swing-weight), but the stiffness changes more when you tip-trim. Good luck!

  125. tim c says:

    John, It seems that the ball flight went way down (Ive always been a high ball hitter). i was still able to keep the same, if not more, distance but i got a lot more on the ground. my thought was “the club got lighter so i but a butt load of lead tape on the bottom.” It feels better but didnt change the directory. the club, i did it to, is a Cleveland Classic XL. Now with the length, the clubhead shape and the sound (real wood like), I finally have a club that looks, sounds and plays, ooooo just right! thanks again, Tim

    • John Rogers says:

      Tim, that’s great! It’s amazing how much tape you have to add to make a significant change in swing-weight, but the main thing is that you end up with a good-feeling club that gets the results you want. Hope it stays that way!

      • Tim Caton says:

        John, I just got new irons and got them in standard lengths. Should my swing be flat or more upright?

        • John Rogers says:

          Tim, I think you told me previously that you are quite tall, right? It’s impossible to answer what your plane should look like without knowing things about your ball-striking and shot patterns, but generally a tall guy will favor a slightly more upright swing, especially if transitioning to a “short” club. I’ll do my best to make a more educated guess if you describe your flight patterns, miss-hits, etc. Or we can have you send me a video someday. Good luck!

          • tim c says:

            John, its been a few months now and i’m still hitting all my clubs great. i tend to have days when i play to my handicap and then the next day i shoot 5 over that-thats the frustrating thing. My misses are 2 way. some days the misses are a hook, somedays its a push.

            i finally got so tired of it, i had a friend shoot a video of my swing. YUCK! I saw a lot of things, probably the worst part is my up and down loss of spine angle. actually, the spine angle stayed the same after i rose up (3-5″) on the backswing, then coming down i had to dip (3-5″) and then popped up too quick at the end. i’ve been on a super flat plane also. The one thing “good” about all this is that I can actually shoot as good as I can.

            Also, I think what was contributing to the loss of posture was being bent over too much at address putting the club too far away from me (occasional shanks?) with my weight too far out over my toes.

            yesterday, i played on a really windy day (usually my main nemesis) tried remember to stand taller and to stay level on my backswing, stand a little closer to the ball and swing within myself. BAM! shot a 77. Hit 11 out of 15 fairways and 9 greens. The misses were only do to misjudging the wind strength. I’m sure moving closer to the ball has put me on a much better, more upright, swing plane as well.

            does this sound right?

            Thanks again John,
            Tim

          • John Rogers says:

            Tim, I think everything you said makes sense. Your patterns are definitely inside-out patterns (blocks/hooks/shanks/weight on the toes/flat plane/set up away from the ball). Getting closer to the ball is generally better for balance, getting off the toes, etc. Technically standing more upright can lead to a flatter shoulder turn, but perhaps you then instinctively let the arms swing more upright like a “two-plane” swing. Generally my rule of thumb for proximity to the ball at address is that you cannot be too close to the ball until one of two things happens: you cannot fit a fist between your legs and the butt of the club, or your weight goes into the heels at address because you are so jammed up to the ball. Good luck getting the spine action to quiet down and I hope you have continued to experience the success you felt on that windy day!

  126. Rick says:

    What do you think about same-length irons? I’m 5’7, and know my current set of clubs are too long for me, and also try to live by the general motto of keep-it-simple. Same-length clubs makes sense to me. I’ve only started looking at brands that specialize in making clubs the same length, and wonder from you what would happen if I had all my current clubs shortened to the same length?

    Do you know any brands you can recommend, or recommend NOT getting, for same-length clubs?

    If I went into a golf fitter store and told them I want my irons (3-PW) to be one length, will they laugh me out the door?

    • John Rogers says:

      Rick, I have not researched same-length clubs in depth, but I think it’s a concept worth looking at. I worry that having the same length for the whole set might result in some clubs not generating enough distance relative to the others–BUT, having said that, guess what I already do? My own set of traditional irons (non-hybrids) includes only two lengths and two lie angles. I have a 5-iron through 7-iron that are same specs and then 8-iron through gap wedge that are same specs (other than loft obviously). I love them this way.

      I’m afraid most fitters would laugh at you, but the trick is to find someone who will listen. Or do this, which is essentially what I did: just order a set with specific specs for each club (maybe the 7 iron is “standard” then the 6 iron must be a half-inch short and .5-degree upright, and so on). Tell them the exact specs for each club that give you the set you want. Or you can give me a million bucks and I’ll start building sets like this for you. 🙂

      Sorry that I cannot recommend any single-length companies, but hope you’ll write back and tell us if you find some good, or not so good, companies. Good luck!

  127. Shane says:

    John

    Thanks for the article – great info and thanks to the contributors.

    I am a weekend golfer on the short side (5’6″) and about 180lbs ( although in Australia we are metric). Have had a lot of trouble with my standard drivers over the years to the extent that I don’t play it and hit off the tee with a 4 iron. Have tried choking down on the driver after advice from a playing partner but the further I went down the harder I would grip so not much changed.

    After Xmas I had a game and was playing very consistently if shorter off the tee than the rest. One of my partners offered me his 1 iron to hit with off the last tee and I out drove the rest of the group and it went straight and felt comfortable. Checking the club against my driver it was about 2″ shorter than my standard driver.

    I saw a 1 iron for sale pretty cheap online so I grabbed it to see how it would go. Its about 3 1/2 inches shorter than the driver I have but feels incredibly comfortable and my stance feels natural in the swings I have had in the park with it so far – off to the range on the weekend to hit with it.

    I have always believed that standard clubs are too long for me – my best club are my 8 – wedges as I feel comfortable closer to the ball. After reading this I am cutting all my clubs back to get my stance comfortable in address. I will also cut back the driver about 2 1/2 inches and see how that goes.

    I am also changing my grips to a thicker grip (lambkin arthritis grips) as I have small hands and hope this will stop me gripping them too hard.

    I should have known about shortening my club as I purchased a youth sized putter several months ago and have been putting well with it – again I am over the ball and slightly tilted and feel much more comfortable in this position.

    Again thanks for the advice – I am sure I will be back to tell you how well it went

    • John Rogers says:

      Shane, thanks for reading and checking in. As you can see from all the comments, you are not alone in your experience with those overly long drivers. Good luck with the shorter clubs, and I’m also a fan of the bigger grips! Are you anywhere near Adelaide? I have a buddy from there. Take care, and feel free to share an update someday!

  128. Gary Blackwell says:

    Great article. I recently purchased a new set of taylormade rocketballz irons. Could not afford fitting. Not hitting them well and had been thinking of shortening the shafts. I’m about 5’7″. Is there a limit to how short I should make them? Thanks for the great info. Wish I was closerto you. In Florida, Tampa Bay area.

    • John Rogers says:

      Gary, if you had written a week earlier, we might have met! I was on Treasure Island a week ago and got to play a couple rounds at Pasadena Yacht & CC. I also gave a lesson to a young lady, a client of mine, who attends U of Tampa. Thanks for reading and commenting, and maybe our paths will cross someday, or we can try a remote lesson with video. Back to the topic, though– technically there’s no limit to how much you could choose to shorten your clubs, but here’s a few things to keep in mind: the overall weight and the swing-weight will start to feel very light at some point. If you like to feel the clubhead, you might have to do something to keep the swing-weight up. At some point the shaft will start to feel more stiff. And if you chop off enough, you can get to the point where the grip over-laps the taper of the shaft, meaning the bottom of the grip will not fit snugly unless you build up the shaft with some tape. I would do some experimenting with just choking down at first to get a sense of how short you want the clubs to be. Good luck!

      • Shane says:

        John

        Had some spare time last weekend so I decided to have a go at trimming the shaft of the driver as I no longer use it – at least not very much. I adopted the approach where I had my daughter hold the club on the ground at an angle so the club head approximated where I would expect it to be at impact. I then got into a comfortable stance and gripped the club in a natural comfortable position. Then marked where the bottom of my left hand (being right handed) was on the shaft. I added about 2cm (1 inch) to make allowances for the top of the grip etc. I probably took off about 2.5″ and even swinging it without a grip felt good. I also noticed that being that much closer seemed to compensate for my diminishing eyesight ( nearly 60)….

        Tried the same process with the putter as well to trim it back. I always liked the grip so Youtube came in handy and I saved the existing grip.

        • John Rogers says:

          Shane, thanks for the update. I hope your experiment works out for the best, and I expect that it will. Moving closer to the ball tends to help balance too, so there are a lot of potential benefits. Good luck!

      • Gary Blackwell says:

        Thanks a lot for the response. I’ll keep your thoughts in mind so I don’t ruin the clubs. So far choking down 1-1 1/2 inches helps a little. I’ll keep trying that before I cut them. Again, Thanks a bunch.

  129. Bill says:

    I love your column here about the shorter clubs. The way I found your column was I googled the question
    “Why are my clubs all different lengths?” After reading your comments I now realize why my six iron is my best club. It is 35″ and I hit it the best of all my clubs
    My driver is 46″ and I hit it pretty straight but the distance is about 200 (if that) yards.
    Would choking up on it 2″ or so give me further distance?

    • John Rogers says:

      Bill, this is one of those “game of opposites” possibilities. Technically the shorter lever you create by choking down should reduce speed. BUT, what I have found is that many times golfers can swing more aggressively with a shorter club, thereby making up the difference, maintain better balance, and often find the sweet-spot more easily. If these things hold true for you, you might just add distance with a shorter driver. It worked for me, and for quite a few of my clients. Others don’t necessarily gain distance, but they hit it just as far, but now find the fairway with more frequency. Good luck!

  130. Ross says:

    It has been an eye opener to read about other peoples frustrations with all the longer club lengths.
    I I have set up a club fitting here in Wisconsin to get correct clubs for me after reading your blog. I’m 5″8″ tall with a 32″ WTF measurement (yes, very long arms). I swing shorter/heavier clubs well. Feels as if my larger muscle groups are active. When I swing a long/lighter shafted club I end up picking the club up with my hands/arms and everything goes wrong after that.
    Thanks for confirming that we are not all crazy trying to play the clubs that are off the rack.

  131. Mike H says:

    After a 15 year hiatus I got back into golf late last summer. I was using a decent set of used clubs and they got me by. That were about 10 year old clubs and I thought I should upgrade to current technology. After doing some research I realized if I was going to invest in a new set I should be fitted.

    I came across your article which made perfect sense to me and it did help when I choked up. When I went in to get fitted, I had in mind that I should go -1″ for length. Just as so many others have mentioned, when I went for the fitting, the person helping me measured and said I would be standard length. I mentioned going shorter and he really thought I should stay standard. So we continued with the fitting and checked for lie. I ended up being 3* up. At the end of it all, I ended up with TM Rsi 1 irons, regular flex, insisted on 1/2″ short and 3* up.

    Got the irons and things seemed to be working pretty well, but found I just couldn’t consistently get “my swing” unless I choked up. So, I’m ready to take another 1/2″ off. I’m not too concerned with stiffening the flex, but I am wondering if the additional 1/2″ off will change the lie adjustment I should have?

    Thanks

    Mike

    • John Rogers says:

      Mike, shortening the club essentially flattens the lie angle. Typically, a 1/2″ cut would require a 1-degree bend upright to compensate. But I will say this– your 3-degree fitting is already quite upright. If you are average to short, it would be unusual to see that many degrees upright (although anything is possible based on your swing). My guess is that you will do fine without a lie change, but I can’t say definitively without knowing your swing. Good luck, and feel free to write back with an update!

      • Mike H says:

        John,

        Thanks for the reply. I’m glad I checked with you first. If I do pull the trigger on the cut down, I will have lie angle checked again.

        Mike

  132. Mike H says:

    1st paragraph, 3rd sentence should start with ‘They’.

  133. Lou shults says:

    Thanks for the article. I have struggled with accuracy from my woods and long irons for years. This past weekend I was so frustrated with my driver that I decided to choke down on my driver. I was chocked down to where my lower hand(right) was below the grip. my misses on the range seemed drastically more playable than when I used the whole 45″ driver. Distance didn’t seem to be effected. I’m contemplating cutting about 6 to 7″ from my driver. All of my other longer clubs felt great and I had improved accuracy when I chocked down. Do you think it’s ridiculous to cut down all of my longer clubs to be around a 6 irons length?
    It makes sense in my mind to cut them down because accuracy is much more important than distance. I was at this golf expo and they had a former long drive champion Brian harmon there. Hit a few drives 400+ with his competition driver and then he grab a driver that was shorter than a putter. He hit that thing about 350!

    • John Rogers says:

      Lou, thanks for reading and commenting! I do not think cutting clubs down is ridiculous at all. You might consider going with at least two total lengths as you go through your longer clubs– maybe woods and hybrids one length, and then other long irons another length. Cutting down your woods that much might make the weighting very strange. Believe it or not, my 5-iron through 7-iron are all the same length, then my 8-iron through gap wedge are all the same length. Love them that way, and I still get distinct gaps in distance. Thanks for sharing the story of the long-drive guy–people need to understand that there are a lot of variables that go into creating distance, and club length is actually one of the least important factors. Good luck!

  134. Bill says:

    I am considering buying a set of Red River Hybrid clubs 1 through 9. SW and PW
    My reason for doing so is that I have been using my buddies hybrids and am connecting with the hybrids 90%
    better than with my standard Wilson irons.
    I have been reading your comments about shorter clubs and think that you are correct.
    My best iron that I have been most comfortable with is my Wilson 6 iron. It is 36″ in length and I almost always am able to get and do the shot I want.
    My question is: Should I get all the hybrids at 36″ or should I increase the length as I go higher in number?
    Also, what would your recommendation be on the length for a putter for me?
    I look forward to your response and thank you very much.
    Bill

    • John Rogers says:

      Bill, thanks for reading and writing. It sounds like your clubs are already a little shorter than “standard”, so I think you might consider getting your hybrids all at one length which is a little longer than your 6-iron. Maybe 37 1/2″ or 38″? Without seeing you at address, I hesitate to suggest a putter length, but I prefer to see the arms pretty close to fully-extended at address, so you could take a comfortable stance with the hands below or slightly outside the shoulders and see where that puts you. Like all the other clubs, most people fit better with a slightly under-length putter. Good luck!

  135. Ross says:

    Hey John,

    Got fitted in April as I mentioned back in February. Was nervous, but Scott made me feel very comfortable. It was a great experience. Got a 24* Hybrid and 6i thru Gap wedge with a 56* Sand wedge. Went from graphite shafts and 1″ over standard length to steel shafted KBS tour 120 gram shafts and 2″ under standard length. He did a TFT fitting by having only 1/4″ to 3/8″ difference in club lengths. Amazing!! It has been automatic, ball flies straight. I was actually laughing out on the course. My brother was amazed. My irons were the weakest part of my game. Not anymore! The Hybrid, the 1st one I’ve ever owned is like a rocket. I’m getting fitted for a Driver next week. I guess what i”m saying is GUYS or GALS don’t be afraid or intimidated to get fitted for clubs. I felt that way, but I like this game of Golf to much and took a leap of faith, so to speak. John and guys like him are here to help us play this game to our best ability. I learned alot about swing weight, head weight , shaft weight and club length and how they relate to our individual swings. Wishing everyone a great golf season. 🙂

    • John Rogers says:

      Ross, good to hear from you and very glad to hear that your fitting is helping to unlock your game! Amazing that you ended up with clubs THREE INCHES shorter! Wishing you continued success!

      • tim c. says:

        John,

        I’m the guy 6’5 with the bent right arm (2″ shorter than my left) that you helped earlier this year. Ive been playing with standard length clubs now for 5 months, previously, i had tried or should i say had been fit for clubs from 1-4″ over and always bent upright at least 2-4º. well i want to report, ive never hit the ball more accurate and pure and ive actually picked up distance with the irons. i have recently fallen for the old “demo day” hype, not on length of club but, “wow, you picked up 30 extra yards with the new Kalway XXXr! funny how at the demo center it felt great and on the computer i was real long, it was weird though, at the golf course i hit the ball a lot more inconsistent and it felt like sh!t! advertising is a siren, praying on the souls of the those that want to buy a longer life….in golf and life.

        Thanks again,
        Tim C.

        P.S. yeah, of course i took the club back to the guy and made him sad, but my wallets happy and i’m $400 ahead! Guess i can treat myself to a round at Aviara! thanks again.

        • John Rogers says:

          Tim, I love hearing stories like this. Nothing like playing better AND saving money! Amazing what those computers sometimes claim. Glad you’re having fun and not falling for the siren song!

  136. Mike Rose says:

    Today I went to a reputable fitting center and the first thing I was told by the fitter was that they would not go to a short shaft [ I had asked about 43 inches ], that they would start at 45 inches and work from there. I feel good with a shorter shaft, tried a number of longer shafts including a 45.50 shaft…The session was a bust…I only liked one club combination and it was with a shorter shaft. Why don’t fitters accept that we are going to make better ball/club face contact with shorter shafts and get good length and better dispersion and control. I left empty handed and disappointed after paying for the fitting. I don’t think I will go back or recommend then to friends…got a bad feeling when I was there.

    • John Rogers says:

      Mike, it’s sad what a blind spot there tends to be among some fitters. I suppose to some degree their hands are tied by what the manufacturers send them, and by the club-head designs (not designed for short shafts), but what happened to catering to the desires of the customer?! Hope you find a more cooperative fitter in the future!

  137. Keith L says:

    John- what do you think about these new “mini” drivers? I figured if they’re designed from the ground up to be shafted 43-44″ and a higher loft (11, 12, 13, 14), these might be a good alternative to the “standard” driver.

    • John Rogers says:

      Keith, for a lot of people, this kind of club will be exactly what the doctor ordered. Funny that they call it “mini” when drivers were considered full length at 43 1/2″ before the titanium era. And the loft is key. Most people max their distance at about 12-14 degrees of launch, which most people struggle to do with a 9-degree driver. So, a driver that is shorter and more lofted is a huge improvement for many players.

  138. frank nuciforo says:

    John, I just came across this article on your website which was quite informative. I’ve been scratching my head as to why I can consistently hit my Ping 3W (G20-15 degree) fairly straight at about 240-260 yards off the tee yet hit weak pull-hooks with my G20-10.5 degree 1W. After looking up the spec’s, the 1W at 45.75″ (compared to the 43.5″ 3W) surely requires a slower swing (as you so aptly point out). And clearly it is a swing speed to which I cannot adjust. But it seems like such a waste having a Driver in the bag that I never use, and the thought of lower trajectory and a few extra yards makes me want consider shortening up the 1W. What would you suggest?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Mike Rose says:

      We need to create a lobby. Average length of shafts for drivers on tour is 44″ so how can we as average golfers get optimum enjoyment out of the game by playing with clubs that are too long? We need to pressure makers and fitters to cater to our needs.

      • frank nuciforo says:

        Exactly…..Someone said, the manufacturers are more concerned with being able to advertise the few extra yards a longer shaft might give you…and not at all concerned with how it messes with your swing speed for the other clubs in your bag…..John Rogers definitely figured this out…

    • John Rogers says:

      Frank, as you can anticipate, I definitely encourage you to shorten the driver. I don’t know the exact length of my own driver (I just take my address position, get the right posture and shaft angle and then cut it accordingly) but I bet it’s no more than 44″, maybe shorter. Unfortunately the drivers are weighted for those obnoxious long shafts, so I can’t promise your driver will perform properly when you cut it down, but you could always get some help with weighting, or even get it re-shafted if needed. Cutting them down seems to work more times than not, though. Good luck!

  139. tim c says:

    John and others, i was just watching the Live From on golf channel. they were talking about Tiger and his latest driving escapades…one answer (maybe from notah begay) is that he is thinking of shortening the shaft on his driver. Well John, I guess even the “great” Tiger Woods has read your fine article.

    As for my own driver experience. I used to own a Ping i20 driver. I loved the ball flight. it mimicked my old persimmon driver. it would start out low and then rise sharply at the end and just drop.

    I used to play a fade then but started to see a radical distance loss on windy days so, I set out on a “I must draw the ball” trail. Being a natural slicer turned into a fader swinger I knew I could get the distance back up this way. 2 years of struggle later and I can finally do it at will, I actually play most of my shots like that now, just whipping out my fade as needed. the hardest part of drawing the ball for me was actually trying to visualize it. its still a little difficult sometimes but…

    Sorry for the digression, this is about the Ping driver, a little something I found out and would like to share about Ping. The i20 said 10.5 on the driver head. I was “fitted” by a “pro club fitter.” He said I needed a 10.5º driver. I walked away with the i20 thinking “i feel good now that I know I took all the guess work out and got a driver I was fit too.” remember the ball flight I told you about above? low and rising up and dropping? i happened to play with a pro visiting from another local course. he said after the round “nice driving but you are losing a lot of yards off the tee, you ball flight is way off!” go see this guy at GM and he’ll fix you up. after changing shafts to a shaft with a diff kick point it helped some but not near enough. for grins he put it on a machine to measure the loft, it was 14º. 14º? how could this be? we sent the club back to Ping. The measured the loft, called me back and explained to me that the 10.5 is the head model and it doesnt show a degree marker next to the 10.5, and that they measure their lofts differently than the old way on the old precision gauge, instead they use a laser type. Heres your driver back! Thats the last Ping i will ever own. I have since bought the Cleveland Black 10.5º and it’s brought the ball way down and i’m hitting it longer than ever!

    Clubfitters?

    • Mike Rose says:

      At one time Tiger was using a 43 + 1/2 inch shaft to dial in his accuracy. He’s not the only one on tour that used shorter than the standard – ‘off the rack’ – shafts 45-46 inches. If tour golfers, who have access to the very best research and tech use shorter shafts with modern titanium heads by choice to better control their accuracy…then why can’t we – the amateur golfers of the world?
      I am strictly interested in distance within ‘accuracy and better dispersion’ and more contact on the sweet spot more regularly. If a shorter shaft get’s me this then this is what I want as opposed to a longer ‘bomber’ shaft that isn’t as reliable for accuracy.
      I believe that all of us amateur golfers who love the game as much as pro’s deserve tech that makes their game better and therefore more enjoyable.

      • John Rogers says:

        Mike, you have nailed it. The tour average driver is probably 44.5″ for guys who hit hundreds of balls per day. How in the world can these 46″ drivers be the right idea for weekend warriors? Not to mention they have to learn a swing plane that does not correlate to any other club if they are going to have success with these monster clubs. I have been able to make a better-balanced, more aggressive swing and find the center of the club (producing more distance) with a significantly shorter driver than what they try to sell people these days. The only upside I can think of for these clubs is completely selfish–they generate a lot of teaching business for me because nobody can hit them worth a darn! Good luck to you!

    • John Rogers says:

      Tim, it really is crazy what some of the manufacturers do these days. Honestly, I think the way TaylorMade designed the SLDR (center of gravity forward) is a mistake for most people too, but then they can sell it a being stupid-long. One thing in defense of Ping, most people will max their distance with driver when they launch the ball somewhere between 12-14 degrees and most people launch well under that. Ping might be trying to overcome old taboos about using more loft–people used to think the lower the loft, the further you hit it. Getting more loft in people’s hands is generally a good idea, but it’s very strange that they’d put a “10.5” on the club and then claim it’s not a measure of loft. Never heard of that before! In the end, I’m glad you found a driver and a ball-flight that suits you!

  140. Ed New York says:

    Great article, I recently decided to choke up almost 2 inches on my driver and it instantly straightened out my drive and help me keep my sanity on the course. It becomes a steeper swing with good contact.

    One thing I try to keep in mind is to keep club face grooves parallel to the ground at address. This requires me to choke up, on the long Rocketballz Stage 2 shaft.

    • Mike B. says:

      I am tempted to cut down my RBZ Tour driver as its 45.75. I don’t want to ruin the club though. I can add lead tape to the head but still don’t know if that is wise. When I choke up up on it I hit it more solid and it is just as long or longer but it is easier to pull hook it too. Maybe, I should just continue choking up but put on a midsize grip so it is not as thin. Hopefully, that would eliminate the hooking.

      • John Rogers says:

        Mike, if you are content choking down, then there’s no real need to cut the club; but you certainly can cut the club and then add weight to the head, being mindful of where you add it. Might put some tape toward the toe end if you fight the hook. Good luck!

    • John Rogers says:

      Ed, sounds like you’re on the right track. Getting those grooves parallel to the ground is more important at impact than at address, and more important for irons than driver, but it’s still a good idea and again exposes how disproportional most of these clubs are! Hope your game keeps improving!

  141. Don Flemming says:

    Hi John..

    Great to find this discussion, and it’s hard to believe how long it’s been going on,, over 6 years now, amazing!
    i’m in Nova Scotia so pretty close to your family location.. HAHA… there are a lot of nice courses on the Island. i play there every year.
    i have the same problem as Tim C. above, bent right arm, ( i used to work as a carpenter and fractured my right elbow about 25 years ago, but was used to having work related pain so i just assumed it was a bad strain,, and didn’t get any treatment for it at the time. About 10 years later i saw an ortho surgeon to find out why my arm was becoming more bent every year, that was when i found out i had broken it but by then it was too late to do anything. I’ve lost 60 degrees range of motion in total.. which has resulted in a 2″ difference in arm length.. I’m 5′ 9″+ and my left arm WTF is 33.75 while my right is 35.75. as i’m sure you (and Tim C.) know it has played havoc with my swing plane, i’ve come up with ways to compensate for it but getting good arm extension through the hitting area is a problem.
    I’ve tinkered with club length, and counter balancing over the past 3 years or so. I had an old set of Ping irons i cut by -1/2″ and counter weighted as well,, the shortening worked well,, not so convinced about the counter weighting ( i think i used too much ) the old pings were stiff shafts, but i had a guy at Golftown do a driver fitting last year and he said with my swing speed i should be using a reg. flex so when i finally bought newer clubs,, i went all regular.. as it turns out that was a mistake. i’ve noticed since getting them that my dispersion has increased dramatically (and it’s both left and right)
    I decided to take some lessons, and the pro thought my swing was pretty sound but when he video’d me he noticed right away that i was overpowering the reg. flex shaft in my Ping G20 driver.. he brought out a Nike 400cc with a Graphite Design YS-6 stiff shaft, and i was hitting it straight and long every time. he offered to do a straight trade for my stock PING shaft (which i thought was pretty decent of him) So i’m getting that and my RBZ 3 wood done now ( both for free by a local clubmaker i know,, he’s even supplying the stiff shaft for the 3 wood from one he had in his shop,, gotta buy that guy a bottle to show my appreciation 😉 )
    I’m also getting them both shortened by 1.5 in and may go more than that after testing..
    my irons are adams a12Os hybrid \ iron combo set and i’m probably going to shorten them as well by at least an inch.. but hoping to tip them rather than Butt cut them in an attempt to increase the stiffness somewhat.

    Sorry for the long comment..
    It’s great to hear others are having success with shorter than standard shafts

    • John Rogers says:

      Hello, Don. Thanks for sending comments from Nova Scotia–now could you send some of your weather? It was 102 degrees in Virginia yesterday! Sounds like you are figuring some things out with your swing and equipment and I’m glad some of the comments on this article resonated with you. Keep up the good work, and best wishes!

  142. Vaune B says:

    You have been giving such great advice. I am just starting to golf again after 30 years. I have had cheap clubs and am currently using men’s cheap clubs (I am a woman, just turned 50). I feel they are too long for me and am interested in buying a new set for myself. From reading about beginners and club forgiveness, I have decided on the Callaway Solaire Gems to be a good option. (Unless you have a better suggestion).

    After reading your article I am debating on getting the petite version and would like your opinion on the choice. The driver difference, as an example, is 44.5″ and 44″. The swing weight of the petite is also less; same club, C5 and C3.5. I am just shy of 5’5″, my WTF in socks is 33″. The petite set says it is for 5’5″ and under. There is no place where I live that has any to try. I’m just not sure. I have to order them.

    I know you can’t see me, but I’d appreciate your thoughts with no pressure for you if I get them and I’m not happy, but I’ll give you the credit if I love the length! 🙂

    • John Rogers says:

      Hi, Vaune, thanks for writing, and welcome back to golf! You’ll have to accept this as an educated guess, but most people develop better techniques erring on the short-side with their clubs, so I’d recommend the petite set. Personally I’d prefer the higher swing-weight, but in all other regards I think you’ll do fine with the shorter set. Hope it works out!

  143. Ken mckay says:

    Hi,
    I’m new to the game and looking for a set of game improvement irons, but my trouble is I’m 6ft 4. I’ve had a few lessons and I’m really enjoying the game. I’ve been advised to go for inch longer clubs but with reading your article this may not be the case.
    Your article makes a whole lot of sense to me.
    Could you please give some advise on length of irons I would need please.

    Many thanks.

    • John Rogers says:

      Ken, thanks for reading and commenting, and welcome to the game! At 6′ 4″ there’s a chance that you might actually need slightly over-length clubs, unless your arms are very long. I would encourage you to learn a good address position, let the arms hang below the shoulders and then see if a standard club lets you take that position comfortably. You might try to find a picture of either Bob Tway or Stewart Cink at address — two great players who are as tall as you. Here’s a chart you can use for wrist-to-floor measurements, but don’t hesitate to vary from the suggestions if you are able to get in posture better or see better results with a different length. http://www.customgolfstop.com/CustomFitting.htm . Good luck!

  144. Thomas says:

    Hi,

    I’m a shorter player and use factory-length clubs. I typically choke up about 1-2 inches but have experimented without choking up and added 10 yards to my iron shots. I made the change possible by standing a little taller at address so my swing path doesn’t hit the ground prior to impact.

    I use blades and typically hit my 7-iron around 150, but after choking down I was hitting 160-165.

    While I agree that shortened clubs make the swing a little easier, if you’re comfortable hitting slightly longer clubs don’t shy away from it.

    • John Rogers says:

      Thomas, you make a great point; in golf there’s almost nothing that is “absolute”. Different things work for different folks. Someone with a slower tempo, flatter swing, and other setup/swing variations might be able to hit a longer club solidly and actually see the supposed benefits of a longer shaft. Many people do not see the benefits of the longer clubs. There are several factors that go into creating power, but adding length to a club is the factor that is most likely to have unintended consequences.

  145. Dave Fenton says:

    Hi

    have played inch longer 2 degrees upright for past 25 years, just bought ping G30 irons green dot at half inch longer than “standard” but kind of shocked as longer irons are same as my old bats, do you think I should get half or 3/4 inch removed, wtf 37.75 6 foot 2 short arms for height, always fighting a flat swing, any input gratefully received, many thanks,

    Dave

    • John Rogers says:

      Dave, you can see how much clubs have changed over the years! For your height and WTF, you would typically be fit into clubs that are somewhere between .75″ and 1.5″ over length. You might want some of that extra length if you tend toward a flat swing and can hit them solidly. But if you want to make your swing more upright or struggle to make good contact with the longer clubs, then I definitely encourage you to try them shorter, first by choking down. Good luck!

      • Dave Fenton says:

        Thanks for info, already choke down on grips a bit as it feels more natural, so they may indeed suit me, such a hard thing to determine, thanks again

  146. Mike B. says:

    John,
    Is it possible that clubs being too long can be a cause of early extension of hips and casting? Two issues I struggle with. I am 6’0, WTF 36″ and use a 38.5″ 5 iron in my set. I take very little divot if one at all.

    Thanks.

    Mike

    • John Rogers says:

      Mike, I’m not sure I’d say long clubs are the primary cause of early extension and casting, but it’s quite possible they’re sometimes a factor. People who swing in flatter planes, possibly due to longer clubs, tend to struggle making a divot. Sometimes their swings evolve as a fix for thin contact by moving the weight toward the toes (early extension usually does this when the hips move toward the ball), dipping, or possibly casting. You might experiment with a shorter shaft and more upright swing, but then you’ll likely hit heavy shots if you’re still extending early or casting. Good luck!

      • Mike says:

        John,
        It has been my experience with shorter shaft and a more upright swing with irons to hit heavy shots. So the early extension and casting issue may be the cause. I am going to experiment further though.
        Thanks.
        Mike

        • John Rogers says:

          Tough to say without seeing you, Mike, but generally when people shift toward more upright planes, they need to learn to move the weight more toward the heels during the swing, and early extension will move the weight toward the ball. Good luck!

  147. Logan Angle says:

    I am needing a new fairway wood and hybrid but don’t know what to get. I’m only 5 foot 3 inches tall but youth is too small. What do I do?

    • John Rogers says:

      Logan, find a demo of the wood and hybrid you might want and experiment with the length (choking down) until you feel comfortable at address and through the swing. Then find a club-fitter and tell them to help you get a club that is weighted properly at that length. Good luck!

  148. Joe says:

    Great article, I had my clubs custom fit but I think they are too long, lately I have been choking down a good inch and a half on my irons, therefore standing closer to the ball and creating a steeper swing, this has made me more consistent, today I tried not choking down at all and the shots were very inconsistent. Do you think my clubs are too long and that I should just continue to choke down? I’m pretty sure im not losing any distance anyway. Thanks, Joe.

    • John Rogers says:

      Joe, if you scroll through the previous comments, you will see that your experience is very common. To me it’s obvious — go with what works! Good luck and keep enjoying the game!

  149. Dave Smith says:

    Hi John, this is an interesting article, particularly when I found it while searching for just the opposite. At 6′ 7″ and a wrist to floor over 40″ I often think that my clubs are too short to get into a proper position. There is a new site called http://www.tallmangolf.com that is building clubs up to 6″ over length that I find intriguing. Why would I consider this, because typical instruction asks for me to turn in a way that is near impossible due to my bent over or crouched posture….depending on the day. My clubs are already 2″ over and around 4 up, knowing that is all relative to the manufacturer. When I get into the “classic” golf posture by club just doesn’t touch the ground. So what I am reading here says, just bend more, swing more vertical and go from there….isn’t this close to a 1 plane move? I do find that when I bend more my hands are further from my body if I keep them under my shoulders, what could I be missing? Since I am on the left coast there is little chance of me making it to see you but I would appreciate any advice you may have.

    • John Rogers says:

      Dave, thanks for commenting. I’d probably classify you under “never say never”. At 6′ 7″ it’s very likely you do need over-length clubs, though my guess is that your 2″ over-length sticks should do the trick. Hard to say without seeing you. And yes, generally there’s more forward bend from the waist in a one-plane arrangement. Feel free to send me a picture of your posture in profile (or a video) and I’ll be glad to make a couple comments. john.rogers.golf@gmail.com Good luck, and come see us if you’re ever in Virginia!

  150. Tim C. says:

    Hi John,

    First, let me say that you published this article in 2009 and you are still responding to comments 6 years later, that is really great! I have found this article repeatedly and let it sink in over the past few months. I have been choking down on my clubs but find it feels awkward so I want to cut my clubs but am having trouble convincing my self to take the plunge.

    Here is my situation: I am 6’1″ with a wrist to floor of 37 inches. I believe that puts me in the “standard 2 Up length/lie recommendation per a couple of charts I’ve seen online. However, I bought +1 inch length irons a few years ago when I was first starting at golf and was constantly topping the ball so I figured longer shafts were the way to go…live and learn…so I need to correct the length.

    Would you advocate for standard length or shorter than that for me? My clubs are “high loft” with a regular steel flex. I wouldn’t mind the byproduct of stiffening up the shaft but I am concerned that I could potentially mess up the lie & swing weight. The swing weight is D2 from the factory with a “standard” lie. Irons start at
    4 iron – 38.5 inches & 61 degrees and go up by half an inch & degree per club through PW.

    What would you recommend for someone like me per your experience? I am interested on your take vs a club fitting at one of the box stores.

    I am also planning to cut my driver from 45 to 44 or 43.5 as well which I’m excited about!

    Thanks!

    Tim

    • Tim C. says:

      Correction, since mine are +1 inch the 4 iron would be 39.5, going up by half an inch through PW.

    • John Rogers says:

      Tim, thanks for checking in. I hesitate to make too many suggestions without seeing you, but typically I’d think with your height and WTF that standard length clubs might actually suffice. Not sure you will need lower than standard. If it’s in your budget, I think your best move will be to settle on a club-length and then get a fitter to give you the necessary lie angles and swing-weight based around that length. Hopefully you can find one to cooperate. If you just cut down your clubs, you might want to think about your patterns — shortening the club will effectively make it play flatter, which might not be bad if you tend to miss left (assuming you’re right handed), but if you already miss right, maybe it’s not as good of an idea. Swing-weight can change drastically too, but it’s largely a subjective measure anyway and a lot of people seem to do fine with their newly cut-down clubs. You can always get help adding head-weight too. If you want to send me a down-the-line video someday, I might be able to offer a more educated suggestion or two. Good luck!

  151. Karen S. says:

    Finally!! Someone who states what I have been trying to tell everyone. At 5’2″, these standard length irons are TOO LONG. I do not feel comfortable swinging nor at address. I am very inconsistent and tend to hit pure shots with my 8.9. PW and SW. Longer clubs do not produce more distance if you can’t hit them 🙂 Thanks for solidifying my gut instinct. It’s what works for you – not everyone else.

  152. rick nolin says:

    hi John,

    read your comments page on playing shorter clubs, would like to say that Briny Baird on the PGA tour played by choking down on his clubs. This guy hit more shots consistently closer to the flag than any other guy on tour. did not win but made a awful lot of money. I am a scratch golfer and at 6 foot 4 in in height . when I got custom fitted these guys had me at 2 degrees upright and 1.5 in over in added length. I remember when I started playing in 1988 I started with my dads old set and remember a couple of times hitting it closer to the hole by choking down and no distance lose on my driver or 3 wood. Been playing this way for a long time and its great that someone is actually looking out for us avg guys. I did not cut down , just choked down does not seem to bother me. thanks that there are others doing this and seeing the results I got. listem to JOHN he knows what he is talking about

    • John Rogers says:

      Rick, I think this comment slipped past me in December, but I appreciate your feedback, and I’m glad you’ve found a method that helps you enjoy the game!

  153. Max says:

    before reading anything on shortening my clubs I recently went ahead and cut my 5,4,3 down to the same length as my 6 iron. My 7 iron has always been the most comfortable to hit. The length is right and I never choke down. But when I hit my 6,5,4,3, I have always choke down to around the same way I hold my 7. I have never had a lesson and no one ever said to me I should choke down, but it had never made sense to me to change my swing plain and my stance to hit each different iron. If you make the same swing for each iron holding the club at different lengths you would definitely make a different divot, I think? The only way to attack the ball the same with each iron holding it at different length is to change your swing plain for each club. That’s my 2 cents worth. I’m 5,7″ and I play my 3 iron 240y in the summer

    • Max says:

      By the way thank you for the great article John. It solidify what I’ve been doing is the correct path.

      • John Rogers says:

        Max, thanks for commenting and I definitely agree with your experience. I think Bryson DeChambeau would agree to, as he has been playing brilliant golf with a one-length set of irons. My set of irons, including wedges has only two total lengths, and I’ve been very happy with them that way. While a 1/2-inch change in length does not translate to a very big shift in swing plane, going through a set of iron can mean close to 4″ and 4-degrees of change in lie angle. This simply cannot make life easier for most golfers. Thanks again, and best wishes!

        • Dusty Nunes says:

          Hey john, know any club fitters in california that can make my current set of irons the same length and keep them balanced? Or do you think I can do it myself by just cutting down my longer irons shafts?

          • John Rogers says:

            Hi, Dusty. I’m sorry that I don’t first-hand know any fitters in California, but I’m sure you can find a good one who will be willing to work with you. Just tell him or her that you want a one-length set but you want to retain decent swing-weight throughout the set. Best wishes!

          • Tim c. says:

            Dusty, gene at ads golf in San Marcos is a great fitter. He sells wishon stuff and wishing makes sterling one length clubs. Give him a Google.

        • Tim C. says:

          John. Again great article! You have only 2 lengths of irons? What are the lengths and what clubs go into what length and do you add weight to the heads?

          • John Rogers says:

            Hi, Tim. Basically my 5-7 irons are built to my 7-iron specs and my 8 iron – gap wedge are built to my gap wedge specs and my lie angle is a couple flat. I’m on staff with Cobra, so I simply ordered them this way and they built them knowing I would want to retain a decent swing weight. I never weighed them myself. Love them (though I’ve had them over a year and haven’t yet played ten rounds with them — hazard of the job)!

  154. Brian B says:

    When you are talking about the club pointing above or below the belt buckle are you saying that the club should be perpendicular to the spine angle. I have long arms (1.5 inches longer than being proportional), so choking down puts me more on top of the ball. Looking for some guidance about how to determine the proper length of my clubs. Thanks, Brian

    • John Rogers says:

      Brian, thanks for reading and commenting. Here’s a couple checkpoints: get a decent forward flex from the hips until the sternum is closer to the ball than the knees (assuming you can bend forward without undue strain on the back or hamstrings) let the arms hang either straight down or slightly outward from the shoulders, but not inward. Make sure you have a fist-width gap or so between the hands and legs. Let the shaft point (maybe best with a 6 or 7 iron) at your belt buckle or slightly higher (perpendicular to the spine is a good image). Given these setup components, you can get a good idea of ideal club-length by letting the hands fall on the grip where they do. Generally guys will strike the ball better when they feel more on top of the ball as you mentioned. Good luck!

  155. Deangelo says:

    Why did I just read this 😧😒😒. I swear i was thinking this 4 years ago but whenI asked about it people made it seem like I was crazy. I acrually read this article 3days ago and got my clubs cut down to 32 inches from the hosel from the pw thru 5 iron. I also made all my hybrids 2, 3, 4 34 inches. It was killing me i had to wait a day for the new grips to dry but yesterday i went golfing and boy oh boy was consistency my friend. I shot +2 with just 3 bogeys and 1 birdie. I was able to make the same swing over and over and over and it felt so good let me tell you. Normally I shot in the low 80s but I struggle on par 3s because I used to pull my long irons. Im maybe 5 6 and play adams xtd irons and hybrids with graphite shafts. Im currently playing around with adding lead tape to the bottom of the 5 iron for a higher ball flight. Hit a couple drives 300 with what seemed like no effort. GUYS GET YOUR CONFIDENCE BACK BY HAVING YOUR CLUBS CUT DOWN TO THE LENGTH OF YOUR FAVITE CLUB. This game is not about distance or being Macho…its about accuracy off the tee and hitting Greens. Nothing like having 12 birdie putts per round!!
    Any tips on Putting😭😭

    • John Rogers says:

      Deangelo, glad you have found some magic! Maybe the answer in putting is to shorten that club too! 🙂

  156. Paul Madsen says:

    0) play golf for 35 years
    1) last week, discover for myself that choking down on driver creates consistency without sacrificing distance
    2) Google ‘choke down driver’
    3) discover this page
    4) feel validated 🙂

    I do notice that , in gripping down, the smaller radius of the shaft causes my grip to feel a bit loose so dont think its a long term solution – so now shopping for new set

    • John Rogers says:

      Paul, as you can see if you browse the comments, your experience has been very commonly shared. I use jumbo grips even though my hands are not very large, so even if I choke down there’s still a decent grip radius. You could also add tape to the shaft at the lower end of the grip, and there might be grips out there now that are more uniform in width going down the shaft. Good luck!

  157. Tim Feldmeierr says:

    Alright, I bought a fairly new set of Ping Irons. I had the irons shorted 1 inch—- I have to agree, I can more easily strike the ball better. I still don’t get the higher ball flight that I wish I had. What do you think about changing the loft 1 degree for my irons?

    • John Rogers says:

      Tim, thanks for reading and commenting. Traditionally Ping irons are already weaker in loft than some of the other companies (not sure if this is still true) and you could get them bent — but I wonder if you went through a full fitting when you got them? Does your shaft have a low kick point to help your launch? I think you will see better results in the long run with a shaft that fits you and with any needed swing adjustments than with loft adjustments. Good luck!

  158. Dick S. says:

    Hi John –

    You might enjoy this account and also have a suggestion. I have struggled to hit my titleist 7 iron and sometimes the 8 as well (AP 1s). Returning from a visit to Charlottesville to Ipswich where I live, I went to practice irons last night. Large bucket, only 7,8 and 9 irons and alignment guides. A careful aim for each shot. As usual, the 9 was OK, the 8 not great and the 7 a struggle. Some shots fat, some thin and none compressing the ball the way I know that I should.

    A little history. Last year, I wound up the season with a 78 and dropped my GHIN to 11.3. Had radiation for an ear deal that involves the balance nerve over the winter and this year my GHIN ballooned to 16.5 and now is dropping and at 15.0 (not acceptable). This season I have tried way too many ideas to try to compensate for some balance issue but have managed to keep my sense of humor and enjoy the game………..there are many people in the world with REAL problems, I like to think.

    So, on a whim during last night’s practice, I decided to try to choke down on the 7 ………a LOT…….maybe 1.5 to 2 inches. On the very first shot, doing that, I made good contact and was very surprised that the ball seemed to go as far as a good shot on the club without choking down. I spent the rest of my practice time hitting the seven this way and the 8 choked down less and the nine without choking down. I felt like I had discovered something but couldn’t quite believe it.

    When I got home, I decided to google the idea of shorter irons and the first thing on the google page was your article from 2009. I found the explanation and info to confirm my experience and it gave me confidence to try this choking down during a round at the course I play in southern Maine, The Ledges. I choked down various amounts on every club longer than my 9 iron today and was shocked that in almost every case, I hit the ball as far and it seemed much easier to do. Shot an 87 which is only about 4 shots north of a good round for me at this point with 12 fairways hit and the drives were as far, choked down a full 2 inches…………what a pleasure to swing the club today.

    Now here’s the kicker………..I went to your home page to see where you are located and another shocker…………….I was just in your town last week playing Pack Saddle with my brother. I had gone down to attend a benefit concert at UVA with Lyle Lovett and then got a round in before driving back up here.

    John, I can’t thank you enough for the helpful article and I am going to play a few more rounds choking down and get busy with planning shorter clubs. There may be some limitations. I currently have a Wishon Driver at 44.5 and I think that the big driver heads are hard to build much shorter but I will be looking into it and see what i can learn.

    The next time I am down there I want to play your course which my brother has played several times and thank you in person !

    Dick S.

    • John Rogers says:

      It really can be a small world! Thanks for reading my article, and thanks for sharing this story!

      If you read the comments on the article you will see that you are not alone in this “epiphany” about the lengths of your clubs. I’m glad you have figured things out, and hope it helps you sneak back down close to single digits over time. At the very least it should help you enjoy more solid ball striking.

      Please let me know next time you’re in town — come see our course (not fancy, but fun and scenic) and make sure to say “hello”. I’m almost always here unless I’m on the road with my college team.

      Thanks, and best to you. Hope the radiation did its job as well.

    • Mike Rose says:

      We’ve been discussing this issue for some years now, interesting that OEM Cobra has come out with a ‘first’…a cast and a forged set of irons that are all one length! [ 7-iron length ]. So far woods are not one length but maybe someday.
      Seems like some of them are taking notice of our concerns.

      My driver is 44″; 3-wood is 43″ and both are far more reliable now that they’re shortened. I am a fan of one length irons.

      • John Rogers says:

        Mike, a very relevant comment with Cobra’s announcement. Here were my comments on my Facebook page just a couple hours ago: “It was just a matter of time with Bryson DeChambeau on staff — Cobra Golf coming out with a one-length set this winter. As someone who has been a proponent of this idea for 20 years, I’ll be curious to see if it takes off in the broader golf culture. For years my own set of irons has only had two total lengths, which makes for more consistency and less practice time required. Funny as a Cobra staffer — when I first started ordering my 2-length sets years ago, the custom staff at the company thought I was crazy. Looks like they better get ready to build a lot of crazy sets!” http://www.facebook.com/golfthingsconsidered

        I’m a fan of two iron lengths, one length for hybrids and fairway woods, another length for driver. We’ll see how things go!

        • Mike B. says:

          I am intrigued by the idea of using single length irons. I am definitely going to demo the new Cobras. It makes sense and should be a good thing for many of us.

  159. John W. says:

    Hi John,

    if you have a moment I would be extremely grateful if you could help me on my question below. I am from the UK and have been reading your article and comments with so much interest about clubs being too short for the average golfer. I am 5 ft 5 and have always felt like my clubs are too big for me. They are -1″ shorter than standard and I like to hold nearer the top and i always thought that was the lowest I could go. Even things like chipping around the green, the club feels so long. I have always suffered from coming out my posture and rising on the downswing a bit and having the handle high at impact and a bit off the toe so my fitter on my last clubs put the toe up 2 degrees. I have tried to counter posture problem this but i wonder whether this is a cause of the club being too big to start with. I am a 16 handicap.

    i was thinking of cutting my old clubs (standard lie) down another inch (so 2 inch off standard) and experimenting, would i have to change the lie angle?

    Really appreciate your time.Take care, John W.

    • John Rogers says:

      John,

      Thanks for reading my article and reaching out. I’m glad to offer my two cents.

      Since you have the advantage of having an older set to experiment with, I’d say go full speed ahead. Shortening the clubs will effectively make them play as a flatter lie — so if you find yourself missing too many shots to the right (assuming you’re right handed) after shortening, then you might want to have them bent more upright. You’ll also have to do the best you can to see how the clubs react in terms of stiffness and swing weight. I am over 5′ 10″ and have played clubs that were cut down well under “standard” and generally it has been fine, overall better than the full-length clubs. The ideal will likely be a short club that is properly fitted otherwise.

      I hope you find the right length!

      John

  160. Chris Brill says:

    John. I am around 5’6″.. and believe I have been in an angle trap for the decades. When I try to talk to people about more aggressive length changes.. they tell me that their club fitter has to know more than I. Now, I’m sure he does.. But, someone going in for a club fitting has already adjusted their swings by athletics to play a game geared for the average lie angle and shaft length… So, in turn the calculations would show they have compensated ingrained to hit a long shaft, so one will be fitted.. There is absolutely no way that Tiger Woods would use a 43″ to 44″ driver during his prime, at over 6 feet tall, and have a club fitter say that someone who is 5’7″ has an ideal club length of 45″… We are talking, from the view of basic geometry and physics about two completely different swing planes against the weight of gravity.. Not to mention the difference from gravity.. truly causing the ill fitted player with a shaft too long to need amazingly strong and stable wrists to be able to repeat that, being more horizontal against gravity.. Now, I may not be able to comprehend torque and kick like those fitters can, and I applaud their knowledge. But shorter players that are able to hit long shafts well happen to be very athletic and talented at the game of golf to be able to succeed with the given geometry. Reading your article was a delight, John. Thank you!

    • John Rogers says:

      Chris, I think you have hit on some valid points, and if you scroll through the hundreds of comments before you, you can see that you’re not alone in your experience — that “standard” clubs are not so good for a lot of us, and that there’s a lot of resistance in the fitting / manufacturing world to stepping outside the box. I also think you nailed it when you mentioned that people tend to fit for long clubs because they have used nothing but long clubs, which their swings have adjusted to — and all the while their dispersion and ball-striking suffers. From my perspective, going from a 43.5″ driver 30 years ago to 45″+ today has been a nightmare for the average player, and longer irons have not been beneficial in a lot of cases either. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  161. Jordan says:

    Hi John,

    I am hoping to get some feedback. I have a set of 2011 CB’s from Titleist and everything is standard with x100 dynamic gold shafts. I really like the way I am hitting it when choking down and I wanted to see if I cut an entire inch off the shafts, will it make that big of difference for stiffness, weight, and distance? I am not sure my club head speed with irons but my drivers is 112 mph.

    I am wanting to cut them down because when I choke up on them, it always feels like I am hitting a knock down shot and the butt end of the club is annoying when it sticks out 1.5-2 inches.

    • John Rogers says:

      Jordan, if you read through the previous comments you’ll see some good information pertaining to your questions. Generally the stiffness will change a little, but not much because it’s cutting the tip end of the shaft that tends to regulate stiffness. Weight and swing weight will change some, but those are primarily factors of feel rather than performance, meaning it’s fine if it feels fine. In strict physics you ought to lose a little distance, but as you’ll see if you read through the comments, many people (myself included) experienced greater distances because of better ball-striking with shorter clubs. Generally people who feel good choking down feel equally good about their clubs after cutting them. The biggest factor is probably swing weight, and you could get some help increasing the swing weight as needed. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

  162. Phil says:

    Thanks John, I’m more on the shorter side and I have suspected that my clubs are to long for me. I’ve choked down on my clubs to prove out this theory and I hit better shots on the driving range. However, when I get on the course with the standard length clubs I tend not to choked down.
    So I’m going to cut my clubs down one inch in the next couple of days.

    Thanks for the confirmation,

    Phil

  163. Michael Davidson says:

    Hi John,

    Great article! It was relevant to me as I bought new Titleist AP1 irons last year off the shelf at a large golf store. Right away after playing with them they felt too long. I had the golf store cut them down a half inch. However they still feel too long and I don’t want to choke down, as I like to hold my clubs at the end of the club.

    It was interesting as I then went to a Titleist fitting centre and the guy there said the length was fine. But I believe he said off the shelf clubs are designed to fit guys from 5’9 to 6’2. That is a 5 inch difference so I wondered how could that work well for such a height difference, with clubs that come in one standard length. You’d never hand the same height hockey stick to a guy that is 5’9 or 6’2. You cut the hockey stick down to the proper height for the individual player. Can you tell I’m Canadian 🙂

    Anyway, I was planning to go to a professional golf fitter this time to get the length potentially adjusted again. Will I do any damage to the clubs getting them cut down again? Is there a good website to find a great club fitter in your area?

    Thanks again, Michael

    • John Rogers says:

      Michael, thanks for reading, and I’m glad the info in the article struck a cord with you. I think you’re right about the huge gap in height for people who are typically fitted into “standard” irons. My “Standard” is actually a half-inch short and 1-degree upright, and people under about 5’9″ often get shorter clubs than that. If you read back through the comments on this article, you’ll find good info and suggestions about cutting the clubs down — all things being the same, you’ll slightly stiffen the irons, and definitely change the swing-weight. You might want a fitter to add weight to the head-end of the club if you keep shortening. Unfortunately I’m not sure we have any really top fitters in my area, so I would use Google and word of mouth to see what you can find in your area or elsewhere. Best wishes!

  164. Ricky Click says:

    Nice article John, looks like a hacksaw is in my future!
    See you next week.

  165. alex russell says:

    Good article, I came to the same conclusion myself about my driver as its the only club I slice. I thought it might be the length but thought I would google first to see if this may be the case before I go to the point of no return and reduce the length and you have confirmed what I thought.

    Thanks

  166. Graham M. says:

    John,
    I have thought my clubs were too long for awhile now.I Had them checked by some ” professionals ” but the most I got was choke down a half each or so.
    So it was nice to read your article on club length and accuracy. You know it’s always nice to have someone confirm what you have already come to believe !
    I’m in Dallas. Do you know any instructors in my area with your philosophy?
    Your rates are great. I’m semi retired so I might need to take a road trip and come visit you.

    • John Rogers says:

      Graham, thanks very much for reading my article and sending your note. It’s hard to believe how many people I have now fitted for clubs that were no where near “standard” with great improvement to the golfer. Hopefully you are on the track to finding ways to make the game easier and more enjoyable!

      I’m sorry that I don’t know any pros out your way — but if you find yourself out East, you’ll always be welcome at Lakeview Golf Club!

      Best wishes, and lots of birdies!

    • Tim Feldmeier says:

      I did two things, I had my clubs shortened, and I had the Loft increased—wow! What a difference that made.

  167. Alex A. says:

    I am Alex from India. I am a beginner golfer struggling with the game!! I was totally desperate and searching for any relation between club length and the game. That is how I found one of your article published in the year 2009.
    A little background about me – I am 5 ft 4 inch tall(or short!!) and 40 years old. Started to learn golf 3 years back. We have a small 9 hole very narrow golf course in my city. I go for golfing 2 to 3 days a week. But always come back very unhappy just because my game is very inconsistent. In the beginning I was using an INESIS Steel shaft(used set). Then some golfers told me to try graphite shaft. So recently bought an Used golf set of Taylormade make R7. The Woods are stiff and the irons regular flex.
    I am hitting good the Driver and Woods with tee from tee box but utter failure while using woods on the fairways. In both the sets(Inesis and Taylormade) I am struggling to hit the irons – 5 – 9. Most of the times the ball is not air borne and end up with ground shot and if I could make it airborne the ball fades.
    I think this has got something to do with the length of the club. But i am unable to ascertain it. Because when I use short grip ( a few inches lower than the middle) my shots are better but not perfect. There is only one coach in my club who is very young (less experienced) who told me never to play with short grip .
    Please help me. I am so enthusiastic to play this game in a proper way.

    • John Rogers says:

      Alex, I’m glad to hear from you all the way from India!

      My guess is that shorter clubs will be helpful to you, but there’s probably more going on. The balls that scurry along the ground — usually people assume that they have “topped” the ball, but often they are hitting the neck of the club and the ball never gets airborne. If this is true in your case, it might also explain the shots to the right, which could be off the neck as well, just airborne. You might put some face-tape on your clubs, or color the face with a dry-erase marker to see where you are making contact. And if you want to try to send me a video, I’ll take a quick look and see if there’s anything obvious that will make a quick difference for you. Hope you keep getting better and get more enjoyment from the game!

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