Last week, we learned that there are eight club fitting variables we will be learning this semester. We’re covering the variables in order of importance, and No. 1 is length.
Length is measured from the ground to the end of the grip cap with the club placed in the normal playing address position. Length primarily influences (either helps or hinders) distance. The longer the club, the further the ball will go. The standard 6-iron length is 37 1/2″ with 1/2″ increments between irons. For example:
5-iron = 38″
6-iron = 37 1/2″
7-iron = 37″
There are two ways to fit for length – a static fit or a dynamic fit. Because a static fit utilizes different measuring techniques, it’s a lot less reliable. For instance, some fitters prefer to measure from a player’s wrist to the ground to determine length, while others prefer to measure from the player’s fingertips to the ground. A dynamic fit, one that is performed while the player swings the club, is preferred.
When you’re fitting for length, you want to observe the player’s posture at set-up. The golf shaft should pass through the waist line or belt buckle. If a player’s posture is too bent, the shaft will pass below the waist line. If it’s too upright, it’ll pass above the waist line. At the end of the day, the goal is to find the length that creates the best athletic set-up, the best motion, and that maximizes distance and accuracy.
A great tool in helping to measure length is face tape. That’s because centeredness of contact is the key in fitting for length. Clubs that are too short (for right-handed players) are going to be more accurate but will cause the ball to fly shorter and to the right or push. Clubs that are too long (again, for right-handed players) are going to be less accurate and will cause the ball to fly to the left or pull.
The best way to determine a player’s length is by his athletic ability. There are two types of fitting specifications for length. A strong fitting specification causes a low and/or push in ball flight. The club is too short in length. A weak fitting specification causes a high and/or pull in ball flight. The club is too long in length.
Did You Know?
* You sacrifice accuracy when you make clubs too long
* When you cut a shaft down in length, you increase the shaft’s stiffness
* When converting a steel shaft to graphite, you add 1/2″ to 1″
* +/- 1/2″ in length = +/- 2 mph of swing speed
* +/- 1/2″ in length = 3 points in swing weight
* +/- 1/2″ in length = 2 grams in total weight
* +/- 1/2″ in length = +/- 1 degree in lie angle
When you add length, the club is effectively more upright. When you subtract length, the club is effectively flatter.
Swing compensations for length can occur at several points, including posture adjustments at set-up. If the club is too long, the player’s posture will be more upright. If it’s too short, the player’s posture will be more bent over. If the club is too long, the player’s swing path will be out-to-in. If the club is too short, the player’s swing path will be in-to-out.
Here are some things to watch for if your clubs are too short:
* Too much bend in the knees or waist
* Weight is toward the toes
* Swing path is in-to-out
* Tempo/timing is very quick
* Ball tends to fly right
* Ball tends to hit on the heel of the club
Here are some things to watch for if your clubs are too long:
* Golfer stands too tall
* Lower body doesn’t move properly
* Ball tends to fly high and left
* Tempo is overly slow, shaft feels weak
* Ball tends to hit on the toe of the club
Question & Answer
1. As a general rule, graphite shafts are _____ longer than steel-shafted clubs throughout the set.
d. 1 1/2″
2. A club that is shorter will produce:
a. better accuracy
b. a higher ball flight
c. a pull
d. good posture at set-up
3. A longer shaft will have a tendency to create:
a. a lower ball flight
b. a higher ball flight
c. a push
d. good posture at set-up
4. When you change the length of a golf club, which of the following fitting components are affected?
a. Swing weight
b. Total weight
c. Lie angle
d. all of the above
5. By shortening a golf shaft, you are effectively making the club what?
a. Flatter – and lighter
b. More upright
c. Harder to hit
d. Heavier in weight
6. A golfer’s set-up is a good starting point to determine which fitting variable?
a. Lie angle
b. Swing weight
c. Shaft length
d. Shaft flex
7. Which statement best describes a dynamic fit for length?
a. The longest shaft possible while maintaining consistent, solid contact and good posture
b. The shortest shaft possible while maintaining consistent, solid contact
c. The longest shaft
d. The longest shaft possible with good posture
8. If a club is lengthened, the club will feel _____ to the golfer.
9. For a right-handed golfer, which will cause a ball to fly right of the target?
a. A shorter shaft
b. A longer shaft
c. An upright lie angle
10. A common swing compensation for irons that are too long is which of the following?
a. Upright posture at set-up
b. A stronger grip
c. A ball position more back in the stance