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Are Clubs Too Long?

Frank,

I have enjoyed your questions and answers column for some time.  You have mentioned choking down on the driver and inch or two for control, a.k.a. Anthony Kim.  I have tried this and it works great.  I find though that I slowly go back to holding the club at full length without realizing it.  What is the effect of me shortening the shaft so that I get more consistent?

I should say that I have always been fitted with irons that are 1+ inch as I am tall.  I went with standard length shafts in my most recent set and find my accuracy has improved without any noticeable loss of distance.

--Gerry

Gerry,

Thank you for the kind words about my column.

First, let me tell you I have a 5 handicap, I am almost 6 ' 3" in my golf shoes, and reasonably well proportioned – i.e. not extraordinarily longer arms that usual -- and find that a standard length set of irons works well for my accuracy and control. Many years ago, I tried a ½ inch longer iron set but this didn’t set off any fireworks in my game.

We know that with shorter clubs we have greater accuracy and better distance control. You have probably experienced this when comparing the performance of a fairway wood to a hybrid with identical lofts. In general, the fairway wood (about 42.5 inches long) will hit the ball a little farther with a slightly higher trajectory but with less control than the hybrid (about 40.5 inches long) .

One of the major reasons for the differences in control is the difference in the shaft length of the two clubs. The fairway-wood is about 2 inches longer than the hybrid. The comparably lofted iron is about 39 inches in length, not very forgiving and hard to use for most of us mortals.

Because the hybrid is so much more forgiving than the iron it is the preferred club -- even though it is a little longer --both for control and a little increase in distance.

When it comes to drivers, we have been suckered into buying 45+ to 46 inch long clubs – some of which should come with a snake-bite-kit. Some of the claims of increased distance are confirmed by the occasional super long drive  – this comes with bragging rights for a week or so -- but this can hardly make up for the loss in control and frequent trips into the woods for most of the other strays.

 The pro tour players seem to select drivers, which are on average a little shorter than 45 inches and in Anthony Kim’s case he even chokes down to get the combination of distance and accuracy he finds is most effective.

The reason why I suggested that you choke down on your long driver was to get more control but at the same time remind yourself that that you are not trying to hit a home run. This will allow you to keep your swing under control and on average get better distance and lower your score.

By shortening your driver you will not be able to feel any significant differences in the dynamics of the club compared to when you choked down to the same point. The swing weight scale will reflect the change as will the frequency because of the shorter club.  The only concern I have is that you will always be griping the driver at the end and have nothing to remind you not to give it that wicked 110% full Monty.

Good luck and “swing easy”

Frank