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Wishon: What length should your clubs be?

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The Meat of the Fitting: Putting it all Together to Come up with the Initial Fitting Spec Recommendations

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The information in the blue boxes reveals what observation/measurement inputs are to be consulted to make the decisions for what each of the 12 key fitting specs should be for each different golfer. With 12 separate specs to determine, one might think that it would take a very long time to consider each input, one at a time, to come up with each fitting spec. Not so to the trained and experienced clubfitter.

Here’s why: If you look closely at all the inputs for each of the key fitting specs, you will see that many of the key fitting specs rely on some of the same inputs. For example, the golfer’s transition is a swing characteristic in which the golfer starts the downswing with either a strong/forceful/aggressive move, a smooth/passive/rhythmic move, or somewhere in between.

Once the experienced clubfitter observes the golfer’s transition move to start the downswing, his training leads him to make initial decisions for the length, shaft weight, total weight, swing weight/MOI, shaft flex and shaft bend profile SIMULTANEOUSLY. The key difference between the GOOD clubfitter and the not-so-good one? Multi-tasking!

The good clubfitter not only knows that the transition move reveals a lot of inputs that contribute to the decision for each of these six key fitting specs, but he also knows what direction the golfer’s specific transition move indicates.

The more forceful the transition, the shorter the wood/driver length may need to be. The heavier the shaft weight, total weight and swing weight, the stiffer the shaft’s butt-to-center section may need to be as well in relation to the golfer’s club head speed and shaft swing speed range.

A smooth/passive transition move points toward a possibly longer driver/wood length, lighter shaft weight, total weight and swing weight, and a softer flex in relation to the player’s club head speed and shaft swing speed range.

The not-so-good clubfitter might not know what actual specs are determined by the golfer’s transition force, and he may not even know to observe the golfer’s transition move as an important fitting input to begin with.

The point is this: the best clubfitters not only know what key fitting spec each of the different swing characteristics and fitting inputs point to, they know what specs the inputs point to and they can keep them all circulating in their mind at the same time while they observe and measure the golfer. A proper fitting is NOT done by taking the golfer through each of the fitting specs, one at a time. Proper fitting involves knowing what golfer inputs contribute to what fitting specs and thinking about what each fitting spec should be simultaneously as indicated by each input.

I’ll put it a different way. With knowledge of what golfer inputs indicate what key fitting spec outputs, the very best fitters have a general idea of what the initial specs of the golfer’s test clubs should be by the time the golfer has finished hitting warm-up shots with different clubs. They are observing the golfer’s swing characteristics while he warms up and hits balls on the launch monitor and thinking about what each of the swing characteristics point toward in terms of specific fitting specs.

Now let’s take a quick look at the cause and effect for each input for each of the key fitting specs starting with length.

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The Wrist-to-Floor measurement gives us ONLY a starting point for what lengths will be comfortable for the golfer to prevent him/her from bending over too much, crouching down too much, standing too straight and otherwise putting the golfer into a position that is less than optimal for their stance, posture and swing from a comfort standpoint. The FINAL lengths become a matter of combining the analysis of the other six points in the above chart with this basic credo in mind.

  • The more forceful the transition, the faster the tempo, the more outside-in the swing path, the more upright the swing plane, the more the golfer has problems with off-center hits, and the worse the golfer’s athletic ability, the SHORTER the lengths need to be within the golfer’s comfort level over the ball and in relation to the starting point for length from the wrist to floor measurement.
  • Conversely, the smoother the transition and tempo, the more square to inside-out the swing path, the flatter the swing plane, and the better the golfer’s athletic ability, the LONGER the lengths could be beyond the wrist-to-floor measurement starting point. Remember, it’s COULD BE — not should be — because longer lengths beyond what the swing characteristics and comfort considerations dictate do contribute to a drop in shot consistency, swing repeatability and a decrease in the center hit performance.

The very best clubfitters also know which of each of these seven inputs for length fitting carries more weight with regard to making the final determination for the best lengths for the golfer. In addition, far more thought and analysis is placed on these inputs for driver and wood fitting because of one more basic club fitting credo related to length fitting.

The longer the length beyond what is necessary for golfer comfort and consistent stance/posture position, the more difficult the club will be to swing consistently for EVERY golfer. 

Following is a compilation of additional points about fitting length that we teach to clubfitters to help them become more and more proficient.

  • Not more than 10 percent of all men should ever try to play with a driver length that is longer than 44 inches.
  • Most average male golfers should consider a driver length of 43 inches to 43.5 inches.
  • Virtually no women golfers should try to use a driver length longer than 43 inches, most women should use a driver length shorter than 43 inches.
  • When in doubt, err on the side of shorter length for the driver.

For a male golfer to be correctly fit into a driver length longer than 44 inches or a woman golfer to be correctly fit into a driver length longer than 43 inches, the golfer should possess the following swing characteristics:

  1. Smoother Transition Force and Smoother Swing Tempo
  2. Inside-Out-to-Square Swing Path
  3. Later-to-Very-Late Release
  4. Average-to-Flatter Swing Plane
  5. Above-Average Golf Athletic Ability

The second longest wood should never be longer than 43 inches for men or 42 inches for women — the second longest wood is lowest lofted wood that the golfer can consistently hit for shots off normal fairway lies. More will be covered on this in loft fitting, but you never want to fit a golfer into a fairway wood loft that he/she does not have the ability to get well airborne with good consistency. So for some golfers, their second longest wood might be a 3 wood, but for most and others it may be the 4, 5 or even a 7 wood.

  • If the golfer’s best driver length is shorter than 44 inches, the second longest wood should be 1 inch shorter than the driver. If the golfer’s handicap is more than 15, make the second-longest wood 1.5 inches shorter than the driver.
  • The length increment between fairway woods should not be less than 1 inch. Less can contribute to compressing the distance gap between woods.
  • The wrist-to-floor measurement is a good way to start the length fitting process for the irons or hybrids, but not for the driver or woods. Driver and wood length is purely about what lengths offer the most control, consistency for the golfer’s ability.
  • Being taller than average height does not mean you have to play with lengths that are longer than standard. It is the combination of height + arm length + posture and stance that determines each golfer’s best iron and hybrid lengths.
  • It is the golfer’s swing characteristics and golf athletic ability, however, that determines each golfer’s best driver and wood lengths.
  • Hybrids should be fit to the same length as the irons being replaced with hybrids.

Exception: A hybrid can be longer than an iron of the same loft when the player wants the hybrid to replace a fairway wood.

  • Using 3/8-inch increments between the irons can be good for all golfers to offer more comfort and stance consistency with the higher loft irons to result in better shot consistency and accuracy with the higher loft irons.
  • There is no specific rule for wedge length fitting – golfer comfort and golfer stance/posture is the guide for wedge lengths after the PW. Increments of 1/4 inches, 3/8 inches, 1/2 inch or even same length are all acceptable depending on the golfer’s comfort, stance/posture and manner of play with each wedge.

Related

Tom Wishon

  1. What length should your clubs be?
  2. What lofts should your clubs be?
  3. Face angle is crucial for a proper fitting
  4. The best way to fit lie angle
  5. How to choose the right club head design
  6. Tom Wishon’s keys to set makeup
  7. Getting the right size grip, time after time
  8. What shaft weight should you play?
  9. What swing weight should your clubs be?
  10. What shaft flex should I use?

This story is part of a 10-part series from Tom Wishon on professional club fitting.

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Tom Wishon is a 40-year veteran of the golf equipment industry specializing in club head design, shaft performance analysis and club fitting research and development. He has been responsible for more than 50 different club head design firsts in his design career, including the first adjustable hosel device, as well as the first 0.830 COR fairway woods, hybrids and irons. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: February 2014 Tom served as a member of the Golf Digest Technical Advisory Panel, and has written several books on golf equipment including "The Search for the Perfect Golf Club" and "The Search for the Perfect Driver," which were selected as back-to-back winners of the 2006 and 2007 Golf Book of the Year by the International Network of Golf (ING), the largest organization of golf industry media professionals in the USA. He continues to teach and share his wealth of knowledge in custom club fitting through his latest book, "Common Sense Clubfitting: The Wishon Method," written for golf professionals and club makers to learn the latest techniques in accurate custom club fitting. Tom currently heads his own company, Tom Wishon Golf Technology, which specializes in the design of original, high-end custom golf equipment designs and club fitting research for independent custom club makers worldwide Click here to visit his site, wishongolf.com

55 Comments

55 Comments

  1. Gary

    Feb 2, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    In the 2014 Wishon catalog, there was a 739CCG driver head that was undoubtedly one of the most versatile driver heads I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, it is no longer offered. I do realize that it might have been an economical business decision, but is there any chance that another similar head might come in the future?

    • Tom Wishon

      Feb 5, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      GARY:
      Actually the former 739CCG driver model was not even close to being as versatile as our 919THI family of driver heads! But it was the 739 that taught me we could incorporate a bendable hosel on a driver/wood head so the lie and face angle fitting options could be vastly expanded to fit golfers better and more completely. Truth of the matter is I never liked the 739 all that much once it was all done. Those two large screw ports on that head which were created to accept different weight screws, also had the result of making the sound of impact change too much for my tastes when you switched different screws into the two different holes. I’m real picky when it comes to impact sound with a driver. So while this 739 performed great and those who were fit with it did like it fine, I never liked it. So since I get the final decision on this stuff (!!) I did come to the point that I didn’t want it in our product line anymore. And thus it was out to pasture!

  2. Jack Cheney

    Jan 29, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Tom, please explain MOI as simple as you can?

    • Tom Wishon

      Feb 5, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      JACK:
      There are several MOI’s involved in golf clubs, some which pertain only to the clubhead on its own, then there is the MOI of the whole assembled club. Since you did not specify, I’ll do my best to briefly (Tom being brief about anything???!!!) explain them so I can hopefully help you.

      MOI of the head – there are several different MOI’s that can be measured for a clubhead, but the one that gets the most attention is the MOI that relates to how much the head will twist when you hit the ball off center toward the toe or the heel side of the face. MOI is technically a factor that dictates how much effort is require to put an object in motion to rotate about a specific axis of rotation. For example, the tires on your car have an MOI related to the axis of rotation which is the axle. For a clubhead that axis of rotation is an imaginary vertical line from the top to the bottom of the head through the center of gravity (CG). So when you hit the ball toward the toe or the heel, the head wants to rotate about this vertical axis through the CG.

      A high MOI means that the head has a greater amount of weight that is positioned as far as possible from the axis of rotation through the CG. This can be done several ways – you can make the head much larger in size so the outer areas of the head are farther from the CG. Or you can gather up as much of the head’s weight as possible to place on the very outer edges of the head that are the farthest from the CG. Either way, when you increase the MOI, you make it more difficult for the head to twist when the shot is hit off center. And if the head can’t twist as much, that means you get more energy transferred to the ball from an off center hit, so the distance loss is not as bad. Shot forgiveness in other words.

      The MOI that relates to the whole assembled club is also a pertinent MOI to the performance of the club and has a lot to do with how well any golfer will hit any particular club. Here again, the MOI of the whole golf club is defined as how much effort does it take to put the club into motion to rotate about a specific axis of rotation. In this case the axis of rotation can either be our spine at the base of our neck – or it can be our wrist c o c k release when we unhinge the wrist angle on the downswing.

      Either way, the idea is that there is a specific MOI for the whole golf club that will enable each golfer to swing more consistently, to maintain more control with the club, to have a more repeatable swing tempo and timing. But because golfers are so different in their size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics, the MOI that works best for consistency for one golfer is not likely to be the MOI that works best for some other golfer. So finding the right MOI for the golf club for each golfer is a matter of fitting analysis and going through test club work to find it.

      If you are interested, here is a link to some more information on the MOI of the whole club and how it relates to shot consistency and performance – http://wishongolf.com/clubmakers/matching-golf-clubs-by-moi/

      Hope this helps, and thanks for your interest,
      TOM

  3. Nice

    Jan 22, 2015 at 2:17 am

    Nice shop Tom. Wonder why no one has Wishon clubs? They don’t want them built in a garage, literally.

    • Al Venz

      Jan 26, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      You sir, are an idiot.

    • Tom Wishon

      Feb 5, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      NICE:
      That’s the back end of our warehouse, an addition that we built on to the building so I could have some expanded workshop area to use in my head design, machinery design work. That “garage door” in this phot is where shipments are delivered to our company from trucks. Opposite to that is another door through which the outbound shipments to our customers are loaded on the Fed Ex trucks. We don’t build or make clubs for sale in our company. We ship our designs as components to custom clubmakers around the world who do the fitting and custom building of the finished clubs for their customers. This is simply a workshop for me to do my prototype work, model making, tool prototype work, etc.

    • Rob

      Jan 21, 2016 at 8:25 am

      Obviously, Nice, you have no idea what club fitting is all about.

      You obviously prefer to go to the likes of Walmart where everything is mass produced. The same.

      Perhaps you just drive any old car with no bespoke features, ordered specifically to fit your height, weight or style.

      Would also guess that you bought your clubs off the shelf with minimal “fitting”.

      So where exactly would you expect your “fitting ” to be done?

      In an operating theater? A Laboratory perhaps?

      Ver funny guy!

  4. Shawn K

    Jan 21, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Why do OEM’s lie to us and say longer is better?
    Not one makes a 45″ driver anymore!

  5. EdJ

    Jan 14, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    A lil late to this party…Tom, My most comfortable-consistant iron is the 8. Shaft lgth is right. What would b result if all my irons (5-lob) were same length as the 8??

    • Tom Wishon

      Feb 6, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      Edj:
      Sorry I am a little late to see your comment to respond. Hope you do get back to read this. There is no question that there is a very compelling “argument” in favor of single length irons. When all irons are the same length, every possible element that has an effect on the golfer’s consistency and swing repeatability is as perfectly matched as it can be – same length, same MOI, same total weight, same balance point, same head feel, same lie, same stance/posture. . . everything.

      Problem is, no single length set yet has been able to duplicate the performance and the distance gaps and confidence that so many golfers achieve AND GET USED TO with a traditional half inch increment set. Traditional 4* loft gaps don’t do it. A single length based on a 5 or 6 iron as most do, can cause the golfer to hit the high loft irons too far. No question a few golfers, usually mid to higher handicaps, have done ok with the single length sets out there now. But from the standpoint of the majority of golfers? No, not yet.

      It is impossible to take a set built for normal half inch increments and turn it into a single length set. In your case to make each iron the same length as the #8, you’d have to put a gob of lead tape on the 5, 6, 7 irons and you would have no way to reduce the headweight on the 9 and wedges to match that of the 8. Not to mention your lie angles are all set up in 1* increments based on the half inch length increment – depending on what steel your iron heads are made from, you’d have to bend every other iron’s lie to match that of the 8, and that would be dodgy for the 5 and wedges. And you’d have to change shafts to be able to have all shafts with the same tip trim as in the 8.

      Someday someone will probably figure out how to do a single length set that really can duplicate the performance and the distance gaps and confidence golfers are used to with a traditional set. It would take some clever thinking to overcome the problems of the existing single length sets but it is not impossible by any means. But even so, I suspect that because this is such a departure from tradition, only a handful of golfers would bite on it. It will probably have to come from a smaller company because you can bet the farm that none of the big OEMs would take the risk of spending the tens of millions in marketing that it would take to educate the golfers about it and generate enough demand to offset all the costs.

  6. Pingback: 12 Part Professional Club Fitting Guide - The Golf Shop Online Blog - The Golf Shop Online Blog

  7. James

    Jan 8, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Longest drives I have ever hit are with a 44 inch driver. Easier to hit the center of the face and I feel like I can really swing hard through the ball with that length. Any longer and I start slowing my swing to hit the center of the face. Great article Mr. Wishon.

  8. Joe Golfer

    Jan 8, 2015 at 1:33 am

    Tom, I’d love to see you one day write an article about which type of shaft profile best fits which type of golfer.
    I see so much nowadays about different shaft profiles.
    One says it has a stiff butt, softer middle, and stiff tip. Or vice versa…and so on.
    I am familiar with tip stiffness and which best fits which golfer, but I’ve never heard anyone speak of which type of butt and/or middle stiffness best fits which golfer.
    Hope you write about it some day.

  9. Matthew Carter

    Jan 8, 2015 at 12:02 am

    Great article Tom.
    I am 6’2″ and currently play a 45.5″ driver. Tried one of our club pros driver at the range last week and couldn’t believe the distance I was getting using a 47″ shaft. I have a smooth transition force and swing.
    Didn’t have a lot of time to play w adjustable head but I came away from range session loving the longer driver. Definitely increased my distance by 15-20 yards.

  10. leftright

    Jan 7, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    Shorter driver mean stiffer shaft, considerably stiffer and lighter. A stiff shaft at 44″ will play like an X. Considerable effort would need to be put down to fix the swingweight for most golfers. Weight in the head would make it swing like a sledgehammer so you need weight in the shaft. Hence, why did 43″ drivers of yesteryear swing at D3 or so, because the stinking Dynamic shaft weighs 140 grams at that length. A person would need to go to a heavier shaft with a reduction in stiffness. Do they even make 90 gram graphite driver shafts anymore? That is what it would take to make a modern head swing around D3-4 at 44″ I have tried this and lost considerable distance and accuracy because it takes getting used to.

    • Golfrnut

      Jan 8, 2015 at 2:18 am

      A lot of what you are saying in that statement is untrue. A 44″ driver will play with a stiff shaft will play nothing like an X. The additional weight to bring the SW back up is not that much. Light weight steel shafts are newer technology, more so new techniques have allowed shafts to get light without having to make such a compromise in other areas. So no, you don’t necessarily “need” weight back in the shaft. There gain, nothing says the need to go heavier or lighter in flex.

      If it takes getting used to, then it wasn’t done correctly. Just because you tried it yourself, doesn’t mean that you went about doing it the correct way.

    • Teaj

      Jan 8, 2015 at 8:55 am

      the only way to increase the frequency of a shaft that will make any sort of difference in Flex is to tip trim then install the shaft, simply butt trimming a shaft does not increase the frequency or cycles per minute of the shaft enough to make a change in flex. Also to add to your statement about heaver shafts, installing a heavier shaft will most of the time lower the swing weight even more depending on where the shaft is weighted. So in order to get your SW back up to a D3-4 you will have to add a lot more weight to head which in turn has more effect on shaft frequency then simply butt trimming a shaft. So though you have a shorter shaft if you swing weight it right you can actually be swinging a now shorter shaft at D3-4 but the frequency would measure closer to a Stiff/Regular if you started off with a Stiff shaft that is. Carry the 2….. Numerator …. yep I think I got it all.

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 8, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      Golfnut’s right – even if you take a 46″ driver and cut it down to 44″, that won’t turn the shaft into an X. One reason is because when you cut the butt end of the shaft to shorten the club, you are cutting off a part of the stiffest part of the shaft, which is the much larger diameter butt end. Second is that in most cases when cutting down an existing club, you do have to add weight back to the head to get the headweight feel back up enough that it doesn’t mess up your normal swing tempo and timing. So that addition of some weight back to the head will them have the effect to bend the shaft a little more during the force of the transition move in the downswing.

      As to the old days of 43″ wood drivers all made with the Dynamic shaft – well you are right in saying that all these old drivers were heavy. Too heavy for many of the golfers but that was THE shaft of choice way back then, so pretty much every club company used it. Fortunately that spawned the genesis of research to think up how to use graphite composite to make shafts to get the total weight lighter. And while the early graphite shafts were garbage, they did help the industry learn how to better design composite shafts to get to where we are today with graphites for woods from sub 40g up to over 90g and in every possible bend profile distribution of stiffness to choose from to match your swing characteristics and preference for feel.

  11. Sean

    Jan 7, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    At 6’5″, with relatively short arms, I play a 45-inch driver. As it is, the driver barely reaches my navel. My 4-wood is 43.25 inches, and my irons are longer too. Anything shorter and my irons/wedges are simply too uncomfortable: like I am squatting too much or way to hunched over.

    • Big Bob

      Jan 10, 2015 at 3:56 am

      Sean, I’m 6ft 51/1in and have always played standard off the shelf woods but my irons have always been +1″ and 2 deg up and stiff. These were the Ping fittings of about 20 years ago.

      I will be retiring fully next year and I’m going to get a modern fitting done in the UK, just to see if I need to change anything. I will post when I have done it.

  12. Chris

    Jan 7, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    This was an excellent article, more insightful than anything else I have read I a while. Would there be any reason a person could not switch out there driver shaft with there 3 wood shaft if they had the same adapter. Specifically 65 gram Big Bertha 3 wood shaft for a 60 gram Big Bertha Alpha shaft. An employee of a big box golf store, I will not mention a name, indicated to me that using a 3 wood shaft in a driver could possibly damage your swing.

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 8, 2015 at 12:16 pm

      You really would not want to take a 3w shaft and stick it in a driver, if in fact all you are trying to accomplish is to play a shorter length driver. 3w shafts are tip trimmed traditionally 1 inch more from the tip end than the driver shaft. So that does make it a notch stiffer. The reason this is done in a 3w is because 3w heads are heavier than driver heads, a requirement to get the 3w to the same swingweight at its much shorter length than a driver. So if you put that tipped 1″ shaft from the 3w into the driver, you now have the shaft playing stiffer in the driver than it should be.

      If you want a shorter driver length to test for better consistency and control, start by cutting the length of the present driver shorter from the grip end of the shaft – then add some lead tape to the head to get the headweight FEEL back up to where you can definitely feel the presence of the head as you start the downswing. if you just cut an existing driver shorter and do nothing to the headweight, about 80-90% of all golfers will become less consistent because their tempo starts to get too quick from not having enough headweight FEEL to match to their timing, tempo, rhythm.

      • Kent

        Jan 8, 2015 at 2:29 pm

        Tom, using your above advice, how much lead tape are we talking? If I take 1.25″ off of my driver on the butt end to get it to 44…

      • epyon

        Jan 8, 2015 at 3:04 pm

        Tom,

        Just to confirm, so if we were looking to cut our driver down to play at 44, we should be butt trimming the shaft, not tipping the shaft?

        What if the current shaft we are playing feels a bit soft? Would tipping then be ok?

  13. Jason

    Jan 7, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Tom,

    As a PGA pro I’ve advocated this shorter driver length now for years and have actually built the drivers in my fitting sets with the 3 wood shafts for most average players.
    The problem I’m finding when ordering these from the oems is if your order the driver at 44″ often times they don’t seem to ever be able to get the swingweight back to normal.
    Obviously there is nothing better than custom built golf clubs but that can get costly for the average player. So my question is is when these drivers come in does it hurt to add lead tape to bring the swingweight back up to the “normal” or preference of the player? What does this do to the performance of the shaft?
    I love reading your article spot on thanks for your contributions!

    • Teaj

      Jan 8, 2015 at 9:03 am

      Adding weight will reduce the shaft frequency which means the shaft will play softer, how much weight you add will depend on how much weaker it will play. Tip trimming instead of butt trimming is a better option if you are going to add weight to the head to bring the SW back up.

      Butt Trimming means your taking a length off the shaft which will make it a little stiffer yes but only slightly adding weight negates that and will reduce the stiffness more then your butt trimming will add.

      butt end of a shaft is stiffer then the tip of the shaft so tip trimming has a greater effect on making the shaft stiffer as you are reducing the part that flexes more.

      I think that makes sense.

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 8, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      If the shorter length drivers/woods you may order from an OEM come into you at lower swingweights that leave less headweight feel for the golfer, first off, shame on the OEM for doing that. But that part aside, it is SO IMPORTANT to have the headweight FEEL to be enough that it matches well with the golfer’s sense of timing, tempo, rhythm. Without that, when the headweight feel is too light, the golfer can tend to get too quick and fight his tempo – and from that comes all sorts of inconsistent shots.

      When you add weight to a head to get the swingweight/headweight feel better matched to the golfer, do NOT worry about what is happening to the shaft because that effect is minimal and pales in comparison to the importance of getting the headweight FEEL right for the tempo/timing requirements of each golfer.

      Here’s why – When any company takes a shaft and installs it to a shorter length in a driver, they do that by simply cutting more off the butt end of the shaft. In ALL shafts, the butt end is the stiffest part of the shaft because it has by far the largest diameter. So you’re getting rid of some of the stiffest part of the shaft by cutting from the butt.

      Yes, the shaft now being shorter does mean that it will be slightly more stiff than it was at the longer length. But when you start to add weight back to the head to get the headweight feel up to be a good match to the golfer’s tempo, that added weight to the head now has the effect of forcing the shaft to bend more when the golfer puts bending force on the club when he starts the downswing. Net result is that even if a driver were 2″ shorter with the same shaft cut more from the butt, the change in the stiffness performance of the shaft is minimal. Only if the player were a really aggressive swinging golfer with a VERY late release would there be a case where probably the shaft might have to be re selected based on what happens with a substantial length decrease.

  14. Lancebp

    Jan 7, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Bingo. I’m six feet on the dot and cut all my drivers back to 43.5″ with zero loss of distance and imperceptible loss of club head speed (not my wishful thinking – I have the data). My friends have been convinced by my results. “The new Super Blooper X is 46.5″ inches, a half-inch longer than last year, which means 4 mph greater club head speed and an additional ten yards.” Absolute total BS for 99.9% of the public. One eye-opener was buying a Ping junior 5-iron for laughs ten years ago. It must’ve been at least 10″ shorter than mine – but I hit it only about ten yards shorter.

  15. Matt

    Jan 7, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Sorry if this has been addressed but would the main benefit of a shorter driver shaft, besides control be less “droop”?

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 7, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      No. Main benefit of a shorter driver length from the technical explanation is that the shorter driver then has a much lower MOI for the whole assembled driver – we’re not talking MOI of the head, we’re talking the MOI of the fully assembled club being lower by a lot with a shorter length. Lower MOI of the whole driver means that the driver is putting far less stress or load on the golfer and his swing characteristics. So from this comes more swing consistency, less dramatic swing errors and better control.

      Shaft droop is a non issue for length fitting. Reason is that it is assumed that the golfer will be properly fit into the right shaft stiffness design for his swing speed + downswing tempo/transition force + point of release. Thus if the shaft is fit reasonably well, the droop is “normal” and does not enter into the picture to have any different effect on the performance of the shot.

  16. Jafar

    Jan 7, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Tom,

    I have your book sitting at my work desk as I write this, so I am a huge fan of your work. That being said, I find that drivers closer to 46.5″ to be better for me because it makes the lie angle more upright. I did shrink the club first to 44.5 inches and it was too flat and I sliced everything. With a longer driver I can now fade and more importantly DRAW the ball. Have you seen other golfers not be able to create a draw because they cut their clubs shorter?

  17. Nolanski

    Jan 7, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Ive been reading Tom’s book “The search for the perfect golf club”. Informative stuff. I prefer shorter driver shafts as well. Its frustrating to find a clubfitter who has shorter shafts to try out. I finally found one in SE Michigan but havent made it down there yet.

  18. Regis

    Jan 7, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    I’ve been a fan of Tom’s writings since I bought a few of his books years ago. I do my own club work mostly out of obsession but the funny thing is that my personal preferences after years of tinkering ring true with almost all of the observations he states here. I know what swing weight, length, shaft weight and flex will work for me and which won’t. Keeps me from lusting after new club entries I know I’ll never be able to game.

  19. Tom Wishon

    Jan 7, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    RAT – best thing I can do is to give you the links for the best lists of competent clubmakers here since you are asking for clubfitters in a whole state. Thanks for your interest.

    The AGCP (Association of Golf Clubfitting Professionals) – http://www.agcpgolf.com/locator/

    The ICG (International Clubmakers’ Guild) – http://www.clubmakersguild.com/index.php/membership-directory/guild-google-map

    The TWGT Clubmaker Locator at – http://wishongolf.com/find-a-clubfitter/

  20. DatSliceDoe

    Jan 7, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Excellent piece, extremely informative.

  21. Tom

    Jan 7, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Always informative and controversial topics that lead to great discussions around the table while partaking in adult beverages.

  22. Chuck

    Jan 7, 2015 at 11:24 am

    I have never before heard of a clubfitter recommending a 3/8 inch progression in iron shaft lengths.

    In theory, it makes sense for what I think is a common problem among mid-handicap and/or shorter-hitting recreational players; that problem being that there is not a usable difference in distances hit between irons, and especially long irons. For many years, I have heard smart clubfitters say that recreational players could do well to “lose” at least one of their irons, especially long irons where traditional sets had only a half-inch of length difference, and only 3 degrees of loft difference.

    I agreed with that, and I have always bent my long irons progressively stronger such that I can carry a stronger utility iron as a 2-iron, and everything blended down to 5-iron below that. Giving myself 4-degree gaps, and with a slightly longer 19 degree “3-iron” at the top. (I have always reshafted my iron sets on the short side, keeping with what were standard lengths from decades ago. My 5-iron is 37.625 inches. And yet I am six feet tall with a normal wrist-to-floor measurement.)

    But Tom; if you are doing 3/8 inch gaps between irons in a set, I would think that it would distort swing weights pretty dramatically. And of course, you’d end up “losing” at least one iron in a set, right? Maybe two irons?!?

    I am not doubting the wisdom/motivation for that sort of spread; I just think it raises more questions. And in the end a very different-looking set of golf clubs.

    • Ken Alterwitz

      Jan 7, 2015 at 11:29 am

      I have fit almost 50% of my clients with 3/8″increments in length. Whenever I do that, I make sure to MOI match the set so there are no feelings of “distorted swing weights”.

      • Chuck

        Jan 7, 2015 at 12:05 pm

        So Ken what do such sets typically look like? How many irons in such a set? How do you “MOI match”? What sorts of distance gaps do players seek/realize?

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 7, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      Chuck:

      First off, here’s some information about MOI Matching so you have a little more awareness of it and how it stands as an alternative to swingweight matching of clubs in a set – http://wishongolf.com/clubmakers/matching-golf-clubs-by-moi/

      Of course there will be certain combinations of length + shaft weight + grip weight + headweight that makes it so a particular designated MOI can’t be achieved in making or altering a set to be MOI matched. Trying to do this by converting an existing set made to 1/2″ increments with swingweight matching can be a little more problematic for a clubmaker, especially if the heads are either heavier to begin with or they don’t have any internal weight adjustment capacity designed into the heads.

      But in building MOI matched sets from scratch using heads that do have compatible headweights AND which also have internal weight adjustment capability is how most of the clubmakers like Ken who posted here do MOI matched sets for golfers.

      Part of the reason is because when you take an MOI matched set and you put each club on a swingweight scale, you will see that the swingweights do progress upward from long to short irons in the set. That is one of the natures of MOI matching vs swingweight matching. So that right there is one of the things that allows 3/8″ increments to work and end up with the MOI of all clubs from long to short being able to be the same.

      Read the article at the link I posted and you’ll learn a ton more.

    • Doug Mael

      Jan 28, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      Chuck,

      3/8″ (or 0.4″) length increments are very common when MOI-matching a set of irons. In an MOI-matched set of irons, the swingweights will be progressive from something like about D0 or D1 in the longest iron in the set, up to about D4 in the PW and AW/GW. I generally do this not only in my own irons, but in the iron sets of my clubfitting customers whenever they are agreeable to my doing it.

      I am not sure what you mean regarding “losing” at least one iron in a set. Most MOI-matched iron sets that I have built begin with a 5-iron, built to anywhere between 37.5″ to 38.25″ playing length (this depends on the golfer’s needs, and the length of the longest iron that the golfer can hit well), and progresses to anywhere from 35.5″ to 36.2″ for the PW. For the record, I prefer 0.4″ steps to 3/8″ (or 0.375″) between clubs when I MOI-match an iron set. I find that this generally gets me to an MOI spread of +/- 0.75%, or a total spread of 1.5% or less, throughout the entire iron set.

      For the record, I am a Professional Clubfitter, and a Charter Member of the International Clubmakers Guild, plus a (VERY) active member of the Assocition of Golf Clubfitting Professionals. In my clubfitting career, I have fit more than a couple hundred golfers, with numerous success stories, including numerous holes-in-one, and dramatic reductions in USGA Handicap Indexes, among my customers. I have also done golf club work, including shaft fitting, for one three-time Major winner on the PGA Tour, and at least a half-dozen other PGA Tour golfers, plus numerous golfers currently playing on the Champions Tour.

      I have known Tom Wishon for more than 25 years, and I have ALL of his books in my shop for handy reference (I had to replace one of the books a few years ago because it became very worn). There is absolutely NOBODY in the golf industry who has done more to further the science of golf clubfitting and proper clubmaking practices than Tom Wishon!

      Doug Mael
      Doug’s Custom Clubs / Tour Quality Golf

  23. Chuck

    Jan 7, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Tom I have found all of your writing to be very informative and even persuasive. I don’t know what sort of golfer you are, and it does not matter a bit to me as far as your technical knowledge and opinions are concerned. I presume that you are (like most great teaching professionals whom I know) a very capable golfer who’d be a lot better if you didn’t have to spend so much of your day working on other peoples’ golf games.

    But if you’ll forgive me a personal question, I was wondering if you could tell us what length driver you are playing (and shaft weight) and what length your 5-iron is? And you can elaborate as much as you’d like.

    Thank you so much for your efforts in these GolfWRX contributions.

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 7, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      WAY back before equipment just consumed me to the point I had to pursue this side of the golf business, I started life in the golf business as a PGA club pro. Never good enough to hope to play for a living but I could play and did ok in sectional PGA events. But now thanks to being 64 with hip arthritis and a leftover issue from a really bad crash on a ski hill 10 yrs ago, these days I am unfortunately a little bit north of 80 more often than I wish. Ouch! I can still hit real quality shots, just not as frequently!! HA! But I am still the first person to do test hitting on any of the new head models I design!!

      My driver is 44″ and I am playing one of my shaft designs, the S2S Blue 55g S shaft but with a little higher than normal swingweight to keep me from being too quick with the lighter total weight of the 55g shaft.

      Second longest wood after the driver is a strong 17* 5w at 42″. I can hit a 3w but not nearly as consistently off the deck as the strong 5w, so whatever little loss in distance from the 5w vs a 3w is not a problem when the consistency of the 5w kicks in.

      Thanks much for your interest in the information, for sure.

      5-iron length is 38″, but I do play 3/8″ increments with the irons being MOI matched to each other. 3/8″ increments are much better for allowing more comfort over the ball with the high number irons which means a little better consistency.

      • neil

        Jan 8, 2015 at 12:16 pm

        Hey Tom,

        Was wondering when MOI matching a set, do you MOI match the hybrid, fairway wood and driver? You mentioned your driver was 44 than your 4 wood is 43. so wondering if the swing weights are similar or if they are MOI matched to your set?

        • Tom Wishon

          Jan 8, 2015 at 12:31 pm

          You definitely can do an MOI match for the driver and woods. But what we and the many clubmakers have found who have been working with MOI matching in their fitting work is that the MOI for the woods ends up needing to be about 75 g-cm2 higher than what the best MOI is in the irons for the golfer.

          The reason is because the driver and woods on their own are so much longer in length than the irons on their own. For example, in a typical set of 1, 3, 5 woods and 4 to wedge irons, the length change from the 5 wood to the 4 iron is usually at least in the area of 3″ or more.

          Were clubs to have evolved so that the length increment change from the woods through the irons were always the same exact length change, then you could fit the MOI of ALL the clubs to be the same and be fine in the fit. But because length is such a huge influence on the MOI of a club, and since the way club lengths have evolved is with this bigger length increment between the last wood and first iron, this necessitates that the best MOI for the golfer in the woods is always a chunk higher than what is the best MOI for the golfer in the irons.

          So what most clubmakers who do MOI matching will do is to first find the best MOI for the golfer for his irons. Once found they they start into the MOI test procedure for the woods by test building the wood at an MOI that is about 75 g-cm2 higher than the MOI found to be right for the golfer in the irons. And then they go from there with feedback from the golfer as he hits shots to find the final best MOI in the woods.

  24. epyon

    Jan 7, 2015 at 11:03 am

    This is such a great article! I know have reaffirmed that my driver is way too long at the stock 45.5 inches. I am going to get all my shafts cut down to play at 43.5 now.

    • Dave

      Jan 7, 2015 at 12:18 pm

      Be careful, don’t just go arbitrarily shortening clubs 2 inches, you could then have a swingweight issue and still hit it lousy.

      I’m 6’3″ 250lbs former personal trainer who takes a healthy cut at the ball. I almost always have the shortest driver of anyone I play with. TaylorMade would love you to believe that longer shaft length is more distance because it is on a robot in a testing lab but in practice with humans it usually doesn’t work out that way.

    • Julian

      Jan 7, 2015 at 12:22 pm

      Don’t forget that cutting a 45.5″ driver down to 43.5″ will change the swingweight significantly. the driver was built to play 45.5″ and will feel/perform differently without other alterations. It is best to get fit and order a driver that length so it will be balanced appropriately for you.

    • Josh

      Jan 7, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      Make sure you don’t alter the flex too much, and add lead tape to bring the swingweight back to where it was, unless of course you wouldn’t mind it feeling a little lighter.

      • Josh

        Jan 7, 2015 at 1:55 pm

        and that’s what happens when you leave the article open from before lunch! you get beat to the punch.

    • epyon

      Jan 7, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      I appreciate the input and concern guys! I think I am going to cut down to 44, and see if I like the weight or not. IF it feels too light, ill just add some lead tape.

      Thanks again!

  25. RAT

    Jan 7, 2015 at 10:26 am

    This is very interesting and looking forward to more.
    Please list club fitters you approve of in Tennessee.

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