The Iron Length Conundrum

After some careful analysis, adopting a modified one club length approach may provide some actual benefit to the common golfer.

Is it hype, or is there substance to the Bryson DeChambeau single length iron concept? The fact he is playing so well andexhibiting real talent and creative skill using a one-plane swing and equipment methods dating back to the early days of golf is striking a chord with golfers across the globe. There is a fascination with the idea because, like it or not, something about it just makes sense. Being intrigued by the single length idea, The Club Fix master builders in Irvine, Calif., began testing the concept. I wanted to write this month about the real world experience we at The Club Fix have had with the single length iron concept.

While the idea of having all of the irons play to the exact same length makes complete sense for DeChambeau, you must keep in mind that his swing plane and swing theory is based on very specific principles. He has honed his ability to swing with tempo and precision while eliminating much of the hand and wrist action typically found. The extra large grips he uses are designed to help take the hands out and allow the big muscles to do the work during the swing. His motion is simple and powerful and single length iron shafts help him to maintain the one plane swing by keeping his posture consistent throughout his set. While this is great for Bryson, it’s not for everyone.Creating a single length iron set is not as simple as just installing shafts of equal length throughout the set. Current manufacturer club head weights get progressively heavier throughout the set in order to interact with incremental length shafts. If you adjust the shaft length without adjusting the head weight, the launch characteristics of each club will change, as well as the feel and playability will suffer. After building numerous sets of single length iron variations, we have found the best results to be a combination of the current method of step down club length and single length. While there are many factors as to why we’ve found a combo approach to work best, the simple answer is that it corrects the problem area within the bags of most players: difficulty making solid consistent contact with their longer irons. I can’t recall ever asking a client the question “what is your favorite iron in the bag?” and hearing a reply of “my 3 or 4 iron.” It’s common however, to hear the answer be 7,8, or 9 irons.

There are couple of primary reasons why many struggle with the long irons – shoulder plane and attack angle. With the low lofted long iron, the tendency is to stand up a little taller at address and, by doing so, the spine angle is more vertical, the rotary motion of the shoulders are more parallel to the ground and the swing plane shallows out. Thus reducing the attack angle of the iron shot. Add into the setup change a need for a smooth tempo to account for the longer shaft, and you get all sorts of inconsistent results.

By creating a single length iron set 3 or 4 to the 6 or 7 iron, and then stepping down in length from there, we have seen an increase in distance and accuracy in the long irons as well as the ability to maintain yardage gapping throughout the set, especially with the scoring irons where yardage gapping is critical. Players are also able to acclimate to the length changes quickly without restructuring their entire game to figure out how far a 37 or 37.5 inch 55 degree sand wedge will fly at all the different 15 minute incremental positions on the back swing position clock.

While we don’t recommend running out and chopping off the end of all your long irons, the concept is certainly one with serious merit. If done properly (with the exact calibrations and club weight adjustments), a single-length set of long irons can help golfers elevate their games.

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