Q: Why are golf clubs made with different lengths?
A: I have been asked many times over the past fifteen years how I came up with the concept of single-length golf clubs. The fact is that I did not come up with the concept at all since at one time it was the standard in the golf industry. I first became acquainted with the idea through an elderly gentleman whose father was in charge of MacGregor Golf Company’s design team back in the 1920s and 1930s.
He explained to me that all sets of golf clubs were custom built to the same club lengths (irons all the same length and fairway type woods all the same length) prior to the introduction of steel shafts (invented in 1910 and legalized in 1926). Prior to that time hickory shafts were the norm and golf clubs were custom fitted/built to a single-length within a set based upon the static measurements of the individual golfer (wrist-to-floor measurement). The production and tuning of hickory shafts as well as the rest of the club making process was very time consuming and demanded the skills of highly experienced club makers. Obviously, this was an expensive process and could only be afforded by the wealthy which is why golf originally got the reputation as being a sport for the very rich and affluent members of society. The advent of the steel shaft changed all of this since sets of golf clubs could now be mass produced very cheaply in factories using unskilled workers. Large sporting goods manufacturers (including MacGregor), lured by the huge untapped market for inexpensive sets of golf clubs, jumped in to bring golf to the masses. The only stumbling block was that they could not mass produce these sets while providing single-length custom fitting for each individual customer.
The solution came when it was decided to abandon custom fitting entirely and instead incorporate a 1/2 inch incremental club length and lie angle progression between successive irons and woods. That way, regardless of the size of the customer, there would be one or two clubs within a set that would come close to fitting them (a boon to mass production but a serious detriment to the unsuspecting golfer). In other words, the incremental lengths and lie angles in a set of conventional golf clubs today are the result of a profit motivated mass production decision made in the 1920s and not based upon any golfing performance criteria whatsoever. This is how the golf club industry has operated ever since. The fact is that the big-name brands rely on mass production and cannot possibly custom fit a set of clubs for every single customer. It should be noted that hickory shafted golf clubs were also mass produced to a much lesser degree and is why you may find some of these antique sets with varying club lengths.
You can study any book or other treatise on golf club design and find the reasoning for loft/lie angles, bounce angles, bulge/roll, and all other golf club design specifications, but you will never find a reason given for varying club lengths. Why? Because there is no valid reason based upon solid golfing criteria. It is simply a mass production remedy.
Q: Can’t I just cut my existing golf clubs to the One Iron Golf System recommended length or just grip down on the clubs instead of buying a new set?
A: It is not possible to build or convert a set of golf clubs for single-length play using conventional club-heads. There is very little in common between our club-heads and conventional club-heads. Our club-heads are of equal weight (whereas conventional club-heads are progressively weighted in 7 gram increments from the #3 iron through the wedges) and ours have the exact same amount of offset (3.175mm) and bounce angle (3º bounce angle on every iron with the exception of the SW which has a bounce angle of 6º). As you are aware, bounce angles and offsets vary widely from club to club throughout a set of conventional irons which is disastrous when building a single-length set. Since you are dealing with a set of single-length irons it is imperative that you have a consistent loft angle progression between successive clubs (ours is 4º whereas conventional loft angles vary in progression throughout the set). Also, since you cannot adjust the lie/loft angles of conventional irons without creating stress fractures in the hosel, and certainly cannot bend them over 2º without snapping the hosel, it becomes impossible to modify a set of conventional iron club-heads for single-length play.
Q: You build your golf clubs using the wrist-to-floor measurement to determine the correct club length. How does this work?
A: It is based upon trigonometry. At the point of ball impact in the downswing the golfer’s wrist, ground, and club head form a right triangle. Assuming an ideal swing posture, there is a mathematical relationship between the golfer’s wrist-to-floor measurement while standing and wrist-to-ground measurement at ball impact. We know the optimum lie angle for the irons and fairway woods as well as the length of one side of the right triangle based upon the mathematically factored wrist-to-ground distance at impact. This gives us the measurement of two angles and the length of one side. Therefore, we use trigonometry to solve for the hypotenuse (club length), for the individual. This is somewhat oversimplified as we factor in shaft deflection and numerous other factors. The fitting formula that we developed produces the correct golf club length for anyone regardless of height, arm length, etc.
Q: You say that an oversize grip enhances the golfer’s accuracy and power. Explain.
A: Fly rod fishing is a sport dependent on extreme accuracy and the loading of power in the fly rod shaft. Fly rods are not built with the small diameter type of grip found on a golf club, but rather, with a grip that provides the optimum surface contact between the fisherman’s hand and the fly rod to promote tremendous control and the transfer of force to the fly rod. The standard grips used in golf create a very weak link in the chain of power transfer as well as a distinct loss of control. In fact, there is no other sport that utilizes such a small grip when connecting the hands to the involved equipment for this very reason.
Q: Since your irons are the same length, what are the distance gaps between the individual irons?
A: They are the same as you would experience with any set of golf clubs based upon the individual golfer. Bear in mind that in a standard set of irons there is a 1/2” incremental length difference between each successive club. This 1/2” has absolutely no affect on distance. The only factor that affects distance between irons is the loft angle of the club face.
Q: I play Natural Golf. They claim that the lie angle must be more upright and the length of the club longer. Also, they use a non-tapered grip. How does this relate to the One Iron Golf System concept?
A: 1 Iron single-length irons are not method specific and are played and recommended by conventional PGA instructors as well as single-axis, PPGS, Stack and Tilt, and other swing method instructors and advocates. Regardless of the swing method used the ideal position of the body, wrists, and arms are identical at the point of ball impact. Simply put, it is not important how you get to the ideal impact position as long as you end up in the ideal impact position. To give a perfect example, Jim Furyk has the most unorthodox swing in golf yet at impact he is in the exact same position as Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, etc., and is the reason for his success.