If you’re a golf fan, then you have certainly heard the name Bryson DeChambeau. In just a couple of years as a PGA Tour Pro, he has amassed an impressive five wins, played on the Ryder Cup team, and seems to always contend in the biggest events. While Bryson’s resume and outfits set him apart, what makes him truly unique is the fact that he plays with irons that are all the same length. Holding a physics degree from Stanford it should come as no surprise that he developed the set through meticulous study of Golf Machine swing theory and scientific application. His success alone has caused even recreational golfers to reconsider their iron makeup. The question remains, are single length or standard irons best for you?
Single Length Irons
Single length irons were first used by Bobby Jones and later by Moe Norman. Though he only played the single length set for a brief period, Jones is considered by many to be one of the greatest players ever. Norman, on the other hand, was a legendary ball striker who is said to have been able to cover a blanket with range balls from 200 yards. He played single length clubs his entire life.
The first single length irons that gained popularity in the U.S. were introduced by Tommy Armour in 1989. The EQL irons were all 7-iron length (37”) and had lie angles of 61 degrees. Even though these irons were the talk of the PGA Merchandise Show, amateurs quickly found that they hit all the irons similar distances and club returns left Tommy Armour in financial ruin.
Since then, numerous companies have produced single-length irons including 1Iron Golf, My Ostrich Golf, Value Golf, Gria Golf, Edel Golf, Single Swing Golf, Diamond Tour In1Zone, Integra i-Win, Zynk Golf, Sterling Golf and Cobra-Puma Golf. Of these companies, Cobra-Puma Golf who sponsors Dechambeau, has been the most successful.
The simple theory of single length irons is that since they are all one length, you can make the same swing with every club. While this sounds great in theory, in practice many people think the short irons will go too far and the long irons won’t go far enough. While this was certainly the case with Tommy Armour’s EQL irons, modern single length iron designs incorporate varied lofts and progressive weighting systems allowing players to hit each club a different distance.
How Do You Get Fitted for Single-Length Irons?
Cobra-Puma Golf leads the way in fitting for modern single length irons. To start, a Cobra club fitter will ask you to hit a number of shots with your standard length 5-iron, 7-iron and 9-iron. Then you will hit some shots with the same numbered clubs in the single length set. Once the club fitter has enough information they will be able to custom fit a set to your game and swing.
Pros and Cons of Single Length Irons
The benefits of single length irons were hard to see when they first came to the market 30 years ago. As technology and design have improved, however, many players say that having irons that are all the same length allows them to make one swing consistently and eliminates variables like changing ball position and posture. Proponents also say that the long irons are much easier to hit than standard irons simply because they are shorter in length.
If you’re used to playing with standard irons that vary in length, you might have a hard time adjusting to single length irons. As an example, your pitching wedge may seem too long and your 4-iron too short. Additionally, some players still maintain that their yardages with different clubs are too close together. This leads to big yardage gaps at both the bottom and top of the set.
Standard Length Irons
When golfers in Endinburgh, Scotland published the first formal rules of golf in 1774, golf clubs were recognized by name instead of number. Terms like mashie, niblick, cleek, spoon, brassie, and baffie were used to describe clubs meant to be used in different situations. These clubs had hickory shafts and varied in length with the thought that shorter clubs went shorter yardages and longer clubs went farther.
The materials used in irons and design features have continued to evolve to the point that irons of today resemble virtually nothing of the irons from centuries ago. With terms like perimeter weighting, center of gravity and moment of inertia, there’s no doubting that modern standard length irons are designed to make the game easier and more enjoyable for players of all levels.
Standard length irons have been developed to allow golfers to hit shots different distances with different clubs. Physics dictates that the longer a club is, the faster it can be swung and the farther the ball will go. Conversely, the shorter a club, the shorter it will go. Though most irons vary in length, they are designed with strategic lofts and lie angles that allow players to evenly stagger their yardages throughout their bag.
How Do You Get Fitted for Standard Length Irons?
Standard iron fittings are crucial to making sure your clubs are tailored to your game and swing. To begin a fitting, a PGA Professional will measure the length of your arms and the distance from your fingertips to the ground when you’re standing straight up with your arms at your sides. These measurements help dictate the proper length of clubs you need.
Next, you’ll be asked to hit some shots with either a 6-iron or 7-iron of your choice. By observing your ball flight, the fitter will be able to establish a baseline of what type of club performs best for you.
Once you’ve found an iron and shaft you like, you’ll be asked to hit some shots off of a lie board to determine how the sole of the club interacts with the ground at impact. This allows the fitter to determine your proper lie angle.
Pros and Cons of Standard Length Irons
The most obvious benefit of standard length irons is that there are literally thousands of options to choose from. Whether you want a forged or cast club, graphite or steel shafts, clubs built for distance, or clubs that give you control, your options are limitless and there is surely an iron and shaft combo that fits you.
The other side of the coin is that having so many options can be overwhelming and leave you feeling lost on your search for the perfect irons. That’s why doing some preliminary research and enlisting the help of an expert club fitter are key.
Even though instructors tell you to make the same swing with every club, the reality is that your swing is going to vary depending on the length of the club in your hands. That’s why you might hit your pitching wedge more consistently than your 4-iron. Unless you’re having a great day, chances are you’re going to hit some inconsistent shots throughout your round.
Are Single Length or Standard Length Irons Best for You?
As single length irons have gained popularity in recent years the debate about which is better has intensified. Deciding which type of iron is best for you depends on a few factors.
Are you a player that likes to tinker with equipment and is always looking for the latest technology to improve your game? Or are you more of a traditionalist that has become accustomed to standard length irons? Are you an effective iron player with your current set, or could you stand to benefit from being able to make the same swing with every club and eliminate variables like ball position and posture?
These are questions that only you and an expert club fitter can answer. If you’re a beginning golfer and still trying to develop solid fundamentals and swing habits, giving single length irons a shot might not be a bad idea as they allow you to make one swing with every club. If you’re a seasoned player, on the other hand, then single length irons might take some getting used to and you could sacrifice a period of good golf as you try to learn a different set of clubs.
The jury is still out on whether single length irons are going to revolutionize the game of golf as we know it or not. While there hasn’t been any earth shattering science that says they make the game easier for everyone, there isn’t any information to suggest that they are total bogus either. One thing is certain though, you won’t know if single length irons are right for you until you give them a try. If you find that they allow you to hit more consistent shots, then great; but if not, then there are plenty of options of standard length irons that can be suited to your game.