If you are looking to take the plunge into the world of single length irons, well done. It isn’t the only way to play the game by any means, but as someone who has had a few one length sets over the years, it is one of the simplest. Every iron being the same, from length to head weight, certainly makes for a more consistent set up. There is one thing that not many people talk about and that is the question of how long to make single length irons.
One Length Doesn’t Mean One Length!
The first thing to say is that having a single length iron set still gives you plenty of choice. Although many golfers order “off the rack” there really is no reason to do this nowadays if you are buying new (or even second hand actually). If you were ordering a standard length set form anywhere, whether online or off, you can take advantage of a good range of shaft options, lie angles, grip choices and of course shaft lengths. Why should this be any different for a one length set? It shouldn’t.
I have actually played around with length in my various single length iron sets. I have actually been everywhere from 36.5 inches all the way up to the 38. I will explain why I did this, what I prefer and what might work best for you, depending on a few different factors.
There are many reasons for giving this single length set up a try and I have talked about them often as well as reviewing some of the clubs out there in detail and comparing a couple of the most popular options. I don’t necessarily want to go over all that ground again here so feel free to check those articles out if you want more information or leave a comment and I will try to answer your questions as best I can.
Is the Seven Iron Everyone’s Favourite Club?
Ultimately, one of the big selling points is having all the irons feel like an iron that most people hit well, the seven iron. The logic for this is fine and makes sense. A seven iron is probably going to be comfortable for 90% of golfers so that means building the whole iron set at this length, lie and swingweight as well as headweight really is going to be OK for most of us.
Although there is no such thing as an industry standard, most seven irons are going to be 37 inches long, give or take, and perhaps 62 degrees of lie (although this can definitely vary) with a head weight of around 270-275 grams. Making all the other irons fit in with this is probably going to work.
This doesn’t make it the best choice though. For example, I can play perfectly well (or at least as well/badly as usual) with all sorts of specs. Absolute bog standard with a regular steel shaft is fine. This isn’t really the best for me though because I am very tall. My current iron set is about an inch over standard and this is certainly more comfortable, especially on the short irons.
If you are like me, you might want to try over length single length irons too. That sentence sounds very strange when I read it back, but I think it makes sense! The first set of single length irons that I played was the Pinhawk irons from value golf. I played these at 37.5 inches, or half an inch long. This, along with choosing a grip and shaft that I liked as well as tweaking the lie, gave me a very nice set of irons for the taller golfer.
Club Length isn’t Just About Height
However, it isn’t all a question of feet and inches/cm depending on where you are from. For example, i also played Tom Wishon‘s Sterling irons. Before trying them, I had a bit of back and forth with Tom via email and he made some very good points to help me choose my specs, especially length. This isn’t surprising because he is one of the smartest men in the golf industry.
The Sterlings are a very nice set that uses a few different ways of getting the best out of the single length thing. For example, he used high COR faces on the longer irons. This made the ball ping off the face and compensated for the shorter shaft in order to achieve launch and distance.
The standard length for the Sterlings is 8 iron length, 36.5 inches. They are sometimes built longer, but rarely any more than 37.5 inches. I asked Tom whether it would be possible to get them at 38 given my height. His answer was interesting and gave me a different perspective on club length throughout the bag. *He said that it was technically possible to do this, but why?
He made the very good point that even longer irons sets generally have a 36.5 inch club in them and all standard sets will almost certainly have a 37-inch club. This might “only” be the pitching wedge or nine iron in an over length set, but it is still there are is still playable. Given that it is playable and probably even comfortable for the vast majority of golfers, even tall ones like me, why make everything 38 inches? It makes the clubs harder to hit and isn’t going to add a large amount of distance.
Gripping Down on your Clubs
The other thing that you might like to consider is how you actually hold your clubs. The next step in my single length journey was a 38-inch set. This might seem contradictory given what I have just written, but I was probably playing these at 37 inches. I was, at that point, choking up on the club with all my irons because I felt like it gave me a lot of control. If you tend to play like this, you might want to order a single length set that is slightly longer too, regardless of height.
On the other hand, if you prefer the feel of the butt of the club in your hand as you swing, a shorter club is going to make more sense. The fact that you have a single length iron in your hands isn’t going to change how you actually grip it.
There is a tendency to order single length longer than most of us would because people fear losing distance with a shorter shaft. For example, a 5 iron that is 7 or 8 iron length feels very short and a lot of golfers think that it won’t get enough distance.
In my opinion, you shouldn’t order longer clubs for this reason. Any distance that I lost on my five iron through club length was more than compensated by the fact that I was hitting the middle of the face more often and actually swinging a little faster because I had more confidence.
So where does this leave us? I think that a single length set for moth golfers should be longer than 38 inches and possibly a little shorter. On the other end of the spectrum, I wouldn’t go below 36 even for short golfer because very few golfers will struggle hitting the middle of a club 36 inches long.
As always, it is good to try before you buy but with single length it can actually be quite hard to get anything that isn’t standard as a trial club.