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one length irons

One Length Irons: FAQ

I have written a huge amount about one length irons and, as a point of difference from most of what you can read on the net, it is from my personal experience. I thought it might be useful to create a Frequently Asked Questions section where those who are looking for an answer to a specific question can find the information they need and links to some of my more in-depth articles and reviews about everything one length. I will add to this FAQ progressively, especially as other questions come in either through comments or email. Hopefully it will be useful and please don’t hesitate to post a comment if something isn’t clear.

The One Length Irons Frequently Asked Questions

What Exactly are One Length Irons?

The answer is probably a little more complicated than you might think, but essentially a one length or single length iron set involves all the irons in the set being the same length, head weight and lie. There are some sets which use a different lie (one of the previous generations of Cobra irons) and sometimes offset will vary, but essentially the irons are all going to be the same and usually based around 7 iron length, although this too can vary.

Are Cobra the only manufacturer?

Definitely not! Cobra is the most high-profile manufacturer, but there are far from alone and certainly were not the first company to make one length irons. They sponsor Bryson Dechambeau who is the only high-level pro using single length at the moment and as such they base a lot of their marketing around single length. Bryson started out with a set (or rather sets) of Edel irons before signing for Cobra and Edel make one of the most high-end sets of single length irons in the market place. There are also a host of component companies that are lesser known which produce single length. These range from terrible to extremely high quality. At the better end, would be something like the Pinhawk irons from Value golf for example.

Are they suitable for beginners?

Short answer is yes. One of the difficulties that some golfers have when trying out single length is that they are used to playing variable length clubs and visually a seven iron length 4 iron or whatever can be a bit strange. For a beginner who has little to no experience with “normal” clubs, starting out with single length makes a lot of sense and could potentially reduce the time needed to “find a swing.”

Can you get one length hybrids?

Yes, and you can actually get complete one length hybrid sets, although I have not tried them personally. I do know people who have kept a one length hybrid in the bag even though they don’t play with a one length set, simply because they tend to be very easy clubs to hit. When you are hitting into a longer par three or need something very safe off the tee, they do a very good job. Visually, some people won’t like them because they find that they look like a children’s club. It can be a solution to those harder to hit lower-lofted single length irons though (see below).

Do any pros use them?

one length irons

Essentially, just one. Bryson Dechambeau. Given his somewhat unusual approach to all things golf, he might not encourage many people to actually give them a try though. I have heard of pros on lower-level and regional circuits using them but I really don’t think it is very common at all.

Do you play with single length irons?

Currently, no. I have played with and owned four different sets of single length irons. They were the Cobra Forged One irons, The Wishon Sterling irons, and two sets of Pinhawk irons. I liked them all a lot. As you might know, I love irons in general and am never looking for “that one set.”. I will undoubtedly put another set in the bag at some point though. If you are interested, my current main bag is a classic set of mizuno mp 64s and the back up bag has a set of butter knife blades from the 1950s! Next year, who knows?

Who makes the best one length irons?

I would guess that nobody has tried all the different sets out there in order to give this question the answer it deserves. This answer is based partly off my personal experience and tastes and partly off what I have heard from other golfers. That being said, if I could go for any one length set, I would go Edel. I don’t know if their irons are necessarily any better per se than others, but I have heard so many good things about the Edel fitting process for all clubs that I think the results would be something I would enjoy. This, combined with the look of the Edel clubhead might put them top of my wishlist. Next would be a set of Wishon irons because I believe that Wishon-designed heads are very good and a set built by a quality fitter would be excellent. On the same level as this, I would happily get another set of Pinhawk irons. I have never had anything other than great customer service and on-spec clubs from Aaron at Value golf and the price point is excellent. As someone who has tried quite a few combinations of grip/shaft and specs, I could order exactly the set-up I want. This might be more difficult for a beginner or someone who has less experience with clubs. After would be something from Cobra. I have nothing against Cobra clubs, simply the current iterations of their single length don’t really suit my eye. They are, in my opinion, aimed squarely at the beginner/high handicapper market and I currently don’t really like the chunky/colourful look that goes with it. If I were to find a set of the Cobra One Forged (first generation) that would be a different story because these might be the best-looking single length iron heads out there in my opinion. Finally, I would pick up any of the sets from a reputable component company if I were just looking to try out the single length concept without spending a fortune.

Do wedges go too high/too short?

This is quite a common worry for single length adopters. In my personal experience, I find that the short irons and wedges do go very high, but the distance is absolutely fine. Visually, this can be somewhat off-putting though. I tend to hit the ball very high with most clubs and I am used to seeing the ball flight go through this particular window but if this isn’t your case, it can take some getting used to. On the monitor, my spin numbers with single length are definitely bigger than with normal clubs. The question I tend to ask here though, is “does this matter?” and even “is this actually I good thing?” This is clearly player-dependent, but for the average lower ball hitting, lower spinning amateur, higher and spinnier with short irons might not be a bag thing. Of course, if you are sucking your wedges back off the green every time, this might not be the best thing for you.

Do they all go the same distance?

No. There is an oft-cited stat in one length literature that loft accounts for 80% of distance. This is often used to justify the slightly different lofts in a single length set compared to standard. I don’t know if this is true, or honestly, even how it can be measured. In my experience, gapping was basically the same in every single length set I have played compared to every variable length set. This means that it is really dependent on the build quality of the set. I have seen off the rack sets from the big manufacturers which have specs that are well outside the tolerances we might expect and the result is gapping that is fairly bad. If your six iron and your seven iron have the same loft, they will probably go the same distance!

A single length set that is made to respect the tolerances will have proper gaps through most of the set. Where this isn’t the case is often towards the “longer” irons. Personally, I found that a single length four iron didn’t fly any further than a single length five iron. It simply went lower. People will say that this is because of club length. They might be right, but I think that it is far more to do with loft. An inch of club length difference will cost a little bit of swing speed and distance but a far bigger problem is the inability of most of us to hit an iron approaching 20 degrees (maybe even 25 degrees) of loft.

This is the case, both in single length and variable. The smart solution for most people is to look at hybrids (whether single length or variable) or even fairway woods for this part of the bag.

Is it really always the same swing?

It can be! This is something of a contentious issue. People get very caught up on the identical aspect of single length. I like to remind them that golf is all about hitting the ball in a variety of different situations and lies. I mean really, how many stock full shots do you hit with an iron off a flat lie during a round? Probably not that many. Personally, when I have single length irons in the bag, I enjoyed gripping down, hitting punch shots, moving the ball around my stance and so on.
While some might say this negates the point of one length irons, I beg to differ. The body is hugely adaptable. However, the confidence aspect of pulling what is essentially the same club from the bag for every (iron) shot is, to my mind, huge. I really believe that this is one of the biggest advantages. Being on the practice tee and being able to really ingrain a swing and feeling because It is essentially one club is a bit advantage.

Are the long irons harder/easier to hit?

The “long” irons (lets say 3/4/5) are always going to be harder to hit in any set. This is certainly because they are longer for starters and having a shorter 37″ 4 iron will make it easier to hit the middle of the face compared to a 38.5″ 4 iron. In this sense, one length is easier. However, this is only part of the story. Honestly, as I said above, I think a four iron is a fairly useless club for a lot of golfers and this is true in single length too. In fact, the slight reduction in length can add to the problems because the reduction in club head speed is going to make it even more difficult to elevate the ball.

There is one caveat here. I think a single length iron used as sort of driving iron is a great cub in certain circumstances. If you are playing onto a dry fairway, especially one that is a bit tight, standing on the tee with a shorter 3 or 4 iron is great. It will be easier to middle the ball and even though it probably won’t do high, it will roll and almost certainly stay in play and out of trouble. In other situations, I would head towards either a hybrid or wood though.

Can I play standard length wedges?

Of course. I did this with every single length set I owned and it wasn’t actually to do with the length aspect. In fact, given my height, having a seven iron length wedge was an absolute joy! I loved hitting full shots, even with the SL sand wedge and also quite liked certain pitch and chip shots. Where I am not so convinced by single length wedges is in the bunkers, in rough and hitting any sort of “specialty” type shot. The reason, for me, was more to do with weight than anything.

For example, the head weight on the last set of pinhawk irons I had was, from memory, around 275g at 37.5 inches long. This is basically a standard seven iron and the swingweight felt absolutely fine. However, it felt light when I was in the bunker, as if I wouldn’t be able to explode the ball out. The same thing was true in the rough. Now this was almost certainly mental, but as is often said, the most important part of the game is played between the ears.

So for me, I would play single length as full shot clubs, perhaps down to a pitching wedge or maybe even a gap and then go to a standard sandwedge. I had no issues at all doing this and it is an approach that many take. I know other people prefer to keep everything the same. The point is, it doesn’t’t matter and both approaches work.

Do two length irons exist?

Yes. The only current set that I know of is the Vertex irons from Value golf. I haven’t tried these, but I would guess they would be a nice set judging from the Pinhawks from the same company. There was a company called, I think, Simpleton Golf that had the same idea a few years ago, but I don’t know if they still exist. I have also heard of people ordering custom sets by combining a standard length and single length set up, from Cobra for example.

This might mean having 3/4/4/6 all at 6 iron length and then using standard shorter irons. I actually like the other approach, meaning having standard longer irons and then everything from 7 iron to say wedge the same length as the 7. This works for me because I am tall and means that I can have over length short irons without my long irons being ridiculously long.

Once again, the point is that there are no hard and fast rules, despite what some zealots will tell you. The other interesting thing here is that this approach is far more common than you might think, even in the bags of very good players. For example, a lot of good golfers might have 9 and wedges at the same length. Or 3 and 4 iron. It is, in my opinion, an idea that has merit for a lot of golfers.

Who thought of this first?

This is a more difficult question to answer than you might think and I am not sure anyone knows. Here are some things that is the case.

Before the advent of steel shafts, having clubs that were the same length was actually quite common. It is said that having varying lengths was simply a way to streamline the manufacturing process and give the idea of an approximately fitted set of clubs to the masses without the expense and time of custom-fitting. There is no particular scientific reason for having the standard half inch increments between clubs. Simply, half an inch steps, 7g/8g head weight differences and 0.5 lie differences from club to club keeps the swingweight of the club more or less the same. And there will be at least a club or two which probably suits most golfers somewhere in the set.

In terms of sets that have been manufactured as single length, the first really well-known version is probably the Tommy Armor EQL irons. I haven’t tried these (they are notoriously hard to find) but they were slightly different compared to more modern single length sets because they were based off a six iron length and also didn’t have the same specs in terms of lie, head weight and offset for example which didn’t really give the same feeling throughout the set.

I got my first set about ten years ago, and it was the first version of the Pinhawk irons and these were certainly some of the first easy to buy single length sets. The only other set that I know of before this that was available were David Lake’s 1iron golf irons.

Do I have to have a single plane swing too?

This seems like a strange one to me. Sure, Bryson has one might be considered a single plane swing. I do have a few reservations about whether single plane actually means anything at all, but the type of swing you have is nothing to do with playing a single length set or not. And why should it? In fact, almost the opposite is true. A swing, however idiosyncratic, that works with one iron will work with a set of irons that have the same specs. This is just common sense. If you want to be try to copy Bryson or go down the whole Moe Norman/single plane rabbit hole, that’s great but you can go just as well with a Jim Furyk/Octopus in a phone box swing.

Can I just cut down an old set of irons?

Obviously, you can and some people have done this. If you cut everything down to be 7 iron length and lengthen the shorter irons to the same length, so will have a single length set, at least on the surface. However, these will play nothing like a set that is made for one length. Head weights will be hugely different. The short iron heads are going to be maybe 50g heavier than the head of the longest iron. This is going to feel very strange.

Maybe you can add huge lumps of lead tape to your four iron, but you really can’t cut away 30g of weight from your wedge. Even if you do, the lies are going to be hugely different which will have a massive effect on ball flight, if nothing else.

If you want to learn a bit more about this, there is a from Cobra where they were making the first prototype irons after signing Bryson. Clubs were cut in half, had huge slabs of metal soldered on, were bent upright, often breaking. It really isn’t something that you can do in the garage. Some people have tried, but very few have found something workable.

Hopefully this answers a lot of the questions that you might have. If you would like to see anything added, just leave a comment below and I will get on it asap.

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