If you want to keep your shins protected in the rain, you wouldn’t go out and buy a pair of shorts. If you want to keep your arms warm all the way down, you wouldn’t go out and buy a T-shirt.
So why some golfers regularly go out and buy the wrong length of shaft on their golf club is at first a complete and baffling mystery.
If your shaft length is wrong, there’s every likelihood your stance will have to be wrong so that you can at least address the ball.
If your stance is wrong, ultimately your form is going to be wrong, and the precise swing that gives you the best, loftiest, and most precise shots is going to be something semi-comical at best, and physically damaging at worst.
Get – and really, there’s no overstating the importance of this – the length of your golf club shafts right.
Ok, so – how? How do you know what the ideal length of your club shaft should be?
The Golden Variables
Believe it or not, it’s actually astonishingly straightforward to find out how long your club shaft should be.
You’re going to need the following equipment for this life-changing experiment:
- 1 x Golfer with a decision to make.
- 1 x Wall, of at least a few more inches in height than the aforementioned clubless golfer.
- 1 x reliable tape measure, again of at least a few inches more height than the increasingly perplexed golfer.
- 2 x Hands, belonging to the now moderately concerned golfer.
- 1 x Convenient means of recording data, determined circumstantially. Can be anything from a smartphone to notepad and pencil, to granite slab and chisel. No judgment, you do you.
- 1 x Well-meaning and competent friend or family member.
- Step 1: on the road to correct shaft length golfing: Stand the golfer up against the wall, ideally in ordinary or golf shoes. Get the friend or family member to use the tape measure to accurately identify the height of the golfer. Note down the height. If you’re using a granite slab and chisel at this point, maybe put on a pot of coffee, make a sandwich, do some Pilates…
- Step 2: Stand the golfer against the wall again (or still, if you have a relatively rapid means of recording data). Advise the golfer to relax their shoulders and let their arms hang down. Note the point at which the hands join the wrist. Measure the distance from that point to the floor. Note down the distance.
You now have the golfer’s height and their wrist height from the floor. With these two crucial pieces of data, you have all you need to calculate the correct shaft length for the golfer.
OK… not to sound like an echo, but… how?
The Short, the Tall, and the Standard
Ok, you got us. You actually need one other important piece of equipment. You need a reference chart to feed those numbers into, otherwise they’re just moderately interesting, rather than useful.
Here you do:
|Height of Golfer (feet/inches)||Wrist-To-Floor (inches)||Club Length Adjustment From Standard|
|6’8” and over||More than 42”||Add 2”|
|Under 4’10”||Under 25”||Subtract 2”|
With this kind of chart, you should now be able to plot where you stand on the height and wrist-to-floor scale, and from there to understand what you need to do to find your ideal shaft height.
Ready Reckoning All the Way Down
It used to be the case that the calculations had to be done simply on the basis of your height, and then you’d have to work out a sliding scale from the driver all the way down the wood, hybrid, and iron scale.
But with the addition of that second variable – the height of your wrist from the floor at rest – and by the use of standard length as a mid-point, you should be able to instantly find the action you need to take when faced with standard length clubs.
Because the wrist-to-floor height and the standard length for each club work here as more or less “magic” variables, you can keep the process as simple as possible and still end up with the right club shaft lengths for your dimensions.
Posture, Posture, All is Posture
The simple height and wrist-to-floor measurements, in conjunction with the ready reckoning standard club shaft length chart, are useful in getting you what should be the right length of shaft to give you effective play.
But that doesn’t take into account other factors which could be keeping you from getting a proper address on the ball, an effective swing, or a practical follow-through.
Once you’ve got the right length of club shaft, see whether your shots improve noticeably. If they do, great – we’ve figured out what the main problem was.
If not, be prepared to do further work on addressing your posture. After all, if you’ve had the wrong club shaft length up until now, you’ve probably been compensating for that with a bad posture, and a relatively dubious backswing. That in turn will have had an impact on your swing speed, elbow position, and follow-through.
Back to Golf School
What we’re saying is yes, it’s imperative to good golf (not to mention safe golf) that you buy golf clubs with the right length of shaft for your height and your wrist-to-floor measurement.
But if you’ve previously been using clubs of the wrong length, to have got any kind of reasonable results with them, you will have had to physically overcompensate.
Once you’ve bought yourself some clubs with the right length of shaft (which paradoxically will feel immediately wrong and take some getting used to), you’re going to need to re-learn everything you thought you knew about the game of golf – but this time, with a clear path to correct position, and ultimately better, safer golf all around.