What Length Golf Clubs Do You Need?

One question that is quite often asked is “What length golf club a person should use?”

Download Hireko Golf CatalogThis is very difficult to address as it is not always a black or white answer.A good example of this can be found when shopping for jeans. For example, a man does not purchase jeans based upon their height, rather two important pieces of information.If that person knows what their waist and inseam measurements are, they can purchase a pair of jeans that will most likely fit (but not always) without having to try them on.Then the jeans can be selected or paired down based upon the color/finish and leg cut – both of which are personal preferences.

 

Power Play Juggernaut DriverThe most common method used to recommend the length of a golf club is a height-based chart. Custom golf clubs are usually available in two primary lengths (excluding juniors) and somewhat based on statistics, like the average height of an average male and female.The average woman’s height in the U.S. is approximately 5’ 5” (165.1cm), with about 68% between 5’ 2” and 5’ 7”. The average male is approximately 5’ 10” (177.8cm) with nearly 68% between 5’ 6” and 5’ 11”.The difference between the finished stock men’s and women’s clubs is usually 1” difference in the length.

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With this in mind, some charts will use these proportions; that is for each 5” or 6” of height differential, the golf clubs should be 1” shorter or longer. Of course, each manufacturer has their own idea for what standard length of their clubs will be that is why the actual lengths were omitted and the Length Factor could be applied to what one would consider to be “standard length”.

Length Based Chart

HeightHeightLength Factor
Feet-InchesCentimeters

6-9 to 7-0206 – 213Add 2″
6-6 to 6-9198 – 206Add 1 1/2″
6-3 to 6-6191 – 198Add 1″
6-0 to 6-3183 – 191Add 1/2″
5-9 to 6-0175 – 183Standard Length
5-6 to 5-9168 – 175Subtract 1/2″
5-3 to 5-6160 – 168Subtract 1″
5-0 to 5-3152 – 160Subtract 1 1/2″
4-9 to 5-0145 – 152Subtract 2″

For instance, we have a 5’ 5” lady and a 6’ 2” man.The difference in height is 9”.Using the ratio of every 6” of height there should be a 1” change in length then there should be a 1 ½” difference between their 5-irons. For example, recommend 36.5” for the lady and 38” for the man (or 36.75” / 38.25”). One might wrongly assume that that we should use the same proportions as is in this case where the women is 87.8% of the height of the man, therefore the length should also be 87.8% (or 33 3/8” which would be extremely too short). Height-based charts have existed a long time and based upon proportionality.

It is interesting in the fact that junior club lengths do not use this same 6” to 1” formula.Rather for each 2” (or 2 ½”) of added height equates to 1” increase in length.

For taller individuals, it is logical to assume longer golf clubs are recommended.But it should be noted that a 1” increase in club length does not necessarily make the club 1” longer from the floor to the ground.It is the sin of the lie angle that is the length component in the vertical direction. In the diagram on the left, a representation of a 1” at 61° amount to a vertical increase 0.874”. This will be important when we discuss methods other than height based charts.

Wrist-to-floor (WTF) Measurement

Wrist-to-floor measurement or WTF for short is a common method in which the golfer stands with their feet together in street / tennis shoes with their arms hanging straight down and relaxed. Then someone measures from the floor to the crease just above the wrist.That reading then is indexed by the golfer’s height to suggest the club length.The most common example of this is the Ping® Iron Color Code Chart.

Statistically, the average WTF measurement is 48.9% of the person’s height.If everyone was proportional to this percentage, then height-based charts would have the same effect.However, statistics are based on averages and not everyone will have proportionate arm lengths to their height, thus requiring not only different lengths than what their height may indicate, but also the lie of the club.

HeightHeightWTF
Ft. in
.in48.9%
4′ 0″48”23.47”
4′ 2″50”24.45”
4′ 4″52”25.43”
4′ 6″54”26.41”
4′ 8″56”27.38”
4′ 10″58”28.36”
5′ 0″60”29.34”

HeightHeightWTF
Ft. in
.in48.9%
5′ 2″62”30.32”
5′ 4″64”31.30”
5′ 6″66”32.27”
5′ 8″68”33.25”
5′ 10″70”34.23”
6″ 0″72”35.21”
6′ 2″74”36.19”

HeightHeightWTF
Ft. in
.in48.9%
6′ 4″76”37.16”
6′ 6″78”38.14”
6′ 8″80”39.12”
6′ 10″82”40.10”
7′ 0″84”41.08”
7′ 2″86”42.05”
7’ 4”88”43.03”

In the chart above, we can see that a 5’ 10” male on average will have a WTF measurement just shy of 34 1/4”, while the average female that stands 5’ 4” would be just a hair over 31 ¼”. The 6” difference in height equals approximately a 3” difference in the WTF measurement and to 1” length change.Well, at least in theory between men and women stock clubs.If you consider that a 48” junior golfer has a WTF measurement of nearly 12” less than the 70” golfer would suggest that the junior golfer get a 5-iron that is 4” shorter than a typical men’s club.However, the math does not add up as most junior charts will suggest a 48” junior to have a 5-iron in the neighborhood of 9” shorter.

Part of this can be explained by the fact that the WTF measurement coupled with the golfer’s height is only a starting point.The actual wrists at impact will be lower than the wrists in an erect, standing posture as the player will bend at the knees and waist and have a certain arm angle away from their body when swinging a golf club.Each person may have a slightly different comfort zone as to which of these angles feel best, thus the actual person’s wrist at impact will not always be the same proportion to the player’s WTF measurement when comparing one player to another.In addition, at impact the wrists may be slightly higher off the ground than at address.

One of the key things to understand is when the person’s WTF measurement is not proportionate to their height, then the length (and perhaps lie) of the clubs should be different than what their height would indicate.For golfers who have an actual WTF measurement greater than the chart, then the clubs should be longer and/or more upright than their height would indicate.Conversely, for golfers who have an actual WTF measurement less than listed in the chart, then the clubs should be shorter and/or produced with a flatter lie angle than their height would indicate.This explains why a tall individual could use “standard” clubs off of the rack if their arms were disproportionately longer.

For example, let’s say we have a 6’ 2” man that has an actual WTF measurement of 35.75” verses 36.19” in the table, as this person may have a little longer arms or shorter legs than average.We could simply adjust the length by reducing it by 1/2”.Remember above that the 1/2” of club length will not exactly the same as the 1/2” in the vertical direction (0.5” x sin 61° = 0.44”).If we did not make this change, then the golfer would have to grip down on the club, bend less at the waist or knees, or raise their arms higher producing a non-athletic position (in more extreme conditions).At 6’ 2”, the person might have been suggested a ½” longer club, but due to his lower WTF position standard length golf clubs may be fit fine.

Lie
Golf club lie also has an effect on the length as well. The diagram on the right shows the “Triangle” formed by the length of the club (A), distance in the vertical direction from the butt end of the golf grip to the ground (B) and the horizontal distance from the back edge of the heel of the club to butt end of the club (C).In the following charts, the lie angle of each club will be listed as well.

By altering the lie of the club, a manufacturer could theoretically change the B length.Below in the chart are 4 clubs that are the same length, but different lie angles.For each 1° increase in the lie angle, the butt end raised approximately 1/3” off of the ground with the center of the sole touching the ground.In lieu of making the club longer to accommodate a taller individual or one with a high WTF measurement, some golf clubmakers may opt to change the lie angle.

ALieBC
38”60°32.91”19.00”
38”61°33.24”18.42”
38”62°33.55”17.84”
38”63°33.86”17.25”

One of the reasons for this is due to the effect of golf swingweight of the club.All the combinations of length and lie in the following chart will produce a situation where the center of the sole of the club is touching the ground and the butt end is essentially the same height off of the ground.If we have a standard weight 5-iron (256g) and a lightweight steel shaft, the swingweights will be approximately that listed in the chart.

Swing
ALieBCweight

38.50”57.75°32.56”20.54”D4
38.25”58.25°32.53”20.13”D2.5

38.00”59°32.57”19.57”D1
37.75”59.5°32.53”19.16”C9.5
37.50”60.25°32.56”18.61”C8

37.25”61°32.58”18.06”C6.5
36.75”62.25°32.52”17.11”C3.5
36.50”63°32.52”16.57”C2
36.25”64°32.58”15.89”C0.5

A common lie angle for a 5-iron is 61°, therefore the length of the 5-iron may be 37.25” to achieve the B length.This combo may be very well for a lady golfer that is 5’ 8” with a 33.25” WTF measurement.A C6.5 swingweight would be perfectly normal in what you would see in a standard length woman stock set.However, let’s say this was a man we were talking about that might have the same proportions of the lady golfer, or perhaps taller but with long arms.Instead of the shorter club with the lighter swingweight, the clubfitter or manufacturer may suggest a 38” 5-iron that had a 2° flatter lie angle.This would make the golf club swingweight in the normal range you would see for a male golfer.

It is easier to control the swingweight by manipulating the lie than by adding (or removing) weight from the head from a production standpoint. Most clubhead are made to narrow weight ranges from one manufacturer to another and there is a limit on how much weight can be added to a club. So you may see tall golfers get a combination of extra length and a more upright lie as not to make the clubs feel too heavy or shorter golfer a shorter length / flatter lie combination so that it does not become too light.

But, more importantly is making sure the golfer has the proper swing plane as a result of the length / lie suggestion that will allow the golfer to make solid contact.Furthermore, not just for one club, but the rest of the clubs throughout the set since most places fit on a mid-iron and build the rest of the set around that using normal progressions in length (i.e. 0.5” length increments).

A few years ago I fitted an individual that presented a unique challenge. His name was Mike and a professional in the medical field.Through referrals, he contacted me for a fitting.He explained on the phone that he had a birth defect in which his whole arm length was only the length of that to a normal person’s elbow position.He wanted to play golf, but physically could not bend far enough down to grip a club.I asked him to stop by as I had some ideas that I thought would help him out.

Mike was approximately 5’ 8”, but a WTF measurement of 43”.To put this in perspective, his WTF might be more equivalent of someone standing 7’ 4”.In addition, he was of average strength at best and not built like that of an individual much taller and physically stronger in which to compensate for heavier weights caused by the need for longer clubs.After some calculations, experimentation and fast-stetting epoxy we ended up making a partial set – a few of which I would like to share.His driver was only 2” longer than normal (47”), his 5-iron was 43.5” (5.5” longer than average) and his PW was 42” (6.5” longer than average).

Today, what I remember most about Mike was not his unique physique or the challenging fitting process, rather he was by far the happiest customer I could every remembered who picked up their clubs.He was so proud of “his” set of clubs. Finally he had something that fitted him that he could enjoy that the majority of golfers take for granted.

So unless you have average proportions, you might find that slight alterations in the length and lie might allow you to make better contact with the ball, lower your score and make the game more enjoyable.

How is the Lie and Length of a Golf Club Interrelated?

As mentioned in the How is the Lie of a Golf Club Measured?” article we stated that the lie of a golf club is closely tied together with how the length of a golf club is measured and one can’t usually be mentioned without the other. To help understand this concept better, let’s examine different sets of golf irons that are all of the same length (that is each set has the same length …continued

How is the Lie and Length of a Golf Club Interrelated?

As mentioned in the How is the Lie of a Golf Club Measured?” article we stated that the lie of a golf club is closely tied together with how the length of a golf club is measured and one can’t usually be mentioned without the other. To help understand this concept better, let’s examine different sets of golf irons that are all of the same length (that is each set has the same length for each numbered iron).

In a set of irons, golf clubs have a progression of lengths that vary in ½” increments per club.Setup Sometimes the sand wedge (SW) might be shorter than the pitching wedge (PW), but in our model we will keep them the same to simplify matters. This is the customary way golf clubs have been manufactured and sold for a very long time. This does not necessarily mean this is correct for all golfers rather we want to show what you may encounter in a typical set.

The diagram on the right shows the “Triangle” formed by the length of the golf club (A), distance in the vertical direction from the butt end of the grip to the ground (B) and the horizontal distance from the back edge of the heel of the club to butt end of the club (C). In the following charts, the lie angle of each club will be listed as well.

Up until recently the golf club lie angle also had a normal progression from one iron to the next in the set in which a majority of all manufacturers adopted. The difference was 1° per club number, with the lie becoming more upright (higher degree) as the club became ½” shorter. Using this formula, the set of irons would have dimensions throughout the set as follows assuming that the club returned as designed with the center of the sole making contact with the ground.

½” Length and 1° Lie Progressions

Club A Lie B C
3 39” 58° 33.07” 20.67”
4 38.5” 59° 33.00” 19.83”
5 38” 60° 32.91” 19.00”
6 37.5” 61° 32.80” 18.18”
7 37” 62° 32.67” 17.37”
8 36.5” 63° 32.52” 16.57”
9 36” 64° 32.36” 15.78”
PW 35.5” 65° 32.17” 15.00”
SW 35.5” 65° 32.17” 15.00”
Difference 3.5″ 0.9 5.67″

As you can see from the chart, there is a change not only in the height of the butt end off of the ground, but also on how far away the heel varies from the butt end of the grip. Realize that this only accounts for only 9 clubs in the set and would be much further separation if the driver, fairways and putter were included. But what is considered a matched set with these specifications of length and lie, the player’s wrists will change in height nearly 1” vertically and move horizontally from the ball greater than 5 ½”.

Earlier this decade, certain manufacturers started deviating from this formula and started compressing the lie angles throughout the set. The concept was most golfers didn’t struggle necessarily with their short irons, so retain those same golf lie angles. However, golfers did struggle with hitting the ball right of the intended target line (for a right-handed golfer) so by making the lies more upright in these irons the ball was less likely to go as far right. Let’s examine how this impacts the position of the golfer using the same ½” length increments, but by using 0.5° increments.

½” Length and 1/2° Lie Progressions

Club A Lie B C
3 39” 60.5° 33.94” 19.20”
4 38.5” 61° 33.67” 18.67”
5 38” 61.5° 33.40” 18.13”
6 37.5” 62° 33.11” 17.61”
7 37” 62.5° 32.82” 17.08”
8 36.5” 63° 32.52” 16.57”
9 36” 63.5° 32.22” 16.06”
PW 35.5” 64° 31.91” 15.56”
SW 35.5” 64° 31.91” 15.56”
Difference 3.5″ 3.5° 2.03 3.64″

In this particular set with the length and lies presented and to have the club returned as designed with the center of the sole making contact with the ground then the vertical position of the hands would have a greater range – in this case approximately 2” higher with their #3-iron than the wedges. This is somewhat offset by the fact that the golfer can stand closer to the ball on the longer clubs. But this will require the golfer to change their spine and arm angles as compared to the set with the same length but produced in 1° lie increments.

While 1/2° lie progression is becoming more of a trend in game-improvement sets, some manufacturers are opting to an intermediary lie progression of 3/4° per club. This set would look something like the following with all else being the same.

½” Length and 3/4° Lie Progressions

Club A Lie B C
3 39” 59.25° 33.52” 19.94”
4 38.5” 60° 33.34” 19.25”
5 38” 60.75° 33.15” 18.57”
6 37.5” 61.5° 32.96” 17.89”
7 37” 62.25° 32.74” 17.23”
8 36.5” 63° 32.52” 16.57”
9 36” 63.75° 32.29” 15.92”
PW 35.5” 64.5° 32.04” 15.28”
SW 35.5” 64.5° 32.04” 15.28”
Difference 3.5″ 5.25° 1.48 4.66″

Which is the correct combination? It is impossible to say. The golfer through repeated practice becomes familiar with just how far to stand away from the ball with each club as well as the posture required putting themselves in that particular position. Although some golfers may feel more comfortable with one of these sets up better than the others. It should be noted that irons designed for better players will typically have a greater spread in the lie angles than those designs geared more specifically for higher handicapped golfers.

The biggest problem arises when there is not a continuous progression from one club to the next in the set. In the manufacturing process there are certain tolerances that have to be accepted, otherwise manufacturing costs can skyrocket. In the majority of cases for both name brand manufacturers and quality component distributors, the foundries adhere to a +/-1° tolerance for their lie angles. Length is less likely to vary as much as in years gone by as manufacturers have put stricter guidelines in place for consistency in hosel length, insertion depth (how far the shaft goes in the hosel) and measuring techniques for both length and for cutting the shafts (using jigs or fixtures). Even so, there may be some slight tolerance such as +/- 1/8”.

½” Length and 3/4° Lie Progressions

Allowing +/-1° Lie Tolerances

Club A Lie B C Tolerance
3 39” 60° 33.77” 19.50” 0.75° Upright
4 38.5” 60° 33.34” 19.25” None
5 38” 61.5° 33.40” 18.13” 0.75° Upright
6 37.5” 61° 32.80” 18.18” 0.5° Flat
7 37” 62.5° 32.82” 17.08” 0.25° Upright
8 36.5” 62.5° 32.38” 16.85” 0.5° Flat
9 36” 64° 32.36” 15.78” 0.25° Upright
PW 35.5” 65° 32.17” 15.00” 0.5° Upright
SW 35.5” 63.5° 31.77” 15.84” 1° Flat
Difference 3.5″ 2.00 4.50″

In the set above, all of these clubs would be within tolerance of their stated specification and indicative of what you may be playing. You might also find that one or more club in your current set you don’t hit as well as others. It may be simply be a problem that the lie of the club(s) is not correctly for you, in which most irons can be altered by a local clubmaking shop who has a loft and lie machine and skilled to perform the services for you. If not adjusted, then it requires the golfer to adjust their posture and to compensate for the maladjusted lie.

Hopefully you have gained an understanding of the different components of length. Even though a #5-iron may be 38”, does not mean that the distance of how high your wrists need to be above the ground or the distance the ball is away from you will be the same. The explanation for this is lies in the lie angle of the golf clubhead.

USGA and R&A Announce Rules Changes for 2008

USGA LogoSeveral new rules changes were agreed upon by the United States Golf Association and the R&A Rules Limited and will be implemented effective January 1, 2008. In addition to some rules that will be less penalizing to players, there are also clarifications to a few definitions as well as amendments to the rules on equipment regarding golf clubhead dimension, moment of inertia and spring effect to name a few. For a review of these changes and to download the 2008 Rules of Golf in PDF format click the following link:

http://www.usga.org/news/2007/october/2007_79.html

USGA and R&A Announce Rules Changes for 2008

USGA LogoSeveral new rules changes were agreed upon by the United States Golf Association and the R&A Rules Limited and will be implemented effective January 1, 2008. In addition to some rules that will be less penalizing to players, there are also clarifications to a few definitions as well as amendments to the rules on equipment regarding golf clubhead dimension, moment of inertia and spring effect to name a few. For a review of these changes and to download the 2008 Rules of Golf in PDF format click the following link:

http://www.usga.org/news/2007/october/2007_79.html

New Power Play System Q2 Fairways and Hybrids Arriving Mid December

Q2 Fairways

The Power Play System Q2 Driver has sold phenomenally for such a late introduction in the year. For those that have asked if there will be matching fairways and hybrids to the new Power Play System Q2 Driver, you will be pleased to hear of their arrival approximately mid-December. After signing off on the specifications, cosmetics and finally Continue reading “New Power Play System Q2 Fairways and Hybrids Arriving Mid December” »

How is the Lie of a Golf Club Measured?

The lie of a golf club is important from a directional standpoint for any club in the golf bag. When the lie is not matched properly it can have an effect of producing a shot that either goes right or left of the intended target line even on a perfectly good swing plane and path. Lie is closely tied together with how the length of a golf club is measured and one can’t usually be mentioned without the other. But before we can address the impact of an improper lie angle first, we need to address how the lie of a golf club is exactly measured.

One specification that is often supplied by manufacturers is the lie of the club. Here is a modernLie 1 day definition of lie, along with a visual diagram.

Lie: The angle between the shaft and the ground line when the club is measured in normal playing position with the center of the sole touching the ground line.

The lie is most easily measured using an industrial golf club specification gauge that the foundries, golf club manufacturers and very few golf clubmaking shops have access to. The golf clubhead is placed into the gauge and adjusted until the center of the sole touches the base of the gauge with the club in the face angle designed by the manufacturer. The angle formed from the base of the specification gauge to the shaft’s axis can be read off of the precision gauge. In our example, the result is 58 degrees. A higher number, the more vertical the golf shaft axis while a lower number would position the shaft axis closer to the ground line.

There is also loft and lie machines available that can measure the lie of the club, although they may reference the scoring lines rather than the sole. On irons, generally the score lines will be designed to be parallel to the ground line when the center of the sole touches the ground line. However, on woods, hybrids and even wedges, this may not always be the case.

The “Triangle”
One way to illustrate lie is to take a club and put it on a table or workbench with the butt end of the club touching a wall. There are numerous positions the club could be positioned, but only one will allow the center of the sole of the club to be making contact with the surface the club is resting on. This will create what I refer to as the “Triangle” where the club, wall, table’s surface form the three sides.

Lie 2In this example, the golf club length is 38” measured along the back side if the shaft to the ground. Let’s say in order for the center of the sole to be touching the surface, the butt end of the grip is 32.91” off of the ground (OK, your ruler will probably read 32 7/8”). Two sides of a triangle is all you need to know to find the remaining sides and ensuing angles – who said math isn’t fun? The harder measurement is the distance from the wall to the back side of the heel as the heel will rest off of the ground due to the radius of the sole. It is usually simpler to find out its length mathematically.

From trigonometry, you can use the following formula to find what the lie angle is. You will need a scientific calculator.

Sin-1 (32.91”/38”) = sin-1 (0.866”) = 60°

From there we can find the length of the remaining side:

Cos (60°) X 38” = Cos (0.5) x 38” = 19.00”

Lie 3Take the same club and slide the butt end down the wall so the butt end is approximately 32.23” (38 ¼”) off of the surface. There will be two things that will become obvious. The first is the heel of the club is further away from the wall. By moving the butt end 5/8” lower toward the surface, itLie 4 kicks out the heel approximately 1 1/8” outward to 20.14”. The second is the heel portion of the club is resting off of the ground rather than the center of the sole. This is because you changed the lie angle of the club at address. The lie angle of the club in this position is:

Sin-1 (32.23”/38”) = Sin-1 (0.848”) = 58°

Now, it is important to realize that this is not the lie of the head, as the lie did not change at allLie 5 because it does not meet the requirements of the lie definition. The manufacturer intended for the club at impact to have the center of the sole touching the ground. Therefore when the heel of the club makes contact with the ground first, the club is said to be too upright. Then the hosel of the club would either need adjusted or a head selected with the corresponding lie created by the shaft plane.

(Note: at address the club may rest on the heel, but the club may flatten out during the swing or the golfer may raise or lower their hands between the address position and impact. That is why we are only concerned with impact.)

Let us demonstrate the opposite by moving the heel of the club closer to the wall. Slide the butt end up the wall so the butt end is approximately 33.55” (38 1/2”). The lie angle of the club in this position is now:

Sin-1 (33.55”/38”) = Sin-1 (0.883”) = 62°

The length of the remaining side:

Cos (62°) X 38” = Cos (0.469) x 38” = 17.84”

To the right is a close up of the club in the position. Contact on the sole is made toward the toe ofLie 6 the club. Again the manufacturer intended for the club at impact to have the center of the sole touching the ground. Therefore when the toe of the club makes contact with the ground first, the club is said to be too flat. Then the hosel of the club would either need adjusted or a head selected with the corresponding lie created by the shaft plane.

Because the golf club length of a club may be fixed, it is the lie that controls the length the club is in both the vertical and horizontal positions. Why is this important? Two degrees either direction does not sound like much, but just this little amount altered the height of the club a total of 1.32” in the vertical and 2.3” in the horizontal direction. This is why we have different length and lie combinations for golfers to not only adjust for their height, but to adjust for both the distance you stand away from the ball and your posture or where your wrists are upon impact.