If you’ve ever looked for new equipment, you know what a “jungle” it is out there in the marketplace. There’s lots of information to sort through and many new clubs and technologies are vying for your attention and money.
Will longer clubs give me more distance?
Playing with clubs that are the correct length will make a big difference in the quality of your play. The two biggest issues concerning length are the player’s ability to hit the ball in the center of the clubface and overall club balance.
Every club head has a center of gravity or point in the center of the face that is the ideal point to align with the center of gravity of the ball. If the club head is square to the target, and the ball is hit in the center of the clubface, the perfect golf shot occurs. To see if you’re hitting the ball in the center of the club, put impact sensitive tape on the face of the club to see what kind of pattern emerges as you hit four or five shots. For every 1/2″ a shot is off center, you sacrifice 5%-7% of your potential distance.
Word around the clubhouse is that longer clubs will increase the odds of longer hits, but that’s only true if you are hitting the ball in the center of the clubface. Machine tests have proven that for every inch of length added to a club, club head speed increases less than 1 mph. That equates to just 1 or 1 1/2 yards of additional distance. Human tests are far more inconsistent; they depend on the skill level and athletic ability of each player.
When all is said and done, if you have the potential to gain three yards on a 2″ over length club, you might just be sacrificing 10-14 yards by hitting that club 1/2″ off center. Which do you choose? How big a risk are you willing to take?
The second determining factor concerns club balance. For every inch we add or subtract from a club, the swing weight of the club will be altered by six points. In other words, a longer club will feel heavier, and a shorter club will feel lighter. Either situation can affect a player’s swing tempo and timing.
Manufacturers consider a club’s balance when they determine the gram weight of the club head to be used in a specific length club. So, cutting off or adding length to an existing club can be tricky business, even for the best of club makers.
It’s really up to you as to what club length works best for you. Try those longer clubs before you blindly purchase them. That way you can determine if you are consistent enough to handle the risks involved.