Take any of your clubs and address the ball. Does your stance and posture feel comfortable? Or are you just used to standing that way since you’ve had your clubs for a long time? Let’s experiment for a just a minute. Grip down on the club about an inch. What does that feel like? It may seem a bit awkward at first, but I bet it feels like you have more control over the club. Why? Because up to a certain point, the closer your hands are to the ball, the more accurate you will hit the shot; this is precisely why you grip down on the club for tricky wedge shots when you need the most accuracy.
Now, what if you grip the club making believe it was an additional inch or two longer? Sure, this will feel really weird since there is not enough grip to do this, but I think you will agree the feeling this produces is one of extra power and longer shots. You will be standing taller to the ball and will swing with a bigger arc, creating more distance. Your height is just one factor when you hold a club, not all shorter players need shorter clubs and not all tall players use longer clubs. The same is true when talking about “men’s” or “lady’s” club lengths; whatever length best fits the female player is the best one, regardless of whether it is shorter, longer or equal to some type of “standard.”
If this sounds a bit odd, perhaps we need to look a little deeper at what length does to a female player’s shots and how the length of your clubs can be changed to best match your swing. First things first: The shorter the club, the straighter you will hit it and the longer the club, the farther you will hit it. These statements are true, but remember, as a club gets shorter, you don’t hit is as far and as a club gets longer, you don’t hit it as straight.
There is a trade-off between distance and accuracy when we talk about club length. The key thing when fitting you to the best length is to get you hitting the longest club (for distance) that you are able to hit consistently (for accuracy). Many lady players may benefit from the longer swing arc that longer length clubs may provide – but again, remember that distance is not everything – accurate distance is the ultimate goal of any player – females included.
How can it be ensured that a lady player will get the longest, most accurate clubs that specifically fit her individual swing? Before we talk directly about that, let’s check out the length of most clubs available in golf shops today. Clubs are getting longer and longer. Twenty years ago, most drivers for ladies (and there were but a few of them) were 42” long; 5 years ago, they had grown to nearly 43”; now most ladies’ drivers, especially ones with graphite shafts are at least 44” long! What does this mean to the female player? It means that, if you go to most pro shops you may be surprised to find that just about all of the drivers there might be too long for you to hit as well as you should. Unfortunately, the same trend holds for irons; they seem to begetting longer and longer each year, leading to more distance potential, but really causing accuracy problems – especially for less-accomplished golfers.
Fortunately, fitting you for the proper length is not a difficult process; fixing your clubs so they are the right length is easy – and not expensive – as well. To find the correct length for you, in both woods and irons, you will need to hit some shots with clubs of different lengths or by choking down on the clubs you now have. Your pro or club fitter will put special impact labels on the faces of your clubs that will show where you hit the ball. After trying clubs of several lengths, you will be able to easily see which one you hit closest to the center of the face. The longest length that you hit in the center of the face is the one to choose; remember longer shafts hit farther, and if you can hit the ball in the middle of the face, it will go straight too! Longer and straighter shots are the result of clubs matched to the female player’s swing.
If you are getting new clubs, the correct lengths can be a part of exactly how they are made for you. But what if you like the clubs you have now, but they are the wrong lengths for you? No problem. Your club maker or pro can cut down the shafts of your clubs and install new grips if the current shafts are too long for you. Do ask that the clubs be rebalanced so they weigh the right amount if this is done. It will only take a couple of hours to do so you won’t be without the clubs for too long. There is one drawback though; shortening clubs makes them stiffer, something that may actually be detrimental to many lady golfer’s games.
If you need longer clubs, a piece of steel or graphite, called a shaft extension, can be put in the end of your club, adding up to 2” in length to it. This job is an easy one also; it won’t cost too much and will not take but a few hours to do. It will make the shaft play a bit more flexibly – something that is actually beneficial to the games of most women. Do be sure to check out the weight of any clubs made longer, ask your club maker to take some weight out of the head of the club on shafts to which you add length so they do not feel too heavy.
Ladies’ club length: The trend in ladies’ clubs is toward longer, but is that good for a lady’s game? Not always… Hit some clubs of different lengths and compare where on the face you hit the ball. Go for the longest clubs that you can hit consistently straight and that feel well-balanced to match your swing. Maybe you will find you hit shorter clubs better; maybe you will hit longer ones best. Either way, clubs can be made to your exact requirement in a short time, leading to the longest and straightest shots – and lowest scores – possible! Next time a look at another factor that contributes greatly to the accuracy of a female golfer’s shots: The lie angle of the golf club.