As you may know from my journey to single length irons, I’m a member of an indoor golf training facility that gives me access to practice my golf game as much or as little as I want. I’ll typically spend a couple lunch hours a week in one of the simulators either working on technique or playing a virtual round.
As I’m plowing through my round at PGA National, I can hear pretty clearly what’s going on outside the simulator, including my coach and other coaches who use the facility as they’re giving lessons to other golfers.
Retired golfer’s first lesson
On this particular day, my coach was giving the first lesson to a retired gentleman who was wanting to improve his game over the winter. This golfer was using a traditional set of irons (like most golfers) and was learning from my coach the fundamentals of the golf swing, including how ball position, swing plane, and swing tempo vary when switching between long-, mid-, and short-irons.
If you’ve read my golf journey, you’ll know that I’ve jumped in with both feet on the whole single length irons theory, in part because using single length irons completely eliminates having to worry about different ball positions, different swing planes, and different swing tempos. The result of using single length clubs is vastly improved ball striking, consistency and lower scores.
What really struck me as I listened in is that literally half of the lesson was dedicated to explaining these swing variables and how to account for them as you use different irons in a round.
Retired golfer’s first lesson REDEUX
So what would the same first-time lesson have sounded like if that same golfer had walked in with single length irons? I imagine that the half of the lesson spent explaining ball position, swing plane, and swing tempo would have been better used to address more advanced aspects of the golf game such as swing path, face angle relative to the swing path, or weight shift during the swing.
The bottom line is that the current traditional golf irons that increase in length by 1/2 inch are simply the result of market forces. Golf club manufacturers operate in a highly competitive environment where they are forced to come up with a new set of clubs each year that are somehow differentiated from both their own previous products as well as their competitors’ products.
Distance, Distance, and Distance
I’m sure that you’ve heard in real estate that the value of a property can be calculated from three factors: location, location, and location. Every since the 1940’s, golf club manufacturers have been valuing their product lines and basing their marketing campaigns on the following three factors: distance, distance, and distance.
The problem with the focus on distance is the inverse relationship that distance has with accuracy. Sure, professional golfers can stripe different length irons down the fairway and land their golf balls softly on the green all day. Why? It’s their profession and they spend literally 8, 10, or even 12 hours a day perfecting their game.
For the other 99.9% of golfers who can’t dedicate that much of their lives to their golf game, the struggle for consistency across all of their irons is nearly insurmountable. And if you ask every one of those golfers who are struggling, I bet you will learn that each of them hits one or two of their irons great and the rest — not so much.
Why can they hit one or two irons great? Because the length of those clubs are closest to their natural swing path based on their height and their own unique swing.
So why not have that same natural swing work for you for all of your irons rather than just one or two?
Consistency vs. Distance
My argument above is that distance and consistency are inversely related — meaning that as distance increases, accuracy decreases and vice versa. So switching to single length irons would improve your consistency and decrease your distance.
Personally, when I switched to single length irons, my 4 iron went from 210 yards of carry distance down to 195 yards of carry distance, which is significant. But at the same time, my consistency and accuracy with my 4 iron went from around 20% in the fairway to nearly 80% in the fairway.
What really matters to you?
So my questions to you are these:
- What good is an extra 15 yards on your longest iron if you’re hitting out of trouble 80% of the time when you use it?
- Do you really need that 15 extra yards once or twice a round, assuming that you’re lucky enough to get it in the fairway or on the green both times?
- Are you really good enough to be playing the tips or should you move up to the white tees like the rest of us recreational golfers?
- Are you convinced yet that consistency and accuracy are better for you than marginal extra distance?
How can you convert to single length irons like I did (add link) and lower your scores?
There are several manufacturers that now sell single length clubs, primarily due to the recent success of Bryson DeChambeau:
- Cobra — the first major manufacturer to release single length irons, due to hit stores in January 2017
- Wishon — a well respected niche manufacturer who has been selling single length irons for a year or so
- 1iron — a dedicated single length manufacturer who has been selling single length irons for X years
- Pinhawk SL — for those cost conscious golfers who want to build their own set of single length irons