Do short golfers need short clubs, and tall golfers need long clubs? An expert fitter explains
It’s commonly thought that a golfer’s height is the main factor in determining how long their golf clubs should be. The belief is that taller people need longer clubs than standard, and shorter people need clubs that are shorter.
Fitting a golfer for custom golf clubs can be a complicated process that takes into account a number of factors. While human anatomy is certainly a consideration, there’s various other elements to examine, such as swing speed, swing style, overall skill, typical ball flight, impact location, and general preferences of the player.
When it comes to vertical height, McCormack says that it’s not necessarily how tall a person is that effects club length. It’s more about the overall build of their anatomy.
“It’s not how tall you are, it’s how you are tall,” McCormack explains. “You can have three players of equal height, but body structure can be completely different. For example, a person can have long legs and a short torso with long arms. People are longer and shorter in different areas of their body.”
That being the case, a golfer with shorter arms may want to have longer length clubs so they don’t have to bend over too much. Likewise, a golfer with longer arms may want a shorter club build so they don’t have to stand up too straight.
There’s two other important factors that McCormack points out, as well.
1) Flexibility: “Physical limitations and flexibility also play a role in determining length. A player that has back issues, joint problems, or injuries may play a longer golf club to help compensate for some of the restrictions placed on them by their body. Most recreational and beginning players aren’t as flexible as a seasoned player. Therefore, you may see them lose their posture or have a swing that is driven predominately by their arms. Making a change in length can help them.”
2) Performance: “You can also adjust length for a player to help achieve a desired ball flight or improve strike location on the club face. As a general guideline, a longer club will help to launch the ball higher, promote more of a fade bias, and improve strike location for those that miss it on the toe. If you were to make a club shorter, for that same player, you may see a lower flight, more of a draw, and a thin and/or toe miss start to appear.”
The reason that a longer club may have more right bias (for a right-handed golfer), according to McCormack, is that the plane of the swing will flatten, the club face won’t release as quickly, and there will be more shaft droop and deflection. All of those factors lead to a club face that’s more open at impact with a longer length club.
Additionally, shorter length golf clubs can provide more control to the golfer, essentially making the golf club more forgiving. While longer clubs can help increase speed and launch angle, shorter clubs can be easier to hit solid due to the reduction in swing arc. That’s why “choking up” on the club offers a golfer more control, in general.
In a typical golf club fitting, expert fitters don’t take anatomical measurements. It’s important for a golfer to be in a comfortable posture at address, of course, but there’s more that goes into fitting for length than the vertical height of a person.
The best way to figure out the right length of clubs for you is to go through a full professional fitting, or to consult your local professional. Whether you’re short, average or tall, there are no shortcuts for determining the proper club length. The only rule of thumb is that the stock golf club length off the shelf is likely not the exact right length for you. Custom fitting will always trump buying off the rack, especially when it comes to length.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2021? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below!