Golfers are always seeking more distance to their shots, and an easy way to get more distance is to increase clubhead speed. A longer club puts the clubhead on a bigger arc for more speed, so some players will lengthen the shafts on their clubs to gain distance. While it may help some players, it’s not best for every player and only a good idea for certain clubs in your bag.
Drivers can be lengthened up to 48 inches, which is the maximum length for clubs allowed by the Rules of Golf. Though there isn’t a standard length for a driver, most are sold between 45 and 46 inches. Adding length to a driver can boost clubhead speed and distance, but the extra length makes it harder to control the clubhead, and a center face hit has the most affect on distance. Clubfitters recommend players hit the longest driver that they can control.
The fairway woods are used for distance and at times to attack the green, and most players use graphite shafts that are lighter than steel. The lighter weight allows for a longer shaft, but the 3-wood shaft is normally cut an inch shorter than the driver to offer more control.
Irons’ lengths are stepped down 1/2 inch each from the 3-iron to the pitching wedge. Master clubmaker Ralph Maltby says that adding 1/2 inch length can add about 5 to 7 yards in distance for irons. But the longer shaft still makes it harder to control the clubhead, which is even more important the closer you get to the green.
For all clubs, the best way to add distance is to play with clubs that fit your swing. Every player stands differently to the ball, so the length of shaft should fit the individual swing. Clubfitters will use a chart with golfer’s wrist to floor measurements to start, then adjust the length of the clubs to match the stance. Testing includes using impact tape, which shows where the ball meets the clubface on the different length shafts. For some players, a shorter club will promote a more consistent shot and more distance.
Be careful when sizing clubs for junior golfers. Clubs built for younger golfers have lighter, more flexible shafts. Renowned instructor Hank Haney says simply cutting down men’s clubs to fit juniors results in a shaft that’s too stiff and still too heavy.