Are single length irons making strides? Well, yes and no. What’s the old saying? Unless you have been living in a cave, you have probably heard of Bryson DeChambeau, the PGA Tour player that has made single length irons famous. He is now sponsored by Cobra Puma and helped in the design of the ONE clubs being introduced by Cobra this month.
First let’s review the concept. Basically a “traditional” set of irons varies in length by 1/2″ from longest (3 or 4 iron) to shortest (PW). This means several things for the golfer. First, with the long iron, you are standing a little farther away from the ball. This also makes the angle of your swing plane flatter than with your wedges. So, consequently you will stand up straighter with the longer irons, and bend over more with the shorter irons and wedges. In theory, the longer the club, AND the lower the loft, the more swing speed and distance you will create. That is the theory behind controlling distance by length and loft.
Problems with traditional length irons
But this multiple length concept CAN cause some problems. Most amateur golfers tend to fade their long irons and either hit their short irons straight or with a little draw. That is of course, if the lie angle of the club varies with the length (gets more upright as clubs get shorter) as it should according to traditional iron design theory. Beginner golfers sometimes have a very difficult time trying to figure out their stance with different length clubs and tend to get comfortable with shorter clubs. Also, some golfers with back problems get fatigued after several holes because they are bending over too much over their shorter clubs. So, the new single length iron theory is to make all irons the same length, keep the lie angle the same, and rely on engineering expertise to create the distance gaps needed to score well. Golfers usually have a favorite club. Our poll last year said it was either a 7 or 8 iron. So, in our experiment earlier this year, our master club builder built a set of clubs all of 7 iron length, which happened to be his favorite iron.
He built his set using traditional irons and wedges. Traditional iron heads will weigh 7 grams different from head to head. A six iron may weigh 260 grams while a four iron will weigh 253 and a 7 iron 267. This is true literally across all manufacturers from Callaway to Titleist. If you would build these clubs all single length, the lower lofted clubs would feel very light and the higher lofted clubs would feel very heavy. To compensate for that, he added a lot of weight to the lower lofted heads and drilled weight out of the wedges, for example. The results of his experiment have actually been pretty positive… he is still playing them and his scores are going down!
But this is not practical to do for the golf market so some manufacturer needed to step up and build single weight iron heads. Enter Wishon Golf with their Sterling clubs. Wishon has done a great job of discussing the philosophy of single length irons and building a cadre of independent clubfitters that will fit and build the Sterling irons to your specs. Edel Golf, well known for their putters and wedges, actually developed Bryson’s first set of single length irons. Then Cobra Puma stepped up and decided that this single length iron concept could be the future.
We are currently testing both of these irons with our testing crew but in my initial tests, I am happily surprised. We have a 5, 7 and 9 iron in our club connection system and use a shaft designed to match the Cobra 7 iron length of 37.25 inches. In my personal tests, I had consistent 20 yard gaps between the 5, 7 and 9 iron (I know, I am a wuss!). This is great! I was worried that my 5 iron would be short and my 9 iron would be too long….not the case! The Cobra engineers have done a GREAT job of head design to control launch, spin and efficiency (smash factor) to get these results. And it is the same with the King F7 ONE and the Forged ONE. And ooooohhhh, the feel of the Forged ONE is awesome.
So what does this mean? It means that I would feel very comfortable fitting anyone, even relatively slow swing speed golfers to the ONE heads. Getting the correct shaft weight, length and flex will contribute to overall feel, distance and shot dispersion…that is what we do best. Honestly, I think the biggest issue will be what I experienced. Psychologically I thought I had to swing harder with the 5 iron and back off on the 9 iron. But my best and most consistent shots created the same clubhead speed with each iron. Just a matter of getting used to the single length.
Here are the reasons you should consider single length irons:
- You struggle hitting long irons consistently.
- You are relatively new to golf and lack a consistent swing.
- You have lower back pain that is aggravated when you bend over too much.
- You just have to be a rebel and try something new!
We will be reporting our SLI (Single Length Iron) test results from our testing crew over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!