Are you heading out to the pro shop to look at a new driver? Choosing the right shaft length for your Big Dog or fairway wood is critical to your swing and your experience with the club. You might find it surprising how much adding or taking away just a half-inch from the shaft length can make to your swing and shot.
Shaft length affects your accuracy and your distance off the tee. You’ve probably heard the saying that “golf is a game of inches,” which is true when it comes to your shots and driver shaft length. Any golfer will tell you that there’s nothing more satisfying than the feeling of connecting with the sweet spot and nailing a bomb right off the tee.
With each generation of equipment improving performance, feel, and forgiveness in clubs, you need a custom fit to get the most out of your equipment. You’ll get the consistency you need for your shots with the right shaft length, allowing for long, straight drives off the tee box.
So, what do you need to know about choosing the right shaft length for your new driver? Is your current driver setup to optimize your performance? This post unpacks everything you need to know about driver shaft lengths.
The Role of Driver Shaft Length in Distance and Accuracy
Some golfers are under the mistaken impression that the longer their shaft length, the further the drive. While this statement has some technical truth, it’s not entirely accurate. Opting for the longest shaft length you can find might not be the best strategy when selecting your new driver.
The reality is that longer shafts on drivers make it more challenging to control the club throughout the swing arc. This lack of control reduces distance and weaker accuracy in your drives.
However, several golfing brands claim that increasing your shaft length adds to better distance and accuracy – so, which one is it? Do you go for the longest shaft length available, or is there something to taking a measured approach to fitting your driver?
Sure, a longer shaft might help you get 15-yards extra out of your swing, but does that matter if you’re losing accuracy with your shots? Blasting the ball an extra ten yards deep into the rough or the sand trap isn’t really anything worth writing home about, right?
Driver Distance Sells Clubs
The truth is that advertising drivers that increase distance attract new drivers. If a brand is launching a new model, claiming that it adds to your distance is a great way to attract players desperate to increase their range off the tee box.
A longer shaft on your driver creates more clubhead speed – that’s a fact.
More clubhead speed equals faster ball speeds and better distance off the tee. For this reason, manufacturing brands continue to increase the shaft length on new models.
Somehow, brands find themselves locked in a game of “keeping up with the Jones” with shaft lengths. When one brand releases a new model with a longer shaft length, it’s not long before other brands rush to join the trend.
However, there has to be a point of diminishing returns when it comes to increasing shaft length, right? Or else, we would see brands offering clubs with ridiculous shaft lengths. The reality is that the longer the shaft length, the harder it is for the player to find the sweet spot consistently.
As a result, it’s more common for the player to make off-center contact with the clubhead. An off-center hit reduces distance and limits the accuracy of your shots. So, why would brands sell the longest shafts possible if there’s a chance that they’re actually decreasing your performance off the tee?
Golf brands usually go with the design that tests well. However, testing involves brands using robotic arms to create a consistent swing. A longer shaft could result in an extra five to ten yards on each shot when you have a consistent motorized swing.
However, it doesn’t work like that in real-world applications. You’re not a robot, and the dynamics of your swing could change due to a multitude of reasons. If you accidentally hit the toe of the clubhead, it could reduce your club speed and the ball speed by as much as eight to ten miles an hour. The result? Less distance and accuracy.
So, does that mean that a shorter shaft is the better option for your new driver? Well, not necessarily. While many golfers might find that dropping an inch or half an inch off their shaft length improves their performance, it’s not guaranteed.
What is a Standard Driver Shaft Length?
So, what is the right shaft length for your driver? What do the pros use? If you don’t have the skillset of a pro, what makes you think that a change in your driver shaft length will make any difference to your game?
According to professional fitters, it’s rare for them to build drivers with shaft lengths over 45″.
In fact, most fitters claim that beginner to intermediate golfers will do better with a shorter shaft length than the standard length offered by the manufacturer.
There’s a reason why the average driver shaft length on the PGA Tour is 44.5″, not 45.5″ or longer. Off the rack, the average driver shaft length measures 45.75″ with no customizations. For women, standard shaft lengths are between 43.75″ to 44.75″.
Of course, these are just averages. You might find several variations of up to 1″ in standard shaft lengths between manufacturing brands.
What Length Do I Need for My Driver Shaft?
So, what’s the right length of your driver shaft? Your height and wrist-to-floor measurements are critical to focus on when fitting your driver shaft. Taller players will require longer shafts and vice versa for shorter players.
However, there’s more to it than assessing your height and its impact on shaft length. Your posture also accounts for selecting the right shaft length, and that’s different for everyone. Factoring in your wrist height from the ground when addressing the ball will help you assess the right shaft length for your swing and playing style.
If you want to increase clubhead speed, longer shafts will help. If you’re looking to improve accuracy, it might be better to go with a shorter shaft. It’s challenging to recommend a specific length because every player has a unique style. There are so many factors accounting for the right shaft length for every player.
Your height, strength, and swing speed all factor into assessing the right driver shaft length. So, it’s a good idea to head to the pro shop for a fitting, and you won’t have to worry about the challenges of trying to do it yourself.
Choosing the Right Driver Shaft Length for Your Height
The key to selecting the right shaft length lies in understanding how shaft length and height affect the driver’s performance. As a general rule of thumb, taller golfers need a longer shaft for the driver and vice versa for shorter players.
Regardless of your height, you have the potential to drive the ball a long distance. Many short pros manage to get huge distances off the tee. It all comes down to the right fitment of your driver to your height and body mechanics.
For instance, ’91 Masters champion, Ian Woosnam, measures 5’4″, but his strength and clubhead speed allows him to drive huge distances. It’s about the fitment, not the player’s height or an extra-long shaft.
Do I Need to Shorten the Shaft Length of My Driver?
Are you wondering why your drive has gone to the dogs lately? Well, it could be your shaft length in the club. So, what can you do to improve your performance off the tee box? If you find that teeing off with your fairway woods gives you a better shot than the Big Dog, the problem is likely the shaft length on your driver.
The shorter shaft of the fairway wood makes it slightly easier to control the swing and the accuracy of your shot. If you’re struggling to hit the fairway with your driver, it might be worth removing some length from the shaft. The shorter length should make finding the sweet spot on the clubhead easier, increasing the contact and power in your drive while improving your accuracy.
If you’re worried about losing distance by shortening the shaft – don’t. Many golfers find they don’t lose any distance when shortening the shaft. They also improve their accuracy with the club. You might even find that you increase your reach by shortening the shaft, thanks to the enhanced control over the clubhead.
Before you decide to shorten or lengthen your driver shaft, it’s preferable to head to the pro shop and test a range of lengths to see which offers you the best performance off the tee. There are plenty of pro shops that let you try before you buy.
You’ll also find that many stores have attendants that help fit you to the right shaft length. Drivers aren’t cheap, and it’s the most expensive club in your bag. So, ensuring that you have the right setup gets you the most value for your budget and game.
What Is the Correct Method for Measuring Driver Shaft Length?
Measuring yourself for the correct driver shaft length isn’t as challenging as you think. You can do it yourself if you don’t have anyone around you, but it takes a little more time than if you have a helping hand.
Find a ruler or steel-fixed measuring tape with a minimum distance of 4-feet. The solid ruler is the better choice, but a steel measuring tape will do, provided you have something firm to measure against.
Hold your driver with the club head on the ground like you’re teeing up for a shot. Place the ruler or tape flush with the driver shaft, ensuring it’s perpendicular to the ground. Take your measurement and note it before heading off to the pro shop for a custom fitting.
Factoring in Wrist-to-Floor Measurements for Driver Shaft Lengths
The fitter will also account for the wrist-to-floor measurement when fitting you for your clubs. This measurement is the distance from your lower wrist on the grip, to the floor, in a perpendicular line.
They’ll use a chart to determine how this measurement affects driver shaft length according to your unique body type. Some people might have longer arms and shorter legs, or vice versa, so there is no one-size-fits-all, and each case is different.
While some players might think of a personal fitting as a luxury, it’s well worth the few bucks you pay when you consider its value to your game and your golf bag.
In Closing – Top Tips for Driver Fittings
Standard Lengths are a Myth
Standard shaft lengths are a myth. The reality is there is no one-size-fits-all shaft length to suit all golfers. Every setup is unique and changes depending on your height, arm length, and other factors like hand-eye coordination and timing. So, it’s critical for you to visit a professional for fitting before you waste your money on purchasing the latest, longest driver.
Test It Before You Commit
Before changing your shaft length, it’s a good idea to visit a professional fitter. A fitter can help you assess the right shaft length to complement your swing. Fitters use digital tools like launch monitors, such as GC2, Trackman, or Flightscope, to determine the changes in your swing relating to shorting or lengthening the driver shaft.
Consider Before Your Cut
If you feel that your shaft is too long, take a minute to assess the situation before chopping off the length. Changing the shaft length alters your swing weight, resulting in a totally different feel to the driver. Shortening the shaft length by an inch is enough to require adjusting the clubhead to maintain the same club speed and ball speed. It’s critical to use a professional fitter when removing length from your clubs.