Same-length irons are nothing new but since Bryson DeChambeau – the physicist-turned-tour-pro – burst onto the scene with some impressive amateur results earlier this year, the idea has grabbed headlines.
At face value, it makes perfect sense. Creating every iron the same length – whether it's a gap wedge or a 3-iron – means you don't need to change your set-up or ball position to hit it.
DeChambeau says he's worked out a perfect same-swing concept using a set of irons with shafts that are all the same length.
Thanks to his brushes with the top of the leaderboard at The Masters and US Open, the idea has had some serious TV air time, and lots of discussion.
So is there any mileage in average golfers trying the same thing? Given that none of the major manufacturers make irons the same length, getting a set wasn't easy.
But we managed to and the results were surprising.
It sounds really simple... because it is. All the heads and shafts are the same weight, all the lie angles are matched and all the shaft lengths are the same. The idea is that you just need to groove one swing for all your irons, rather than eight different lengths and weights as you would with a traditional set.
Think about it – during a round you could be hitting irons 18 times or more with the same swing feel, rather than hitting an 8-iron followed by a 5-iron that requires a different set-up. And which do you hit better – your 8-iron or your 5?
Whenever single-length irons have been discussed before there have been concerns about distance gapping and how far each iron will fly with shorter and longer shafts. But look at our data (below) and it clearly shows the Sterlings were carrying within a couple of yards of their traditional counterparts through the set. Wishon had to tackle the gapping issue from a couple of angles; as well as getting the right lofts for each club so they produce a shot similar to a normal set, they also used two different head constructions.
Lofts are stronger in the long irons to counteract the shorter shafts, but there's also precision CNC-milled high COR springy steel faces (5-7 iron) to maximise ball speeds. The 8-PW have one-piece soft carbon steel heads. If there is a downfall to the concept it has to be generating club speed with the longer irons, as club golfers struggle with dropping swing speeds at this end of the bag anyway. Our test pro has no issue generating club speed – he hits a 5-iron 200 yards – but if you possess a slower, more rhythmic swing and struggle to launch shots off the fairway with anything more than a 6-iron, single-length irons are probably not right for you.
This a very good concept, but it does beg the question – why has the idea never caught on? The answer comes down to how the game is taught, using 'normal' irons. It's always going to take time to transition to a very different concept and feel, and that's time most of us don't have.
But if you're determined to make golf as simple as possible, and you've sufficient speed to launch longer irons from the deck, the single-length concept couldn't be more simple. Just a word of warning: Don't try the DIY option by trimming your current set to the same length – we now know it's not quite that simple.