The Effect of Loft
The loft of an iron has a much greater effect on the distance your ball will carry than does the length of the club (swing speed). Many in the golf industry estimate that with irons, the ratio is as high 20:80, meaning that loft has 4 times the effect on distance as compared to swing speed. At a swing speed around 78 miles per hour and a club length of 37 inches every degree in change of loft will result in a much greater difference in distance than a 1 mph change in club head speed.
The long and the short of it is that when you reduce the length of your irons to a 7 iron length (in the case of the irons longer than a 7 iron), and lengthen the shafts on the 8 iron to the wedges to the 7 iron length you will affect swing speed generated by those clubs.
How to compensate
With single length irons the change in loft is the primary factor in terms of compensating for the loss in distance with the 3-6 irons, and the gain in distance for the iron through wedges. The lofts on the longer irons are strengthened while on the shorter irons they are decreased.
There is another factor that plays into this as well, that being club head weight. Physics tell us that when a moving object (the club head) strikes a stationary object (the ball) the amount of force applied to the ball is dependent on two factors, the speed of the moving object, and its weight. It is akin to a 20 ton truck travelling at 60 kph and striking a light standard knocking it over, and a Smart-car traveling at the same speed striking the same light standard and scuffing the paint on the pole.
Because the heads on single length clubs are all the same weight (around 272 grams) the head on the 4 iron is 20-25 grams heavier than a traditional 4 iron and will exert more force causing a slight increase in distance. The head on the pitching wedge which is approximately 20 grams lighter than the traditional weight will exert less force and cause a slight decrease in distance.
By varying the loft of the irons, other than the 7 iron which is the standard, it is theoretically possible to build a set of clubs that are all the same length and still hit the ball distances very similar to traditional clubs while at the same time ensuring the wedge to 8 iron don’t go to far and the 3 to 6 iron go far enough to maintain a workable ‘gap’ in terms of the different distances each club will hit the ball.
In my mind the disadvantages addressed in an earlier post can be compensated for, leaving only the advantages, which I would argue are so beneficial that a strong argument can be made at least putting the concept to the test as opposed to dismissing it out of hand.
As indicated in an earlier post I am in the process of assembling a set of single length irons. I have experimented with lengths ranging from 35 to 37.5 inches and different combinations of lie angles. I am getting close to arriving at what will be my ‘final’ specifications and when I do I will be writing a post about the finished product.