Effect of Loft on Carry Distance

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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.

Conclusion

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.

Do you play in windy conditions?  Try the Windcard.

https://golfinmykingdom.com/2020/06/22/introducing-the-windcard/

The effect of club length on swing speed and distance

My last post identified a number of disadvantages of single length irons, primarily, hitting the wedges to 8 iron to long (because the shafts are longer than conventional) and hitting the 6-3 irons to short (as the shafts are shorter than conventional clubs).

Apart from hitting the ball squarely, that is without the club face being overly open or closed to the target  line and club path, the two factors that most influence distance are swing speed and effective loft.

Effective loft is the actual loft of your club head at impact as opposed to the stated loft on the club you are hitting.  If your hands are ahead of your club head at impact you have a good chance of matching the effective loft to the actual loft of the club.  If the club head passes your hands at impact (flipping) the effective loft of the club will increase and the ball will fly a shorter distance.

Club Head Speed and Ball Carry

A couple of issues come into play.  With the driver each MPH of club head speed generates approximately 2.4 yards of carry if the swing speed is in the 110 MPH range.  Just as a point of reference the average swing speed on the PGA Tour is 112 MPH, which translates into an average carry of 269 yards.

At lower swing speeds, around 90 miles per hour, each MPH of club head speed generates approximately 2.3 yards of carry.  Again as a point of reference, the average swing speed on the LPGA is 94 miles per hour which works out to an average carry distance of 220 yards.

As the swing speed decreases with the shorter clubs the carry distance per MPH is also reduced.  A typical 7 iron swung at 78 MPH (the average on the LPGA) results in a carry of 141 yards, a distance of 1.8 yards of carry per MPH of club head speed.

With single length irons, the 7 iron is the unofficial standard in terms of overall club length, in the range of 37 inches, and good male amateur players will swing a club of that length around 78 MPH.

The question is what happens when you take a 6 iron and reduce the length by one half-inch.  Based on averages a one half-inch reduction in overall club length will result in the loss of 1.5 to 2 MPH of swing speed which means your 6 iron will carry 2.7 to 3.6 yards shorter at a length of 37 inches than it would at 37.5 inches.  By the same token, an 8 iron which would normally play at 36.5 inches when extended to 37 inches will fly 2.7 to 3.6 yards further.

In the next post I will look at the effect of loft on ball carry distance.

Do you play in windy conditions?  Try the Windcard.

Introducing the “Windcard”

Advantages and disadvantages of single length irons

When you think about the concept of a set of irons that are all the same length both advantages and disadvantages become apparent.

Advantages

  1.  Because each iron is the same length (roughly equivalent to a 7 iron)  your set up position will be the same with each club in the set.  You will be standing the same distance from the ball with each club.  The ball position (forward or back in relation to your feet) will be the same for each club.
  2. Because all clubs in the set are the same length and have the same lie angle your swing plane will be identical for each club.  With conventional clubs the swing plane with the short irons is more upright (than a 7 iron) and more flat with the longer irons. Theoretically it is easier to master one swing plane than multiple swing planes.
  3. As the shafts are all the same length and the heads all weigh the same each club will have an identical shaft flex and  swing weight.
  4. MOI (moment of inertia) will be identical for each club.
  5. The bounce angle and offset for each club is identical (with the exception of the sand wedge).

Disadvantages

  1. Because each club is the same length and the heads are all the same weight your swing with the 8 iron through lob wedge (which are longer than a conventional set) will be faster and the ball will go further.
  2. With the 3-6 irons (which are shorter than a conventional set) your swing speed will be slower and the ball will not go as far.
  3. It may be difficult to achieve the traditional 10 yard ‘gap’ between clubs.

In a subsequent post I will examine the impact of club length on swing speed (and distance), as well as the effect of club loft on distance with a view to eliminating the two ‘disadvantages’ to single length irons.