Fitted shafts on off-the-shelf divers for men are aimed at golfers around 5 feet 9 inches while drivers for women come standard with shafts aimed at golfers around 5 feet 7 inches. But not everyone is an “average length”. According to these averages, 45-inch shafts are the standard length fitted on men’s drivers.
Some people were born with a height advantage while others do not have the luxury of having a height advantage. It is only an advantage since golfers can create a wider swing arc, generate more swing speed, and hit the ball further.
However, driver shafts that are too long will sacrifice accuracy in the constant search for longer drives.
The maximum shaft length allowed by governing bodies is 48 inches but governing bodies are considering decreasing the maximum to 46 inches. Few golfers can control the swing with such a long shaft.
There are more features related to the shaft than the pure length that must be considered such as the flex, torque, kick point.
Ideal Driver Shaft Length
Golf governing bodies such as the USGA and the Royal and Ancient golf (R and A) have set the maximum length of a driver length at 48 inches. You measure shaft length by looking at the distance from the base of the heel to the top of the shaft. It is generally measured with a 48-inch steel ruler that is not flexible.
Although a 48-inch shaft will create a massive arc and generating amazing clubhead speed, it is much harder to exercise control over the club. The exact length of the driver shaft significantly affects the driver’s feel and the contact position on the clubface. Long shafts tend to create an inconsistent contact position nearer the heel of the driver.
The ideal shaft length depends on the height and arm length of the golfer. As previously mentioned, off the shelf drivers are generally fitted with a 45-inch shaft while the average length used by professional golfers is 44.5 inches.
For the best results, it is highly recommended to visit a professional golf club for a custom fitting.
Factors to Consider
Golfers that have inconsistent results, pushes, hooks, slices are almost certainly to have an incorrect length and flex in the driver shaft.
Shafts that are too stiff for the length frequently results in a consistent push.
Distance or Control
Long shafts generate a wide arc resulting in higher swing speed and more distance. However, speed without control is not the solution. Professional golfer playing bomb and gouge, but it will not enable the average golfer to reduce their scores and handicap.
Shorter shafts enable the golfer to exercise more control and play from the short stuff more often. However, approach shots from too far out will lead to more missed greens and higher scores.
Balancing distance and control are the ultimate to drive scores and handicaps down.
Research has proven that every inch variation in shaft length could impact the drive nearly ten yards.
Off-center strikes cause a loss in a distance of approximately 7% for every ½ inch off the sweet spot.
Accuracy becomes extremely important for golfers that are not the longest off the tee.
Although a longer shaft generates more swing speed, it generally leads to a loss in control, inconsistency, and accuracy. Manufacturers make extremely forgiving drivers counter mishits but even these forgiving drivers lose distance if not struck in the sweet spot.
Reaching a compromise between speed and control is the easiest way to maximize the driver off the tee and cutting down on the number of shots required to complete a round.
The most accurate way to determine the right shaft length is through an assessment on a launch monitor.
Choosing the Best Shaft for Your Game
Shafts are made up of several factors that determine the suitability of a golfer swing speed and tempo. A fast tempo can still be maintained even with slower swing speed.
Shaft flex is expressed as the amount of flex that the shaft endures during the swing. The faster and more aggressive the swing speed, the harder the flex should be. Measurements are taken at various points on the shaft to determine its EI profile.
Although there is no industry standard to express the flex of a shaft, it is generally accepted that Extra Stiff shafts (X) are ideal for players with a swing speed of 110 mph plus, Stiff shafts (S) are better for players with a swing speed between 99 and 110 mph.
The most frequently used shafts are Regular (R) that are suitable for swing speeds between 89 and 100 mph, Senior (S) / Amateur (A) for junior golfers, older golfers, and those starting in the game with a low swing speed between 80 to 89 mph.
Provision is made for low swing speeds that are normally associated with women golfers and the Ladies (L) for players with a slow swing speed less than 80 mph. This is suitable for men with low swing speeds as well.
Torque measures the amount of twist in the shaft during the swing and is me is the amount of shaft twist experienced during the golf swing and rated according to the number of degrees of twist.
Low torque generates a low launch angle and ball trajectory while less torque generates a higher ball trajectory. Golfers that tend to slice the ball will be well advised to add torque to their shafts.
Kick point is the point in the golf shaft where it experiences the highest amount of bend during the downswing and at the point of impact.
A low kick point produces maximum bend near the club head for a high trajectory while a high kick point produces a lower ball flight.
Another significant factor in selecting the right driver shaft is the weight of the shaft. Lighter shafts generally enable the golfer to produce faster swing speeds. This weight is measured in the raw form of the shaft prior to cutting it down.
Heavier shafts tend to have lower torque, create a draw bias, and promote control, accuracy, and consistency.
Lighter shafts create a fade bias.
Although shafts are available in a variety of steel formats and graphite, the most popular standard is the use of graphite as they are much lighter than steel.
Other significant factors to be considered in selecting the correct shaft are swing tempo, swing speed, and release.
How Long Should my Driver Shaft be for my Height?
A golfer’s height is not the only determining factor in the length of the driver shaft.
The use of a more reliable measurement is the length from the ground to the top of the wrists of the golfer. Some measure to the tips of their fingers.
The average golfers use a 45-inch shaft based on a wrist to floor measurement between 34 inches and 37 inches.
- Wrist to floor measurement between thirty-two inches and thirty-four inches is generally ¼ inch shorter.
- Wrist to floor measurement between twenty-nine inches and thirty-two inches is generally ½ inch shorter.
- Wrist to floor measurement between twenty-seven inches and twenty-nine inches is generally 1 inch shorter.
- Wrist to floor measurement between twenty-five inches and twenty-seven inches is generally 1 ½ inch shorter.
- Wrist to floor measurement less than twenty-five inches is generally two inches shorter.
Taller golfers require longer shaft and the deviations are:
- Wrist to floor measurement between thirty-seven inches and thirty-eight inches is generally ¼ inch longer.
- Wrist to floor measurement between thirty-eight inches and forty inches is generally ½ inch longer.
- Wrist to floor measurement between forty inches and forty-one inches is generally one inch longer.
- Wrist to floor measurement between forty-one inches and forty-two inches is generally 1 ½ inch longer.
- Wrist to floor measurement more than forty-two inches is generally two inches longer.
Should I shorten my driver shaft?
To determine whether the shaft must be shortened is to assess where the impact point is on the driver clubface. One of the most frequently used methods to do the assessment is to spray a powdery substance onto the club head prior to hitting the shot. This will highlight the impact point on the clubface.
If the shaft is too long, the impact will generally be closer toward the heel of the clubface. The impact of a shorter shaft can easily be assessed by choking down on the shaft and looking at the impact point.
Short shafts will promote contact with the toe area of the clubface and generally lead to pulled shots.
How to add length to my driver?
There are two major ways of extending golf club shafts. Replacing the existing shaft with a new shaft manufactured to the required length is the best solution.
Optionally golf shaft extenders can be added to the shaft of the existing club. Adding extenders to the shaft modifies the original characteristics of the shaft that will affect the shaft flex and kick point causing unpredictable results.
How to subtract length from my driver?
Shortening a shaft is not a simple task without serious challenges. Cutting the shaft down amend the basic characteristics such as shaft flex, kick point, swing weight, and overall feel of the shaft. Shortening of clubs is best left to professional club fitting experts.
Another way of shortening the shaft without physically making any adjustments is by choking down on the shaft. This will retain the shaft characteristics and provide more accuracy. However, the butt end will stick out a little further that can make the swing slightly uncomfortable.
The right shaft length plays a significant role in the golfers’ ability to hit long, controlled drives down the center of the fairway thus approaching shot much easier.
Although off-the-shelf drivers come with a standard-length shaft of approximately forty-five inches, there are ways to shorten or lengthen the golf shaft. This comes with some consequences as it amends the characteristics of the shaft.
Longer shafts generate more clubhead speed but there is a good reason why everyone is not playing with the longest shaft allowed by the governing bodies. Control is equally as important as swing speed and that can only be achieved by adding a shaft that is suitable to the golfer’s wrist to ground measurements.
Selecting the right length shaft combined with the other factors such as flex, weight, kick point, and torques will soon send the golfer on their path to lower scores and more satisfaction.