Single Length Irons - What's It All About & Is There An Advantage Over Conventional Irons?
Sterling irons article by Tom Wishon - February 2016.
Sterling irons are co-developed by Tom Wishon & Jaacob Bowden. The Sterling irons can be fit and built by Engineered Golf, of North Bay, Ontario. Engineered Golf is a professional club fitter, club maker, club builder, and a golf club repair facility.
Let’s face it. The reason irons exist is for accuracy and shot consistency – to get the ball as close to the hole as possible and as consistently on any approach shot or par-3 tee shot into the green.
The reason there are several irons in a set is of course to provide us golfers with different irons to hit the ball different distances. And the way the different irons have been designed to hit the ball different distances is by making each iron with a different loft AND with a different length. The lower the number on the iron, the lower the loft angle on the face and the longer the length of the shaft, graduating down to the higher the number on the iron, the higher the loft and shorter the length.
This has been the way irons have been made forever because it has always been accepted that irons have to graduate BOTH in their loft angle and their length to enable each iron to hit the ball a consistently different distance.
But is this the way it has to be?
Do irons have to graduate in both their loft angle and length to be able to function properly for the golfer?
Not long ago, serious research in clubfitting performance revealed that the distance between any two irons comes 85% from the loft difference and 15% from the length difference between the two clubs. Clubfitting research has also proven that the lower the loft and the longer the length of the club, the harder the club will be to hit consistently well.
Hmmmmm…are you starting to see where this is going?
It’s no secret to a golfer that he or she will hit their higher number/shorter length irons much more consistently than the lower number/longer length irons. From this it could make sense to make all your lower loft irons to be shorter in length. After all, the shorter the length the easier it will be to hit the club solid and on center with more consistency.
Problem is, going shorter in length means you lose distance. But remember the research that says length is 15% of the distance difference between any two irons, while loft is 85% - the vast majority of the distance difference.
So here’s the challenge along with the potential benefit of playing with a single length set of irons.
When all the irons are made to be the same length, every single possible element that has any effect on the SWING FEEL is perfectly duplicated in each single length iron. Same length means same shaft weight, same total weight, same head weight (swing weight), same balance point and the same Moment of Inertia for each club in the set. Having each iron demonstrate the same, exact swing feel can help many golfers achieve better shot consistency from a more repeatable swing with each different club.
Conventional iron sets made to incrementally different lengths can be made to have the same swing weight and the same MOI for each club. That’s one reason why incremental length irons when fit correctly to the golfer will perform just fine. But they cannot be made so that the total weight and balance point are identical for each club, so they fall slightly short of being able to offer a golfer the same, exact, perfect swing feel for each iron in the set.
Next, if the single length set is made so the low loft irons in the single length set are now shorter than they were in the conventional set, because shorter length always makes a club easier to hit consistently solid and on center, you now have a situation in which you can hit the low loft irons in a single length set more consistently than you could in a conventional length set.
And who doesn’t want to hit low loft irons more solidly, more consistently? But here’s the challenge that has to be met for a golfer to fully benefit from switching to a single length set of irons.
Because the low loft irons in the single length set are now shorter in length than they were in the conventional set, the golfer won’t be able to achieve as high of a club head speed with the low loft irons in the single length set. The shorter length drops that club head speed by around 1 to 2 mph per half inch of length reduction. With that club head speed reduction comes a drop in distance, but not that much because length differences between irons account for 15% of the distance difference, while loft angle determines 85% of that distance difference.
To make the single length set deliver the distance the golfer is used to from his conventional length set, the single length set has to be created so that the lower loft head designs have a way to make up that loss in distance that can come from the shorter single length.
That’s why the Sterling Irons™ single length irons can definitely be the single length set of irons that can replace a golfer’s conventional set of irons and not just retain proper shot distances for the golfer, but in many cases INCREASE distance while offering a higher level of shot consistency and on center hit performance at the same time. Sterling Irons™ single length low loft irons are designed with a unique high COR, variable thickness face construction which is not just unlike any other single length set design, but unlike any other iron designs made for conventional iron sets as well.
What allows the Sterling Irons™ single length irons to offer the real potential for both more distance with a higher level of shot consistency is using a shorter #8 iron length for all the irons combined with a unique, high COR, higher ball speed face design. The 8-iron length ensures a higher percentage of on center hits vs other single length sets made at a 4, 5 or 6-iron length. While the high COR face construction delivers more ball speed to not just offset the club head speed drop from the 8 iron length, it also actually adds distance to the shot.
Is a single length set of irons for you?
The potential is there for distance with shot consistency. You never know until you try. If you do wish to try them out, by the end of March, Sterling Irons™ will be available.
CLICK HERE if you would like to see answer's to FAQ's directed to Sterling irons co-developer, Jaacob Bowden.
You can contact Engineered Golf directly, and they can help you with a trial demonstration, or an in-person custom fitting. Click Here. Sterling irons can be built to your exact specifciations. Please inquire about ordering your Sterling irons at Engineered Golf.