Frequently Asked Questions About Sterling Irons™
With Jaacob Bowden
Sterling single-length irons are in great demand. Please see Engineered Golf, a professional club fitter located in North Bay, Ontario, for your set.
Listed below are my answers to some of the most common questions Tom and I have received thus far about Sterling Irons ™ and single length irons in general.
Are single length irons legal?
The Sterling Irons ™ were specifically designed to be USGA conforming. We’re currently in the process of submitting them to the USGA for approval. (Editor's Note: They have now been USGA approved as of March 2016).
What are the benefits of single length irons?
The main selling point of single length irons is that they are simply easier to play.
In a conventional set of golf clubs, each iron is made with a different length and weight…and they are meant to be played from a different ball position as you go from club to club. Golf is already hard enough and conventional iron design only complicates the game further.
On the other hand, single length irons are all the same length and weight. This means you only need one swing and one ball position as you go from club to club. For the average amateur who doesn’t play regularly, this can make hitting the ball easier and the game more fun.
For the better player and/or professional, you will be able to hit your approach shots much closer, make more birdies, and leak less bogeys. This is especially useful with the lower lofted irons in that 175-225 yard range that is so statistically critical to tour success. The Sterling Irons ™ in particular are built to be 8-iron length. This length ensures that you will hit the lower-lofted clubs more consistently in the sweet spot…while still not being so long-shafted that it feels odd to be playing 9-iron or wedges that are slightly longer than in a conventional set. If you want to hit the ball better, shoot lower scores, and have more fun…you should play single length irons.
Do any pros play single length irons?
Honestly, you shouldn’t play any clubs simply because a pro plays them. Typically, top tour players are paid millions of dollars to play clubs from a certain manufacturer and it is in their contract to switch to the latest clubs any time the manufacturer comes out with something new. Really you should play what best fits your own game.
That being said…the answer is yes. Bobby Jones apparently won the Grand Slam using single length irons. Moe Norman, a golfer who many consider one of the greatest ball strikers of all times, used single length irons. I used 1Iron Golf’s single length irons to shoot my first tournament round in the 60s in 2007. I also shot the Speedgolf World Championship record for golf score at Bandon Dunes with a 72 in 55 minutes and 42 seconds using GRIA Golf’s single length hybrid irons.
More recently, in 2015 Bryson DeChambeau used single length irons from Edel Golf to win the NCAA Championship and US Amateur. Bryson continues to use single length irons but has switched from the Edel brand.
Matt Dobyns continues to use single length irons into 2018. Matt is a two-time PGA National Club Professional winner. Matt still competes on the PGA Tour splitting duties with his head professional job at Fresh Meadow CC in New York.
Have single length iron sets been done before?
Yes, a Canadian company by the name of Iso-Vibe designed a set a number of decades ago. Tommy Armour came out with the EQL’s in the 1980s. My Ostrich Golf created the PureFit iMatch SLs, but are also, no longer in production. More recently, 1Iron Golf, GRIA Golf, Single Swing Golf, and Value Golf all manufacture single length irons. Edel Golf will also be coming out with additional set options in 2016.
What’s different about the Sterling Irons™ single length irons?
In designing Sterling Irons ™, we have had the advantage of both my, and Tom Wishon’s experience, the Internet for research, and modern technology for testing. I’ve been involved with playing and selling single length irons since 2007, and I knew the single length iron market very well.
Tom Wishon is a 40-year veteran of the golf equipment industry specializing in club head design, shaft performance analysis, and club fitting research and development. During the initial phases of working together, we scavenged the Internet to find every possible bit of information about what worked, and did not work, with single length irons. We then compartmentalized the feedback in to buckets and literally sat down at a white board to try to figure out how to retain all the benefits of single length irons, while fixing all the problems and common complaints.
We were also able to test all our prototypes with both human testing and robot testing on Trackman, which Tom has at his R&D facility at the Dalton Ranch Golf Club in Durango, CO.
We set out to design a cool-looking, customizable, and competition-legal set of single length irons based off an 8-iron length club (single length irons have historically been built from 5-iron to 7-iron length) that went the distances and trajectories that you’d expect for a set of modern day golf clubs.
We feel like we’ve done it!
The Sterling Irons™ are a huge leap forward in modern day single length iron technology.
What are the Sterling Irons™ specifications?
The clubs also have a weight bore in the hosel to achieve desired swing weights.
Why aren’t the major club manufacturers selling single length irons?
To our understanding, companies aren't making single length clubs as a result of misguided manufacturing decisions made earlier in the 20th century. Now that thousands and thousands of iron sets have been made this way, consequently we think the modern golf psyche is now so deeply entrenched in the idea that irons have to all be different lengths, that no major manufacturer is willing to take the risk at trying to change the design perception of the entire golf industry. Even though the science supports same length clubs, we're still stuck where we are because of a mix of stubborn tradition and a business risk that few will take on.
To elaborate more on the risk, one time I was talking to the former CEO of a major golf company and they were talking about single length irons...here is what this former CEO said:
"Same length has been done, personally I've been a fan but it's a tough concept to sell. Reality; In the US golf industry there are 6 major chains that buy product that is sold to what constitutes 85% of the market. All but roughly 2-3 % of the rest is sold in golf pro shops and they are influenced by the retailers. The buyers for these major chains only buy what is played on tour and pretty much in order of market share. Like it or not we dance to that tune. To introduce something like single length after investing in the design we'd have to spend millions on marketing and not so minor get tour credibility because no product is successful at retail without it."
- Anonymous Former Major Golf Company CEO
So even though this guy is personally a fan, the company wouldn't do it because the buyers for retail stores only buy what's played on tour...and it would cost too much money to get tour players to play same length despite the good concept!
It's just about money and risk and not what's best for the golfer!
How long does it take to get used to the Sterling Irons™?
The answer to that will depend on the person. Some people might start playing better with them immediately. Others may take several weeks or more of practice and play to adjust.
Regardless, we feel the important thing is to be open-minded and give them a chance to work for you. We are confident they can help your game.
How far will I hit the Sterling Irons™?
How far you will hit conventional or single length irons depends on your present swing.
Someone who swings slower will have tighter distance gaps and won’t hit the ball as far. A faster swinger will have larger distance gaps and have more distance. But mostly the gaps are designed to be somewhere in the 10-15-yard range.
It also depends a bit on the loft of the club. All else being equal, a 45-degree pitching wedge will go farther than a 47-degree pitching wedge. Keep that in mind when comparing these clubs to others you may have hit.
Can the Sterling Irons™ be bent?
Yes, they can be bent +/- 4 degrees.
Are the Sterling Irons™ available for left-handers?
Yes, Sterling irons are now available in left-hand irons from 5 - SW.