Do Tall People Always Need Longer Clubs or Short People Shorter Clubs?

Posted by on Aug 17, 2012 in Clubfitting, Tips | 30 comments

There are certain assumptions that golfers often make about their equipment.  Associating height with club length is one such assumption that quite often is wrong.  The reason is because many tall people have long arms and a lot of short people have normal length arms.

When we take our stance to hit a golf ball, it is the combination of our height AND our arm length that initially determines what club length is required to ensure that we are comfortable over the ball.  But there is a lot more to advising the proper club length than one’s height and arm length.  Our posture and whether we set up more erect or more bent over is another factor that contributes to the decision for how long our clubs need to be.

However, most important in the length decision for any golfer is an evaluation of certain swing characteristics of the golfer.  There is an old saying in Clubfitting that goes like this, “the longer the length of the clubs, the more difficult they will be to control and the harder they will be to hit consistently on the center of the face.”

When fitting club length, the goal of any experienced clubfitter is to fit each golfer with the longest club length that they can control and hit on center with the highest level of consistency.

And therein lies the rub, as the old Bard used to say!  Because properly fit clubs have to be long enough to offer enough comfort so the golfer is neither bending over or crouching too much, yet not too long to cause problems with hitting the ball as consistently on center as possible, it takes an experienced custom clubfitter to know just how to find that perfect balance when fitting golfers for the best length.

At Wishon Golf, we teach clubmakers to START the process by taking a measurement of the golfers’ distance from the wrist to the floor and comparing that measurement to a chart of initial starting lengths that we have developed from ongoing research with golfers over many years.  Again – this is a STARTING POINT ONLY for length fitting and in no way represents the final length of the clubs.

Tom Wishon Golf Technology®
Wrist To Floor Measurement for Initial Club Lengths
Wrist to Floor Driver Length 5-iron Lenth
27″ to 29″ 42″ 36 1/2″
29+” to 32″ 42 3/4 37
32+” to 34″ 43 1/2 37 1/2
34+” to 36″ 44 38
36+” to 37″ 44 1/4 38 1/4
37+” to 38″ 44 1/2 38 1/2
38+” to 39″ 44 3/4 38 3/4
39+” to 40″ 45 39
40+” to 41″ 45 1/4″ 39 1/4
41+” to 42″ 45 1/2″ 39 1/2
over 42″ 46 and up 39 3/4 and up

After that, the clubfitters are taught to evaluate the following golfer and swing elements:  1) swing path;  2) downswing transition force and downswing tempo;  3) point of the wrist-cock release on the downswing;  4) overall golfer athletic ability.

In general, if the golfer has a more outside in the swing path, a more forceful transition and/or faster swing tempo, an earlier release and is less athletically coordinated, the final lengths will never be longer than what the lengths indicated by the wrist to floor measurement chart.

But if the golfer has an inside out to square swing path, a smooth transition, smoother tempo, midway to late release and is reasonably well coordinated, these are all characteristics which indicate the golfer could control a longer length than indicated by the wrist to floor starting point for length fitting.

At Wishon Golf, it is all about teaching clubmakers to evaluate the swing characteristics of the golfer to make sure the clubs FIT properly to the abilities of each golfer.


  1. Hi Tom,
    I am 6ft 6in tall and my irons are plus 1in in length with 3/8in increments between irons. My swing speed is only around 80mph as I am 75 years old. The clubfitter who made the irons installed stiff shafts to offset the added length. My question is if this makes sense and is it possible that the stiff shafts in the shorter clubs works but that I might benefit from regular shafts in the longer irons?
    Thanks Tony

    • TONY:

      The fact that your clubmaker chose to “only” go +1″ over and with 3/8″ increments for someone of your height most certainly indicates he knows what he is doing and that you chose right when you decided to work with him. Most people who fit and build clubs tend to go much too long when they see someone as tall as you. Keeping the irons at +1″ and then allowing the irons to gradually and progressively get longer through the 3/8″ increments is smart clubmaking. with the S flex shafts at +1″ progressing longer than that from the 3/8″ increments is also thinking properly as the longer length with the higher swingweight that comes from the added length will exert additional bending action on the shafts that would not be there if the irons were shorter. So that part makes sense.

      As to whether you would gain anything from R flexes, I’ll be blunt and honest. Probably not for a couple of reasons. One, iron shafts are already twice as stiff in actual bending amount vs wood shafts of the same flex so you would not get that much more actual bending action on the iron shafts in going from S to R. Two, the only possible benefit for you would be IF right now, the S shafts tend to feel a little stiff to you. If you ever hit shots dead on center and it just does not feel as if the ball takes off that well or impact feels slightly less solid, these are indications of a shaft being too stiff for the player. If you do not have such a dead/less lively feel for on center hits, then if you have a pretty good swing with a fairly late release, you might see a little higher flight in going from S to R, but that is about it. You did not say if your 80mph speed was with the irons or measured for the driver/woods. If that is an iron speed, and if you do have a decent fundamentally sound swing, then going from S to R should show about 5-6 feet higher flight, that’s about it. But if the 80mph speed is with your driver, then you should drop to the R for just plain swing speed fitting reasons. If you are looking for more distance with the irons, if you are not presently playing with an iron that has a high COR face design, then this is for sure something to consider. High COR iron models are now much more common than before and if you get a well designed one, they would increase distance by about one club, depending on what the lofts are compared to the lofts of the irons you now have.

      Thanks and hope this helps a little,

  2. Hi Tom,

    Was wondering, do you have a similar wrist to floor measurement conversion for conventional putter length? I am 6’1.


    • DAVID

      We do not use nor teach the use of a wrist to floor measurement chart for determining putter length. Putters are independent of an iron set when it comes to length because golfers tend to have all manner of different posture and set up position and preferences for what feels too long or too short with a putter as compared to the irons. What we teach for conventional putter length fitting is to get the golfer to assume his most comfortable address position with regard to how much they bend over and or crouch when setting up to a putt. While carefully maintaining this position the golfer then touches his two wrists together – the distance from the wrists to the floor AT AN ANGLE OF 72* is then considered the starting length for the putter. At that point the starting length is set up on a test putter for the golfer to try to see how he/she feels about it. From that, adjustments are made to finalize the length with COMFORT and ease of motion with the arms and shoulders being the points for final length judgment from this starting length.


  3. I am intrugued by your one length clubs and I really want to try them out. I am tall and play with +1.25 length clubs. How do you fit the one length clubs?

    This has got me thinking about using shorter clubs anyway and now reading your comments

    “In general, if the golfer has a more outside in the swing path, a more forceful transition and/or faster swing tempo, an earlier release and is less athletically coordinated, the final lengths will never be longer than what the lengths indicated by the wrist to floor measurement chart.”

    This describes me pretty well but do take some offense to less athletic as an X college basketball player who started golf very late in life. I now like the game and have time to play it. I want to conquer the beast. I never wanted to spend money on clubs because I figure I am the problem.

    I can hit my shorter clubs (7 on down) pretty well I don’t have any distance issues just accuracy.

    I don’t think I can purchase my way to good golf but perhaps I am using the wrong length clubs.

    Curious what you think shorter clubs, one length clubs?

    • DAVID

      Iron length is not just based on golfer height. It includes the golfer’s arm length in combination with the height through a measurement called the wrist to floor dimension. How far the wrists are from the floor combines height and arm length. Over the years we have compiled tons of data from many golfers to come up with a chart we offer to clubmakers to give them a recommendation for iron length based on specific measurements of the distance from the wrist of the upper hand on the grip, to the floor. Rarely do we see even a tall person need as much as +1.5″ longer than standard for their iron length. The reason is because so many tall people also have long arms so their wrist to floor measurement is not all that great. In fact I remember from way back in my past working history, I fit a number of NBA players and the longest set I ever fit was +1″ over, and that was for a 7 footer with not all that long of arms for his tall height.

      We fit for the single length irons the same way. We use a height + wrist to floor measurement and from this we know what length to go with. In general if we see a wrist to floor of 36″ to 37.5″ we go with a 7 iron length of 37″. 35 to 35.75 we go with 36.75″ for the length. Under 35 we go with 36.5″ and then under 33″ we drop under that 8 iron length of 36.5″. Over 37.5 we start to go with lengths longer than 37″ for the single length irons.


  4. I am rather short, my height is 5 feet 4 inches. I have always had trouble hitting the driver ( standard size) so I recently bought a standard sized 3 wood but honestly speaking I’m no good with that either. I have asked for advice at my club but I have had all sorts of mixed opinion coming my way. My basic question is – Is my short height really hampering usage of the longer clubs such as fairway woods and the driver ? I seem to do well with my 3 hybrid and the irons but the 3 wood I can’t seem to get the hang of. Kindly tell me whether short height can cause problems with the longer clubs.


    • Mr. Jain:

      Thank you for taking the time to find our site and to ask your question about club length and fitting. we’re always happy to help with the best information based on our decades of experience in fitting research.

      The common standards for length of drivers and woods made by all of the big companies has really gotten to be ridiculous. You cannot find a men’s standard driver length less than 45″ or a 3 wood less than 43″ anymore. Some are even 46″ and 43.5″ respectively. The only golfers who truly can play to the best of their ability with drivers and woods of that extreme length would be a lower handicap player with a very smooth and well timed golf swing, who also would possess a flatter swing plane with a late release. Not many golfers like that. Not even 1 percent of all golfers. With the driver and the woods, height is not really the most important element for determining the best length. With the irons height with a measurement of the distance from the wrist to the floor is the key element for length determination. But with the driver and woods, it is all about the golfer’s swing characteristics and athletic ability.

      That being said, assuming you are an average golfer shooting somewhere between the mid 80s and high 90s, there really is no way you should be playing with a driver longer than 43″ or a 3 wood longer than 42 or even 41.5″. Along with that because of your height, the LIE ANGLE of the driver and woods will need to be flatter so the head does not appear to rest on its heel with the toe end of the clubhead sticking up. Not many driver and wood head offer options for a much flatter lie – fortunately you came to the right place because all of my driver, fairway wood and hybrid designs are created with a special bendable hosel to enable the clubmaker building the clubs to bend the hosel to make the lie and face angle best fit each golfer. if you need help finding a good clubmaker to work with you can go to the FIND A CLUBFITTER search tool on our website – the link is both at the top of our home page as well as right in the middle of the home page as wel. There you can input your location and the closest clubmakers will be displayed with contact information.

      Hope this helps,

  5. Hi Tom,

    Many thanks for sharing all this knowledge, I just have one question, when doing the wrist to floor measurement, do I do it barefoot or wearing my usual golf shoes?



    • CAM

      Wear flat sole shoes like tennis shoes and do the measurement while standing on a hard surface floor like tile/concrete. Stand comfortably erect, shoulders perfectly level, arms hanging just relaxed and not extended at your sides. It will be most accurate to have a 2nd person do the actual measurement so you can maintain this position. Measurement is done from the major wrist crease at the base of the palm on your upper hand on the grip. Thanks much and hope this helps,

  6. Hi Tom,

    I am 41 french 7 hcp player.
    I play golf and custom fitted club for years but I need your expertise.
    I am 6.06 tall with 37 wrist to floor.
    Indeed is it preferable to play .25 longer club and more upright or longer up to .5 with less lie angle ?
    As most brand standard are different what would your static recommendations ?
    Thanks. Charles

    • Charles

      Under our IRON length measurement chart that uses height and wrist to floor measurements, your IRON length would be + 1/2″ over standard, which would be expressed as a 5 iron of 38.5″ length. Then from the 5 iron on down to the wedges, we probably would recommend using 3/8″ increments between irons instead of the usual half inch change from iron to iron. BUT . . . COMFORT is the #1 most important thing with iron length. So in testing we would build some iron test clubs to the recommended lengths and then have you hit them over 2-3 different days to determine if you feel comfortable over the ball and you do not feel that you have to bend over or crouch down too much to play the club.

      With the woods, the golfer’s height or wrist to floor have nothing to do with the length. Length fitting in the driver and woods is all about the golfer’s swing characteristics. In general, the faster the tempo, the more the swing path is outside in, the earlier the golfer releases the club, and the worse the golfer’s athletic ability, the shorter the length of the driver and woods should be WITH NO REGARD FOR HEIGHT. And in contrast, the smoother the tempo, the more the swing path is square to inside out, the later the release and the better the golfer’s athletic ability, the longer the length of the driver and woods COULD BE, not should be. In the end, no matter who the golfer may be, the longer the length of the driver and woods, the more difficult it will be to hit the clubs consistently well.


  7. I have a 41 inch wrist-to-floor and my driver and 5-iron are exactly what you recommend on your chart. What do you recommend, as a starting point, for the length of fairway woods and hybrids? Does it matter? In the same vein, do lie angles matter with these clubs?

    • ERIK

      Just to be sure, my current wrist to floor chart says that a true 41″ measurement could match to either a 39 1/4″ or 39 1/2″ length for the 5 iron. If possible, for such cases as your very long 41″ W to F measurement, always try to get the length of the 5 iron as SHORT as you can possibly deal with AND STILL BE COMFORTABLE IN YOUR ADDRESS POSITION AND THROUGH IMPACT. Once you find that length, then use 3/8″ increments down through the set to the wedges so that you can be sure to maintain comfort in your position over the ball and through impact.

      The reason for this approach is that once you start to get to where you have irons that are +1″ or more over standard length, the clubs will always end up with a higher than normal swingweight. It is just not possible for companies to make the same head models in several different weights. They have to choose the headweights so they allow the assembled clubs to end up with a normal range of swingweight for the most commonly seen lengths and shaft weights and grip weights used by golfers. And that is not +1″ or more longer.

      But at the same time, you cannot choose a 5 iron length that is too short for your comfort over the ball. Having to feel like you have to bend over more or crouch down more than you are comfortable with is far worse for club performance than having to deal with a swingweight that is higher than normal. Your body can get used to a higher swingweight easier than it can ever get used to irons being short enough to cause discomfort over the ball. But no matter what, I do recommend the use of 3/8″ increments between the irons instead of 1/2″ increments for COMFORT through the high loft irons and wedges.

      For the woods, the length HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR HEIGHT OR ARM LENGTH OR WRIST TO FLOOR MEASUREMENT !!!!!!!! Only the irons are fit for length on the basis of your stature and physical characteristics. This is a philosophy that I changed to in the past couple of years, so that now my W to F length chart only has iron length, not wood length. You fit the driver and woods on the basis of the GOLFER’s SWING CHARACTERISTICS AND ABILITY.

      There’s a ton that can be written about this but in general it works like this – the higher the handicap, the more the swing path is outside in, the earlier the release and the more aggressive the swing tempo, the shorter the driver and woods HAVE to be or else the golfer will really struggle with shot consistency and the game won’t be much fun. Each golfer is different in their combination of these 4 things I mentioned so it is not possible for me to tell you precisely what driver and wood length you need or should have. But if you are over a 10 hdcp, if you slice the ball, if you have a moderately fast tempo, you should not be using a driver length over 43.5″. From that, the 3w length would not be more than 42″, the 5w not more than 41″. On the other hand if you are under a 10 hdcp, if you have a square to inside out path, if you have a decent later type release and if you have a reasonably medium tempo, then your driver length should be 44 to 44.25″ and your 3w length could be 43″, 5w length 42″.

      Hope this helps,

  8. Also, what effect will cutting 2 1/2 inches off my senior flex driver have on the club?

    • BILL:

      That all depends on how long the driver is now. If you bought a big company driver off the rack in a golf store or on line, it is probably somewhere between 45 and 46″ in length because that’s pretty much where all the companies set the loft of their men’s drivers today. Cutting 2.5″ will certainly make it easier to control to POSSIBLY lead to better accuracy and a higher percentage of on center hits. But ONLY if you re weight the head to go with the much shorter length. If you just cut the length and do nothing about the head weight, bet the farm that you will lose the feeling of the clubhead during the swing which will lead to even worse shot results. Any time a golf cuts a club shorter, some weight has to be added back to the head to restore the feeling of the head’s weight during the swing, which is a key element to having decent swing timing and rhythm and control.

      How this is done for a cut down club is usually with lead tape applied to the head. But for a drop of 2.5″, you would need to add back a LOT of weight to the head to get the head feel back to where you can feel it during the swing so your swing tempo is ok. How much? If you cut 2.5″ from the driver, you will have dropped the swingweight by some 15 points – meaning if the driver was D1 before the length reduction, it would be B6 after. That’s way too head light. A 4″ long strip of half inch wide lead tape adds back ONE swingweight point. So to start with you would want to put at least TEN strips of lead tape, each 4″ long, on the head. Hit shots, see how you sense the feeling of weight in the head for your swing timing and go from there as to whether to add more, leave it, or take a little off. The lead tape can be put anywhere on the head that does not distract you. Usual place is around the outer perimeter of the head first, then on the sole second.

      2.5″ is a LOT to cut from a driver – best to cut it first to 44″ length, re weight it a little, play with that for a while to see how it goes. then if you still are fighting control and consistency, take another half inch off, add a tiny bit more weight to the head, play with that and see. If that doesn’t help, then really, you would need to find a GOOD clubmaker with whom to work to be properly fit for a new driver which could have ALL of the key fitting specs properly fit to you – length, loft, lie, face angle, shaft, total weight, swingweight, grip size. And do NOT think this is too much work – you love this game or you wouldn’t still play it. You want to play it a little better. You hit a driver as much as 14 times in a round. So having a driver that truly FITS YOU for ALL of these key elements can make a difference in your enjoyment of this great game.


  9. From where to where do you measure club length. Total club ir shaft.

    • BILL:

      Here’s how you measure the playing length of any club. Get a 48″ ruler. Hardware stores have them. Put the club down on a hard surface floor such as tile or concrete so the CENTER OF THE SOLE is touching the floor. Not tilted back on the heel or tilted up on the sole side of the sole. Hold the club in this position while you slide the 48″ ruler up from behind the shaft with the 0 end of the ruler on the floor right behind the heel back of the head. Length is then measured to the edge of the grip cap on the end of the shaft in inches + any fraction.


  10. Appreciate the feedback. When hitting 7,8,9 and pw I definitely had to crouch a little more with standard clubs. My old set of FG,s were an inch over but when looking at the bottom of the clubs after an hour on the range, the marking from the mats were favoring the toe area. I had them bent up 2 degrees which seems to give me more of a draw although a draw is my natural shot. I never found ball striking with my irons before having them bent an issue. I could draw and fade balls at will. I never liked the clubs being bent upright so with this new set, I am leaving them alone. It’s hard to find a good fitter out here but easy to find a million opinions on what I should do with my irons. I appreciate your feedback and have to utmost respect of what you do. I wonder if I should one day get fitted professionally or just be happy with how I normally play.

    • Neil:
      If you are a good player with pretty good swing characteristics that you can REPEAT with reasonable consistency, and if you are happy with the way you hit the ball land happy with your primary ball flight shape, then play with the clubs you have and enjoy the game. But if you are seriously into the game and if you have any areas about your play that you are not 100% happy with or have doubts about, or if you ever question whether there is something that could be improved in your shot shape, shot consistency, shot distance, then hunting for a GOOD, EXPERIENCED clubfitter with which to work can either, 1) bring about some of these possible areas of improvement, or 2) make you realize that you are just fine with the clubs you have so you remove any doubts.

      It certainly can be a little different with different golfers in each level of ability, but basically, those who shoot in the mid to low 70s are good enough that they pretty much can try out different club combinations/specs and know themselves without a doubt whether the club fits or could be better. but as the score increases, and especially for golfers who shoot mid 80s to over 100 who play with clubs they bought off the rack, there is no question that a proper fitting analysis from a very GOOD clubfitter will bring about improvement.

      A big part of the reason that avg players benefit more from proper fitting than do good players is because so many of the standard specs in the off the rack clubs are such that they make the game more difficult for the avg player – things like driver and fwy lengths being too long, iron lofts being too low to make several of the irons in a typical set more difficult to hit, total weight/swingweight not being well matched to the golfer’s swing tempo/force/strength so they struggle with shot consistency, etc.

      Hope this helps,

  11. 6″3 38 wrist to floor. Fitter says go 1 inch longer on my new Staff fg forged irons. Normally play an inch over but hit the standard length well and confidence in 3 4 irons. Thinking I may just go 3/4 over in length. Any thoughts. 6 handicapper good iron player but found tighter dispersment with the standard lofts

    • NEIL
      We see a W to F as +3/4″ over so your fitter is pretty darn close to what we see after years of digging into this in part of our fitting work. What you might want to think about is whether you want to go with normal half inch increments between irons vs 3/8″ increments. Here’s some things to think about as to whether this could be something you want to do or not. With your present, previous sets that may have been an inch over, if you have ever felt that you had to bend over more or crouch a little more to be totally comfortable over the ball and during the swing with your 7, 8, 9, PW in the set, then this is an indication that the 3/8″ increments would be better than half inch. or if you have had situations where you pull the ball more often than you wish with the high loft irons, that too is an indicator for the 3/8″ increments possibly being better. but if neither of these have been any issue with a set that was +1″ or +3/4″ over, then stay with the half inch increments.


  12. I truly seem to go along with every little thing that is composed in “Do Tall People Always Need
    Longer Clubs or Short People Shorter Clubs? | Tom Wishon Golf Technology”.

    I am grateful for all of the actual information.Thanks for your time,

    • Stephaine

      Thanks so much for your interest in clubfitting information. We really do appreciate that very much. For sure, if you have ANY questions about any area related to golf club performance, do please let us know and we would be glad to address any of your interested topics about golf clubs in the future.


  13. Thanks for quick anser! Talked to Conny today and he told me the same as you did! I dont doubt hes knowledge at all, his just fantastic. Just wanted a second opinion from the guy himself.I have been to four fitters last 3 years and everyone has given me different “recipe”.. and it makes me wounder.. Golf is not the sport of compromisse in my opinion… I value truth, honor and craftmanship.
    I have played + 2 since last fall and I really wanted to get it right this time. I want to break par all the time and dont want to blame your clubs for not doing it Tom:) I place my order this weekend. Cheers!

    • JENS

      That is nice to hear that you have spoken with Conny and that you feel good about the fitting work that he can do for you. I have many nice memories from several trips I have made to Sweden since 2006 to deliver clubfitting seminars for the Swedish PGA. One of these was hosted by Conny and Leif in the Stockholm area and we had a very good time. Leif was our tour guide to see all of the wonderful history of Stockholm and he even took us what he said was the one and only Mexican restaurant in Stockholm for dinner one night!

      Thank you again and the very best wishes to you in this great game!!


  14. Hi tom

    Was fitted for the 575 att tee view in Stockholm sweden a few weeks ago. Amazing club head i must say. My wrist to floor measurment are 41″ without shoes and im really cant deside if i shuold have +2 inch. I have played standard lenght until last fall when I lengthen my current set. I have a smooth tempo, athletic build and hit the ball solid. I feel when hiting +2 my tempo and posture gets better. The downside is and might become? with the shorter clubs the control and aim. Is it common to use same lenght incresment thru the set? Even in the wedges? 2+ gives better posture and tempo then standard, but where goes it the other way?

    • Gustav:
      First of all, I am glad to hear that you worked with Tee View AB for your clubs. Leif and Conny are both very experienced clubfitters and they are among the very best in the whole of the golf business. After many years of clubfitting research, I believe that one of the very best ways to know if the lengths of the clubs are right for a golfer is whether they can maintain their posture and comfort in the swing, and whether they can experience a consistent repeating swing tempo, timing and rhythm when swinging the clubs. The only time that longer clubs generates more problems with accuracy and impact location is when the lengths do not fit the golfer’s size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics.

      Yes it is true that for MOST golfers, going with a length of +2″ longer than standard does usually result in less shot consistency. But in your case, by experimenting with these +2″ overlength clubs, you have found that the length seems to help you gain better swing tempo, timing and consistency. In your case, if you went with +3″ or only +1″, you probably would not experience a more comfortable posture and more consistent tempo. So even though OTHER GOLFERS could not play as well with +2″ longer clubs, they do seem from what you say that they do work best for you.

      So as the old saying goes, “If it is not broken, do not try to fix it.”


  15. Hi Tom,Got the book .can you please explain how do I measure “Driver,5 iron Lengths” as shown in Table 11 page 22.
    Thanks Wally

    • Wally

      I am sorry but which book are you referring to? I looked in 4 of my books and in all those, there is no Table 11 on page 22. So if you do not mind responding to tell me which book you are talking about, I can then tell you what you want to know.


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