If you’re like most golfers, you love hitting bombs with your driver. It’s probably half the reason you go out to the course in the first place, right?
There isn’t much more rewarding than lining up a tee shot on the box and making perfect contact to see the ball sail long and straight. As fun as that shot is, as you probably know, hitting it long and straight doesn’t always go hand in hand. While clubs are more forgiving than ever before, distance vs. accuracy continues to be a big debate. Should amateurs try to hit it farther or hit more fairways?
We’ll discuss that more in this post but want to focus on one critical component that ties it all together – the driver shaft length.
While most golfers are always upgrading equipment looking for the best new drivers, a big part of your club is the shaft itself. If you’re playing the wrong shaft, even the best clubhead in the world will make it hard to find fairways and hit bombs.
So let’s dive into understanding more about the driver length and how it impacts your game.
Driver Shaft Length 101
First off, let’s establish some baseline numbers so you can compare your clubs to what’s considered “normal” in the game of golf. Over the past two decades, the average driver length has increased in length from 43 inches – 43.5” to 45” inches for men’s drivers.
For women’s’ drivers, they are typically one inch shorter so around 44” inches. These are usually the specs you’ll get if you purchase a driver off the rack without any customization.
The increase in length, plus amazing new technology, has made it easier for golfers of all skill levels to hit it farther than ever before. Here’s a general rule to use – the longer the driver, the more distance you will get.
Testing from different companies has found that each inch longer can help you hit it 5-10+ yards longer! But the answer isn’t as simple as just buying a longer driver shaft to hit bombs.
Because a longer driver shaft also means less accuracy which can lead a lot higher scores. If you’re constantly behind a tree, hitting it into hazards or spraying it off the golf course OB, you’re in for a long day (and high scores).
The key is to find the right length for your game!
What is the Ideal Shaft Length?
The ideal shaft length will depend on every player but some of the biggest factors include height, age, ball speed, and swing speed. If you’re using a driver that’s 45 inches but you’re only 5’3,” it’s going to be very difficult to control consistently.
On the other hand, if you’re using a regular flex driver and only have 100mph swing speed and chop down a driver, your club turns into a stiff driver. This will also be very difficult to hit consistently if you don’t have enough speed to hit the newly adjusted shaft flex.
Ideally, you’ll want to test out different shaft flexes and different shaft lengths on a golf simulator or range if possible. Standard length shafts aren’t always the right fit for your game.
Try to get a fitting to hit multiple longer shafts before committing. This will help you see the results before spending $400+ on a new driver that may or may not be the best one for your game.
As always, play your game and swing your swing. Don’t try to play anyone else’s game, always do what works best for you.
Distance vs. Accuracy
As I teased in the intro, a lot of golfers want to know… “Should I strive to hit it farther” or “Should I try to hit more fairways?” This is a great question and one that can significantly improve your game if you feel like your scores aren’t matching up with your talent.
I think for golfers who can’t break 100 yet, focus on your golf ball finding the short stuff instead of distance. Nothing ruins a scorecard like hitting drivers out of bounds or into hazards more often than not. This is one of the fastest ways to card big numbers and make it difficult to shoot a double digit score.
This is why some amateurs don’t even carry drivers or only hit them if there is plenty of room off the tee. If you’re not breaking 100 yet, stick a fairway wood or hybrid off the tee so that can get the golf ball in the fairway. While it won’t be as sexy as the driver, you’ll find less trouble and make it easier to get around the green quicker and in the hole in fewer strokes.
But if you’re already breaking 100 regularly and want to get below 90 or even 80, the focus should be on hitting it as long as possible. Because if you’ve made it this far, chances are you have a pretty repeatable swing and have enough skills to get yourself out of trouble if your ball ends up in the rough. Plus, your short game is probably pretty solid as well.
Think about it, the longer you hit the golf ball (even if it’s in the rough) can make the game easier. Even the best guys in the world don’t hit more than 60% of the fairways (on good days), but they all hit it pretty long.
They know the more shots they have inside 150 yards will give them more birdies at closer range than laying back. This is why Bryson DeChambeau packed on 20 pounds of muscle to increase his speed, hit it farther, and have shorter approach shots.
Plus, hitting it longer will allow you to get closer to short par 4s in one shot and closer to par 5s in two shots. That’s where you can really score and start to consistently break 80 and mabye become a scratch golfer.
What Happens When You Cut Down a Driver
Cutting down driver shafts seems simple right? Well, a few things happen with a shorter driver and it’s important to consider before giving it a trim.
First, the club will look different at address as you’ll be standing closer to the golf ball. This will feel slightly awkward at first and take some getting used to before feeling 100% confident at address. I wouldn’t suggest making this switch and heading right into a competition, especially if you trim it by more than an inch.
Second, the swing weight will change in the club as well. This is the balance of the club and has an impact on your ability to strike the golf ball in the sweet spot. Since you’ll be losing some swing weight, you can add more by using a heavier shaft, RAT glue to the head of the club or using lead tape to offset it.
Finally, when you cut down your driver, you’re making the shaft stiffer as well. It will have less flex and will need more swing speed and ball speed to hit it like you did before. This is why it’s a good idea to sometimes order a new shaft with the proper length from the factory instead of having a local fitter do it.
Also, if you’re looking to increase your swing speed without new shafts, don’t forget to use the Super Speed Golf System. This is a proven training aid that will help you hit it farther (without new shafts) after only using them 2-3 times per week for only 10-15 minutes of practice.
Do you have more questions about your driver length? No problem, we got you covered… take a look at some more commonly asked questions and answers below.
Should I shorten my driver shaft?
Maybe, but every player is different so I can’t say “Yes” universally. Shortening the shaft will make the club shorter but it will also make the shaft stiffer and adjust the swing weight as well. Plus, the more length you remove, the less flex your club will have.
Depending on how much you cut it down, it could move a regular flex to a stiff or a stiff to an extra stiff. So if you’re looking for more accuracy, don’t just saw off an inch from your shaft without thinking it through. Make sure to ask your local club fitter about the best options or if you should order a new shaft that is already a shorter length from the factory.
Does a longer shaft mean more distance?
Yes and no – longer shafts can help you hit it farther but they don’t always equate more distance for the average player, it really depends on a variety of factors. Here’s the thing, if you’re trying to become a long drive champion, then yes, a longer shaft can help you add more distance but there’s a catch — accuracy.
If you’ve ever tuned into long drive events on TV, you know their misses are nearly off the planet. That’s not what you want to see your golf ball do on the course!
A longer driver shaft can help with distance but it also makes it a lot easier to miss fairways. While some guys can get away with missing fairways, most amateurs don’t yet have all the shots in their arsenal to still shoot consistently low scores.
I would suggest finding a balance of distance but don’t forget about your total accuracy as well. Never underestimate how much easier it is when your golf ball is in the fairway more often than not!
How long is Bubba Watson’s and Rickie Fowler’s driver shaft?
Bubba Watson is known for his crazy shot shaping, fancy footwork and his bright pink headed driver. In terms of driver shaft, he usually plays a 44.5 inch driver in his Pink G20.
On the other hand, another popular PGA Tour pro is Rickie Fowler. Despite being a smaller player compared to Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, he cut down his driver to make it even shorter for more accuracy. He made the move to a shorter shaft in 2017 and it worked amazing as he won the Honda Classic shortly after making the adjustment.
Shorter shafts helped him increase spin rate and ended up not losing out on much distance but also found his golf ball in the fairway more as well. Now that’s a win-win!
The main thing to remember with your shaft length is to play the one that works for you. Don’t play a certain length because your favorite tour player does. Instead, play the one that makes it easier for you to hit more consistent golf shots every single round.
Is there a limit for your driver length?
The rules of golf state that the legal driver length is 48 inches but you will rarely find a player that plays a club anywhere near that long.
Because it’s a lot harder to control and is geared towards long driver players than everyday golfers. Unless you’re very tall, you likely won’t get any benefit from hitting a club this long.
Final Thoughts on Driver Shaft Length
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of how the driver shaft impacts the performance of your longest club in the bag. Remember, the average driver standard length is 45 inches for men and 44 inches for women (off the rack).
With a shorter shaft can help with the right clubhead, you can make magic off the tee and start to shoot consistently lower scores. But the wrong shaft lengths can make your golf life miserable if you’re hitting it all over the golf course.
While you should play the right clubhead for your game, don’t forget to investigate your driver shaft as well. You want one that fits your game by thinking about ball speed, shaft flex, and total length. All of htis will affect your spin rate and impact the performance of your goal ball.
If you have no problem with distance now and want more accuracy, think about a shorter driver. But if you want more distance, don’t be afraid to try out a few longer shaft length options as well. As always, test, test, and test to find out which club works best for you.
Also, we have a few posts that are very relevant that will help make your buying decision easier.