Benefits Of A Shorter Driver Shaft — Explained By Tell Me More Golf

benefits of a shorter driver shaft and why play them

If you walk into any golf supply retailer today, you’ll see many different brands of drivers in various models and variations. What they will all have in common is the significant length of the stock shafts that come standard. 

The length of today’s average driver shaft measures between 45 and 45.75 inches. Callaway’s new Rogue ST drivers come equipped with 45.5 inch shafts, and Taylormade’s Stealth drivers measure even longer, at 45.75 inches. 

As recently as 20 years ago the average driver length was somewhere around 43 inches, which is now a quarter inch shy of Taylormade’s latest 3 wood.

benefits of a shorter driver shaft and why play them

Why Play With Shorter Driver Shafts?

benefits of a shorter driver shaft for distance vs accuracy vs forgiveness

With the gradual leap in average driver length over the years, many average golfers have had a tough time maintaining accuracy, and have found the longer club to be awkward and tougher to control. 

Currently, the average driver shaft on the PGA Tour averages just under 45 inches.

Rickie Fowler famously shortened his driver down to 43.5 inches back in 2017, finding it gave him better control and made it easier to hit fairways. He would use the extra boost to go on and win the Honda Classic, leading many recreational golfers to speculate about the length of their own drivers.

To understand why the stock shafts in drivers have lengthened so much over time, it is important to understand how golf clubs are marketed and sold. While other golf clubs are marketed based on different traits – spin, launch, feel, etc. – drivers and woods are almost exclusively advertised and sold based on their distance. 

The saying “distance is king” thoroughly applies when it comes to the way modern drivers are designed today. A longer shaft leads to a longer swing arc, giving the clubhead more distance and time to generate speed.

It is very important to understand how these all important distance numbers are measured. To determine how far today’s driver will launch a ball, the golf club being tested is placed in the mechanical “hands” of a swing robot. A swing robot can repeat the exact same swing motion over and over, and be adjusted to different swing speeds. Golf club testers pair these high tech robotic golfers with the latest launch monitor technology to test clubs and gather data.

While swing robots are helpful to test golf equipment and gather raw data, they do not represent the golf swings seen on most golf courses. In reality, the average golfer’s swing is far from repeatable, and many golfers struggle to hit the center of the clubface on a consistent basis. Most golfers also struggle to keep the longer club on the correct plane throughout the swing, leading to hooks and slices that fly farther out of bounds than ever previously possible.

A shorter driver shaft makes the club more manageable, comfortable, and easier to control. Unless you are a taller golfer, it is unlikely that the standard shaft length is optimal for your swing. PGA Tour players are the best golfers in the world, and they have even learned to put their egos aside and use whichever driver length lets them hit the most fairways possible. As a recreational golfer, you should definitely not be more concerned with chasing distance than the professionals, and a shorter shaft will likely lead to an increase in distance if you struggle with a slice.

A shorter shaft can not only increase fairway percentage, it can also help straighten out the ball flight of slicers compared to the standard length off the shelf. It is easier for the vast majority of golfers to keep a shorter club in “the slot” and on the correct club plane compared to a longer one.

The longer driver usually ends up on an “out to in” club path, leading to the dreaded distance killing slice. A squarely hit ball by a shorter driver with the correct club path will fly further than a poorly struck ball with a longer one.


benefits of a shorter driver shaft for how to measure driver shaft length

No two golf swings are exactly alike, and using a launch monitor when testing out new drivers is the best way to compare the hard data and see which is best suited for your game. 

Many large golf equipment retailers provide access to an in store launch monitor and will let you compare different drivers they have available free of charge.

Some golfers have trouble getting the ball up in the air, while others hit their driver far too high. Both of these can be addressed with the correct clubhead and loft combination.

Many manufacturers also produce drivers in a “draw biased” model, where the clubface is angled slightly shut instead of square to the target. There are a few different clubhead and shaft configurations available that produce different ball flights, and some unbiased launch monitor testing can help set a player up with the perfect equipment.

The most common mistake beginner golfers make when shopping for a new driver is choosing the driver that produces the highest launch monitor yardage, even if they only reach that number on one perfect swing. Club manufacturers understand this tendency, and know that extra long shafts will produce that one booming drive with peak distance, regardless of consistency.

The team of experts at Tell Me More Golf recommend comparing a shorter shafted driver and a standard length one head to head on a launch monitor, and see the results for yourself. 

Many golfers will notice much better accuracy and control with the shorter driver, as well as a much tighter shot dispersion. Even if the longer driver produces a slightly higher yardage, it’s only worth it if it has the accuracy to match. It is much better to hit the ball 250 yards in the fairway compared to 275 deep in the woods.


Distance Vs Accuracy Vs Forgiveness

Greater forgiveness in a golf club leads to greater accuracy. The term forgiveness refers to how far the ball lands from its original target line on a mishit shot. 

A club with high forgiveness will not deviate as far from the original target line, while a club with low forgiveness will end up much further from the intended target. For this reason, more forgiveness = more accuracy.

While distance and accuracy are not mutually exclusive, many golfers sacrifice accuracy when chasing more distance off the tee. This is mostly due to the tendency to swing harder and faster, causing less consistent swings and more mishits. 

The same concept applies to a longer shafted driver. While a longer shaft produces more power, it can also make a club harder to control and more prone to mishits.

How To Measure Driver Shaft Length

There are two different ways to measure driver shaft, by shaft length and by playing length. The shaft length only refers to the shaft itself, while the playing length takes the whole club into account, and is the measurement used by the USGA to determine if a club conforms to maximum size specifications.

While the shaft length is usually provided by the manufacturer, or easily obtainable by simply measuring the disconnected shaft from end to end, there is a specific process required to determine playing length.

First, lay your driver down on a flat surface. A beach towel or carpeted surface is best to avoid scratches or other damage. Next, find the point where the club head comes into contact with the flat surface at a 60 degree angle. 

This area is referred to as the “heel” of the club head. Once you have located this area, known as the “heel” of the club, measure from there to the butt of the club – and you have your playing length.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is a shorter driver shaft better?

If you constantly struggle with accuracy off the tee, a shorter driver shaft can be a better option for your game. Hitting more fairways is the quickest way to a more enjoyable round of golf, and a shorter length driver shaft is a quick and easy fix that helps many beginners hit the sweet spot more often. The best driver to have in the bag is the one you can consistently hit on the center of the clubface, not the one you can hit the farthest.

Does a shorter driver shaft help a slice?

If you are having trouble dropping the club into “the slot,” a shorter shaft can be more manageable and easier to keep on the correct club plane. A shorter shaft also makes it easier for many players to properly rotate their hands and wrists through the ball at impact, leading to a square clubface. A straight shot or a slight draw will fly and roll out much farther than a slice, leading to significantly more manageable second shots into the green.

Conclusion: Research by

black tell me more golf compressed logo with mottled background information for golfers

While golf club manufacturers today offer longer than ever stock driver shafts in their latest models, the vast majority of golfers will be more accurate and play better with a shorter driver shaft. 

Hitting the fairway consistently is one of the quickest ways to lower your scores, and have a better time on the golf course. 

Our team of experts at Tell Me More Golf encourage you to speak with your local PGA professional, club fitter, or pro shop employee to see if a shorter driver shaft would benefit your swing.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
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