Bryson DeChambeau, the eccentric American who captured the Memorial Tournament overnight in a playoff, has become the posterboy for single-length irons.
A player who certainly marches to his own beat, DeChambeau’s scientific inclinations and technique led him to believe this was a superior approach to iron play – to have every iron in the bag cut to the same length. The same shaft length for every iron means posture, ball position and the swing itself can be exactly the same for a 4-iron as they are for a pitching wedge.
On one hand, the idea appears to hold a lot of merit; on the other, the concept comes across as entirely wacky. So the only true result comes from trying them.
I trialled Cobra’s King One Length irons [above] for a round recently. Like many golfers, I was intrigued by the concept and wanted to cut through the hype to instead find some concrete evidence from the only people who really matter when it comes to the ‘yay or nay’ take on equipment: ourselves.
Armed with the same style of Cobra King One Length irons DeChambeau wields, I took on a familiar course with unfamiliar weapons.
One of the first things you notice about the Memorial winner’s set-up is his posture. That’s one of the plusses behind the single-length movement – the consistency they promote in your posture. As a typical amateur golfer who often doesn’t step up to hit shots for a couple of weeks or longer, I’m acutely aware my posture varies – and perhaps a lot more than it should.
The Cobra One Lengths challenge you in the department, and it can take some getting used to. The 4-iron lay-up shot on a par 5 followed by a pitching wedge to the green? Usually two very different shots but with single-length they’re effectively brought closer together in your setup.
And it was one area that took some getting used to. There were points early in the round where I found myself thinking, I just want my 9-iron to FEEL like a 9-iron! Maybe the homogenous nature of the clubs messed with my head a little. After all, I am someone who will chip with every club from 7-iron to lob wedge because to me they’re all just a little bit different around the greens.
Yet as the round went on, I began to ‘get it’. A series of consecutive swings with different irons yielded some consistency. A sequence of 4-iron, 8-iron, 5-iron approach shots began to feel similar to each other.
One area where I missed having irons of different lengths? Escaping long rough. Sometimes from the really thick stuff you need the combination of loft and a shorter shaft to help extricate the ball. The course I played this day had plenty of it, and I lamented not having the shorter clubs to untangle the messes I’d made.
Still, there’s no doubt the concept has value. With more time and effort, you could effectively groove the same swing for half or more of the clubs in your bag. If you’re someone who likes the idea of sameness in your iron game, single-length irons might just be the tonic you’re looking for in fairway play.