This is something I’ve been asked frequently since Bryson DeChambeau first came to public attention at the 2016 Masters tournament. At Augusta he finished tied 21st place and was the lowest scoring amateur that year. A week later, in his first tournament as a professional, he finished tied fourth.
Prior to this, DeChambeau was only the fifth amateur golfer in history to win both the NCAA Championship and the US Amateur in the same year. The other four golfers to have achieved this feat are; Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Ryan Moore.(1)
Given DeChambeau’s promising start to his professional career, and his impressive record as an amateur golfer, it’s no surprise people have taken notice of him. But what’s also caught the public’s attention is the fact he plays with irons and wedges of all the same shaft length, has a distinctive “one plane” swing, and he’s a student of The Golfing Machine.
So given his success, should you emulate DeChambeau’s club selection and play with single length irons and wedges?
Yes and no. I’m not going to discuss the technical aspects of club fitting, loft, lie angles, clubhead weights etc, but suffice to say, playing with single length clubs makes your life easier. Instead of setting up to the ball slightly differently with every club in your bag, it makes sense to have one set up for every iron / wedge.
If you didn’t know already, your set up has a profound influence on how you swing the club. This in turn affects the impact alignments, which in turn affects the ball flight. If your set up is different for every club, it may adversely affect where your ball ends up. This is a contributing factor to why we have favourite clubs, or perhaps have that one club in your bag you struggle to hit properly.
So with single length club shafts and a uniform set up for all clubs, you ought to get a consistent ball flight. For this reason, these clubs are a great idea.
That’s the “Yes” reason for single length clubs, the “No” reason relates to your expectation of the clubs.
It’s wrong to assume DeChambeau plays as well as he does because of his clubs. If you were to visit a golf shop, purchase the cheapest set of clubs and give them to DeChambeau to use, he’d still play golf to a world class standard. It’s DeChambeau’s golf stroke that wins tournaments, not the clubs he uses.
Of course they’re a contributing factor to his success, but let’s not overstate their effect on his scores. And the same can be said for your scores. Don’t fall into the trap so many golfers do, thinking if only they had the latest top-of-the-range driver / expensive golf balls / single length golf clubs, suddenly they’d be able to hit the ball much further, straighter and with more consistency - because chances are, you won’t.
So if you’re in the market for a new set of clubs, a single length set could be a wise investment, as part of a long term strategy to lower your handicap. But if you’re looking for a short term fix - something that’s going to take ten strokes off your score next time you play, don’t waste your money. There are no short cuts in golf.
Change your swing, not your golf clubs, if you’re after substantial improvement to your scores.
This leads on to the second question I’m asked - should you swing on “one plane” like Bryson DeChambeau?
Again, without getting too technical, let’s take a look at DeChambeau’s golf stroke and see what this “one plane” business is all about.
Looking at his swing from “down the line”, keep track of the clubshaft’s path. From address to the top of the swing, and then back down again through impact, the clubshaft remains on one single plane.
Now almost all touring professionals keep the clubshaft on plane throughout their motion, but what makes DeChambeau’s distinctive, it that that plane doesn't move at all. Most touring professional’s swing planes will start off relatively shallow at address, then steepen as the hands rise to the top of the swing, and then shallow out again through impact. DeChambeau’s remains on a single plane.
This, in The Golfing Machine parlance, is a particular component variation called a “Zero Shift”. If you have the book, you can read about the Plane Angle Variation in chapter 7-7, and specifically the “Zero Shift” in chapter 10-7-A. In conjunction with his swing plane being a zero shift, we can also classify its steepness as being on the “Turned Shoulder Plane”. I explain what this is in the Swing Plane chapter of this website, and if you have TGM book, it’s described in chapter 10-6-B.(2)
The steepness of the swing plane is a very important consideration here. In essence, when using the Zero Shift component variation, whatever plane angle the shaft is at address - that’s what you’re stuck with. This means a very low backswing for almost all set ups, where the hands would just about get to belt-buckle height at the top of the stroke.
So in order to get the hands to shoulder height, and above, at the top of the backswing whilst using a Zero Shift, you’d have to set the clubshaft angle at address relatively steep. Which is exactly how DeChambeau sets up.
You’ll note, in order to get the clubshaft that steep at address, his left arm and clubshaft are almost in a straight line when viewed from “down the line”. The angle here, between the clubshaft and left arm is known as the 3rd Power Accumulator Angle. I’ve explained this in the Power Package chapter of this website, but simply put, the more you increase that angle, the less potential power you have behind your swing.(3)
To see this effect in action, stand upright, take a club and hold it in your left hand only. Grip the club and cock your left wrist so that the angle between the clubshaft and your arm is 90º degrees. Now rotate your wrist clockwise and anticlockwise. Observe how far the clubhead travels. You’ve created an arc, where the clubhead moves in a circular fashion around your wrist. The radius of this circle is the whole length of the clubshaft.
Regrip the club and uncock your left wrist so that the angle between the left arm and clubshaft is now 180º degrees (a straight line). Rotate your wrist clockwise and anticlockwise again and see what happens. This time the clubhead isn’t moving in an arc at all - the only movement is the clubface opening and closing.
You can see from this experiment how the 3rd Power Accumulator Angle has a huge affect on swing mechanics and the amount of potential power you can use through impact. By “zeroing” out the angle between the left arm and clubshaft, you’re depriving yourself of a significant source of power.
For DeChambeau, that’s not so much an issue. At time of writing this, his driving average on Tour is 292 yards.(4) But for yourself, omitting the 3rd Power Accumulator could potentially take dozens of yards off each club, without any compensation in terms of accuracy or consistency.
What I’m getting at is, just because a particular component variation, and everything that entails, works for one person, doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work for you. Part of what makes The Golfing Machine a unique guide in golf instruction is that you don’t have to emulate another person’s swing. By understanding and incorporating key features into your own golf stroke, you can create a swing that’s perfect for you, given everything that’s unique about you and your body.
So should you attempt to swing like Bryson DeChambeau? Absolutely - by swinging on plane, having a “flat” left wrist, establishing and maintaining clubhead lag…
Should you attempt to “zero out” the 3rd Power Accumulator Angle and use a Zero Shifting plane like DeChambeau? By all means give it a try - but don’t expect it to revolutionise your game and take 20 strokes off your scorecard!
So in a nutshell; Single length clubs - they’re a good idea. If you’re currently looking to buy a new set of clubs, getting a set could be a wise move. But if you’re looking for a quick fix, they’re not it.
Emulating Bryson DeChambeau’s swing - give it a try, but don’t expect miracles. Instead, concentrate on performing the three basic Imperatives and Essentials to create your own precision golf stroke.