iron shaft length & face loft 1900-2011...

I remember years ago while going through Jack Grout’s “Let Me Teach You Golf As I Taught Jack Nicklaus”, thinking, hmmm, something is very wrong here…
I was on pgs. 76-77 where he is demonstrating how one should set up with a 5 iron.
The set-up distances were just not working out…
I didn’t realize it back then, but eventually I caught on.

Does anyone have info on how the shaft lengths have varied for irons over the past century ?
Let’s just take a 5 iron for starters. Was the shaft length kept pretty standard up until the last decade or two?

Did I hear correctly that Ping was the manufacturer that started to alter the lofts?
Are the lofts now 1 or 2 clubs off from what was standard years ago, or has that been changing through the century?

I’d love to know what happened between 1900-2011.


i’ve bought old stuff lately that is 1/2 inch to an inch shorter than the new standard lengths and the lofts or a club
or two weaker. for example, i have some old kroydons from the early 60’s where the 5 iron is the same lenght
and loft of my srixon 7 iron. my srixons are probably 10 years old too…

it seems everything i have bought in the 50’s early 60;s (mac m-85 and hogan power thrusts) is 2 clubs weaker.
i have some mac mt’s from the 80’s (i think) and some wilson staffs from late 80’s and they seem to be 1/2 inch shorter
and one loft weaker- ie one club weaker.

it’s kinda weird pulling out a 5 iron for a 150ish shot but whatever it takes…it’s fun when people try to club off you.

I don’t know them before 1970 but have a chart of approx. 20 companies starting in the early 70’s…Ex: 1972 MacG 5-irons were 37 inches long, 32 degree loft and 60.5 lie…

My Mizuno MP68 5 iron came from the factory at 37.75 inches, 27 degree loft, and 60.5 degree lie angle. So .75 inches longer, 5 degrees stronger, and same factory lie angle as the '72 Macgregor.

don’t forget that it wasn’t until Bob Jones came along that anyone even used “matched sets”.

The number on a club is largely irrelevant in any case, it is the loft that is the only thing that matters.

Thanks for the input guys, that’s really interesting.

I picked up a set of JNS IronMax irons 5-6 years? back.
The 5 iron measures 38 inches, 26 degrees loft and 61 degree lie.

I’ve been hitting some balls with my old Hogan irons, figuring out which set to use for ABS, and it is not just the length of shaft, and stronger lofts that I noticed, but also the weight of the heads

the newer irons (the last 20 years or so) all seem to be 7g apart, so starting at the 3iron :

3i: 240g
4i: 247g
5i: 254g
6i: 261g
7i: 268g
8i: 275g
9i: 282g
PW: 289g

but my 3i Hogan is nudging 252g, so about 5% heavier in weight, does not seem much, but that is near to a modern 5i head !

I was just thinking about this subject today.

Most assuredly irons were heavier back in the day, add to the fact the clubs were manufactured heavier, pros like Hogan and others would make them heavier still by adding lead tape to the head.

Seems that most of the great ball strikers seemed to prefer heavier clubs.

Now I am no expert on any of this, but from what I have read you can count on the modern clubs always being longer in length and the lofts stronger than vintage clubs. I think we can all agree on that.

The modern club being lighter and longer with stronger lofts is an effort by the manufacturer to increase the swing speed of the average recreational player, thereby increasing the distance of a shot. Also to fool the low info folks among us into thinking that they are hitting that 7i, that used to be a 5i, 220 yards or whatever.

What is sacrificed? Control. Control of the swing, the club, the hands, the club head and the golf ball.

Golf is still a game of feel and you sacrifice feel if you are swinging a whip as opposed to a shaft. Not saying you can’t control a whip, just be prepared to put in the practice, and its just not the same feel or control you can have over a heavier, stronger object. You may not swing as fast, but I’d lay odds you’d have more control.

I am wondering if I setup my more modern set of clubs with the same length shafts as vintage clubs, or .25 inches shorter than standard would I actually gain more control in my swing and control of the club?

Choking up on a driver helps my driver swing. Wouldn’t a slightly shorter shaft in all my clubs accomplish the same thing?

Question for jrich99 - Your MP 68 5i has the same lie angle as a '72 MacGregor 5i?

According to the specs that Mashie posted, the Macgregor and Mizuno 5 irons were manufactured at the same lie angle (60.5). My set is bent 5 flat now, though.

Keep in mind with the modern irons that when you shorten them you’ll need to add weight to keep the swingweight the same. Part of why the modern heads are so light is to allow for the longer shafts. Because of this, mine are assembled to standard Mizuno length with weight added down the shaft. To get them to swingweight high enough with shorter shafts would have required an awful lot of lead tape and/or weight down the shaft.