Some golfers will tell you that it’s never a good idea to cut down a set of clubs. There are others who swear by it and do it all the time to make sure that their clubs are a custom-tailored fit for the golfer who will use them. There are good arguments on either side, but one thing is for sure, if you’re going to try to shorten clubs, you need to know how to get it done right.
How do you shorten a golf club? Golf clubs can be expensive. Good golf clubs can be really expensive. If you find a set of great clubs at a good price, should you jump at the chance even if they’re a little too long? There are a lot of factors that come into play when determining if you can successfully cut a club down. We’ll help you figure out if you should, gather what you need, and get the job done.
The actual process of shortening a club isn’t too complicated. If you know how to use a tape measure and a hack saw, you can get the job done. The trick is knowing when you can get away with it and when you’d be better off selling or trading-in a club to help with the purchase of something else. When shortening is a good option, there are tips to help make it a smooth, efficient, and effective process.
Can Golf Clubs Be Shortened?
If you’ve been around the sport of golf for any length of time at all, you’ve probably heard two different kinds of stories about shortening clubs. The one kind of story starts out with somebody needing clubs and having a limited budget. They cut a set of clubs down and get more than they paid for in return for their efforts. The other kind of story starts with a perfectly good set of clubs and ends up with a pile of useless metal or graphite.
You can indeed shorten golf clubs. The tricky part is knowing what the limits are so that you can decide whether you should cut a set down and knowing how to do it so that it is quick, painless, and successful. There are limits to how much you can cut before you start creating problems with the club that will snowball into bigger problems for the golfer who is going to use them.
Whether you’re cutting down a set of clubs for yourself or for someone else, you need to think about some of the potential downsides to altering a club that was engineered to perform a certain way. Small changes will have small side effects. Big changes will have big side effects. Know when to say when so that you don’t ruin a set of clubs that you could sell or trade-in instead of putting them under the knife.
5 Steps to Shortening a Golf Club
This article will guide you through a step-by-step process for shortening a golf club. From deciding whether you should shorten a club to gathering what you’ll need for the job and getting it done, we will walk you through the process and offer some tips to make the results great.
Deciding if You Should Cut a Golf Club Down
It’s one thing to trim an inch off of a club. When you do so, you’ll affect the weight, flex, loft, and lie. But since you’re only trimming a little bit—it will only have a small impact on the overall performance of the club.
Like we said earlier, big changes have big side effects. If you are 5’5” and you’re thinking about cutting down a set of clubs you inherited from Shaquille O’Neal, the results will probably be less than satisfactory. Sure, that’s a pretty ridiculous example, but it serves to illustrate our point. There’s a limit to how much you can take off of a club before you’re doing too much damage to the carefully engineered specifications of the club.
If you cut too much off of a club, you’ll be making the shaft a lot more rigid. You’ll also be getting into a skinnier section of the shaft, and that might affect the possibility of finding a grip that will fit appropriately. You don’t want to find out that you took too much by watching your club fly out of the grip on the follow-through of the first shot that you hit with it.
Gathering the Supplies That You’ll Need to Cut a Golf Club Down
It’s always a good idea to do all of your prep-work before you start a project. In our experience, projects that get started when they can’t get past half-done tend to stay half-done for a long time or forever. Gathering the tools and supplies that you need and preparing a workspace for the job is the best way to set yourself up for success. It’s the whole-job equivalent of measure-twice, cut-once.
There are some items on our list that are absolutely essential, and there are others that you can get by without, but that would make the job easier. If you’re doing more than one club or plan on making a habit of shortening clubs, then we recommend getting all of the items on the list. You’ll appreciate the ones that are nice-to-have but not essential if you have to get through multiple clubs.
Gather the following items before you get started on the project (Nice-to-have items in parentheses):
- A Vice (some vices have tubular jaws, which will give you a better hold) (a chain vice is great for holding cylindrical objects securely)
- (Rubber Shaft Clamp to protect the shaft when you place it in the vice)
- A Razor Knife (roofers and carpet installers use a hook-shaped blade in their razor knives – this type of blade makes it easier to pull through the grip without slipping)
- (A Heat Gun or Blow Dryer for removing stubborn tape from the shaft)
- A Hack Saw [For metal shafts]
- A rotary tool with a cutting wheel [For graphite shafts]
- Tape Measure
- Marker (Paint Markers are easier to control on smooth surfaces like metal and easier to see when you choose a bright color)
- Sandpaper (a rotary tool with a polishing wheel can reduce the amount of manual labor that you have to do)
- Adhesive Tape (for securing the new grip – purchase from a pro shop) (the amount you’ll need depends on how many clubs you’re planning on cutting down)
- New Grip (one for each club that you’ll be cutting down)
Once you’ve gathered all of your supplies and prepared your workspace for the job, you’re ready to get started. If you plan to cut down more than one club, you should have a specific measurement for each club before you get started. Sometimes you will take the same amount off of each club in a set of irons or a set of woods, or both—other times you’ll need to make minor adjustments in how much you take from each club to get a set that works well for the golfer who’ll be using them.
Remove the Old Grip
The first thing that you need to do when you’re cutting a club down is to get the old grip out of your way. In order to do that safely, you need to have plenty of space to work in and a way to hold the club steady while you’re cutting. That’s where the prepared workspace and the vice come in.
- Clear everything but the club you are working on from the working surface.
- Secure the club in the vice – take care not to crush the club in the vice and make sure that you position the club in a way that protects the shaft from getting bent while you work on it.
Once the club is held securely in a way that protects it from being damaged while you work on it in an area that is free from anything that you could trip on or have other problems with, you’re ready to make the cut. Put a fresh blade in your razor knife. A sharp blade cuts easier and that protects you from having to push or pull too hard, which could expose you to a higher risk of cutting yourself. A hook blade makes this step easier and safer.
- Slice through the grip until you have cut it from top to bottom.
- Peel the grip off of the shaft of the club.
Once you have removed the old grip from the shaft, you will notice that there is a layer of tape between the grip and the shaft. You will need to remove this as well. If you’re unbelievably lucky, you’ll be able to simply unwind the old tape from the shaft. If the adhesive on the tape has spread, you’ll need to pick it off in pieces or scrape it away. Heating the tape up will soften the adhesive and make this step easier.
- Heat the adhesive with a heat gun or a hairdryer.
- Peel the tape off until you have removed it all from the shaft of the club.
Cut the Shaft
Remember the old adage that you should measure twice and cut once. There’s no upside to rushing this step of the process. If you take too little, you’ll have to repeat the whole process. If you take too much, you’ll either be placing the clubs in the yard sale pile or doing the best you can with extenders. Why risk having to take one step forward and two steps back when you can just get it right the first time.
You’re probably working in fractions of an inch for this project, so make sure that you have a quality measuring tape and that you use a section of the tape where all of the markings are clear. An old tape with worn-off markings isn’t the tool that you want for this job. A ruler or yardstick can work just as well in a pinch. You’ll want an even cut, so we recommend measuring and marking three separate lines then connecting them with your marking device.
- Measure the amount that you want to cut.
- Measure from the top of the shaft down.
- Measure carefully and make clear thin marks.
- Take note of whether your cut should take the marks or leave the marks.
Once you have marked the spot where you want to cut the shaft, reposition the shaft in the vice so that you can cut it comfortably and safely. Be sure to set the club in the vice in a way that will protect it from getting bent under the pressure you apply during cutting if you are using a hack saw. For steel shafts, a hack saw is the best option for a clean cut. For graphite clubs, you will need to use a rotary tool with a cutting wheel to get the best cut possible.
- Cut the desired amount from the shaft.
- Be careful to avoid cutting yourself with the saw or the tool.
- Be careful of burrs or sharp edges on the shaft or the piece that you cut off.
Once you have made the cut, you will need to be careful as you handle the tools, the club, and the cut end. They will all be hot from the friction of the cutting process. Give them time to cool before proceeding to the next steps. There’s no point in risking a burn just to get the job done quicker.
Even when the pieces have cooled, they still need to be handled with care. Cutting metal or graphite can leave burrs that will scratch you or even a sharp edge that will slice you. Until you’ve had a chance to smooth the edges of the cut with sandpaper or a rotary tool with a polishing wheel, treat those spots the same way that you would treat a razor blade or a sharp knife.
- Let the shaft cool.
- Smooth and polish the shaft.
Apply the New Grip
If you’ve done everything according to the directions up to this point in the process, you’re nearly finished, and you should have a right-sized club that will work and look great for you. If you take your time with the final step, you’ll be ready to hit the links within a few hours.
Start by measuring the length of the new grip that you purchased for your club. That will tell you how much tape you need to apply to the shaft in order to get maximum adhesion without having any extra sticking out of the bottom of the grip. Once you know how much tape you’ll need on the shaft, measure the shaft, and make a mark a little short of the full length of the grip.
- Measure the grip.
- Mark the shaft.
- Wrap the shaft in adhesive tape from the new top edge to the mark that you made.
Once the shaft is wrapped in tape, you’re ready to finish the job up. There are several steps that you need to go through, and you won’t need to rush through any of them, but you should make sure that you have enough time to get through them. This isn’t the point in the job where you want to call it a day and come back to finish up some other time.
- Spray the adhesive tape on the shaft with solvent. This will lubricate the tape to make it easier to slide the new grip onto the shaft. It will also emulsify the adhesive and help it to get better surface adhesion with the inside of the grip.
- Plug the small hole in the top of the grip with a finger and turn the grip upside down.
- Spray some adhesive into the inside of the grip. Spray enough that you can plug the open end with your other hand and shake the liquid inside of the grip to distribute it evenly.
- With the solvent liquid still inside the grip, line the grip up with the shaft and then slide it into place.
- While the adhesive is soft and fluid, make sure that the grip is all the way down and that everything looks and feels the way that you want it to.
Once you have the new grip in place, you will need to let the adhesive dry and cure. It will take approximately 6-8 hours for a full cure. It’s probably best to let the club dry overnight before you take it out for practice swings.
There you have it! If you follow this process, you’ll be able to decide when you should shorten a golf club and when it’s a good idea to try a different strategy to get a club that fits you into your golf bag. The prep-work, cutting, and re-gripping aren’t hard. The really hard part is making sure that you’re ready to do the work and forcing yourself to take the time to make sure you get the job done right.