Generally, most golfers find longer clubs harder to hit than shorter clubs.
This is for several reasons, but mainly because it requires standing further away from the ball. In effect, this makes it harder to locate the center of the face.
The 3 wood is one of the longest golf clubs in the bag. So, many golfers consider the idea of shortening their 3 wood shaft to make it easier to hit.
I’ve done it twice — once unsuccessfully, and another time which went well!
In this article, I’ll teach you what you need to know about shortening a 3 wood shaft, how to do it, and whether it will improve your accuracy.
Ready? Let’s go!
Shortening 3 Wood Shaft: Why?
Golf club manufacturers are continually adding length to their clubs to give the perception of hitting the ball further. While shortening your 3 wood shaft might cost you a few yards, it can actually increase your accuracy by making it easier to find the center of the clubface.
The Effects of Shortening a 3 Wood Shaft
I’ve shortened a 3 wood on two occasions in my golf career.
The first time I cut one down myself was when I was a younger golfer. Essentially, I took about an inch off, slapped a new grip on, and called it a day.
Sadly, I never hit that club straight again!
In that case, cutting it down made the shaft too stiff and impossible to release.
However, the second time around I took about half an inch off the stock shaft provided by the club manufacturer — and it was a perfect fit.
In my experience, these are the main effects of shortening a golf shaft:
- Reduced Swing Weight
- Increased Shaft Stiffness
Let’s cover each in some detail.
Reduced Swing Weight
Firstly, cutting down a golf shaft will reduce the swing weight.
Simply put, swing weight is how heavy a golf club feels when you swing it.
When you shorten a 3 wood shaft by just half an inch, you’re effectively reducing the swing weight of the club by 3 points — or about 6 grams.
If you’re very familiar with the feel of your 3 wood, cutting down the shaft can make it feel significantly lighter when you swing it.
Increased Shaft Stiffness
Secondly, shortening your 3 wood shaft will increase its stiffness.
Effectively, when you cut down a shaft it will feel quite a bit stiffer than before. But, the change in stiffness depends on which end of the shaft you cut.
Golf shafts taper, meaning the thicker grip end is stiffer than the thinner tip end.
According to golf club designer Tom Wishon, “Cutting more of the grip end will still stiffen the shaft a little bit, but only because in doing so you make the shaft shorter, and not nearly as much as when trimming more from the tip end.”
PRO TIP: To limit the change in stiffness, cut the grip end rather than the tip end of the shaft.
Ultimately, there’s no guarantee that shortening a 3 wood shaft will work for you.
I recommend talking to a professional club fitter before shortening a golf shaft. By doing so, you can discuss and understand your swing preferences.
Next, I’ll take you through the pros and cons of shortening a 3 wood shaft. That way, you can decide whether it’s worth it for you. Read on!
Pros of Shortening Your 3 Wood Shaft
If you have a professional club fitter measure your golf clubs for you and make the adjustments to your 3 wood shaft, many positives can come out of this:
- Improved Accuracy: In effect, a shorter shaft will get your hands closer to the ball at address and impact. This can make it easier to control the clubface and locate the sweet spot more frequently. Ultimately, this should result in better contact and straighter shots.
- Better Striking in the Rough: Another potential benefit of shortening your 3 wood shaft is that it can give you the confidence to hit out of the rough. It’s also a reason why hybrids are great out of the rough and tough lies — the shaft is shorter and more controllable.
- Increased Confidence: In general, most golfers feel more confident with a shorter club in their hands. This is because we’re standing closer to the ball, and feel as though we can really control where we strike the ball.
Cons of Shortening Your 3 Wood Shaft
Sometimes a shorter shaft in the 3 wood is not a great idea, and it can actually be a mistake. Here are some potential negatives you could experience:
- Lighter Feel: Since cutting down a shaft reduces the swing weight, you’ll likely feel more weight during the swing. This can take some getting used to, but can certainly feel different to normal.
- Stiffer Shaft: Similarly, shortening your 3 wood shaft can make the shaft feel stiffer overall. If your swing speed isn’t high enough to warrant a stiffer shaft, this can result in a mismatch with your individual swing profile.
- Less Distance: Finally, a shorter club means a smaller swing arc. In effect, this reduces the maximum speed your club head travels, reducing distance. That said, if you’re getting better contact then this can negate any speed loss.
How to Shorten a 3 Wood Shaft
If you want to shorten your 3 wood, here’s the step-by-step process to follow.
PRO TIP: Make sure you are careful with the shaft in the 3 wood. With it being graphite, you must ensure it does not scratch or crack in the process; otherwise, this will turn into a much bigger project.
Things You Need
You’ll need the following tools to shorten your 3 wood shaft:
- Club protector for the vice
- Hook blade to remove grip
- New golf grip
- Hacksaw or golf shaft cutter
- Double-sided tape
- Grip solvent
Step 1: Measure for Proper Length
Before you start, decide how much length you want to take off of your 3 wood.
To limit the effect on shaft stiffness, we’ll be cutting the grip end of the club.
I recommend you go conservative when removing length the first time around. If you end up needing to cut more off, it will only cost you a new grip.
Step 2: Use the Vice and Remove the Grip
Set your 3 wood into the shaft protector on your vice and clamp down.
Don’t go too hard here, just enough so the club is stable.
Then, remove the grip with a hook blade. Start very slowly, and ensure you don’t scratch the shaft in the process — graphite shows scratches very easily!
Step 3: Cut Down the Shaft
Leave the tape that was under your grip on the club. This can help ensure that the shaft doesn’t splinter when you cut it.
Measure and mark the cut line on the tape. I would suggest removing a half inch or so to start, but some golfers prefer to remove a full inch.
Then, use a golf shaft cutter or a hack saw to cut the shaft.
PRO TIP: Don’t use a pipe cutter on a graphite shaft! It works well with steel shafts, but graphite will splinter.
Step 4: Replace the Grip
Once the shaft is cut to length, you can remove the rest of the tape on the club, replace it with fresh tape, remove the backing, and soak it with grip solvent.
Now, slide the new grip into place. Make sure it is aligned properly with the center of the clubhead, with the grip logo facing your preferred direction.
Step 5: Clean the Grip and Test the Club
After putting the new grip on, wipe it down with a clean towel. If any of the grip solvent is left on the club, it could make it slippery.
Wait a couple of hours for the grip to dry, then take it out to the range to test it.!
Start with a slow tempo at first. In my experience, using the shorter club length will take a few swings to get used to.
Check out the video below for some extra tips on cutting graphite golf shafts:
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding shortening 3 wood shafts.
Are Shorter Shafts More Forgiving?
It’s not just shorter golfers like myself that benefit from a shorter shaft.
Often, higher-handicap players who struggle to release the club and square up the clubface would do better with a shorter club.
The 3 wood does not have much loft, which makes it difficult to find maximum forgiveness in this clubhead. Combine the low loft with the extra-long golf shaft, and it becomes a club that is better off staying in the bag for many!
High handicappers that shorten the 3 wood are likely to find more consistency with their ball striking — improving accuracy and distance.
How Does Cutting a Shaft Affect Swing Weight?
Cutting down the shaft of your 3 wood will reduce the swing weight. In effect, this will make the club feel lighter during your swing.
Essentially, shortening the shaft by half an inch will reduce the swing weight by approximately 3 swing weight points.
However, this varies depending on if you cut the grip or the tip end of the shaft.
While a shorter shaft can make it easier to control the clubface, it can feel noticeably lighter — and stiffer — than before.
Ultimately, I recommend you check with a local professional club fitter before making any major changes to your favorite 3 wood!