Should High Handicappers Use Graphite or Steel Shafts
Golf is a wonderful game. It is designed to be a level playing field for all and the handicap system is a big part of this. Modern equipment makes it easier for the modern golfer but it helps if you make the right choices. Many think only elite golfers need to really think about equipment, they’re wrong.
Almost all Drivers, Woods and Hybrids will use Graphite shafts to generate more club head speed and distance. The choice of Steel or Graphite shafts irons will mainly come down to swing speed. Graphite suits slower swings and steel suits faster swings. Besides that Steel provides more stability and with steel shafts, getting lighter, they are becoming a more attractive offers for many high handicappers.
This article is going to look specifically at the higher handicapped golfer in more detail and what shafts they should use in their irons. Is graphite or steel the best option for your irons? Let’s shed some light on this topic and help you make better decisions.
The Wrong Shaft
I once tried a driving iron that was fitted with the shaft that Rory McIlroy was using at the time. With a puffed up chest full of confidence I teed up a ball. I looked down-range, brought my eyes back to the ball then started my swing.
I swung the club as hard as I could, hit it as hard as I could and the ball sailed three-feet in the air for about three seconds. The shaft was just way too stiff, I continued to try but no matter what I did I couldn’t get that ball in the air. Turns out Rory creates more speed than me.
Brief Overview Of Graphite Vs Steel
Graphite is something every golfer will have in their driver, it is light and helps promote clubhead speed.
Steel shafts are heavier and can be more stable for better playability.
Many golfers prefer the feel and control that steel gives you as they improve at the game.
Which Is Best For High Handicappers?
High-handicapped golfers who need help generating speed should use graphite, this will really help them pick up speed.
Steel could help you with stability though.
The most important thing is to be fit for the right shaft flex whether it be in graphite or steel.
Graphite Vs Steel Shafts
Let’s go into a few different facets of the swing and discuss the benefits of each.
Graphite tends to be better for speed as it is lighter and livelier. Distance is really what graphite was developed for, that’s why it’s in your driver.
This is a factor of shaft performance that all golfers should know more about. In a sentence, torque is the shafts resistance to twisting during the swing. Torque plays a role in the feel of the shaft and with graphite there are far more options available on this front, so you can be more picky.
Steel is the best material for feel. It is smooth through the swing and gives you nice feedback when you hit the ball, it really is one of the best benefits of the steel shaft.
This is another win for the steel shaft, it is designed with accuracy in mind unlike the graphite shaft which is made for distance. Steel shafts are far more resistant to twisting during the swing so it is far easier to deliver a square face at impact.
Manufacturers of graphite shafts can make performances changes along the shaft for different characteristics. A higher torque shaft with more flex in the tip section will help with launch. In steel you just don’t have the ability to optimise like this.
Steel is cheaper than graphite, most of the time. Creating a graphite shaft is far more complicated and often requires more advanced and expensive materials. Steel is also more common which helps keep the prices lower.
This one is a personal factor and will vary in the hands of different golfers. I much prefer steel in my irons but others will benefit greatly from graphite instead. Have a pro or fitting tech help you make that choice.
Pros Of Graphite Shafts For High-Handicappers
Many high-handicappers are at the beginning of their golfing journey and so struggle to generate clubhead speed thanks to developing technique.
Graphite will help you here, no doubt. Older golfers end up with a higher handicap for the same reason graphite will help. You also reduce vibrations.
Cons Of Graphite Shafts For High-Handicappers
Graphite shafts cost more than steel shafts and, in an iron set, that can really add up.
If you are new to the game you may not want to invest in such expensive equipment.
Graphite may not last you so long as your technique develops.
Pros of Steel Shafts for High-Handicappers
Steel feels better and is more consistent in an iron, it can also last with you longer as your game develops.
The heavier clubs will also help you develop your golfing muscles to give you a more athletic game as you progress.
Cons of Steel Shafts for High-Handicappers
There is no getting away from the fact that you need speed to hit steel shafts and if you can’t generate that then they will be hard to hit.
You also have less control of shaft characteristics so it’s harder to pick a shaft that will help you get it into the air, for example.
What Should Most High Handicappers Use?
These are just 95g, which is still more than graphite but getting closer and can give you the benefits of steel with less weight.
What High Handicappers Should Use Graphite Shafts?
I would say that graphite is best for those high handicappers who really struggle with speed but don’t want to work to develop that. You play every now and then and you’re happy with that. Graphite is also great for older golfers who have lost speed to age and probably won’t get it back.
If you like to spend a lot of money on your golf equipment, and I mean a lot, the Aerotech Steel Fibre shafts could be perfect for you. These super light-weight steel shafts are revolutionary and have the benefit of graphite-like weight with steel-like performance.
How to Know When to Switch to Steel Shafts from Graphite
My opinion here is that it is all about how fast you swing the club and the prospect of gaining speed. If you are losing speed and either you don’t want to work to get it back or you know it won’t be coming back, then it could be time for graphite.
Another reason you may want to make the switch would be if you wanted less vibration in your hands when you hit a shot. Graphite doesn’t conduct those vibrations as well as steel and so your hands get less of that feeling at impact.
What Clubs Should We Always Use Graphite Shafts In?
For almost every golfer, the woods and the hybrids should be graphite.
These are speed clubs designed for distance so graphite will help you get the most from them. Some may also argue that long irons could be graphite, this is personal preference and certainly not unreasonable.
Steel Vs Graphite Shafts For Driving Irons
Many golfers are turning to driving irons in place of hybrids and their longest irons.
These clubs are designed to balance distance and accuracy from the tee and graphite is definitely something to consider here.
I like steel in my driving iron but graphite will be great for many golfers.
Favourite Graphite Shafts for High Handicappers
The Fujikura Pro iron shaft is phenomenal. It looks great with various finishes to suit your taste, it feels incredibly fast and it suits all swing types. Fujuikura make some of the best graphite shafts in golf and their iron offering is no exception.
The number one graphite iron shaft in golf is the UST Mamiya Recoil. There are so many options for this shaft that every golfer on the planet will be able to find a set-up they love. This is a great option and you can even customise the paint job!
Favourite Steel Shafts For High Handicappers
The AMT Red from True Temper is great shaft, at 94g it’s light for steel and it is designed to get height and spin on the ball. This is a shaft that will feel great and get you feeling confident in a steel shaft for your irons.
The AeroTech Steel Fibre shaft mentioned previously is really quite expensive, but if you have the budget for it, it is one of the best steel shafts on the market. It is simply the best of both worlds.
There can be a lot of ego that surrounds golf and the shaft that you use is often a part of this nonsense.
The most important thing for every golfer, no matter what level they play at or stage they are at in the game, is that their clubs are the right fit for their swing and their skills.
If you think that you need help getting some clubhead speed with your irons then definitely have a think about switching to graphite. Speak to your club pro or an expert fitter at a golf shop and ask them to take a look at your swing.
All that matters in golf is that you’re enjoying yourself. If being able to hit the ball a little further will help you with that then make the switch to clubs that will give you that. Graphite shafts could certainly give you many more years playing and enjoying your golf, so what is there to lose?