Golf shafts are very likely the most critical part of the golf club. A brand new top of the line technology club head on a shaft that doesn’t fit you properly will not get you the results that you need. Choosing the right shaft for your game has gotten quite a bit easier with modern fitting technology. The good news is that equipped with the proper information; you may not need a complete custom fitting to choose a shaft that works for your golf game.
Do Golf Shafts Make A Difference
Golf shafts make a world of difference in your golf game. Not only does the flex of the shaft matter, but so do things like weight, kick point, and torque.
Playing golf with an incorrect shaft will lead to a few problems. First, a player will try and compensate and change their own golf swing to accommodate the equipment in their hand. This can mean swinging harder or not as hard, slowing down at impact, or trying to rip it. None of these are good things. You want your equipment to match your natural golf swing.
Secondly, even if a player is compensating for the incorrect shaft, there are problems that he or she will be unlikely to overcome. Here are some basic guidelines as to mishits and shaft problems.
- Shaft is too heavy- ball flight will be too low
- The shaft is too light – ball flight will be too high
- The shaft is too stiff – likely to slice
- Shaft is not stiff enough- likely to hook
What are the different types?
There are two main categories of shafts broken down into several flexes. To start, most shafts are either going to be steel or graphite. Steel is a heavier material offered mostly in irons, wedges, and putters. Graphite, a much lighter material, is very commonly found in all drivers, fairways, and hybrids.
Within the two categories of steel and graphite, there are several flexes. The most common flex options are Extra Stiff, Stiff, Regular, Light (Senior) and Women’s (Ladies) flex. Choosing the right shaft material is just as important as selecting the correct flex as well.
What Are Steel Shafts Good For?
Steel shafts are almost always seen in irons, wedges, and putters. Years ago, there were steel drivers and fairway woods, but thorough testing has proven that even the strongest players benefit from graphite shafts in their woods, drivers, and hybrids.
Steel shafts in irons are quite a bit heavier but provide a player with more control. If a player lacks strength, a steel shaft could cause them to lose distance. It’s a common misconception that you can hit graphite shafts longer than steel. The truth is as long as the steel shaft is appropriately fit to the player, the distance should not be decreased by much.
Steel shafts offer lower dispersion rates. So where you may sacrifice a yard or two of distance, your shots should all land closer together.
Who Uses Steel Shafts?
Any player can use steel shafts, but the majority of lower to mid handicaps will benefit from steel shafts the most. The added feel and control that the steel shaft offers make a big difference for the better player.
When better players use a graphite shaft, they will feel a lack of control and workability in their shots, even if they felt more distance.
Graphite shafts have improved to increase feel, but steel shafts have improved as well. Steel shafts are not all heavy like they used to be. There are many lighter-weight options to accommodate the player seeking feel and control even without the fast swing speeds.
What Are Graphite Shafts Characteristics?
Graphite shafts are made from a carbon fiber material. The graphite helps to absorb some of the vibrations at impact. Amateurs are known for the occasional mis-hit. Those mis-hits can sting, and on cold days they are even worse. The graphite shafts help those hits to feel better, and that is partly what has made them widely accessible.
In addition to those benefits, graphite shafts have helped people increase their swing speed. Swing speed applied correctly will lead to more distance. Players who could not compete with their fasting swinging playing partners now have the chance with these lightweight shafts.
Who Uses Graphite Shafts?
Almost all women’s clubs are made with graphite shafts. For a woman to find a steel set of irons, they would have to have them custom made. Manufacturers have made the universal decision that for women to get the clubhead speed, they need to achieve optimal results; they must be using graphite. Faster swinging female players should look into custom steel shaft options.
In addition to almost all women’s clubs being made in the graphite shafts, the same goes for Senior golf clubs. It is nearly impossible to find a genuine senior shaft in anything but graphite. Senior players start to lose some clubhead speed, and the graphite shafts can help get a little of that back. There are not too many seniors that will complain at the chance to get a few of their precious yards back.
Game improvement irons are almost always offered in graphite shafts. If you are someone with a handicap of twenty or above, chances are a bit more forgiveness, and distance wouldn’t hurt you. Another player who will benefit from graphite is a person who has lost some flexibility in their game. If you have had shoulder surgery or some knee trouble, the graphite shafts can be easier on your body and help you get back a few of those yards that you may have lost.
What Are Uniflex Shafts Characteristics?
Uniflex is a specific flex. Uniflex shafts can be found in both graphite and steel. For many years this was a prevalent option in beginner sets. Uniflex is a bit stiffer than a regular but not quite as strong as a stiff flex.
For a young male player looking to start out in the game, the stiff can sometimes be a little challenging to learn with. The uniflex option added in a bit more forgiveness and some ability to release the ball.
Whose Game Do They Suit?
Uniflex shafts ideally benefit the player who hooks a regular shaft and slices a stiff shaft. If you can’t entirely release that stiff but you know regular is too weak, the uniflex can be a great option.
Uniflex shafts are not always offered by every company, but there are options within the True Temper Project X Offerings. Project X provides its flex on a scale instead of calling it Stiff, Regular, Senior, etc. So, for example, a 6.0 is a Stiff, a 6.5 is a Stiff Plus, and a 7.0 is an Extra STiff. These shafts provide options for players who do not fit precisely into the specifications of the standard Regular or Stiff models.
What About The Different Clubs
Graphite Or Steel For Your Driver
About once a month, I will come across a person who, for whatever reason, decides that a graphite shaft in their Driver is not for them. They will insist that the good old steel shafts from twenty or thirty years ago were more reliable and forgiving. This is just not true.
In today’s golf world, nearly 100 percent of all Driver golf shafts are made with graphite. Companies like TaylorMade and Callaway are using artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop their equipment. They have a pretty good handle on what works and what does not work. If they are not making a steel Driver, you do not need a steel Driver.
Off the tee, the name of the game is ball speed. To get the maximum amount of ball speed, you need swing speed. With a steel driver, you cannot get the same swing speed you can with a graphite club.
Keep in mind your Driver is much longer than your seven iron. Even if you can swing that seven-iron real fast, it would be pretty challenging to make that seven-iron several inches longer and swing it real quick. Trust the manufacturers on this one and choose a heavy graphite shaft if you feel graphite is not for your game.
Graphite Or Steel For Irons
Irons can be either steel or graphite, and both will work perfectly fine for your game based on your personal preferences. If you are a higher handicap beginner, or a slow swinger, go for the graphite shafts until this game becomes second nature. For the lower scoring seasoned player, steel will be the better option.
Graphite Or Steel For Wedges
Most players that choose steel shafts in their irons will stick with that same material in the wedges. Steel in the wedges provides a bit more control, which is very important around the greens. Players that do not have as much strength in their game should go with graphite shafts.
For the golfer that has graphite in their irons, it is not a set rule that you must also have graphite in your wedges. If you are seeking some extra feel around the greens and workability in your wedge game, look into a lighter steel shaft in the wedges.
Graphite Or Steel For Putters
Almost all putters are steel shaft, steel-shafted putters provide stability at impact. Although club manufacturers are starting to pay more attention to putter shafts, it is unlikely that they will be switching to graphite anytime soon.
When should I switch to graphite shafts?
Just before things get ugly. This is my response to the age-old questions of, “when is it time to make the switch.” Changing from steel to graphite shafts can be a tricky thing, especially for the better player. It’s a point in your golf career that you probably never thought would come, but now that it’s here, it’s time to embrace it.
If you try and play with steel shafts longer than you should, your game will suffer considerably. Before you start pushing yourself to be able to hit a steel-shafted four iron to the 18th green, take a step back, and evaluate if your equipment still fits you the way it should.
Graphite shafts have come a long way in the last few years. Not all of them feel as out of control as they did in years past. When you choose to push the steel shafts longer than you should, your swing will inevitably change. These swing changes will cause problems with your game and make it harder to play well even when you do make the switch.
When you start noticing yardage drop-offs and a slight fade on the majority of your shots, it’s time to get something a little lighter that accommodates your new swing speeds.
Do any pros use graphite shafts?
It is very rare to find a pro playing graphite iron shafts, but almost all pros play graphite shafts in their woods, hybrids, and drivers. Here’s a picture of Tiger Woods when he switched over to using a graphite Driving Iron
The biggest reason you don’t see pros playing with graphite is that 99.9 percent of golf pros do not struggle with distance. Golf pros are looking for feel, accuracy, and control. Steel does a better job of providing these things to players with faster swing speeds.
Are graphite shafts better for seniors?
Generally speaking, graphite shafts are better for seniors than steel shafts unless the senior still maintains very high swing speeds. There are some seniors in incredible shape that can easily hit a regular steel shaft in their iron. If this is you, by all means, keep swinging it!
Does a heavier shaft increase distance?
A heavier shaft swung by a dominant player can increase distance. If you are not a very fast swinging player (i.e., over 115 mph with the Driver), then a heavier shaft will not benefit you from a distance perspective.
How can I tell my swing speed?
Most local golf manufacturers or pro shops will have the necessary equipment to help you test your swing speed. Most swing speed charts/shaft comparisons will be based on your Driver swing speed. Be sure to leave a fitting or testing session with your Driver swing speed, even if you are shopping for new irons.
Will I lose distance with a stiff shaft?
The only time you would lose distance with a stiff shaft is if your swing speed is not fast enough to hit a stiff shaft. If you are hitting your seven iron around 150 yards or less, the regular shaft is usually the best way to go. Anything above this and stiff and extra stiff will be just fine with no loss in the distance.
What happens if the golf shaft is too flexible?
If your golf shaft is too flexible, you (a right-handed player) will likely hit the ball left. Since the flexibility is too much, you will essentially turn the club over too quickly on your release and consistently wind up left of your target.
Another thing that happens to players who use a shaft that is too flexible is that they will feel as though they need to slow down through impact. This is a terrible feeling. The last thing any golfer wants to do, on any shot, is to decelerate. You always want to keep the club moving through impact with as much speed as possible.
Will a heavier shaft help a slice?
A heavier shaft can help prevent a slice as long as the flex of the shaft matches your swing speed. Heavier golf shafts will not move as much at impact. They remain a bit more stable just because of their weight. This can help to ensure a square clubface at impact. However, if you choose a heavy shaft that is too stiff for you, the club could very likely be open at impact.
Will a heavier shaft lower ball flight?
Yes, if you are a player struggling with keeping your ball flight down, choosing a heavier club can lower the flight. For players that are looking for extra launch, try and find a lighter weight, lower kick point shaft. The lower kick point will send the ball up into the air a bit quicker to get you that desired ball flight.
Picking the perfect golf shaft can be easy these days with all of the high-end fitting systems and computer analysis. If all of that is not for you and your game, keep in mind the general guidelines that we offered to make sure you are swinging the right club. Lower handicap faster swinging players do best with steel shafts in their irons and wedges. Higher handicaps, seniors, and women looking to improve their games should seriously consider graphite in all of their clubs. No player in today’s golf world should be swinging a steel-shafted driver or fairway wood.
If you have any questions about the information we provided or have a specific question about which shaft would be best for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Hi, I am Matthew, a mid handicap golfer who likes to play as much as possible. I love trying out new gear and this blog is where you can find all the gear I have tested over the years!