Did you know that by switching to the correct shaft you could add another 15 to 20 yards to your swing? Not only can choosing the right shaft increase your distance, it can also help your accuracy.
The shaft, often referred to as “the engine” of a golf club, is undoubtedly as important as choosing the right club head. Unfortunately, most golfers don’t give choosing the correct shaft the attention it deserves.
It’s not uncommon for a golfer to spend $300 -$400 on a new golf club, without giving the shaft a second thought. Few golfers even realize they can change their shaft or choose one to fit their game.
Without the right shaft, having the best clubheads will still not give you the ball flight, distance, accuracy and feel you’re looking for.
Since there are no industry standards for flex or torque, when it comes to golf club shafts, it can be very difficult to compare specs from different manufacturers.
Here’s a brief overview of what to look for when choosing a golf club shaft.
Steel Shafts vs. Graphite shafts:
The general thought is that beginners and intermediate golfers should use graphite shafts and advanced golfers should use steel shafts.
That’s not really true anymore. As with any type of golf equipment the best option is to try both and see which one works best for your swing.Even professional golfers have made the transition from steel to graphite shafts. Tiger Woods, for example, switched to using a graphite shaft in his driver in 2004.
So, what are the differences between steel shafts and graphite shafts?
Graphite is a lighter material than steel, reducing the overall weight of your golf club. They allow for longer clubs and they have more construction options than steel shafts. Graphite shafts also reduce the shock at impact.
Steel shafts, in general, are less expensive than graphite and are considered to be more durable. But, the quality of graphite shafts has improved considerably over the last 10 years, making them almost as durable as a steel shaft.
The key difference between graphite and steel is the weight. Since graphite shafts are lighter than steel, it will increase your swing speed, giving you more distance. The downside is that graphite shaft generally give you a feeling of having less control over the clubhead. Graphite shafts simply do not give you the same “feedback” as steel shafts do.
Graphite shafts are usually recommended for women, seniors and players with a low swing speed looking to add distance to their swing.
Basically, the amount of flex refers to the ability of a golf club shaft to bend during the swing. The wrong amount of flex for your swing will cause the clubface to be misaligned at impact. This affects the distance, accuracy and trajectory of the ball.
The best way to determine the correct flex is with the use of a launch monitor. This will help a fitter to have a better understanding of the launch conditions during the moment of impact. This will, in turn, help them determine the best flex for your game.
Even without the use of a launch monitor, you can still determine your correct flex. If you know how far you hit your driver, you can use that number as a gauge for flex selection. For example, you should probably use an extra stiff shaft if you hit the ball more than 260 yards. For 240 to 260 yards, use a stiff flex. Etc.
As a general rule, especially for beginners, you should use the softest flex you can control without any difficulty. If you’re not sure, use the softer flex. Most golfers are using a shaft that’s too stiff for their game. They’d be pleasantly surprised if they switched to a softer shaft.
When using a shaft that’s too stiff, you’ll probably have a lower and shorter ball trajectory. The ball will usually go off to the right (for right handed golfers) and your shots may not feel as solid.
Torque, Weight, Length and Flex Points:
A higher torque shaft will help if you want to launch the ball a little higher. Compared to a shaft with a high torque rating, a lower torque shaft will typically launch the ball lower with reduced spin.
Weight is a personal choice. A lighter shafts will let you swing the club faster, which can increase distance. Just make sure you’re comfortable with the overall balance and feel of the club.
Length is also a personal choice. A longer club will increase your clubhead speed giving you more distance, but you’ll usually have to give up some accuracy and consistency. A shorter club is easier to hit so your average shots will be straighter. For consistently long, straight hits, a shorter club makes more sense.
Flex points, or kick points, refer to how “tip stiff” a shaft is. Generally, the shaft with the softer tip has a lower kick point, which means it will generate a higher initial launch angle. If you want to lower you ball flight, you should opt for a shaft with a higher kick point, or a stiffer tip.