Quick, without looking can you tell me the type of shaft you have in your driver? Your irons? Can you name the brand? Do you know the flex of your driver shaft?
Most amateur golfers can’t answer these questions without checking their bag, but the shafts you use are a critical piece of your golf equipment. Regardless if your primary goal is accuracy or distance, the shaft may be the single most important component of your clubs.
So, what is the best shaft for your game? What do you need to consider to make sure the shafts you use are working for you, not against you when choosing your driver? It depends on several different factors related to your swing and the shafts themselves. You want to find the correct match – make a love connection.
What’s in a Shaft?
A golf shaft seems so simple but is actually very complex. There is a lot of technology in the modern golf shafts and if you review the specifications, you will find things like material (steel/graphite), flex, length, weight, tip flex, butt flex, torque, spin, and launch. Wow, that’s a bit much!
The average/beginner golfer doesn’t need to worry about all of these – the key things to consider are material, weight, flex, and launch.
- Material – steel or graphite – this can vary, but a good rule of thumb is your driver and woods should have graphite, your irons should be steel.
- Weight – while the weight of a shaft will only vary by 10-50 grams, this will make a difference in how fast you swing the club and how it feels.
- Flex – the most critical component, this is where many golfers are mismatched with their shafts. Beginners may acquire clubs from friends or family and not consider the flex of their shafts. Shaft options include senior, ladies, regular, firm, stiff, x-stiff.
- Length – shafts can be cut different lengths – for most beginners, standard length is fine, unless you are an abnormal height. The key with length, if you bought used clubs, did the previous owner adjust them?
The combination of these features is what determines how a shaft and ultimately the club, will perform.
What’s the best Shaft for Me?
The correct shaft for your game is based on three factors – your height, your swing speed, and the typical launch of your shot.
If you are between 5’7” and 6’3”, you are mostly likely fine with standard length clubs. If you are on the edges of this range and had custom clubs made, they might adjust them slightly.
Your swing speed will determine the appropriate flex and weight of a shaft. The faster you swing, the stiffer your shaft flex needs to be. This is where a lot of beginner’s get mismatched. For example, if you are a younger player with an aggressive swing, but you have a senior shaft in your driver, it will be tough to consistently hit the ball solid and straight.
When you hit the ball solid, is it high or low? The correct shaft can help you – if you tend to hit the ball low, you probably want a high launch shaft. This will help you get the ball in the air and it will travel further. If you tend to hit the ball high and lose distance, a low launch shaft could help.
How can I check my shafts?
The best way is to find a professional. Have an expert measure your swing (club head speed, launch angle, etc.) and help you determine if your shafts are a good match for your game.
There are ways to achieve this without spending a ton of cash. Many club manufacturers will hold demo days for free at local courses. You will end up hitting all their new clubs, but they will have a monitor there and you can learn things about your swing. Ultimately, they will also tell you the flex of shaft you should have, and you can compare it to your current set.
If you are more of a “do-it-yourselfer”, there are some steps you can take with your current set of clubs.
First, understand what you currently have in the bag. Do you have standard length clubs, or have they been altered? Simply measure and compare. For convenience, here are standard lengths for men’s clubs (Driver: 45”, 3-wood: 43”, 5-wood: 42”, 5-iron: 38”, 7-iron: 37”, 9-iron: 36”, Sand Wedge: 35”). You are looking for any significant variance in the lengths of your clubs.
What shafts do you currently have? Look for brands and models – some will also say the flex on the shaft. If not, you can easily research online. Again, look for anything that is wildly mismatched – you are a beginner with extra stiff shafts. You are a young, athletic player, but are using a senior shaft.
If you do find something that seems wrong for your game, you can either look for new clubs or potentially re-shaft your existing ones. The choice here will come down to how much you want to spend and how attached you are to your current set.
Unlike other components, there are no beginner or advanced shafts. They key is matching the shaft to your swing.
There is no doubt – if you are currently playing with shafts that are wildly mismatched to your swing, it will cost you strokes and make the game more frustrating. There is no reason to make a challenging sport even harder.
Get to know your swing and your shafts. Find a way to learn your swing speed; local demo day or golf retailer. Check the length of your clubs – are they correct for your height? Understand the flex – are you swinging a fishing pole (sr. flex) or a telephone pole (x-stiff)?
Understanding the shafts in your clubs can be quite complicated but having this knowledge will give you an advantage over the average golfer. Utilize the technology available in modern shafts to take your game to the next level.