Graphite vs Steel Golf Clubs | Pros and Cons | Differences

For those who are just starting their golf journey, it can be a very confusing game from the variety of club options to actually swinging the club. Today I’m are here to help you understand graphite vs steel golf clubs, pros and cons of each type, and help you make an informed decision when buying your golf clubs.

Whether you are purchasing your first set of golf clubs or you are wondering whether or not you should switch from steel to graphite or vice versa, I hope to clear everything up for you in this article and help you learn some new information along the way. Enjoy!

The main differences of graphite vs steel shafts.

  • Steel Shafts Weigh More
  • Faster Club Head Speed with Graphite Shafts
  • Better Feel with Graphite Shafts
  • Steel Shafts are Cheaper
  • Steel Shafts Have More Longevity

These are the general differences for graphite vs steel golf clubs, but the question now is how do you know which option is best for you. 

Well if you are on a budget, then steel shafts are for you and if you are making a long-term investment then you will also want to buy these clubs.

However, if you are a player who struggles with clubhead speed and distance, then the graphite shafts will be better for you since they are lighter so you will swing faster and in turn, the ball will go further. 

But of course, that is the over-simplified version, so let’s look a bit closer at some of the key deciding factors.

Steel or Graphite Shafts: A Beginner’s Guide

A set of golf clubs with graphite shaft in the bag

Weight

When it comes to weight, there is actually a big difference in graphite vs steel shafts with steel being the heavier option of the two.

The difference can be up to twice the weight in fact, with graphite shafts tending to be in the weight range of sixty to seventy grams, while steel shafts weigh between one hundred and one hundred twenty grams.

Now, this makes a difference because the weight has a direct effect on clubhead speed, making your speed faster with decreased weight.

The faster your swing speed is, the further the ball flies which is something that a lot of beginners chase after.

To be clear this typically means taking the same player with the same swing and handing them the same club but with two different shafts, the graphite club should fly further.

Durability

As for durability in the battle of graphite vs steel golf clubs pros and cons, this category is a pro for steel shafts but a con for graphite shafts.

Steel shafts are inherently more durable since steel is generally much harder to break in comparison to graphite shafts.

In some instances, steel shafts can last forever which is why it was the standard back many decades ago.

Since the graphite shafts are lighter, this is why they are much easier to break. In addition to their lighter weight, they are also easier to break due to their increased flex, since steel does not flex very much if at all during a normal golf swing.

This brings us nicely onto …

Flex

When it comes to flex, a graphite shaft is more flexible than a steel shaft for two reasons.

One simply because of the material that each shaft is made out of, only in superhero movies do you see steel bend as if it is a normal occurrence. However, graphite is generally much more flexible as a material which makes it more flexible in a golf shaft. 

It is also due to the decrease in weight that makes the shaft more flexible since it is easier to put torque into the club. 

As for the benefits of increased flex, there are quite a few, the most important being more power which in turn results in more distance on your golf shots.

This added flex and torque also allows you to swing the club faster, and as we have discussed previously the faster the swing the more distance you get from the club.

But . . . there are some cons to increased flex which include a decrease in feel and less accuracy.

It is typical to see a decrease in accuracy when swing speed, power, and distance are all increased.

Either way this is just another form of graphite vs steel golf clubs pros and cons that you should be aware of.

A golf driver behind a golf ball on a tee

Steel or Graphite Shafts for High Handicappers?

Based on the decreased accuracy with the flex of graphite shafts, steel shafts are better for high handicappers. In addition to this added forgiveness, the clubs are more responsive overall which allows you to gain a better feel for your strikes and swings.

Since golf is a game that is very dependent on feel and learning from your mistakes, this added feel with steel shafts is much more important than you may initially expect. 

Hitting the ball with steel shafts will also result in a better feeling and sound at contact which will help you improve your overall confidence in your golf abilities.

It will sound like a solid strike or maybe not, which will only help you further decide whether you are doing the right or wrong thing. Graphite shafts and clubs, in general, will sound more plastic and it may even sound like you broke the club every time you strike the ball.

Since it already sounds like there is a problem with the club, it will make it harder for you to judge whether you made solid contact with the ball or not.

Even though I would consider myself a mid rather than high handicapper, I still ran into this issue today when I went out onto the range.

I have a mixture of steel and composite golf shafts, but I could certainly hear the difference so much so that it became annoying for me. This is just something that you should be aware of before making your final decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Two men looking at golf clubs in a shop discussing Graphite vs Steel Golf Clubs

Is Graphite or Steel Better for Irons?

In general, steel is better for irons since it is more durable and provides a more solid feel at impact. On the other hand graphite is better for fairway woods and drivers since they are designed for distance so you want as much power and swing speed as you can get.

Do Pro Golfers Use Steel or Graphite Shafts?

Well, the short answer is yes, which may seem like an annoying answer but they usually use a mixture of both steel and graphite shafts. Similar to the answer from the previous question, you will often see that a pro golfer uses steel shafts for his irons, wedges, and putter but when it comes to his longer clubs they often opt for graphite shafts.

Can I Change My Existing Steel Shafts to Graphite?

You are in luck because the answer is yes! You can either order shafts online or head into your local golf or sporting goods store and pick out some shafts and they can switch them out for you but it may take a few days of work of course.

Final Thoughts: Should I Buy Graphite or Steel Shafts?

A man and lady holding a golf club in a golf shop

Even after all of this discussion of graphite vs steel golf clubs pros and cons, I must give you the answer of “it depends”.

It depends on what club you are buying, what your experience level is, and what part of the game that you are trying to work on.

First off you should almost never get a graphite shaft for a putter or for your wedges because there is simply no need. You will never be swinging those clubs fast enough for it to make a difference, so just stick to the durable steel shafts.

For your irons, you should also stick to steel shafts since that will give you the most feel to help you improve your game.

When you start to move up to fairway woods and drivers, you should use graphite shafts for added distance and swing speed.

No matter your skill level, very rarely will you see a player hitting irons with graphite shafts for the reasons that we have discussed in detail above. You will also not see any player hitting fairway woods or drivers with steel shafts either. Some golf stores do not even offer this as an option, I cannot even remember the last driver or fairway wood that I have seen that has been made past the year 2000. 

Just to reiterate, steel shafts are heavier, more durable, and have an increased feel for you as a golfer.

On the other hand, graphite shafts are lighter, less durable, but hit the ball further due to extra swing speed. I standby the recommendation of steel shafts for everything but fairway woods and drivers

 I hope that you found this article helpful and enjoy your new golf clubs!

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