Golf Club Shaft Buying Guide

Broken the shaft on your favorite club beyond repair? Or maybe you just fancy kitting your clubs out with a whole new set of shafts for the next golf season, you might be fancy like that.

Whatever your reason, don’t just buy the first shaft you see - there are hundreds of them on the market, and each one offers something a little different depending on their material, length, torque, and other important factors.

If there’s a particular part of your golf game you’re looking to improve, you’re after a nice all-rounder or have absolutely no idea where to start, check out our buyer’s guide before you commit to a purchase.

Should you have any lingering queries, we’ve scoured the internet for the most frequently asked questions and collated them all, answering each one in the same place, because we’re nice like that.

How do I choose a golf club shaft?

Though usually overlooked when it comes to choosing your ideal club, the shaft is actually a major part of its function, impacting upon your overall performance and in particular, your swing. 

If you want to try and improve your game, there’s no harm in trying out a new and improved design. What shafts are available, how do they differ, and which one should you buy? All questions we’re about to answer in detail, so read on.

Materials 

Traditionally, the shafts come pre-built into most golf clubs on the market are made from either steel or graphite, but as more is uncovered about the art of golfing and the science behind that perfect swing, manufacturers are trialing other materials.

Steel

Both tougher overall and typically cheaper to produce than graphite, you can find shafts made from carbon and stainless steel, but there are very few differences between the two, with starting weights of around 120 grams. 

You’ll find a steel shaft is the most durable and long-lasting. Technique-wise, users will notice minimal (if any) torque or lateral twisting present, and that their sturdier nature allows for greater control and more precise shots on tricky holes.

Recommended for average golfers with a normal swing speed, as it can be tougher to achieve the same distance as a graphite shaft if your swing is already weak, it could lead to a more accurate game by providing just a little extra stability.

Note:  Steel shafts are designed in two key ways, known as ‘stepped’ and ‘rifle’ respectively. Neither is painted, so you won’t scuff or scratch up your club in play. A stepped shaft allows for greater air resistance by increasing its width, being more narrow at the clubhead and gradually widening towards the butt, offering a consistent design and creating a stiffness that makes for sturdy swings.

Contrastingly, a rifle shaft is consistent in thickness, without ridges or steps, which is more lightweight and said to improve a golfer’s speed. A flighted rifle shaft is slightly different, as they offer multiple ball trajectories for each individual club in your set.

Graphite

As they’re much lighter, and therefore slightly less durable, you would think graphite shafts might be cheaper, but at half the weight (between 50 and 85 grams on average), they’re usually much more expensive than their steel counterparts.

Curating a greater swing speed for those lacking in natural strength or power, they’re best suited for children and elderly golfers. Unfortunately, though, this sacrifices your total control over the club, as the litheness of a graphite shaft creates torque. 

If you’re recovering from an injury, switching to graphite could help to dampen any shaft vibration you might experience, limiting the aggravation and allowing you to gently ease back into playing.

Likewise, if you’re particularly tall, graphite shafts are longer in length than other materials, because they’re naturally lightweight. When your accuracy and control is great but you can’t seem to get distance right, graphite clubs are your next best bet.

Nanofuse / Titanium / Mixed MaterialMuch less prevalent on the shaft scene are shafts made from more than one material. Some take the classics, steel and graphite, and combine them in an attempt to utilize their strengths and combat known weaknesses.

By using steel for the main part of the shaft, you create a solid hold and allow for more control of the ball’s flight, where a graphite tip gives your swing that extra nudge, preventing vibrations and hopefully pushing the ball a little farther.

Nanofuse shafts are technologically advanced. Made from carbon fiber fused with nano-crystalline alloys. Attempting to combine a graphite shaft’s lightweight long-distance with a steel shaft’s control, you won’t see them often.

Whilst not at all popular currently, it is possible to get a shaft made from titanium, which is naturally lighter than its steel cousin, lending to its stiffness, but allowing you to achieve a similar distance to a graphite club. Length and Weight

Equally as important is a shaft’s length in conjunction with the rest of the club, and should be determined by measuring your club’s length. Have a friend measure up from the floor to the crease of your wrist will give an accurate reading. Take an average of a couple of measurements in order to get the most precise length for you - your club must match up with your height, and the shaft you use plays a key part in this. 

A shaft’s length is measured from the very tip of its grip to the base of the full club’s heel when flat on the floor and impacts your play much more than you might think.

The below table tells you which length is suitable for the measurements you took.

Measurement from floor to wrist 

Five-iron length

29-32 inches

37 inches

33-34 inches

37 1/2 inches

35-36 inches

38 inches

37-38 inches

38 1/2 inches

39-40 inches

39 inches

41 inches and above

39 1/2 inches

A shaft’s weight is measured before you install it -  heavier shafts will create a stronger, more durable shaft, but might impact on your total shot distance as they require a greater speed.

On average, they range from between 40 and 135 grams; a good generalization to follow is that a slower swing works best with a lighter shaft, increasing as your speed increases and your control improves.

Shaft Flex (Stiffness)

As it determines your swing’s distance and the direction of the ball, finding the right flex for your technique is of vital importance; whether you have the stiffest possible shaft, it will still experience flex when impacted by the force of your swing.

In the context of flex, stiffness refers to how bendy a shaft is under the force of weight - it can also be understood as the frequency of vibration the user experiences using that shaft, with more stiffness increasing its speed.

Every flex is given an individual stiffness rating, which are typically graded as Regular (R), Firm (F),  Stiff (S), Extra Stiff (XS), Senior (S), Ladies (L) and Amateur (A) amongst most manufacturers.

If your swing is considerably fast, you’ll benefit from a shaft with a lower flex, and golfing beginners or those professionals who are a little less speedy should seek out shafts with more flex. As an example, the average driver swing speed is 65 MPH.

Though they use the same classifications, the stiffness of a shaft’s flex will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, depending on whether they measure using the contemporary Frequency Analyzer or the widely recognized Shaft Deflection Board.

Which Flex For My Swing?


First things first, you need to measure your swing speed, which doesn’t necessary require a launch monitor. Be honest when you answer this next question, as inaccuracies for the sake of your pride will only have a bad impact on your game.

I can hit 150 yards with a...

Appropriate Shaf Flet

5-iron / 4-iron (or hybrids male and female)

Senior/Amateur (S) (A)

6-iron / 7-iron 

Regular (R)

Pitching wedge / 9-iron

Extra Stiff (XS)

Less than 4-iron/hybrid / Female /Junior club

 Ladies/Amateur (L) (A)

Another way to estimate the correct flex for you is the distance you can hit the ball on average with your driver:

Less than 200 yards: Ladies or Amateur

200- 230 yards: Senior

230-250 yards: Regular

250-275 yards: Stiff

275 yards and above: Extra Stiff

If you happen to have access to a device that measures your speed, be it a specialist radar monitor or a smartphone app, you can use that to figure out your flex, but be wary as you might not get a one hundred percent accurate result. Professionals tend to have a speed of around 100 MPH and above, whilst an amateur’s ranges from between 80 and 95 MPH.

You should consider trialing a club with an average stiffness to begin with and increasing or decreasing as necessary.

Kick/Bend Point

Known by both names, a shaft’s kick point shows where it will bend, mostly affecting the trajectory of your swing, with a minimal but noticeable difference between a low and a high spot - low kick points typically have a higher trajectory and vice versa.

It may also determine how the shaft feels in your hand overall; worth bearing in mind, also, is you need a fast swing speed to find success with a shaft that has a high kick point, otherwise, your ball’s trajectory will be way off.

Torque Rating

Maybe it sounds a little complicated, but torque simply refers to the amount a club will twist when you’re swinging it, measured in degrees - the higher the torque, the more likely a shaft is to twist, as with a graphite club.

This also determines how your shaft will feel in your hands, as well as your swing speed, in conjunction with your flex. For example, a shaft with a regular flex and a torque rating of 3 degrees will be faster than a regular flex with 5 degrees of torque.

Professional Fitting?

If you really want to go the extra mile - and provided you have the extra money lying around to spend - you could seek out a custom golf club fitting to get professionally measured and find the perfect set for you.

Whether an iron, wedge, wood - even a putter! - you can work alongside your golf pro to find the perfect fit based on length, lie and face angles, loft, swing weights and other club characteristics, and put together a collection of curated clubs.

Practise Makes Perfect

A lot of golf shops will have indoor golfing facilities, allowing you to practice your swing with a variety of clubs and shafts and receive immediate pointers on your performance.

Don’t be shy to ask your local store pro to try some clubs and shafts out with you - the majority will be only too happy for a task to keep them busy, and they’ll likely be able to point you in the right direction.

Asking friends, family and fellow club members to try out their clubs may also prove beneficial, especially if they are of a similar build and ability to you. It takes some work, but you’ll get there eventually!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do golf shafts actually matter?

We would hope that having read the above article, you’d already know the answer to this question is yes, but if you’ve been cheeky and skipped to the FAQ (who could blame you?) we’ll lay things out for you again.

Your shaft is essentially the connection between your body and the clubhead, allowing you to transfer your energy directly into the ball when you swing - a high quality shaft, with the correct stiffness, height and weight, is mandatory.

Not only does a shaft determine the overall weight of a club, being the most significant part of it, size-wise, but it also determines whether you can feel the clubhead or if you load your swing successfully. It could even make you slice!

Shafts directly impact your timing and tempo, and any good golfer knows that these two factors are imperative to any game worth playing. Long story short: yes, shafts matter, and if there’s a problem with your swing, trading your old one out might help.

Which swing speed requires a stiff shaft?

As a general rule, the faster your swing is, the stiffer your shaft should be. Approximations for average speeds in each category are as follows:

Very fast (between 92 and 105 mph): Extra StiffFast (Between 91 and 84 mph): StiffAverage (between 84 and 75mph): RegularSlow (between 74 and 65mph): Senior/Ladies/AmateurHow do I know if my golf shaft is too stiff?

When you’re hitting the ball off center, not getting the distance you would expect for your strength, or your club feels like a dead weight in your hands, it might be that your shaft is too stiff. 

Take your club in your hands and try and “feel” the clubhead when you swing - if you’re successful, you should be able to recognize when your clubhead’s weight has loaded the shaft. If not, it might feel like you’re swinging a baseball bat instead.

Furthermore, if you find loading your shaft difficult when it comes to a downswing, meaning that when your clubhead reaches the ball, the face remains open and you experience a slice, it could be that it’s not the right stiffness for you.

Do golf pros use stiff shafts?

There is a correlation between the speed of your swing and your golfing ability, namely, the better you play, the faster your swing will be. As we’ve covered, fast swinging benefits from a stiffer shaft, which suggests that pros would use them. Will a stiffer shaft fix my slice?

Slicing is a problem faced by many right handed golfers, who find themselves hitting their balls to the right (left handers may also experience slicing, but because they’re coming in from the other side, the ball goes to the left anyway.)

For most people, it causes problems when you’re using an open clubface, with your swing either following a straight or ‘outside-in’ path. Opinions on stiffness and slicing vary depending on who you ask. Professionals and amateurs alike all have a different opinion on what causes a slice. To some, it is simply a matter of poor technique, a problem with your swing that should be identified and corrected.

If you’re finding that your swing itself is spot on, but you’re still experiencing a slice when you play, perhaps changing up a few things about your clubs - including the shaft - and experimenting with their set up could help.



It may be that you are gripping the club too tightly, to compensate for a shaft that isn’t stiff enough and doesn’t offer enough support, restricting your arms when you swing and causing the ball to head away from, not towards, the hole.  Likewise, if your grip on the shaft is too loose and you’re holding it with your thumbs towards the top of the club, you’ll swing with the club face open, which is an easy way to slice your shot - but in this instance, a softer shaft might help.

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