An integral part of the golf club is the shaft that is paired along with it. Shafts should be thought of as “timing devices” a connection that allows you to get the most out of every golf shot. Energy is transfer directly from your body into the clubhead through the golf shaft. Outfitting your golf clubs with shafts that promote your ideal swing can make you a more confident, consistent golfer. Below, we describe the golf shaft and how each player can get the most out of their setup.
The Different Types of Golf Shafts
Shafts come in a variety of different materials and are put through rigorous tests to ensure performance and quality. It is important to understand how these different materials affect the physical performance of the shaft. Shaft manufacturers build their shafts to tolerances that allow golfers to test products against one another. The most common types of shafts are typically referred to as “graphite” or “steel.”
Graphite shafts are typically placed in drivers, metal woods, hybrids, driving irons, and some irons sets. It is rare to find wedges with graphite shafts, but it can be done. What materials make up this “graphite” shaft varies drastically among models of shafts and between manufacturers . Materials are chosen due to their strength to weight characteristics and companies use these properties to produce excellent performing shafts. Graphite shafts fluctuate greatly in price, clubs can be bought with shafts at no additional upcharge and some manufacturers charge in excess of $300 for shaft upgrades.
Because of their ability to use different materials, graphite shaft weights can be made available from 50 grams upwards of 100 grams. These shafts promote faster swing speeds and ball speeds. These shafts can have particular advantages for junior, intermediate, and senior golfers.
Multi-material shafts fuse graphite with their steel counterparts. This utilizes the strength-to-weight ratio of the graphite with the firmness of steel. The resulting shafts can have increased performance through the integration of the two metals. Graphite bodies with steel tips promote faster swing speeds with more reliable golf shots.
The Different Types of Golf Shaft Flexes
- Extra Stiff
- Golf shaft flexes are rated in frequency due to the number of cycles per minute, CPM, they complete. An extra-stiff shaft, denoted with an X, averages over 260 CPM with a standard driver club length of 45 inches. Consumers should not get caught up on their shafts specific CPM number but, should simply be aware that not all shafts within the same flex category are exactly the same. As a general rule, golfers who swing their drivers in excess of 110 miles per hour, mph, are recommended to use X flex shafts. However, golfers should test shafts with each clubhead as the two work in tandem for ideal performance.
- Stiff shafts, denoted S, are measured around 250 CPM. Golfers who swing the driver between 95 and 110 mph are typically fit into these shafts. The majority of golfers find this shaft along with the following to be the most ideal for their swing characteristics.
- Regular flex shafts, denoted R, measure approximately 240 CPM. The majority of players who have a driver swing speed between 85 and 95 mph will fit comfortably into this shaft group. While there is no standard for carry distances among shafts, golfers who hit their driver between 200 yards and 240 yards may opt for this choice.
- Amateur or Medium shafts, denoted A or M, are recommended for golfers who fall in the senior bracket. These players swing their drivers around 75 to 85 mph and can hit drives less than 200 yards in the air.
- Ladies shafts, denoted L, as the name implies is best suited for female golfers or golfers who swing the driver under 75 mph. The name is misleading as shafts are not made gender specific. Golfers of all abilities and physical stature should test each shaft independently to see which works best for them.
What Is Shaft Torque?
Shaft torque is a measure of how much intrinsic resistance to torsional “twisting” a shaft contains. Torque is the parameter most associated with “feel” in the golf shaft. A shaft with less torque may feel stiffer or “boardy.” A shaft with more torque may feel less stiff or “whippy.” Torque is reported for each shaft in a measure of degrees.
What Is Shaft Kick Point (Flex Point)?
The kick-point of each shaft can determine how it allows the golf clubhead to work into more, or less, forward lead deflection. As the golf club is approaching impact, the clubhead begins to catch up and overtake the shaft. The kick-point determines the degree in which the golf club works forward towards the target. A shaft with a higher kick point will promote less lead deflection and encourage lower dynamic loft and lower launching, lower spinning golf shots. A shaft with a low kick point will allow the clubhead to work into more lead deflection and encourage more dynamic loft and promote golf shots that launch higher and spin more.
Weight of a Shaft?
The weight of the shaft can range beneath 50 grams to over 130 grams depending on its material composition. It is important that golfers test different weights in each club to ensure that they have shafts that they can easily swing yet, are not too light so they lose their timing in the transition from backswing to downswing. Each player’s optimal weight will promote well-struck, consistent golf shots that are sustainable well beyond 18 holes.
Alignment of Shaft?
Golf shafts are manufactured using a cylindrical process that roles the material into one sheet. This process, like rolling a sheet of paper onto itself, leaves non-uniform variations within each shaft. These variations are called “spines.” Shafts can be “pured” so their spines are in a complementary line to the lead deflection of the golf clubhead at impact. This is done through machine testing on the shaft once it has been removed from the clubhead. The pureing of golf shafts can lead to more consistent deliveries and improved shots.
As the shaft narrowing into the hosel of the golf club, its tip runs in a parallel or tapered fashion. Parallel tip shafts have terminal steps with constant diameters. Tapered tips continue to get smaller as they reach the hosel.
Graphite and multi-material shafts tend to have parallel tips to allow for the hosel adapters in their respective clubs, and steel shafts have tapered shafts for their glued hosels. Parallel tip shafts are cut to their desired length through the club set. Tapered tip shafts are cut per club and can be very specific to ensure accurate playing length.
Pureing a Shaft?
Pureing a shaft ensures that the shaft spine is as closely matched to the neutral axis or dynamic lead deflection of the clubhead. Because a golf shaft is NEVER perfectly symmetrical or round pureing can lead to vast improvements in golf clubs with unmatched shafts.
Shafts do not tell the whole story of a golf club, but they are the whole connection. Shafts create the energy that is going to be transferred to your golf shot. Finding the right shaft and clubhead combination can be vital to ensuring your best golf performance. If you don’t know what shafts are in your golf clubs or you simply took the stock option without trying other possibilities, you could be leaving massive performance gains away from your golf.