Every golfer knows that having the right set of golf equipment is essential to unleash the best performance on the course. Players often underestimate the shaft flex and use the golf shafts that are not suitable for them.
You could be losing out on accuracy and distance when playing with a golf shaft flex that is not optimal for your swing style.
Having the right flex for the shafts in your clubs will help you get the most distance out of your swing and improve your accuracy.
I’m golf instructor Nick Foy, a scratch player and online teaching coach at Foy Golf Academy. In this complete guide, I’ll cover everything to know about golf shaft flex, material, and weight so you can choose the right shafts for your golf clubs.
What Is Shaft Flex?
Shaft flex is the degree to which the shaft will bend or flex during the swing. A more flexible shaft bends easily during the swing and has the potential to produce a longer-ranged shot.
Although, choosing the most flexible one will not improve your accuracy as it tends to twist more. You have to consider some aspects to improve your swing performance and speed.
Why Is a Club’s Shaft Flex Important?
The most critical element when buying a shaft is the flex. This is because it influences your distance and direction.
The golf shaft flex regulates the transfer of power from the golf shaft to the clubhead and ultimately the golf club.
The golf shaft flex influences your golf game in the following ways:
- It controls the height of the golf shot.
- It controls the speed of the clubhead.
- Clubface relation to club path.
- The golf swing path and the curvature.
To achieve the best performance, you must choose the right golf shaft flex that’s suitable for you.
Eliminate Slice and Hook Severity
A shaft that is too rigid will slice the ball to the right, lowering ball flight and resulting in distance loss. Similarly, shaft that is too soft will hook the ball to the left, resulting in ballooning and distance loss.
Swing speed combined with the proper club shaft flex can increase distance and also tighten dispersion (lateral accuracy) of your golf shots. In other words, your misses aren’t as far apart, you have more consistency.
Power is transferred from the golf shaft to the clubhead and, eventually, to the golf ball. Interestingly, the shaft flex directly controls this power transfer.
Golfers using a too stiff shaft and having a lower swing speed tend to abrupt the clubface angle at the point of impact, which pushes the ball too early. It results in hitting the golf ball too low.
Golfers using a shaft with too much flex and having a high swing speed tends to cause the clubhead to lag at the point of impact. It results in too much loft in the shot, which cuts down on the distance and produces really high spin rate numbers.
You may ask; how do I know the best flex suitable for me?
How to Choose the Right Shaft Flex for You?
Get fitted for the correct flex for your shaft by visiting a local golf equipment store. They’ll check all kinds of data about your golf swing like ball speed, distance, clubhead speed, spin, launch angle, and many other factors.
They can have you test several shafts in the same driver head to give the most accurate results so you can see which shaft performed best by keeping all other test metrics equal.
Another way to select your golf shaft flex is based on the distance and swing speed of your golf game. When you have a faster golf swing speed, you’ll require a stiffer shaft than golfers with lower swing speeds.
Here’s a breakdown of the shaft flexes based on swing speeds for the Driver.
Regular flex shafts are for golfers who drive between 200 to 240 yards and have swing speeds between 75 to 95 mph. The regular flex is also popular among mid handicappers to high handicappers.
Stiff flex is for golfers who produce consistent shots in the 250+ yards range and reach a swing speed of 95 mph or more. It is a popular choice for mid handicappers to low handicappers.
Extra Stiff Flex
Extra stiff flex is for players with a swing speed over 100 mph, and their shots cover the 280 to 300+ yard range. This flex is the right choice for professionals and scratch golfers.
It is ideal for older golfers and for those who consistently drive the ball in more than 180-yard range regardless of their age. The ideal swing speed is 75 mph or less.
Ladies shaft flex is the softest flex available in the market. This flex is for women and for those who consistently drive the ball below 200 yards.
These are the five different shaft flex categories. You can select the right shaft flex as per your requirements.
How to Determine the Right Flex for Your Irons?
Choosing the right flex for the irons depends on the club you use for hitting a 150-yard shot. If you’re about to take a 150-yard shot, consider using these flexes for your irons.
- For a 9 iron hitting 150 yards, use extra stiff flex.
- For an 8 iron hitting 150 yards, use stiff flex.
- For a 7 iron hitting 150 yards, use regular flex.
- For a 6 iron hitting 150 yards, use soft regular flex.
- For a 5 iron hitting 150 yards, use senior flex.
- For a 4 or 5 iron hitting 150 yards, use ladies flex.
Types of Golf Shafts (Materials)
Steel shafts are recommended for players with average swing speeds who want more power while they play.
They are much heavier, more resilient, and less costly than graphite shafts.
Torque or lateral twisting, which occurs in all graphite shafts, does not occur in steel. As a result, steel shafts have more power and place a higher value on precision than distance. They require a faster swing speed to achieve the same distance as a graphite shaft.
The graphite shaft is perfect for women and seniors who might struggle to generate a high swing speed.
Again, this shaft style is often available in a wide variety of flexes and colors, making it appealing to both amateurs and professionals.
In contrast to steel shafts, graphite shafts are much smaller, less durable, and more costly. Further, it weighs between 50 and 85 grams. This is about half the weight of a steel shaft!
Due to the flex produced in the swing, these lightweight shafts help to provide a faster swing speed for more strength, though they sacrifice control.
Generally, graphite shafts are recommended for most professionals.
These shafts are used on both irons and drivers. It combines steel and graphite into one shaft to give each player the best of the world’s playing styles.
Typically, a steel shaft with a graphite tip is used for the shaft. The steel shaft allows the player to exert more control over the ball’s trajectory. Furthermore, the graphite tip ensures that the golf ball travels the distance without causing any unnecessary vibrations.
This shaft is much lighter than steel. Moreover, it provides the same solid protection that steel does as compared to graphite.
Titanium is half the weight of steel and helps to get the ball airborne faster, making it ideal for tee shots.
In addition to the shaft flex and material, let’s also briefly discuss shaft weight, which is another important factor when picking out a new shaft. I’ll use the driver as an example.
How much the shaft weighs is important because it impacts swing speed, and going to light or too heavy can negatively slow down your golf swing speed. Again, finding the right fit is crucial.
When deciding on a new driver shaft, the weight usually falls between 50-65 grams for most drivers on average. However, you can find heavier and lighter shaft weights than this too.
Golf club shaft weights get heavier by about 10 grams as you change club groups. For example, woods might use 70-80 grams while hybrids might weigh 80-90 grams, and irons 90-100 grams.
When to Go Heavier on Shaft Weight
A heavier golf shaft weight can actually help you increase swing speed believe it or not. It seems counter intuitive but the heavier shaft weight activates more muscles in the swing, helping you utilize more power from the muscles to speed up the swing.
When to Go Lighter on Shaft Weight
A lighter shaft is usually better for most golfers and suits their swing speed better. It also allows a golfer to go heavier in the club head through adjustable weights. The lighter shaft helps balance out the weight distribution of the golf club.
When selecting a flex for the shaft in your clubs, the tradeoff is between accuracy and distance. Choosing a senior flex helps you to achieve greater distance due to its flexibility but at the cost of lower accuracy.
On the other hand, the regular flex gives better accuracy and control, but it reduces distance. You need to experiment a little bit to select the right flex for a particular swing to maximize the performance.
Golf Practice System for Lower Scores
Learn the exact golf practice routines thousands of students at Foy Golf Academy are using to lower their golf scores.
Follow these step by step practice plans and watch video lessons to learn how to improve your golf swing, chipping, and putting fundamentals.
Get access to hundreds of golf drills to practice as well as content on the mental side of golf, fitness plans, worksheets, and many more resources. This is a complete golf practice system.
Nick Foy, Instructor