The shaft is crucial to the overall performance of a golf club. However, its importance is often underappreciated by casual golfers. Getting the wrong shaft can have just as much impact as choosing the wrong golf club.
If you are looking at buying new golf clubs, or changing your current shafts, then you have probably come across lots of different options. Choosing a shaft is no longer as simple as only needing to know what flexibility you want. You now need to consider plenty of factors and one of the most important ones is the weight.
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What is the common thinking?
There are two common generalisations when it comes to swing types and the weight of the shaft best suited to them.
Lightweight shafts are best for slow swing speeds. They help maximise your clubhead and will help golfers to hit the ball longer distances.
Golfers with faster swing speeds should use heavier shafts. Extra weight will help to give you more accuracy and control.
There is definitely some truth in these two statements. However, they drastically over simplify the decision. Every golfer has a unique swing and there is no one-weight-fits-all approach. Choosing a heavier shaft could still result in a wider dispersion for some golfers, whilst a lighter shaft could actually end up costing you yards.
Choosing a lighter shaft
It sounds obvious, but by making the shaft lighter you reduce the total weight of the club. With all other factors remaining the same, a golfer will now be able to swing the lighter club faster. Provided you can repeat the exact same swing path and hit the ball equally as well, then a faster swing speed can result in hitting the golf ball further.
This is not always the case though, because a faster swing speed can result in too much spin and a ball flight that is too high.
The downside of a lighter shaft is that it can cause some golfers to lose their swing path or transition through their swing too early. This will result in a lack of accuracy and can even cost you distance again.
Choosing a heavier shaft
Contrary to the common thinking above, choosing a heavier shaft can also help some golfers hit the ball further. A heavier shaft can activate more muscles and improve your swing tempo to create a more powerful swing. Plus, if you can retain the same swing speed with a heavier golf club then the golf ball will travel further.
Golfers that struggle with a slice could also potentially benefit from a heavier shaft. An article from Golf Digest showed that by adding weight to your shaft you can significantly improve the angle of attack on the downswing by moving inside the target line.
Signs your shaft is too light
Your off-centre strikers are regularly out of the toe of the club
Often you will strike behind the ball with your irons
A very high ball flight with lots of spin that seems to stall in the air
You feel as though your tempo is too quick - possibly with a rapid takeaway that lacks acceleration on the downswing
Signs your shaft is too heavy
You tend to hit a lot of shots off the bottom of the clubface
It is common for you to hit the ball out of the heel or even the hosel
A lower than ideal trajectory and struggle to get your longer club in the air
The club feels like it gets stuck behind your body when transitioning through the swing
Your bad shot is likely to be a push
Importance of a custom fit
Shaft weight is an important factor to optimize your performance. However, it can be a difficult decision to get right. Quite simply, there is no substitute for trying out different options with a qualified club fitter and seeing the data presented in front of you. It is all about optimizing performance, because you are going to be losing distance and accuracy if your shaft is either too light or heavy.
There are so many other factors to consider when choosing your golf shaft. Flexibility, torque, length and kick point also play crucial roles in a shafts performance. Whilst many of these characteristics are linked, you need to consider each of them individually in order to find a shaft best suited to your golf swing. These are all things that a good club fitter will take you through during a custom fitting session.
Hopefully this article has helped to highlight the importance of choosing the correct shaft weight and given you some insight as to what you need to look out for. The correct weight is going to allow you to hit the ball further and more accurately, regardless of whether that is a lighter or heavier option.