Should I buy golf clubs with stiff or regular shafts? This has to be one of the most common questions asked by amateur golfers when purchasing new golf clubs.
The shaft you choose for your golf clubs is pivotal in optimising their performance. However, many golfers underestimate the importance of a golf shaft and will merely give their best guess as to what flexibility will suit them.
In this article we will outline how to ensure you get the correct shaft, so that you can maximise your performance.
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Regular vs Stiff - What is this difference?
A stiff shaft is more rigid and less flexible than a regular shaft. Typically made harder to flex by adding more material, stiff shafts are also commonly heavier.
How do I know which one to choose?
Ideally, every golfer should get a custom-fit session to find the perfect shaft for them. Golf shafts are incredibly important to utilising your golf swing to its full potential. So, being able to compare the launch monitor data for several different options will give the best results. However, this will not be convenient or in the budget for everyone.
The next best way to determine what shaft flexibility to choose is by knowing your swing speed.
According to research by True Spec Golf the table below shows what shaft you should be using based on your average swing speeds with a driver. Whilst stiff and regular flex are by far the most common options for male golfers, you also need to consider the below alternatives if they are better suited to your swing speed.
Less than 72mph
How do I find out my swing speed?
The best way to get a reliable swing speed measurement is through use of a launch monitor. Most PGA Professionals will have one available that can be used during lessons. A teaching Pro will also be able to give you helpful advice on what shaft traits you should look out for that will suit your swing.
If this is not an option available to you, then you could use your driving distance as a rough estimate. Head to your local driving range and measure the average distance that you hit your driver. Take this yardage and divide it by 2.5, to give you a rough guide of your swing speed. For example, an average driving distance of 225 yards would equate to a swing speed of 90mph.
Other factors to consider
Beyond flexibility, there are several other ways that golf shafts differ from one to another.
The most common two options of material are graphite and steel. Typically drivers, fairway woods and hybrids come with graphite shafts. Wedges and putters come with steel shafts. Irons come in both graphite and steel, leaving you to choose the most suitable option.
Steel shafts are heavier and typically favoured by faster swing speeds for their improved consistency, control and playability. Most golfers that choose a stiff iron flex, will also choose steel irons shafts.
Graphite shafts are better for slower swing speeds, because they are light and can generate more clubhead speed. They also have the additional benefit of reducing vibration through impact, which is helpful for players that have more mishits and senior golfers. Graphite is the more expensive option though.
A shafts weight is determined by a number of factors such as; the material, the club and the flexibility. However, shafts will also vary slightly between manufacturers.
Golfers with slower swing speeds that are more likely to use regular shafts, should also lean towards lighter options. Although slight weight differences will come down to feel, so it is worth trying a few options out first.
The kick point of a shaft is the point at which it bends the most during the swing.
Higher kick points will encourage reduced ball spin and a lower ball flight, so they are typically found in stiff shafts. Lower kick points have the opposite effect by encouraging a higher ball flight, so are typically found in regular shafts.
Torque is the amount the shaft twists during the golf swing. Each shaft will be given a torque rating with the higher the number equating to more twist. A higher torque rating will encourage a higher ball flight and vice versa.
Longer hitting clubs, such as a driver, will usually have longer shafts. This is to encourage a wider swing path for more power and swing speed, therefore adding distance.
It is also worthwhile considering adjusting the standard shaft lengths if you are taller or shorter than average height. Using clubs with incorrect shafts length will make it more difficult to get a consistent clean strike.
Are all stiff and regular shafts the same?
As discussed above, there are so many different traits to a golf shaft beyond the flexibility. Also, there is no industry standard specifying how a stiff or regular shaft must bend. Therefore, one stiff branded shaft could vary quite significantly from another.
If you buy ‘stock’ golf clubs, without a custom fit, then the golf shafts will usually have fairly middle of the road characteristics. The weight, kick point, torque and length are all likely to fall around the industry average so that they are suitable to the widest number of golfers. However, different golf club manufacturers will use different golf shaft brands meaning there will still be some variety in what they classify as standard.
Do you have the wrong shaft flexibility?
Not sure if your current golf clubs have the correct shaft flexibility for your golf swing? Well, there are some common signs that it could be wrong. Below we have listed some things to look out for, which could indicate you need to check your golf shafts.
Signs that your shaft is too flexible:
Fighting a severe hook
Your ball flight is too high and often causes the ball to stall mid flight
Generating too much spin, which results in a loss of distance on longer shots
Signs that your shaft is too stiff:
Not getting enough spin and struggle to stop the ball on the greens
Ball flight too low, resulting in a lack of carry on shots
A common miss is blocking shots right of the target
As discussed above, there is so much more to selecting a golf shaft than just choosing between stiff and regular. However, making the wrong decision with the flexibility can have a significantly detrimental effect on your golf game.
By simply using your swing speed, 97-104mph for stiff and 84-96mph for regular, you will at least have a rough guide of what will suit you best.
Many irons will also have a ‘uniflex’ option, which sits between regular and stiff shafts. If you fit in between the two flexibilities or have an inconsistent swing speed, then this shaft could also be a worthwhile consideration.
The only way to absolutely ensure that you have the perfect shafts for your golf swing is to get them custom fit. However, hopefully this article helps you to at least make an informed decision and know what to look for when making your selection.