The golf shaft is commonly referred to as the engine of the golf club. They are so important to your golf club's performance. However, when you are deciding what golf shaft to buy, there might be one key component you are forgetting. You probably know to look out for flexibility, length and weight, but what about torque?
Not many recreational golfers understand, or have even heard of, torque in reference to a golf shaft. Some manufacturers do not even list the torque number on their shafts. However, it is one of the most important factors to be considered for when buying a new club with a graphite shaft.
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What is torque?
Torque is actually pretty easy to understand. A simple definition is that torque is a rotational force. Within golf, this refers to the amount the shaft twists during the swing.
On many golf shafts you will see a small number printed next to the flex and weight, usually with a decimal in the middle. This is the shafts torque. Specifically, this number refers to the degrees the golf shaft will twist under a given force. The lower the degrees of torque, the more resistant the golf shaft is to twisting.
Your driver shaft is the one most influenced by torque, because it is the club where you are exerting the most amount of force through your swing. However, torque is still a factor to consider in all clubs with graphite shafts.
Made up of graphite fibers and binder, graphite shafts can vary significantly in strength and also torque. Some manufacturers will mix in higher strength fibers to create lower torque. For example, the Mitsubishi CK Pro Blue driver shaft uses both Kevlar and Boron. These shafts usually carry a premium price and are preferred by Tour players.
Steel shafts do still have variation in torque. However, the fluctuation between shafts is much more minimal and the majority of golfers will likely not notice the difference.
Do flex and weight affect torque?
Torque has an indirect link with both shaft flexibility and weight. So, you may have been inadvertently getting a high or low torque depending on your flex and weight preferences.
Flexibility and torque are both factors dependent upon the amount of force exerted through the golf swing. A more powerful and faster swing will typically require both a stiffer flex and lower torque shaft. This will ensure the shaft does not bend or rotate too much and help create stability.
Heavier shafts will normally have a lower torque. Although graphite is a lightweight material compared to steel, you can add weight with denser and higher quality material. This additional weight typically improves the shafts resistance to twisting.
These are general principles that you will notice in the majority of golf shafts, however there are going to be some exceptions. There are also not clearly defined golf industry standards that manufacturers must follow with their testing. So, two shafts with identical measurements could still perform quite differently. Another reason why testing the shaft before you buy it is always recommended.
Why does torque matter?
Torque not only plays a crucial role in the performance of your golf club, but it will also make a noticeable difference with how it feels.
Golf shafts with lower torque help to create stability and rigidity in the shaft through the swing. For these reasons, low torque is typically favoured by lower handicappers and more powerful golfers. Lower handicappers are more likely to correctly keep the clubface square to the target and want to avoid unwanted clubhead rotation. Golfers with faster swing speeds will normally want more stability to prevent the shaft feeling whippy and uncontrolled.
On the opposite side, higher handicappers and golfers with slower swings usually favour high torque shafts. A higher torque will normally lead to the clubface twisting left through the impact zone. This can assist slow swings with the common problem of squaring up the clubface, which is the reason why so many high handicappers struggle with a slice.
How do I know what torque to get?
We discussed some general rules of thumb above for what golf shafts will suit what type of golfer. Slower swing speeds use higher torque and faster swing speeds use lower torque.
This is not always the case though. An article from MyGolfSpy highlights the importance of feel when it comes to finding the right amount of torque for you. This unquantifiable characteristic of a golf shaft is unique to every golfer. What may feel stiff and boardy for one golfer, may allow another to swing through the ball with more confidence. Also, some golfers like the loose and whippy feeling of a high torque shaft, whilst others feel as though they lose control of the swing.
Get Custom Fit
The same as for all your golf equipment, getting custom fit for your shafts is the best way to ensure you optimize performance. There are so many factors to consider; flexibility, weight, kick point, torque and more. The only way to know what you should get is by trying out different options to feel them first-hand and see the data.
Sadly, there is no one-size-fits-all model to golf shafts. Hopefully this article has helped explain how torque works and given you an understanding of what to look out for. However, what works for one golfer could be completely different to another. What is important is how the golf shaft feels and performs for you.