How to Choose the Best Golf Shaft For You?

by Steve | Last Updated: 20 December 2020

It’s super easy to go out and spend hundreds on the latest and greatest golf clubs, but are you buying the right club, with the right shaft, for your game.

Many amateur golfers get caught up in the Manufacturer’s marketing hype and they don’t ask themselves: which golf shaft is best for me?

Several factors go into choosing the right shaft for you.

You need to consider the level of shaft flex, which is right for you, which helps you to hit the ball straighter and with tighter dispersion.

The speed of your golf swing will have a big say in the shaft you use; and then you need to consider the weight and the length of the shaft and whether it is a good match for your height and playing style.

Once you have done this you will also discover if you need to play with graphite or steel shafts, and as always we recommend speaking to a professional club fitter

Playing with the right shafts in your golf clubs which are matched to your game can easily add additional yards to your game and more importantly make you a more accurate golfer.

They are just as important to be measured correctly as is the club’s head.

Why is choosing the right shaft so important?

In the golf swing, the shaft is often referred to as the transmission of the club. This is because of how it can affect performance.

Every aspect of the shaft, including the flex, the length, and the weight has an impact on how you hit the golf ball.

If you have a fast swing you may benefit from a stiffer shaft, and conversely, if you have a slower swing, you can make up the speed with a more flexible shaft made of graphite or stepped steel.

There are variations between these, however, and it is a good idea to go into your local golf store to chat about the perfect golf set for your needs.

Types Of Shaft

Stepped steel shaft

Stepped steel is pretty much what the name suggests. It is a steel shaft which is stepped gradually getting smaller towards the bottom of the shaft toward the club head.

This stepping provides a higher level of consistency with the weight meaning that every club will feel the same. Instead of focusing on getting used to the weight and feel of each club, you can just focus on your form with a stepped steel shaft.

Rifle steel shaft

The Rifle shaft is completely smooth all the way down and is uniformly sized from top to bottom as well.

This provides a high level of consistency with every swing, as well as more distance and speed on your swing. You do lose accuracy with a riffle steel shaft, which is the important trade-off for that increased speed. If you struggle with speed in your golf swing, a rifle steel shaft is a great remedy for this.

Graphite shaft

Graphite shafts and more lightweight and more flexible than anything made of steel. They allow for a faster swing which in turn helps your golf ball to travel further. This is again great if you have a slower swing and need the extra speed to come from your golf shaft.

The downside to using a graphite shaft is the expense, typically they cost 10-15% more than their steel counterparts.

What flex should the golf shaft be

One of the most important ingredients in getting the right shaft for you is the flex of the shaft. The key measurement to the right flex is the speed that you swing the club.

As we’re not all built the same there are several flexes available to cater for the variations in golfers swing speeds

Here’s a guide to which flex suits a particular swing speed

Swing SpeedMPH (Driver)MPH (Irons)
Ladies<72 mph<65 mph
Slow72-82 mph65-75 mph
Average82-96 mph76-83 mph
Fast97-105 mph84-91 mph
Very Fast106+ mph92+ mph

It’s worth knowing that there is not a golf industry standard for flexes. A stiff shaft in one manufacturers product line may be a different flex in another.

I think this is by design to make it harder to see which is actually the best preforming and as always it’s all about money and how well they each market their own products.

That’s why it’s best to seek out independent professional club fitting.

What weight should the golf shaft be

You have probably noticed that some golf clubs are a lot heavier than others, and you may already have a preference for either a heavier or a lighter club.

The shaft is largely responsible for the weight on the club, and you can pick which weight works best for you.

Lighter shafts can be swung faster which will increase the distance you can hit. This is at the expense of some accuracy.

Conversely, heavier shafts can impede your distance but they are likely to improve your accuracy.

It is therefore important to consider your strengths and weaknesses with golf, and how the weight of your shafts can help you play your best game.

What length should the golf shaft be

Shaft length is another factor that will impact your game. If you opt for a shorter shaft it may help you with accuracy and a longer shaft may help you with distance.

You also want to consider your own height and which shaft length will give you the best chance of getting into the correct golf stance for your normal swing.

There is a damaging perception in the golfing community that heavier and longer golf clubs are more manly.

This is untrue and if you buy your clubs based on this, it could be seriously hurting your game.

Pick the length that works best for you, not just the clubs that you think will make you look good. Your game will speak for itself if your clubs are right.

How to choose the right shaft for you

There are no shortage of choices for golf clubs, and even if you are carefully considering the weight, length, and material of the shaft, there are still a whole lot of options.

You can pair your game with your shaft choice to make sure that you are getting the best clubs for you by considering several factors including the speed of your swing, your release, and your preferred trajectory.

Swing Speeds are a factor in choosing the right shaft

A faster swing will usually be better paired with a stiffer shaft and a slower swing is often better paired with a more flexible shaft.

Using a shaft that is matched to your swing speed could help you balance distance and accuracy and potentially help reduce some of the weaknesses in your game.

The release point of the club is a factor in choosing the right shaft

If you release earlier in your swing, your shots will be higher and weaker, and this is generally paired with slower swing speed.

Later release is often paired with higher swing speeds and more proficiency at golf.

Check out my guide to perfect golf swing lag

A heavier shaft can help ground an early swing, but this can be at the expense of distance.

It is important to consider which is a bigger weakness for each individual.

Trajectory

A more flexible shaft is often used to help generate a higher ball flight. This is because the kick point in the shaft causes the ball to fly higher.

A stiffer shaft, with a different kick point, may cause the ball to fly lower.

You can use this to correct a weakness in your game or improve an existing strength.

If you know your game well enough and you know how you generally play, then you can choose a shaft that enhances and corrects your trajectory.

If you’re fairly new to the game you won’t know which you need until you get tested by a club fitter.

Ball Flight and Direction

If your golf shaft is not properly fitted to you, it can cause inconsistencies in flight direction because the characteristic of your play is mismatched with the characteristics of the shaft.

If your shaft is too flexible for your playing style and swing speed it may cause the ball to fly in all directions without any consistency. This is called poor dispersion

If your shaft is too stiff for your playing style it can cause you to miss hit shots because you don’t generate enough speed in the swing.

Distance

If you are an experienced golfer, you probably know whether your weakness lies more in distance or in control.

A more flexible shaft will give a greater distance, whereas a stiffer shaft will give more control.

Consider where your shaft can best help you when it comes to both distance and control to get the best option for you.

Buying the right golf clubs is far more complicated than just buying the ones that you most like the look of.

The way you play golf, and your strengths and weaknesses as a player will help you pick the clubs that will make you the best player you can be.

A golfing expert can help you pick the golf clubs that fit your budget and your needs, so visit your local store to chat further about your options.

Before you go off and potentially spend hundreds on a driver with the latest shaft, you should consider developing a consistent golf swing so that you can maximise the benefit of being custom fit.

If you buy the driver first and then develop a different swing, then there will be a good chance that you will have to be re-fitter, which could lead to having to make adjustments, or worse still having to replace the club with something more suited to your new swing.

Drive For Show Coaching

If you want to save the pain and develop a repeatable, classic golf swing, take a look at our coaching program Drive For Show.

A few dollars spent on quality golf coaching, to help you build a better swing, will save you hundreds in the long run

Happy Golfing

Steve King, the founder of Fore King Golf, started playing golf at the tender age of 29, after years spent playing many other sports and getting dodgy knees. Although late to the game, Steve soon fell in love with the sport and found himself, like many others, addicted to the pursuit of improvement and playing better. He is currently a member of The Kendleshire Golf Club & Hercules Golf Society, as well as running several competitions for Fore King Golf