All That You Ever Wanted To Know About Golf Shafts!
The Golf Shaft is a long, tapered tube which connects the golfer's hands to the club head. While hundreds of different designs exist, the primary purpose of the golf shaft remains the same - to provide the player with a way to generate centrifugal force in order to effectively strike the golf ball. Golf shafts are generally made of steel or carbon fiber composite (referred to as graphite).
There are literally thousands of golf shafts available of all different shapes, sizes, flex and weight. Golfers are often confused by this overwhelming choice of shafts and are asking 'what is the best golf shaft?' There is no 'best golf shaft' on the market; the question should be 'what is the best golf shaft for me?' When choosing your golf clubs it is essential that you get the right golf shafts for your game. Below we are going to do is explain to you what you should be looking for when it comes to selecting the right golf shafts for your clubs.
History of Golf Shafts
In the past, golf shafts were made of wood, normally either hazel or ash which is a very rigid wood and today used in walking sticks. The shafts were then attached to the head of the golf clubs with a splint and bound tightly with leather in order to keep the club face nice and straight through the swing. Prior to 1935, hickory was the dominant material for shaft manufacturing, but it proved difficult to master for most golfers, as well as being quite frail. Prior to steel, a player would need a slightly different swing for each shaft given the inherent inconsistencies in the hickory shafts.
By 1931 True Tempe steel shafts were the most popular among amateurs and professionals. Steel shafts could be made with varying degrees of stiffness, allowing players to develop a more aggressive style of golf swing. Steel shafts in many varieties remain a fixture in today's game. Although heavier than hickory, it is much stronger and more consistent in its performance.
graphite shafts were first introduced in 1973 but did not gain widespread use until the mid 1990's and are now used on almost all woods and some iron sets, as the carbon-fiber composite of graphite shafts boasts increased flex for greater club head speed at the cost of slightly reduced accuracy due to greater torque. Steel, which generally has lower torque but less flex than graphite, is still widely preferred by many for irons, wedges and putters as these clubs stress accuracy over distance.
Graphite shafts began to emerge in the late twentieth century. Professionals and skilled amateurs were initially skeptical of the new technology. Graphite shafts were at the time viewed as inconsistent when compared to steel; however, advances in technology eventually changed this perception. In early shafts only one layer of composite fibers were used, which hampered the performance by allowing the shaft flexure.
Design of Golf Shafts
The shaft is roughly 0.5" inch diameter near the grip and between 35-48 inches in length. Shafts weigh between 45 and 150 grams depending on the material and length.
Graphite shafts are woven from carbon fiber and are generally lighter in weight than steel golf shafts. Graphite shafts became popular among amateurs, because lighter weight helped generate increased club-head speed. The carbon fiber also dissipated some of the stinging vibrations that were caused by poorly struck shots. Shafts are quantified in a number of different ways:
The most common is the shaft flex. Simply, the shaft flex is the amount that the shaft will bend when placed under a load. A stiffer shaft will not flex as much, which requires more power to bend and "whip" through the ball properly (which results in higher club speed at impact for more distance), while a more flexible shaft will whip with less power required for better distance on slower swings, but may torque and over-flex if swung with too much power causing the head not to be square, resulting in lower accuracy. Most shaft makers offer a variety of flexes. The most common are: L (Lady), A (Soft Regular, Intermediate or Senior), R (Regular), S (Stiff), and X (Tour Stiff, Extra Stiff or Strong). A regular flex shaft is generally appropriate for those with an average head speed (80-94 mph), while an A-Flex (or senior shaft) is for players with a slower swing speed (70-79 mph), and the stiffer shafts, such as S-Flex and X-Flex (Stiff and Extra-Stiff shafts) are reserved only for those players with an above average swinging speed, usually above 100 mph. Some companies also offer a "stiff-regular" or "firm" flex for players whose club speed falls in the upper range of a Regular shaft (90-100 mph), allowing golfers and clubmakers to fine-tune the flex for a stronger amateur-level player.
On off-center hits, the club head twists as a result of a torque, reducing accuracy as the face of the club is not square to the player's stance at impact. In recent years, many manufacturers have produced and marketed many low-torque shafts aimed at reducing the twisting of the club head at impact, however these tend to be stiffer along their length as well. Most recently, many brands have introduced stiff-tip shafts. These shafts offer the same flex throughout most of the shaft, in order to attain the "whip" required to propel the ball properly, but also include a stiffer tip, which cuts back drastically on the lateral torque acting on the head.
The length of your golf shafts is also important as if you have the wrong length you are going to find it harder to control the ball as well as finding it is more difficult to hit straight and in the right direction.
The way this is measured is to measure between your wrist and the floor when standing to attention. Once you have this, the average club length is taken from your 5 iron which is the exact mid iron in your bag. So with this in mind your 5 iron should have a shaft length of:
37 inches for a measurement of 29 to 32 inches
37 1/2 inches for a measurement of 33-34 inches
38 inches for a measurement of 35-36 inches
38 1/2 inches for a measurement of 37-38 inches
39 inches for a measurement of 39-40 inches
39 1/2 inches for a measurement of 41 inches
It is possible to get custom golf clubs and if you have a wrist to floor measurement that is outside of what is above it is best to get the advice of a club builder who will be able to give you advice on the best solution for you.
Kick Point or Bend Point
The point over the length of the shaft where it is designed to bend. Individual shaft models are designed to flex at different points. Generally, kick points nearer to the grip end of the club tend to produce lower launching, lower spinning shots. Kick points nearer to the club head tend to produce higher launching, higher spinning shots.
Golf Shafts in Summary
Widely overlooked as one of the many golf club parts, the shaft is considered by many to be the 'engine' of the modern club head. The club head is the engine, the golf shaft is the 'transmission' of the golf club.
Shafts range in price from a mere $20 to over $1200. Current graphite shafts weigh considerably less than their steel counterparts, (sometimes weighing less than 50 grams for a driver shaft) allowing for lighter clubs that can be swung at greater speed. Within the last ten years, performance shafts have been integrated into the club making process. Performance shafts are designed to address specific criteria, such as to launch the ball higher or lower or to adjust for the timing of a player's swing to load and unload the shaft at the correct moments of the swing for maximum power. Whereas in the past each club could come with only one shaft, today's clubheads can be fit with dozens of different shafts, creating the potential for a much better fit for the average golfer.
Having the right golf shafts for your clubs can help you in your overall game improvement.
Golf shafts with lower bend point promote a higher ball flight. Shaft design with lower bend is great for golfers with average swing speed to get the ball easily airborne.
Golf shafts with higher bent promote more accuracy, preferred by low handicap golfers and players with higher swing speed.
Light weight golf shafts reduce the overall club's weight and facilitate higher club speed. Higher club speed translates into to more distance. Light weight golf shafts are preferred by recreational golfers with average swing speed.