How to Compare Golf Shaft Stiffness

By Bill Herrfeldt
Advanced players require stiffer shafts.
Advanced players require stiffer shafts.

There are five different stiffnesses of golf shafts. Stiffness of a shaft indicates how much it will bend during a shot; different types of golfers require shafts with different stiffnesses. If you swing the club with little speed and your ball travels a short distance, you probably need a shaft that will bend a lot when you hit the ball. Conversely, if your clubhead speed is accelerated and you hit the ball a long way, you probably need a stiffer shaft. Interestingly, many touring professional golfers do not use the stiffest shafts in their drivers because they allow the club to do more of the work. Read on for more information about the right shafts for you and your game.

Learn the five different shafts available at most pro shops and sporting goods stores. Going from the most flexible to the least are Ladies, Seniors, Regular, Stiff and Extra-stiff. Then, with the help of a professional club fitter, match the right shaft to your game. He most likely will ask you how far you hit your driver. Then he will probably have you swing the golfclub as if you were hitting the ball. He might even use a machine to determine how fast and what force you use when swinging a golfclub. Based on those pieces of information, he should be able to recommend the proper degree of shaft stiffness based on your game.

Figure out the correct shafts yourself if you do not have a professional club fitter. The distance you can hit a golf ball with your driver on the fly can tell you, with almost absolute certainty, what shafts you need. For example, if you strain to make the ball fly about 175 yards, you probably should have Ladies shafts. If you hit the ball about 200 to 225 yards, Seniors shafts are probably right for you. If you routinely can hit it about 250 yards, pick Regular shafts. But if you hit it longer, choose Stiff ones. And unless you pound the ball 300 yards or more, stay away from shafts that are Extra-stiff.

Realize that you don't have to have the same shafts in every club. For example, you might benefit from a less rigid shaft in your driver and possibly your hybrid clubs for more distance, but you may pick a stiffer shaft for your mid-irons and wedges where you place a great premium on accuracy and less on distance.

Choose shafts that simply “feel” good to you. While there are technical ways to match shafts with clubs based on how you play, at the end of the day, the correct choice is one that gives you confidence. If there are doubts about which shafts to buy, hit some shots with various types of shafts to see which feel the most comfortable to you.

About the Author

Bill Herrfeldt specializes in finance, sports and the needs of retiring people, and has been published in the national edition of "Erickson Tribune," the "Washington Post" and the "Arizona Republic." He graduated from the University of Louisville.

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