Graphite shafts were introduced as early as the 1970s, but came into mass production in the 1990s. Graphite shafts are often used by golfers with slower swing speeds (less than 75 mph), like women, senior men golfers or juniors. Graphite shafts are generally about a half-inch longer than steel shafts, according to Learn About Golf. Though there are many advantages to graphite shafts, they are typically more expensive and less durable than steel shafts.
Graphite shafts are lighter than steel shafts. According to Golf.com, graphite shafts weigh 1 to 2 ounces less than traditional steel shafts. It is because of this lower weight that graphite shafts are often longer than steel shafts. The combination of less weight and a longer shaft usually translates into a faster swing speed. In addition, older or weaker golfers benefit from the reduced weight, so they do not tire as quickly.
Graphite shafts are more flexible than steel shafts, which are generally stiff and unforgiving. Graphite shafts are available in a wider range of flexes, which is a measurement of how much bend there is in a club. Golf clubs are available in five flexes, ranging from very flexible (ladies flex) to extra stiff (X flex). On balance, graphite clubs are more flexible than steel shafts and allow for faster club head speed and more clean hits.
Graphite shafts absorb more vibration than steel shafts and, according to Golf. com, are easier on a player's hands and wrists. When a golfer mishits a ball and hits the ground, the vibration from the contact with the ground is absorbed by the hands and wrists when a steel shaft is used. With a graphite shaft, the vibration is dampened and there is less chance of injury to the joints.
Golfers may be able to generate more torque with graphite shafts. Because graphite shafts are lighter, many golfers are able to increase torque by using graphite because they will increase their swing speed and change the angle of the club head at impact, thus producing greater distance.