Understanding Golf Club Shafts

By Bill Herrfeldt
A more flexible shaft can help increase your swing speed.
A more flexible shaft can help increase your swing speed.

There's a lot of homework a golfer should do before buying a set of clubs, and one of those is learning the options as to which shafts the clubs should have. If chosen correctly, shafts can help you get the most out of your swing, regardless of your abilities.


There are two shafts on the market, ones made of graphite and the others made of steel. Graphite shafts cost more, but they are lighter and easier to hit. And because graphite shafts will contribute to a faster swing speed, you will get more distance on your shots. But you will give up a certain amount of “feel” that lower handicap players enjoy. You can have graphite shafts installed in your driver and long-distance hybrids but steel shafts in the rest of your clubs.

Shaft Length

Some player think if they are tall, they should have longer clubs, but that might not always be true. You might be tall, but you might also have long arms, so you would not need longer shafts. If you have a professional club fitter available, he will measure you correctly and make recommendations as to the correct length of the shafts. Because you would like to get the most distance from your driver, you could decide to add length to the shaft, but you would give up a degree of accuracy, so it's smart to find the common ground.


Also called “flex," it's the amount a shaft will bend when it is swung. There are five grades of flex from which to choose, and the easiest way to select the right one is to find out how long your drives fly, an indication of your swing speed. The five grades of shafts are ladies, seniors, regular, stiff and extra-stiff. If you hit the ball relatively short, say 175 yards or less, you should probably pick ladies shafts. But if your drives fly 250 yards or farther, you should have stiff shafts. Even though it's an “ego thing” to tell people you have extra-stiff shafts, stay away from them unless you are a huge hitter.

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