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What Type of Golf Shafts Are Right for You?

by Michael Joseph
    Although steel and graphite are two primary choices, you'll also want to consider length, weight, stiffness and your abilities.

    Although steel and graphite are two primary choices, you'll also want to consider length, weight, stiffness and your abilities.

    Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Choosing the proper golf shaft for your swing is essential to reaching your potential on the golf course. The major golf club manufacturers offer a variety of shaft options for use with their clubs. Some shafts carry an additional charge. Before you decide which shaft you need, understand how to read shaft specifications and how they relate to the golf swing.

    Material

    The first decision you need to make regarding shaft selection is whether to use steel or graphite. The two main differences are weight and vibration feedback. Steel shafts are heavier and provide the golfer with more vibrational feedback on mishit shots. Graphite shafts are lighter, encouraging a faster club head speed. Graphite shafts also dampen the vibrational feedback on mishit shots, which can sting your hands.

    Flex

    Flex refers to the amount of bowing the shaft does on the downswing. The most common flex choices are ladies, light, regular and stiff. The flex you need is determined by your swing speed. You should not try to swing faster or slower to try and fit your swing into a club. Here are the shaft flexes corresponding with swing speeds (using 5-iron). Under 70 mph = ladies flex, 70 to 80 mph = light flex, 80 to 90 mph = regular flex, 90 to 100 mph = stiff, 100+ mph = extra stiff.

    Length

    A golfer's height is not the only factor used to determine what length shaft to use. Longer shafts can produce extra distance because you will have a longer swing arc and more club head speed. Shorter shafts are easier to control and yield more accurate shots. Ultimately, the golfer should choose the longest shaft length he can while still being able to control shots. This will give the golfer the best combination of distance and control.

    Kick Point or Bend Point

    Kick point is the area of the shaft that bows the most during the downswing and through impact. A low kick point bows near the head of the club, producing a higher ball flight. It is better for slower swing speeds. A mid kick point bows in the middle of the shaft and will have a medium-high trajectory. A high kick point bows near the grip end of the shaft and produces a low trajectory. You need a fast swing speed to play a shaft with a high kick point.

    Weight

    Shaft weight is mostly a individual preference based on feel. Using lightweight shafts will result in faster swing speeds and possibly more distance. Be aware that lighter shafts make it harder to feel the club's position throughout the swing, which could lead to less control. Heavier shafts are easier to keep on plane during the swing and help promote good tempo. Heavy shafts tend to produce lower-trajectory shots.

    Torque

    Torque is amount the tip of the shaft twists during the swing. This twisting effects the way the club face impacts the ball. High-torque shafts could help golfers with slower club head speeds and golfers who slice the ball. Low-torque shafts are good for low-handicap golfers with fast club head speeds, improving accuracy.

    About the Author

    Michael Joseph is a golf industry professional in New Jersey. He has worked as a golf professional, instructor, and clubmaker. Joseph's education includes a degree in golf operations management and a certification in club-fitting from The Golf Academy of America (formally the San Diego Golf Academy). Joseph shares his golf experience and knowledge with others by writing articles for Demand Media Studios and Golflink.com.

    Photo Credits

    • Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images