Golf equipment has evolved from the days of hickory shafts to steel, graphite, and composite shafts. Golfers today are superb athletes and work out every day in the gym to strengthen their bodies. Swing speeds have increased and the ability to control the super fast swings and match them to a shaft that creates stability is the challenge faced by manufacturers and players. The shaft is the “engine” and flex, length and kickpoint determine trajectory, carry and ball flight.
Why Do Pros Use Steel Shafts?
Steel shafts were introduced many years ago and have undergone continuous improvement to deliver the qualities and specifications suited to modern player swing speeds. Steel shafts used to have steps in the length, and now seamless steel shafts are in everyday use. Steel shafts offer stability and less torque and flex through impact. Torque is the amount of twist the shaft generates during the swing. Flex options determine the amount of bend in the shaft when force is applied to it as in a golf swing.
The main reason would be consistency through every swing to deliver peak performance.
Steel shafts are heavier and the strong players can generate impressive clubhead speed through impact, delivering distance. The feedback or vibration from the shaft through the hands at impact is important to the top pros.
What are Steel Shafts Made Of?
Steel shafts are made from special steel and lately, ultra-lightweight steel is used to enhance clubhead speed through the ball. Steel is more durable, stable, stronger, and less costly than graphite. Carbon steel is another very lightweight shaft.
What are Composite Shafts?
A composite shaft is manufactured from a mixture of carbon fiber and steel and is lighter than standard steel shafts. These shafts are manufactured for specific performance characteristics demanded by the top players. They can be made for a specific golfer in terms of weight, flex, and length.
Do Pros Use Graphite Shafts in the Driver?
The driver shafts today are predominantly graphite, but specifications vary from one manufacturer to another. The shafts can be as light as 40grams, which equates to a faster clubhead speed through impact. The flex will be X-stiff or XX-stiff for the strong pros who hit the ball a mile. It’s all about control and the less flex, the better the control. The pros acknowledge that a fast swing without clubhead control through the impact zone will spell disaster! Driver shaft lengths also vary, with the average between 43 and 45” long. A longer shaft creates a bigger arc and increased ball speed. Generally, the pros fit graphite shafts to their fairway woods and hybrids.
Who Should Use Graphite Shafts In Irons?
Senior pros and the top players on the LPGA use graphite shafts through the bag. They are lighter than steel and allow them to generate increased swing speed to increase or maintain the distance required to overcome some of the courses they play on the Tour.
Watching the LPGA women swing a club effortlessly and with such good rhythm, should be an indicator to the many amateurs that graphite shafts are the way to go.
They hit it far and straight!
Which Pros Use Graphite Shaft Irons?
Every pro golfer wants the very best performance from the shaft they fit to their clubs. It would be reasonable to believe that most of the top players have experimented with graphite shafts in some form or another, just to ensure they are not missing out on some technology that would give them an edge over their fellow competitors.
DeChambeau has been a breath of fresh air to pro golf lately, and the way he has bulked up to hit the ball the prodigious distances he does is exciting! He also brought the one-length iron back into fashion and has won a few tournaments on the PGA Tour, by overpowering some of the courses. It took time to match the length and weight of the shaft to his swing but seems settled. Each graphite shaft weighs 268 grams and the clubs are the same length. Many have criticized him, but the patrons flock to see him in action.
Ricky Fowler has one of the best swings in golf today and he is a genius on the greens with his putter. He recently has done a few swing changes and is slowly coming back into form. He recently switched to graphite shafts in his irons in the rebuild process. His following among the kids is phenomenal and he has done Cobra Golf proud.
Brad Snedeker, Fred Couples, and Matt Kuchar also play graphite shafts in their irons. If Fred did not have so many back problems during his career he would have won many more tournaments. His swing is majestic and many a teaching pro refers to his rhythm and swing technique.
Steel shafts are likely to be around the golfing world for years to come, but graphite appears to be making inroads to their dominance on the Tour. The Senior pros are able to compete with their graphite shafted irons, but the modern-day course lengths are making it tougher. On their own Senior Tour, they get the ball around comfortably and produce excellent scores.
For us amateurs, the graphite shaft irons are definitely an option we should consider!
Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.