Let’s say you’ve just invested in a new set of clubs and hope to break 80 for the first time.
Fast forward, and you are in the change room with a 91 and wondering what went wrong.
Back at the pro shop, the pro puts you on the mat. You hit a few balls into the net, and the simulator shows the result—hook shots. The pro hands you an identical club and says, “That is one of the signs you need a stiffer shaft.”
What are the 6 signs you need a stiffer shaft?
Read on to learn everything you need to know to start driving right down the middle.
Read next: Check out the best driver shafts this year.
6 Signs You Need a Stiffer Shaft
- The club feels like dead weight during a swing.
- The ball has too much loft.
- You’re getting less distance from your shots.
- The ball makes unwanted hook shots.
- You have poor control over the ball.
- You take less accurate shots and don’t feel like it’s your fault.
Read next: Check out the best driver shafts this year.
Swing Speed Chart for Shaft Stiffness
|Swing Speed||Shaft Stiffness|
|Ladies – 72 mph or less||Ladies|
|Seniors – 72 to 83 mph||Senior|
|Recreational Golfers – 84 to 95 mph||Regular|
|Advanced Golfers – 96 to 104 mph||Stiff|
|Professional Golfers 105 to 110 mph||X-Stiff|
What is Shaft Flex?
Flex in golf refers to how well the shaft bends during a swing and at the point of address. You want a shaft flex based on your swing speed. The flex on your shaft is not some universal rating.
Generally speaking, golfers with faster swing speeds should look for a stiffer shaft. Those with slower swing speeds want a shaft with regular flex.
Flex matters in golf because it impacts accuracy, distance, and the trajectory of your shot.
What Happens if Your Driver Shaft Has Too Much Flex?
If your shaft flexes too much, your golf ball will see too much loft.
Of course, you do want some loft, but too much will hurt distance and make it difficult to control the ball. A golf shaft that’s too flexible will make the ball fly higher, no matter what you set the loft at.
Frequently, 3-wood and drivers will increase in distance because golfers tend to use much less loft on those clubs. The extra flexibility will make it gain distance due to higher loft. You want to match the golf shaft to your swing speed—when in doubt, take a cautious approach. Choose a flexible shaft over an iron shaft too stiff.
If you swing under 100 mph, you risk harming your golf game more with a stiffer shaft than a too-flexible shaft. If you swing above 100 mph, you want a stiffer shaft and probably more experienced in golf.
You’ll know it’s time to move to a stiffer shaft if you see these symptoms:
- Golf club feels too light
- Feels too ‘whippy’ in the hands
- You hit hook shots
- Too high of a ball flight
- Ball balloons in the air
- Poor accuracy
- Ball spins too much on the green with irons
Read More: How to Pick the Right Shaft for Your Driver
What Happens if the Golf Shaft Is Too Stiff?
A golf shaft that’s too stiff won’t produce the higher loft, especially for those with slower golf swings. The lower loft will hurt your distance. You may feel more harshness to your shots even with impact at the center. With too much flexibility, you may feel like you achieved more solid hits. Too much stiffness creates the opposite, where the vibrations shoot up the club and into your hands.
You may have more fade shots with too stiff of a golf club. You will struggle to create the bending of the shaft even at impact. Again, a stiffer shaft can harm you more than a flexible shaft driver. In most cases, with a shaft too stiff hook or slice will be common.
You’ll know it’s time to move to a flexible shaft if you see these symptoms:
- Golf club feels too heavy
- Accuracy too low
- Drops in distance
- Feels too stiff in the hands
- Struggling with higher loft
- Hitting slice shots
What To Know About Stiffness and Flex?
The golf shaft is known as the ENGINE of the golf club. On the downswing, as the hips rotate, the weight transfer takes place, and the body uncoils, the shaft of the club bends. This bend is also known as flex, and as this flex straightens out, power is transferred from the shaft to the club head and through to the ball.
Rick Shiels offers some interesting insights into the importance of shaft flex in this video.
Swing Speed: What’s The Impact On Your Flex?
The stiffness or flex of the shaft is a much-neglected aspect of your golfing equipment as most golfers are more interested in the brand, or technical features, or looks of their clubs. What most golfers fail to appreciate is the effect that ‘swing speed’ has on selecting the correct amount of flex of the shaft.
Pros are top athletes with an average swing speed of 110 mph, while amateurs would be swinging between 80 to 95 mph. There are various ways to determine your swing speed, from clip-on devices, iPhone apps, range monitors, and the pro shop.
Indications: Signs Your Shaft Is Too Stiff?
There are a few telltale signs that might give you an indication that your club shafts are too stiff. The shaft may be too stiff if you have a good swing, but your distance is lacking. It may also be that you tend to either slice the ball or fade towards the rough on the right of the fairway for the same reason. Will a stiffer shaft help my slice?
If the shaft is too stiff and your swing is around 90 mph, the club head will not be square on at impact resulting in loss of loft and control. The feel is another indicator. If the club feels dead like a steel rod, chances are the shaft is too stiff. You want to feel the weight of the club head loading the shaft.
Over Correcting: Too Flexible of a Club Shaft?
The opposite is equally a problem. If your club shaft is too flexible, the trajectory will be higher also, costing distance, and a draw or hook shot may result. In this case, the club head is unloading too soon causing the club face to close slightly at impact.
Determine what your natural swing shape is and what your priority need is. Golf is not a game of perfection, but of misses, so there will always be a tradeoff between accuracy and distance.
Classification of the Golf Shaft Flex Selection
The stiffness of a golf shaft is sorted into five basic classifications: Extra stiff, Stiff, Regular, Seniors, and Ladies. The degree of flex will also vary from brand to brand; without getting too technical, you can use a simple test to indicate your ideal flex.
If your drives are 200 yards or less, you should be looking at Senior or Ladies flex on your shafts. If, on the other hand, you consistently hit 250 to 275 yards, you would want to go Stiff or Extra Stiff. Another easy test is to see what club you need to hit 150 yards.
You probably need stiff shafts if you can hit 150 yards with a wedge, 9, or 8 iron. Using a 6 or 7 iron on 150 yards, go for a Regular flex, and 5 iron or more than Senior or Ladies shaft flex would be the way to go. Just watch out for signs your irons are too stiff.
Find the Right Shaft Flex: Don’t Overcompensate
If you were to make too drastic of a change and choose a too flexible shaft, you would find that you have reversed the problem. Now you will find the club face will close before impact resulting in a right to left fade if not a slice. The trajectory will also be increased, as will the spin, and should this be combined with a windy day. Your golf round will become a grind.
Read more: Check the full article to see whether stiff or flex shafts are best for your game.
Should You Choose a Graphite or Steel Shaft?
The introduction of graphite shafts has opened up a whole new dimension to golf club technology and performance. Let’s look at the pros and cons.
- They are lighter than steel shafts.
- Increase swing speeds and distance.
- Better dispersion from the tee.
- Assist golfers with slower swing tempos.
- They are usually more expensive.
- Not as durable as steel shafts.
- Can’t feel the golf ball as well.
Graphite, a much lighter material than steel, makes it easier to swing faster and increases distance off the tee. For this reason, they were considered the correct shafts for beginners and intermediate golfers.
This lighter material also affects the ‘feel’ of the club. And it is much softer, and the vibrations are dampened. Most professionals prefer to get more solid feedback from the steel frames as it gives them a greater sense of control, but even in their ranks, graphite shafts can be found.
Graphite shafts are of greater benefit on the distance clubs where you may be prepared to sacrifice a bit of accuracy. On the shorter irons, accuracy and control are more important thus, the extra flexibility of the graphite shaft may be a disadvantage.
Graphite shafts are also graded Ladies, Senior, Regular, Stiff, and Extra Stiff, but remember that the actual flex will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Now, let’s compare how steel shafts do against graphite by looking at the pros and cons.
- Much better accuracy—why the pros tend to prefer them.
- Easier to control due to shortness of the shaft.
- Less vulnerable to damage.
- Usually costs less than graphite shafts.
- Usually weigh more than graphite shafts.
- Extra weight can slow down your swing.
- You feel the unwanted vibrations from the club.
Read more: Want more details about whether you should choose graphite or steel shafts?
Does the Shaft Material Matter?
Most shafts will either consist of steel or graphite. Steel weighs more than graphite, and they mostly offer it for irons, putters, and wedges. Players without strength in their arms should avoid steel shafts because it will hurt their distance. Most golfers choose steel shafts because it grants extra control over the ball. Steel shafts lower the dispersion rate compared to graphite.
You may lose 1 to 2 yards, but your shots will land closer together. Low to mid-handicap players benefit the most from steel shafts.
On the other hand, graphite shafts benefit high handicap players. For women and seniors, all shafts come in graphite, and you must request a custom-made shaft for steel. Graphite works well for players who lost the flexibility in their arm due to a shoulder surgery or someone who has knee problems.
Should You Mix and Match?
There is nothing wrong with the idea of mix and match, and is becoming more common. Using graphite shafts on your driver, woods and long irons will help reduce the fade off the tee, increase the distance and soften the feel if you are too slightly mishit.
With the shorter irons, approaching the green, around the green, or from the bunkers control is critical. Here you would be looking for a stiffer shaft with less flex as the swing speed is not as great a factor in the short game.
The Best Stiff Shaft for Irons
TRUE TEMPER New Dynamic Gold AMT 3-PW Iron Shaft Set S300 Stiff
Dynamic Gold is one of the most recognizable shafts in golf. This golf shaft offers more precision and control than other golf shafts, and you can feel the firmness as it rests in your hands. It uses the same concept as the Ping PWT, but the AMTs are bigger.
- Delivers solid consistency
- Solid feel at impact
- Greater distance
- Feels more stable
- Not for high handicappers
The Best Stiff Shaft for Driver:
Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black
Offering incredibly low spin, the Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black has become a favorite among golfers because of its ability to stand up to aggressive swings and to drop swings. You feel like this has a much higher torque. This shaft produces low launches and high spin players will see an improvement in distance.
- Incredibly stiff shaft
- Makes arrow-straight shots
- Produces a low spin
- Provides tons of ball control
- Marginal performance advantage
- Tuning is a must
Will a Stiff Shaft Help My Slice?
Too stiff of a shaft can create a slice, especially in players with swings of less than 100 mph. Don’t switch to a stiffer shaft since this can worsen slice issues rather than remedy them. You may want to visit your local golf shop for a properly fitted shaft according to your golf swing.
What Happens if a Golf Shaft Is Too Stiff?
You may see increased slices and fades with too stiff of a golf shaft. In many cases, this happens because the clubhead doesn’t square with the ball at the point of address. You will see limits to your carry distance and shot accuracy with too stiff of a shaft.
What Swing Speed Requires a Stiff Shaft?
Anyone with a golf swing speed of greater than 97 mph may benefit from a stiff shaft. Pay attention to the signs like increased loft, hook shots, less accuracy, and poor ball control, which also indicate that you need a stiffer shaft.
You can look at the signs you need a stiffer shaft to see if you should upgrade. If your swing speed is below 95 mph, we recommend choosing a Regular shaft flex. If cost isn’t an issue, you may want to choose a graphite shaft. They’re also the better choice for beginners.
In many cases, a too-flexible shaft is better than having a too stiff shaft because it can hurt your golf game more.
The shaft makes a difference in your golf game, but many professional golfers recommend that you focus on other aspects of golf before worrying too much about it. Just choose a shaft that fits your golf swing, and we hope that we’ve covered how to do that here. You can check the chart above and clock in your golf swing speed to see what you should swing.
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.