- Shaft History
- Swing Speed
- Manufacturing details that make up the shaft specification
- A Guide to Flex Options
- A swing speed chart for easy reference and shaft choice–mph
- A stiff shaft will allow me to hit the ball further
- I will be mocked by my mates if I hit a senior or soft shaft.
- Shaft Manufacturers
- 1. Fujikura
- 2. Mitsubishi Chemical/Graphite Shafts
- 3. True Temper
- 4. Aldila
- 5. UST Mamiya
- Final Thoughts
- Related Articles
The biggest problem arises in the correct choice.
Too often your golfing partner brings a new driver to the course and “drills” it past you on every tee shot. Your ego gets the better of you and has endured this for the round, you decide to upgrade to the same driver to match him.
Great idea – NO.
Firstly he is taller, bigger frame, and swings the club at “full throttle”. You on the other hand can still hit the ball far but rely on timing and tempo, with slower swing speed.
It is the SHAFT which is the engine of the club.
The original shafts date back to the 18th century and were made from any hardwood available. Ironheart, bloomahoo, bullet wood, and ash and lancewood were some of the choices.
Then in the mid-1800s hickory shafts became the rage, and they were whippy, light, and resilient.
The downside of hickory was that each club had to be swung differently which ultimately led to inconsistency.
The 1st steel shaft was patented in 1910, but the R & A and USGA refused to recognize them in competition.
1915 saw Allan Lard patent a perforated steel shaft, with small holes drilled throughout the shaft to lighten it. It became known as the “whistler” because it made a whistling sound through the swing.
It never gained any momentum.
Finally in 1924 steel shafts were legalized and Billy Burke was the 1st to win the US Open with steel.
From 1960 to 1970 the aluminum shaft was introduced but besides expensive, it broke very easily.
Then followed graphite shafts, displayed at the 1970 PGA merchandise show for the first time.
Frank Thomas, a South African engineer moved to the USA, to work for Shakespeare’s sporting goods company.
He collaborated with Union Carbide and designed and manufactured a filament wound epoxy and graphite shaft, which had very consistent properties but was very expensive.
A less expensive flag wrapped version came out a few years later, but because of its inconsistency, was not readily used by pros or good amateurs.
Finally, Bruce Williams produced an advanced technology shaft that changed the perception of graphite and revolutionized the shaft market.
Titanium shafts were introduced in the 1990s and showed great promise because of the lightness and low torque.
Price killed it.
Now that the origins of the club shaft have been visited, it’s time to evaluate what shaft will suit you best and improve your game.
It is accepted within the golf industry that there are no real standards when it comes to shaft manufacture and the different properties they all claim to have.
The most important aspect of selecting a shaft is to know what your swing speed is.
Most golf retail outlets and driving ranges have the latest technology to measure this, and is the holy grail of shaft selection.
During the test, you will also determine your tempo, style of swing, whether it be quick and fast, medium or slow, and deliberate.
All these are acceptable, as is proven daily when watching the Pros play.
A word of warning: It is common during the speed test to hit the ball harder than normal, so test the same equipment on the range.
While you are having your speed tested, you will be able to have a fitment during the same visit.
Manufacturing details that make up the shaft specification
- Length and Height
- Shaft Tips
Most current shafts are approx,58 inches/14,7 mm in diameter near the grip, and taper down to 0,355 or 0,370 in diameter at the tip.
The length is between 35 to 40 inches/89 to 115 cm.
The options available in 2021 are steel or graphite.
Each has its characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages, depending on the golfer’s profile.
Modern composite graphite shafts have 3 layers of fiber winding, adding substantial rigidity and performance.
Carbon fiber offers increased flex, greater clubhead speed, but reduced accuracy, due to more torque.
It also dissipates the stinging shock from a poorly struck shot and will protect the hands and wrist.
The weights vary from 45 to 150gms, which makes them lighter, and increases clubhead speed.
Generally, graphite shafts tend to be longer, increasing the swing-arc, but reduces control.
Graphite shaft drivers are the modern choice, and flex options cater for all golfers.
Slow swing speed golfers can attain many benefits from using graphite in the irons.
The steel shaft has come a long way in its process and manufacturers have added ultra-lite steel shafts to their ranges.
Clubfitters now have the option to fit these shafts with weights from 95 to 110gm.
This is a reduction from the 115 to 125gm range previously on offer.
Steel generally has less flex, more stability, low torque, and provides more accuracy.
Standard steel shafts are shorter.
Good players still show a preference for steel shafted irons, wedges, and putters, where accuracy is more important than distance.
Put very simply, flex is the amount of bend in the shaft.
It affects launch angle, spin, ball flight, control, carries, and distance.
Shafts are qualified in different ways but reference to flex is the most important.
Powerful swings require stiffer shafts which put less load on the shaft.
Slower swings require soft shafts which create a whip for them at impact.
Conversely, if the shaft is too soft for the swing speed, torque (twist) increases.
Taking the above points into consideration it should be very clear that the selection of the correct flex is of paramount importance.
Described as the point on the shaft where the flex is greatest.
Manufactured in low, mid, or high and marked on the shaft for easy reference.
A low kick-point launches the ball easily and high, with plenty of spin, which ultimately creates more carry and distance.
The competent golfer who is capable of launching the ball and doesn’t require too much spin should consider the mid-kick-point shaft.
The high-kick-point encourages low launch and minimum spin.
Golfers with high swing speeds and/or play in windy conditions will prefer this shaft.
Kick-point influences flex so shafts can be fine-tuned to swing tempo and speed.
Let’s talk about spin.
Spin can be your friend or your enemy.
While spin and the dimples are what keeps the ball in the air, it creates two different scenarios.
Side-spin increases the deviation on the ball flight whether it be a draw or a fade.
The average golfer tends to hit the ball with a slice or fade spin caused by an out to in swing path. (ball moves from left to right in the air)
Conversely the excessive in to out swing path creates a draw or hook spin on the ball.
(ball moves from right to left)
The fade allows more control over the outcome of the shot as it will stop quickly but the distance is slightly sacrificed.
The draw allows the ball to penetrate the air and run on, resulting in longer shots.
A draw or a fade is good on the golf course, but when it turns into a hook or out and out slice, this requires correction.
This is where your shaft selection can be your solution.
Length and height
An increased shaft length creates a greater swing-arc, which relates to more distance.
Shorter stature golfers often increase the length of the shafts and stand further away from the ball.
The longer the shaft the less control and this is where fitment assists.
Torque is defined as the amount of twist in the shaft.
A stiffer shaft has low torque for less twist.
For the average golfer, many shots are hit off-center and this increases the twist on the shaft.
The twist results in less control at impact.
Shafts are often “tipped” to suit a specific swing.
Put simply, it refers to subtle changes to refine the way the clubhead interacts with the shaft at impact.
A Stiff-tip retains the same flex along the shaft while still retaining the whip.
It cuts back drastically on the lateral torque acting on the clubhead.
A Guide to Flex Options
XXS -Extremely stiff and used in the driver by very strong amateurs and pros with a swing speed of 110 to 125mph.
XS -Extra stiff for young and strong golfers with swing speeds above 100mph.
S -Stiff and used by players over 90 to 95mph swing speed.
U -Uniflex is for the golfer that is between the high end of a regular shaft and the lower end of stiff shaft speed.
R -Regular is the most popular shaft used throughout the industry and a good place for the beginner and experienced golfer to obtain the most benefit from the shaft.
M or A -A senior shaft that is flexible and stiffer than a lady’s shaft.
L -Ladies are the softest and most flexible shaft on the market. Despite carrying the ladies tag, many older or weaker males would do well to consider this option.
These are guides to assist the golfer so he does not have to go through the entire range.
Often the swing speed varies slightly and can create border-line decisions. Say 3 x swings show at 89mph and the last at 92mph.
In most cases, I would suggest the regular shaft.
A point worth noting is that the irons swing speed averages about 70 to 75% of the driver swing speed.
Note: To swing a club at 100mph is not so easily achieved while retaining your balance and posture.
Now the golfer must decide between graphite and steel.
Also bear in mind that the driver and fairways can be graphite and the irons in steel.
Another point is that steel regular flex borders on graphite stiff.
Sounds all very confusing, but here is the option that is the most popular today.
Drivers, fairway woods(metals), and hybrids are fitted with Graphite shafts.
If you do not have a high swing speed and struggle to launch the ball high, then settle for a complete set of graphite shafts.
Steel can be used in all the wedges (pitching, gap, and sand wedge )as they call for accuracy and control, not length.
Steel is the choice for high swing speeds with the irons, as the control and lack of flex will add accuracy.
Now that the flex has been decided, the golfer must ask himself a few questions about his own game and what aspirations he has going forward.
1. Does he struggle to get the ball airborne off the tee and from the fairway?
2. Does he play in windy conditions where he would like to control the ball flight?
3. Is his handicap low, middle, or high?
4. How often do you play?
A swing speed chart for easy reference and shaft choice–mph
70 and below -Ladies
70 to 80 -Strong ladies or senior
80 to 90 -Regular
90 to 100 -Stiff
100 to 110 -Extra stiff
110 to 125 -Extremely stiff
Before giving a shortlist of manufacturers, maybe it is appropriate to dispel a few golfing myths.
A stiff shaft will allow me to hit the ball further
If you do not have the swing speed and ability to launch the ball into the air, it will come out with a low trajectory, a low spin rate, and the ball will not fly far. The result is a loss of distance.
Added to this the direction control will be lost.
You could lose a few balls in your round and hold up play.
Any mis-hits will feel like an iron rod.
I will be mocked by my mates if I hit a senior or soft shaft.
The soft shaft will give you a high launch angle with plenty of spin to keep the ball airborne longer, resulting in more distance.
Play from the fairway and not spend the day looking for golf balls.
Who will be mocking who?
To list all the manufacturers and their shaft options would fill a complete book.
I have selected a few manufacturers and added a brief description of a product on offer, highlighting some of the characteristics and which type of golfer should test them.
They are selected in random order.
Fujikura Speeder EvolutionV– Great graphite shaft that is stable and offers a stiff or regular option. Not too badly priced.
Well established, reliable, and experienced shaft manufacturer.
2. Mitsubishi Chemical/Graphite Shafts
Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana D + 72.335 Graphite driver shaft – Stiff shaft and higher weight. Ideal for fast swings and the low handicap golfer seeking low spin and distance. Very Expensive.
Fantastic range of shafts for all swing speeds. A well-respected brand.
3. True Temper
Should you select steel shafts for your irons, this is the company that will provide you with all the options and reasonably priced.
ProjectX HZRDUS – 60 gm weight and very stable through the shot. The mid-range weight allows most golfers to obtain control and distance on offer. A bit pricey.
One of the top shaft manufacturers in world golf and been around for a long time.
Their steel shafts are market-leading and their continued innovation sets them apart.
Aldila Quaranta Blue -A perfect graphite shaft for seniors and the slow swing speed golfer. High launch and plenty of spin.
Their range of shafts allows all golfers to find a shaft suitable for their swing speed.
Well respected and been in the industry for many years.
Graphite Design Tour AD BB – https://www.gd-asia.com.hk/button3.php
Remember the shaft is the engine and by taking all the relative characteristics into account, the golfer should have a very good idea of what shaft will be best suited to him or her.
While distance normally leads the list, accuracy and control must also be considered.
Check your stats on launch and spin to decide which kick-point you require.
Take the time to have your swing analyzed for all the points mentioned in this article to make sure you get the best results out of your new shafts.
Proper fitment = Proper results.
Finally, the lie angle is often overlooked when fitting out a new set of clubs or shafts.
The sole of the club should sit level with the turf when addressing the ball.
This will stop the clubhead from “snagging” on the takeaway and produce a fluid interaction between turf and sole.
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.