Graphite vs Steel Shafts – Which Is Better & Why?

Today I am going to analyze and show you the importance of golf shafts and why they matter for your performance on the golf course.  Shaft selection is normally very overlooked, and it could be hindering your game if you are not informed about the subject.

The Importance of Choosing the Correct Golf Club Shaft

Golf club shafts are very useful if you have relevant knowledge because they can have an effect on your ball flight and accuracy of your shots.

Most golfers focus on basically everything but choosing the correct shaft and shaft type based on their swing speed.  It is a major problem that goes unnoticed all too often.  I have listed some of the biggest problems that golfers face with an incorrect shaft.

Problems with a Wrong Golf Shaft

  • The ball goes left due to being too flexible of a shaft (for right-handed golfers).
  • The ball goes right due to too stiff of a shaft (for right-handed golfers).
  • Not able to work the ball as well with graphite shafts in irons.
  • Low trajectory if the shaft is too stiff.
  • Too high of a trajectory if the shaft is too flexible.
  • Less accuracy if the shaft is too flexible and “whippy”.
  • Less distance if the golf shaft is too stiff.

The Basic Types of Shafts

Breaking it down between graphite and steel shafts, there are several other subcategories that golfers should pay attention to.  There are different flexes that are available depending on a golfer swing speed.

The normal options that golfers can choose from are Ladies, Senior, Regular, Stiff, and Extra Stiff. I listed those in the order from the slowest swing speed up to the stiffest type of shaft.

Not only is choosing the correct material of shaft important but if you pick the wrong flex you could hinder your game even more.

Who Should Use Graphite Shafts?


Graphite shafts are found in virtually every driver on the market because they are lighter and promote clubhead speed for golfers to really bomb it down the fairway.  No matter what the skill level is, a graphite shaft is most likely going to be used with a driver.

Graphite shafts are also found in almost every set of women’s and senior golf clubs because it helps equal out the lack of swing speed that they have.  Steel shafts are practically nonexistent with senior and women golf club shafts.

Another category of golf clubs that almost always have graphite shafts is game improvement irons for all types of players.  The graphite shafts are more forgiving and do not sting when you mishit, and beginner golfers should take advantage of that.

Also, the lighter graphite shafts make the irons go farther when hit well, so it is a win-win for golfers in the game improvement section.

Who Should Use Steel Shafts?


Steel shafts are geared much more towards scratch golfers and better players in general.  Once players improve and move on from game improvement irons, then they will most likely turn to steel shafts in their irons for several reasons.

The first reason is that better golfers tend to have more swing speed than beginners, so they do not need the extra help that graphite shafts possess.

The biggest reasons are because of the feel, control, and ability to work the ball.  Graphite shafts do not have the same ability to work the ball to the extent of steel shafts, and that usually leads better players to upgrade to the steel shafts.

What Kind of Shaft is Great for Beginner Golfers?


Like I said above, the best kind of shaft for beginner golfers is certainly a graphite shaft in most cases.  The added swing speed and forgiveness make them a solid choice.

There are beginner golfers out there who have started with steel shafts and they probably improved quickly after they got tired of the “sting” in their hands every time they mishit an iron!

After you know what type of shaft, then you should break down what flex to get depending on your swing speed.

Best Shaft Type for Your Driver


Graphite shafts are going to be your best bet when it comes to your driver.  The swing speed and forgiveness that a graphite shaft offer will make your performance the best.

Best Shaft Type for Your Irons

The part where the divide starts between graphite and steel golf shafts are with irons.

For beginner and high handicap golfers, you are going to most likely want graphite shafts.

For scratch and low handicap golfers, a steel shaft might be better if you have the ability and desire to work the ball for your approach shots.  Some great players do not work the ball so they could even stick with graphite shafts if they are more comfortable with it.

Best Shaft Type for Your Wedges

Unless you pick up a cheap game-improvement set, your wedges are probably steel shafts.  The extra feel that steel shafts offer is great for your wedges and controlling the golf ball.

Best Shaft Type for Your Putter


Putter shafts are going to be steel because the flex of your putter does not matter.  Some golfers do experiment with different types of steel shafts in their putters because the feel can be different depending on the shaft.

What Are the Biggest Factors with Deciding What Type of Shaft to Use?

The biggest factors when deciding what kind of golf shaft to use are:

  • Swing Speed
  • Ability to Work the Ball
  • Skill Level
  • Preferred Feel
  • Type of Club

Out of all of those, the main factor is based on swing speed and the type of club.  Steel shafts should almost always be used in putters and wedges, but the rest are really up to you.  Also, drivers should almost always be graphite shafts.

If you have the expertise to hit solid shots and the swing speed for steel shafts, then you can certainly have steel shaft irons.

The best idea is to go and get fitted for your shafts and a professional will certainly get you set up for exactly what you need!

What is Considered a Fast Swing Speed?

Golfers that would be considered to have a fast swing speed would be in the 100+ mph range.  Pro golfers can easily achieve this and really fling the club through the air.

But, if you are not there then it is fine because that is what regular and senior flex graphite shafts are made for.  Nowadays, the technology with golf shafts can really make you a better golfer depending on the flex and what type of material the shaft is made out of.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it for your breakdown about whether to go with steel or graphite shafts for your clubs. After you have decided what type of shaft to purchase, then it is time to focus on what flex to purchase.

I would suggest going to your local golf shop and getting fitted.  They will have an accurate test for your swing speed and that will take the guesswork out of the process.  Good luck in finding your perfect shafts and hopefully it has a noticeable impact on your game.

Related Articles

You might also like these