Inconsistency in golf is very frustrating. While many players attribute hooks, slices, high spinning shots, and loss of accuracy to poor technique and swing mechanics, there may be another reason: you may need stiffer shafts on your irons and woods.
There are a few signs that you need a stiffer shaft.
- The club feels light or whippy in your hands
- You start hitting hooks
- Your ball flight ‘balloons’ or the pitch mark is ahead of your ball when hitting your driver
- You are losing accuracy
- You are getting a lot of spin on the greens.
Having the correct shafts for your swing is critical to achieving shot consistency in direction and distance. If you are experiencing any of the ball or club issues listed, it may be time to re-evaluate your swing speed and your current golf shafts.
Dialing in the proper shaft flex in your golf club is vital to a quality preforming golf shot shape.
Why The Stiffness Of Golf Shafts Important For Your Golf Club
Because every golfer is different, and some have faster swing speeds than others, the golf shafts need to be matched to those swing mechanics to deliver the clubface squarely back to the ball consistently.
Having a too flexible shaft on your woods and irons will lead to unpredictable and inconsistent results in the distance, direction, and shape, and the same is true when the club shafts are too stiff for your swing speed.
During the swing, the shaft will flex, and the ability of the post to flex correctly relative to the swing speed will determine what flex of shafts you need for your swing. Let’s look at the swing speed vs. shaft flex comparisons.
The difference between having correctly fitted shafts and not means hitting fairways and greens more often vs. ending up left or right off the fairways, short or over greens, and landing in more hazards and bunkers.
Swing Speed Vs. Shaft Flexibility
The lower the speed of your swing, the more flexible the shaft needs to be, while the faster the speed, the stiffer the shaft needs to be. If the shaft is too flex or too stiff for the swing speeds, the clubface won’t be able to strike the ball square.
The table below shows the swing speed vs. shaft flex comparison for a driver:
|Swing Speed||Recommended Shaft Flex|
|75 mph or under||Ladies Flex|
|75 mph – 85 mph||Senior Flex|
|85 mph – 95 mph||Regular Flex|
|95 mph – 110 mph||Stiff Flex|
|110 mph and above||Extra Stiff Flex|
Now, let’s look at the same swing speed table but for a 6-iron:
|Swing Speed||Recommended Shaft Flex|
|60 mps or under||Ladies Flex|
|60 mph – 70 mph||Senior Flex|
|70 mph – 80 mph||Regular Flex|
|80 mph – 90 mph||Stiff Flex|
|90 mph and above||Extra Stiff Flex|
You can see the difference in swing speed between the driver and the 6 -iron on these tables and so if you suspect that you are needing a more stiff shaft, the next step is to go and have your swing speed measured and see whether the shaft flex in your clubs is compatible with your swing speed.
When golfers incorporate strength training in their regimen, they often need to upgrade the shaft stiffness as they get stronger, and the converse is true as golfers get older and lose swing speed.
There is no status involved with speed and shaft flex, as it’s all about matching your shafts and your game to produce the most consistent results and scoring. So, whether you need a less flexible or more flexible shaft has no reflection on your ability.
Why Your Ball Would Hook If Your Shaft Is Too Flex
When you suddenly start hooking the ball, especially if you have been doing more training, it can mean that you need a stiffer shaft on your clubs. This happens as the clubface rotates to a closed position at impact, leading to the ball hooking left.
Because the shaft flexes too much on the downswing and cannot maintain the clubface alignment through the strike zone as the shaft is ‘whipping,’ the club head weight causes the shaft to twist under the force of the swing the face closes through impact.
Before you start over-analyzing your swing, it may be better to check the compatibility of your shafts with your swing speed first and rule that out before looking at the technical swing elements or errors that could cause a hook to start manifesting.
How Does Shaft Flex Affect Spin And Accuracy
Hitting accurate golf shots and being able to shape them is all about the clubface returning to the square position with the golf ball at impact. Any element in the swing (aside from swing mechanics) that impacts that ability will cause inconsistency in the strike and where the clubface strikes the ball at impact.
When the golf shaft is too flex and ‘whippy,’ it imparts too much spin to the ball on impact, and this causes the ball to balloon off the driver and irons and carry too much spin when landing on the greens.
In addition, when your golf clubs shafts are too flexible, your accuracy and line will be adversely affected as you cannot consistently control the point of impact.
One of the significant clues that you need a stiffer shaft is when you are swinging at average speed and being inconsistent and then slow your swing down, producing more accurate and consistent shots.
This happens because the golf shaft is not flexing as much in the swing and the ability to get the clubface back square to the ball – and all this time, you thought it could have been your swing itself!
With the right flex shaft, you will be able to ‘feel’ the club in your hands as the golf club is moving consistently with your swing, while with a flexible shaft that are too flex, you may get the sense that the club feels lighter or it’s getting away from you- that’s a sign you may need stiffer shafts.
Having Stiff Shafts That Are Too Stiff
When your shaft is too stiff you’ll notice that it is really difficult to work the ball from right to left with your natural swing shape. Often with a golf club that has too much of an x stiff shafts in it you will see wild shots that flair to the right. Watching the ball lose direction and fly on misdirected flight paths is painful to watch!
The idea is that the stiff shaft is too stiff causing the golf club head to not rotate past square at impact. Even with high club head speed a shaft that is too stiff will slice that ball, cause you to lose distance and have you wondering off looking for your ball more often than it’s in the fairway.
Most golfers, including professional golfers, will experience some level of this result when the shaft is too stiff.
If these crazy slices are what you are seeing now, or if you just can’t seem to get the ball to work from right to left, even when you hit the ball solidly in the center of the club face. It might be a sign that you need to go down to a regular shaft or basically to find the best shaft flex for your dominant shot shape.
Does The Shaft Material Matter?
When looking into a stiffer shaft flex or into a more flexible shaft, the question may pass through your mind on if graphite shafts or steel shafts are what you need. You may be aware that graphite shafts are mostly found in woods and hybrids, while steel shafts are mostly found in irons, wedges and putters.
Now that break down is not a rule, as there are golf clubs that don’t fit into that break down exactly. There are full sets of clubs made entirely of graphite shafts, from stiff shafts to club shafts that make a highly flexible golf club. All in graphite shafts.
It is however, very uncommon to see steel shafts in driver shafts or fairway wood shafts. Even though steel shafts can offer golf club flexibility to run the range of stiff club shafts to flexible shafts. The technology that has been developed in the driver shaft flex is strong enough in the graphite shaft that it keeps the steel shaft out of the driver golf clubs.
Golf is challenging enough, so whether you are starting or have been hitting the golf course for twenty years, if you experience any of these golfing symptoms, take a trip to your local pro-shop and have your swing speed measured with your natural swing tendencies on your driver and 6-iron and eliminate that as a possible option for your swing issues before you spend money on lessons.
When the solution to playing the kind of golf you want is a question of getting the suitable shafts fitted, it will take your game from the frustrating to the sublime in a very short space of time.
And have an open mind about the different types of shafts and their shaft flex. There are steel shafts and graphite shafts that both come in a variety of options. From lighter graphite shafts to club shafts made with to a steel rod. Your local pro can fit you in something perfect for your swing speeds.