As a golfer, making slight changes to your golf swing can significantly improve your game. The same applies to golf equipment. Just as other pieces, the shafts of the driver can have an impact on your overall game. Selecting the right shaft for your driver can help you to achieve consistency, providing you with the best chance to strike the center of the face. This will lead to ideal launch situations on the course.
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So, how can you pick the right shaft for your driver? There are various variables involved that can affect your delivery on impact. Here are some easy steps to help you select the best shaft for your club.
1. Selecting the Shaft Material: Steel vs Graphite
Most of the latest shafts are made with graphite, but the choice of the material solely depends on the preference of a golfer. Here are the two main materials you can choose from:
Steel was the most preferred material for shafts a few years ago and is still used by many. Steel shafts are stiffer as compared to graphite shafts. But, this also means these shafts can be more difficult to load. The reason many golfers opt for steel shafts over graphite shafts is that it offers better control over the clubhead.
These shafts are created using carbon fiber strands. Incorporating graphite material into golf shafts took around 30 years, but it has now become the major ingredient. Graphite shafts are lighter in weight as compared to steel shafts. This means you will get a faster speed of clubhead with just a slight implement. With the improvement in technology, graphite shafts are getting more enhanced and offering better control to golfers. This is the reason why it is gradually overtaking steel shafts now.
2. Consider the Flex of the Shaft
The most integral element of shafts is the way they manage the force applied by a golfer’s swing. Usually, two extremes are at play, depending on the players. Some golfers apply late load when they swing, which needs a stiffer tip. This means if you extend early during your swing, a shaft with a softer tip will be ideal for you.
Many golfers are also misinformed about the stiffness of the shaft. The important thing to understand is that there aren’t any particular standards with the shaft flex. A stiff shaft manufactured by one company, might be considered a regular shaft by another one. Each has a different profile.
Another misconception about the flex of a shaft is that the overall swing speed is the only determining factor for its requirement. This is not the case, because other elements are also involved. It depends more on the amount of load you are applying for the swing. The shaft merely responds to the speed in which the clubhead moves.
Let’s compare the swings of two professional golfers – Fred Couples and Nick Price. Couples has a flowing and long swing, whereas Price has a shorter and quick tempo to his swing. Both of them have a rather swift speed of the swings even if it doesn’t look that way to casual observers.
Despite the similarities of both their swing speeds, Price can’t get the shaft with the right stiffness for his swing since he applies significant force. On the other hand, Couples doesn’t require much stiffness in the shaft since he has a smooth tempo to his swing.
This indicates that selecting the right profile and flex of the shaft is more dependent on the kind of swing you have instead of your swing’s speed. This is one of the most common mistakes made by various golfers. Choosing the wrong shaft will make it harder for you to hit the center of the face with the right consistency, which will only make things harder for you during the game.
Here are a few different types of shafts:
- Ladies (L)– these have an increased amount of flex as compared to other golf clubs. Since women typically have less upper body strength as compared to men, they can face difficulty in loading the club.
- Amateur (A)– this is suitable for young golfers, senior golfers, and any new golfer.
- Regular (R)– these are mid-flex shafts, which are also suitable for amateur players with more upper body strength.
- Stiff (S)– this is the preferred shaft for most golfers. This category of increased stiffness of the shaft is suitable for golfers with a swing speed of more than 95 mph. With this shaft, you don’t have to worry much about the deflection when loading the club. Golfers with a higher swing speed get the height through the backspin instead of the dynamic loft. Stiff shafts provide more awareness and feel of the clubhead, aside from other benefits.
- Extra Stiff (X)– this is suitable for players with the fastest swing speeds. For the other golfers, these shafts will be harder to load and will be unwieldy.
3. Deciding the Right Weight
The right weight of the shaft is another essential factor when picking out an ideal shaft for your driver. Most shafts typically weigh around 40 grams to 135 grams.
The general rule of thumb applied by golfers is that those with less swing speeds benefit from lighter shafts. The more the weight is added, the speed of the swing increases. However, of course, there are certain exceptions.
Some golfers on the PGA Tour prefer lightweight shafts and have the swing speeds between 115 and 120 mph. Other golfers use heavy shafts for faster swings. It is best to try out both to determine which one works best for you.
4. Measuring the Diameter of the Tip and Butt of the Shaft
The diameter of the butt and tip of the shaft driver has a lesser effect on the overall performance as compared to torque and flex, but they still play a vital role. The usual hosel of the shaft driver requires a 0.335-inch tip, but certain outliners need 0.370 or 0.350-inch tip.
Understanding your equipment will help you to make a major difference to your performance. The diameter of the butt is typically 0.6 inches. However, heavy shafts tend to have higher numbers.
5. Picking out the Right Shaft Length
The length of the shafts also plays a major role in your game. Longer shafts, typically around 45 inches long, resulting in faster swings. However, the shaft lengthening also has an impact on the lie angle of the club and requires the golfer to make compensatory movements. These moves might be hard to repeat, resulting in an inconsistent distance and wide shot dispersion.
These compensation moves are not required with shorter shafts, which improve the accuracy levels for most golfers. Since the latest driver shafts are usually about 46 inches in length, it is best to cut them down to the right length as per the height of the player.
Our Final Thoughts
Opting for the shaft that comes with the driver might cost you fairways hit or valuable yards. Therefore, make sure to install a more suitable shaft to eliminate these issues. Remember, there is no accurate measurement of the shaft for all players. It is essential that you select the shaft wisely as per your swing speed, your height, and your comfort level.