All about Golf Shafts
The shaft in your golf club is like the engine in your car. If you don’t have the right engine for your vehicle, it won’t allow you to reach maximum performance. Imagine that you purchased a large pickup truck that you are going to use to pull a trailer all around town. The trailer is heavy, so you are relying on the power of the truck to get it moving. However, the truck came with a small 4-cylinder engine that was meant for a compact car. As a result, your truck is going to be useless when it comes to pulling the trailer.
This example translates to the world of golf shafts. It isn’t enough to just get a quality shaft – you need to get a shaft that is well-suited to the job at hand. There is nothing wrong with the small 4-cylinder engine in the example above, as it is perfect for powering the compact car. However, when put to use in a pickup truck hauling a trailer, it fails miserably. The same can be said of golf shafts. If you have a swing speed around 90 MPH, and you use a shaft meant for someone that swings well over 100 MPH, you aren’t going to get good results. Even if the shaft is of the highest quality, it is going to be useless because it is not a proper match for your needs.
When shopping for golf shafts, it is crucial that you always keep in mind the needs of your specific golf game. Playing with a shaft because it is the same one used by your favorite Tour player is a bad idea. Sure, it is probably a great shaft, but you probably don’t swing the club anything like that specific player. You only swing the club like you, and it is imperative that you find a shaft which will match your style and ability perfectly. Only when your shafts are well-matched to the dynamics of your swing can you start to live up to your potential on the course.
Many golfers make the mistake of thinking that it is only the shaft of their driver that is important, when they actually should be concerned about the shaft of each club in the bag (with the exception of the putter, of course). Ideally, you will have a set of shafts that works nicely for your woods, and a different set of shafts that runs throughout your irons. Consistency is important when it comes to picking out irons because you don’t want to feel like you have to change your swing with each different club that you pull out of the bag. Good equipment alone won’t make you a great golfer, but getting the right shafts in all of your clubs can help you take a big step in the right direction.
All discussion below is based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please reverse the directions accordingly.
Are Your Golf Club Shafts a Problem?
Before you go out and spend hundreds of dollars to put new shafts in all of your clubs, you need to first decide if your current shafts are causing a problem in your game. After all, why spend money to fix a problem that doesn’t exist in the first place? If you haven’t been fitted for your current set of clubs, there is a good chance that your shafts are not a match for your swing – but it is still worth the effort to make this determination officially before moving on to look for new shafts.
Following are three signs that your golf club shafts are not a good fit for your game.
- Extremely high or low ball flight. Any time you are faced with an extreme ball flight in your game, you can assume something is wrong. If your ball flight looks dramatically different than most of the people you play with, it is a good idea to investigate further. In the case of your shafts, having an ill-fitted shaft can lead to shots that are either far too high or much too low. When you play with a shaft that is too soft for your swing, the ball will tend to float high into the air. On the other hand, using a shaft that is too stiff will lead to low line-drives that barely get more than a few yards off the ground. In either case, you should quickly begin the search to replace those shafts with models that are better suited to your swing speed.
- Pushing or pulling the ball. This second point is similar to the first, only you will be looking for pushed or pulled shots instead of high and low ball flights. When you play with a shaft that is too soft for your swing speed, you may find that the ball hangs out to the right even when you make a good swing. It won’t be slicing to the right – instead, it will simply start on a line that is right of the target, and stay there. Conversely, a shaft that is too stiff for your swing may lead to pulled shots flying left of the target. Again, you won’t be hitting a hook, you will just be trapping the ball immediately to the left. Either one of these problems can be very frustrating, because you will be making good swings only to look up and see bad results.
- Working too hard. The golf swing is aggressive through the hitting area, but you shouldn’t feel like you are exerting an excessive amount of effort to hit the ball solidly. If you currently feel like each swing is a major chore, you are probably using shafts that are either too stiff or too heavy (or both). This is a common mistake among amateur players. Since most professionals use heavy club shafts with a stiff or extra stiff flex, many amateurs decide that they should follow suit. As mentioned earlier, the shafts that are in the clubs of your favorite professionals have nothing to do with you and your game.
Watch for these warning signs during your next round on the golf course. When you start to notice some of these issues cropping up in your game, it will be time to visit a local club fitter to find some shafts that are better suited to compliment your swing.
True Temper Shafts
True Temper is one of the leading brands in the business of golf shafts – specifically, they lead the way in the production of steel shafts that are used in iron sets. The ‘Dynamic Gold’ line of True Temper shafts is among the most-popular of all time, and you have likely used at least one of these shafts at some time during your golfing life. Many of the pros on the PGA Tour play True Temper golf shafts in their irons, and the company offers a variety of models to suit the needs of a wide-range of golfers.
Picking the perfect shaft for your irons is part science, and part feel. To get starting finding the right shafts for your iron set, visit your local golf shop and as for a club fitting session. Tell the pro that you are looking for new shafts in your irons, and he or she will put you through all of the relevant tests in order to recommend the right shafts for your swing. At this point, you could choose to purchase the shafts and have them installed in your club heads.
However, you would be wise to take it a step further and try out these shafts for yourself before committing to having them installed. Ask if you can use one or two ‘demo’ clubs with the recommended shaft on the course during your next round. This is important because you want to listen to what your hands are telling you just as much as what the computer has to say. If the fitting computer recommends a specific shaft model and flex, but that choice feels terrible to you out on the course, it isn’t the right choice. Trust your instincts along with the science to find the right shaft for you.
Above all else, you want your iron shafts to allow you to get the ball up off the ground easily. You shouldn’t have to fight your irons to get them up into the air when playing a shot into the green. If you choose a shaft that is too stiff, or too heavy, you might find that it is a battle to get the ball up into the air. Feeling like you have to ‘help’ the ball into the air is only going to cause problems in your swing. Always error on the softer side when it comes to iron shafts so that you don’t experience trouble in getting the ball to fly high and land soft.
If you are in the market for iron shafts, True Temper is certainly a brand to give careful consideration. The quality of their product has been proven over the years, and countless golfers trust the Dynamic Gold and other models to deliver great performance swing after swing.
Aldila has a long-standing reputation as one of the leading shaft manufacturers in the game. Specifically, their graphite driver shafts are incredibly popular with professionals and amateurs alike. The ‘Rogue’ driver shafts is the #1 driver shaft on Tour at the moment, and it has been that way for the last thirty events. Don’t be surprised if your local club fitter recommends an Aldila shaft for your driver as they have models that suit golfers of all skill levels.
Just like with iron shaft selection, it is important to know what you want when it comes to shaft performance in your driver. Getting the ball off of the ground isn’t as important of a consideration, since you will be hitting the ball off of a tee in the first place. However, you still want to be sure the shaft you choose creates a ball flight that will play well on your usual courses. There is no ‘perfect’ ball flight for the driver, so you have to decide which kind of flight you prefer for your own game.
Driving the ball low is great for playing in windy areas where the ground is typically dry and firm. If there are a lot of links style courses near your home, using a shaft that creates a low ball flight is a great idea. However, if you live somewhere with soggy conditions and little wind, a low ball flight is a terrible idea. In that case, you would want to use a high ball flight to carry the ball as far as possible. To keep the ball in the air, you will want a shaft that promotes a medium to high launch angle and a relatively high backspin rate.
This is a great example of why you can’t simply take the results from the fitting computer and purchase the shaft that it recommends. While that is a great starting point, you need to take into consideration some personal factors before you can make an informed decision. The fitting computer doesn’t know where you play most of your golf, or what style of golf you like to play. Only when you combine the statistics with your own ‘real world’ factors can you pick the right shaft to put into your driver.
There are plenty of quality graphite shaft brands on the market today, but Aldila is clearly one of the leaders. The presence of their shafts all over the PGA Tour is a great indication of the kind of quality product that they manufacture. Also, they have a wide-ranging product line you so you don’t have to fit into just one or two models to play Aldila shafts– there are plenty of options to choose from. When you go for a club fitting session, ask if you can hit some Aldila shafts to test their performance against the current shaft in your driver.
Yet another top brand in the golf shaft business, Fujikura shafts have been a prominent player on the golf scene for many years. Fujikura uses a long list of modern technologies and techniques to create some of the most-advanced shaft options on the market. Just like Aldila, Fujikura shafts are well-represented on the pro tours. The ‘Speeder’ brand of Fujikura shafts is a long-standing choice of many professionals, and according to Fujikura, that line has taken home more event titles than any shaft in tour history.
One of the tricky parts of choosing graphite shafts for your woods is finding the right blend of performance for your driver and your fairway woods. While they are similar in design, you might want slightly different ball flight characteristics from those two categories of clubs. For example, you may find that you like to hit your driver low to the ground, but want a fairway wood ball flight that soars high into the air and stops quickly. When trying to keep your shafts consistent throughout the woods in your bag, this can present a little bit a challenge.
The answer to this problem, not surprisingly, is to work with an experienced club fitter who can pick and choose the right shaft models to give you the performance you desire. If you were to choose the Fujikura Speeder, for instance, for all of your woods, the club fitter could tailor the installation and trimming of the shaft to create the right performance characteristics. Simply by trimming more of the shaft from the butt end or the tip end, it is possible to manipulate how the shaft performs. These kinds of customizations require plenty of experience and know-how, so only trust this work to a talented professional.
It should also be mentioned that you should avoid getting caught up in an ‘ego contest’ when it comes to the shaft that you install in your driver. Many amateur golfers (and often inexperienced golfers) will strive to put the heaviest and stiffest shaft possible into their driver as something of a badge of honor. Of course, this is rather silly, and it defeats the purpose of fitting a shaft to your swing. You don’t get to take any strokes off of your score at the end of the round for using an extra-stiff flex shaft, so don’t worry about such trivial things. The goal is to play your best, and you should be happy to do that with any shaft that gets the job done. Whether your swing calls for an extra-stiff flex or just a regular, use the one that gives you the best chance to play well.
Fujikura started establishing their name in the golf shaft business twenty years ago, and they are still going strong today. The ‘Speeder’ line has been incredibly popular, along with a variety of other models that they have introduced over the years. If your club fitter recommends a Fujikura shaft for your driver and fairway woods, you can be confident that you will be getting a great product.
As you can tell from the brands already listed, there is no shortage of quality golf shafts in the golf world today. UST Mamiya is a company which produces great shafts for both woods and irons, and they have developed some of the most-interesting technology in the golf shaft business. Rather than steel or graphite, their line of ‘Recoil’ iron shafts are actually carbon fiber. While you will have to decide for yourself if the Recoil line is something that could benefit your game, there is no doubt that UST Mamiya is pushing the envelope in search of improved performance.
Whether you are thinking about using UST Mamiya shafts in your woods or irons, or both, it is important to think about the connection between the shaft and the club heads that you are using. Just like shafts, different club heads have different characteristics that they will lend to your ball flight. It is important to strike a successful balance between the two in order to form a successful partnership. If you neglect to consider your club heads when picking a shaft, you might be left with a ball flight that doesn’t really suit your game as well as it could.
The following example will illustrate this point perfectly. Imagine that you have a set of old blade iron club heads that you love to play. They are challenging to hit, but they feel great when you strike the ball on the sweet spot. Of course, blades are notorious for being difficult to get up into the air, so you have to hit a perfect shot to generate a high, soft ball flight from these club heads.
When picking iron shafts then, you want to keep in mind the playing characteristics of the club heads to arrive at a perfect combination. With hard-to-hit blade club heads, you might consider pairing a shaft that provides you with some help in getting the ball up into the air. That way, you can keep playing your blades, while still getting good performance thanks to the assistance that you are getting from the shaft. If you were to pick a heavy and ultra-stiff shaft to work with the blade heads, you may be left with a set of clubs that you simply can’t hit.
That is only one example, but the lesson is the same for a variety of combinations. Think carefully about the characteristics of your club heads, and then choose shafts to match. Given their history of innovation and advancement, you would be wise to at least consider the products available from UST Mamiya.
The importance of your golf club shafts cannot be overstated. If you are serious about optimizing the performance of your equipment on the course, you should start with your shafts. Remember, you want your golf club shafts to make the game easier for you, not harder. Use shafts that complement the swing that you have so you can maximize both distance and ball control. By working with a talented and experienced club fitter, finding the right shafts is a relatively straightforward – and even enjoyable – process.