Graphite golf shafts have been around for decades, but truly rose to prominence in the 1990s. Today, practically all tour pros -- male, female and senior -- uses graphite composite shafts in their woods and hybrid clubs.
Graphite’s primary advantage over steel is its lighter weight. This is especially important with the driver, since a lighter shaft can be swung faster, producing greater clubhead speed and longer shots. The same holds true for fairway woods and hybrids.
Because graphite shafts are made by wrapping multiple layers of fiber around a core, manufacturers can fine-tune them to offer a wide range of weights and flexes. This makes golf club graphite shafts highly customizable to a player’s swing speed, tempo and other clubfitting factors.
While graphite shafts dominate the wood and hybrid market, they’re not as popular a pick for irons. That may have something to do with an outdated stigma which holds that graphite shafts don’t produce the consistent ball flight of steel. Recent advances have eliminated this drawback, although graphite’s higher price tag discourages its widespread acceptance as an iron shaft.
A final advantage of graphite over steel: Seniors or golfers with arthritis often find graphite’s vibration-dampening effects to be easier on the hands and arms.