If you tend to miss in the same direction time after time, lack the distance you feel your swing should produce, or can't seem to improve no matter how much you practice, the problem might lie in your golf clubs shafts.

Golf Club Shaft

Shafts for woods, irons and hybrid clubs come in a variety of flexes. The golfer's swing speed and tempo – two subtly different but important elements -- are the primary factors in determining which flex is best for his or her clubs.

First, the difference between swing speed and tempo. Speed is a measurement (in miles per hour) of how fast the clubhead moves through the hitting area. Tempo is the pace with which a golfer swings and isn't measurable by a speedometer. (Think about the difference between Ernie Els' and Nick Price's swings.)

Generally speaking, the slower a player's swing speed, the more flexible (or “soft”) his shafts should be. A shaft that bends more easily provides extra “kick” through impact, generating a boost in clubhead speed and added distance.

On the other hand, a highly flexible shaft can cause trouble for a fast-swinging player by making it more difficult to control the golf clubhead.

Other factors play a role in shaft performance, including length, weight and torque. When your golf club shafts are customized to fit your swing, longer, straighter shots are all but guaranteed.

For more information on Thomas Golf Shafts and Grips:

Equipment plays an important role in golf.

The Benefits of Selecting the Right Shaft Flex

It might not be quite as important as some golfers would like to believe, but it certainly matters. If you are playing with the wrong gear, you are making the game harder than it needs to be. And, of course, golf is plenty hard to begin with. By taking some time to assemble a set of clubs that is well-suited to your needs, you can take a big step forward in terms of your performance.

In this article, we are talking about one piece of equipment in particular – the shaft. In fact, we are talking specifically about the shaft flex that you use in your clubs. Carrying a set where all of the shaft flexes work properly for your swing is a big advantage. Using the wrong flex will require you to constantly 'fight' the club, and that is never a good feeling. You want to be able to make your swing naturally without feeling like the club is getting in the way. That can only happen when you have the perfect shaft flex for the job.

Unfortunately, golf equipment can be confusing. There is a lot of lingo involved, and unless you are an experienced golfer or know someone who is, you might not be able to wade through all of the various terms successfully. With this article, we hope to clear up some confusion you may have with regard to shaft flex. This is only one piece of the overall equipment puzzle, but it is a big piece to be sure.

We need to make one important point before we move on with our discussion on shaft flex. When you are picking out equipment, remember that it does not matter which clubs your favorite professional golfer happens to use. Your game is unique, and you need to pick out equipment that will serve your purposes. If you assemble a set simply by copying the collection of clubs that is used by your favorite pro, you will almost certainly miss the mark. The best way to assemble a set is to test a variety of options to locate the ones which work best for you. Maybe those clubs will match with your favorite professional, and maybe they won't. Either way, by testing – and by working with a professional club fitter (more on that later) – you can come away with a set that helps you play better golf.

All of the content below has been written from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Making Evaluations

Making Evaluations

Before you start making changes to your set of clubs, you should spend some time thinking about the performance of your current set. It would be silly to make changes to something that is working fine already, as you could make your game worse, and you could waste some money in the process. Specific to this discussion, you need to watch for some signs that your current shafts may not be doing their job properly.

Let's take a look at some of the key points to watch for when evaluating the performance of the shafts currently in your bag.

  • Trajectory. This is the key point when talking about shaft flex. If you are using the wrong flex, you aren't going to get an ideal trajectory. As a general rule of thumb, a shaft which is too soft will send the ball too high, while a shaft that is too stiff will keep the ball too low to the ground. If you have been frustrated by your inability to hit the ball at a useful height, there is a good chance that your shaft flexes are to blame. In the world of amateur golf, it is far more common for a player to use a shaft which is too stiff rather than too soft. This means that many golfers struggle to get the ball off the ground, and they wind up swinging too hard in an effort to do so. While it would be best to find the perfect shaft flex for your needs, you want to end up on the softer side of the equation when in doubt. A shaft which is slightly too soft will at least let you make a comfortable, relaxed swing. When you go the other way and wind up with an excessively stiff shaft, you will be forced out of your comfort zone in the hopes of getting the ball up in the air. That's not a good place to be, and your game will suffer as a result.
  • Ball flight. In addition to the height of your shots as they fly toward the target, you will also want to monitor the ball flight from side to side. Does your ball seem to want to hook or slice more than expected? This can be a shaft flex issue as well. Or, if you are pulling or pushing your shots consistently, you may have shaft flex problems. This can be a bit of a complicated issue, as there are a few factors at play, but it may be that the shaft flex is at the root of it when all is said and done. Often, a shaft which is too stiff will lead to the ball missing to the left of the target, while a softer shaft will allow the face to hang open and the ball to miss to the right.
  • Impact problems. You may not think of it at first but taking deep divots could be a sign of an issue as well. When your shaft flexes properly on the way down into the ball, it should be positioned well for a clean strike. Things can go wrong, however, when the shaft doesn't flex like it should. If the shaft in one of your clubs is too stiff, it won't flex as it should at you might find that you hit many of your shots fat. On the other end of the spectrum, a soft shaft could lead to thin contact, as your hands will have moved through the ball too far before the shaft recovers and delivers the club head into the ball.

Using the wrong shaft flex can cause a long list of problems. If there is something that seems 'off' about your game at the moment, and you think your swing is in pretty good shape, it is possible that your shaft flexes are the underlying issue. If nothing else, investigating this problem further will help you eliminate it from consideration. Whether you need to make changes, or you determine that your current clubs are right for your swing, at least you will know. With that out of the way, you can move on to other concerns.

Planning for Improvement

Planning for Improvement

Now that you have taken a bit of time to think about what problems you are having with your club shafts, you can start charting a path toward a better future. What improvements do you think could be made? What are the weak points of your game? Do you have any notable strengths? You aren't going to get better at golf by accident. Instead, you need to have a specific plan, so you can work on executing that plan, one step at a time.

Let's take a look at a few tips for how you can find your way to a better set of golf clubs.

  • Divide your bag into two sections. We don't mean that you need to physically divide your bag into two sections, but rather you are going to make two lists of clubs. One list will include the clubs you feel like are working well currently. These clubs aren't going to be touched, as they are already doing their job nicely. The other list, of course, is the clubs that you think may need to be changed. You don't have to be sure of anything at this point – just list all of the clubs that give you cause for concern. Maybe some of them fly too high, or maybe they don't fly as far as you think they should. Whatever the case, list out all of the clubs in your bag that might need to be improved in one way or another. Taking this step first is a great idea because it is going to immediately narrow down the scope of the project. For instance, if 8 of your 14 clubs are providing good results, you will know that only 6 need to be addressed.
  • Think about your needs. One piece of the puzzle that you need to remember is the local conditions that you are likely to face during most of your rounds. Do you live in a dry climate where firm turf is common throughout most of the year? Or are you in a rainy area, with soft turf conditions prevailing a majority of the time? If you play most of your golf on firm turf, you will want to be able to hit high shots – especially with your irons – in order to stop the ball on the greens in a timely manner. On soft turf, it is easy to bring the ball to a stop, so you don't need to worry so much about this point. When talking about the driver, the conversation is flipped on its head. Players dealing with soft conditions usually like to carry the ball as far as possible off the tee, maximizing overall driving distance. When the ground is firm, however, hitting lower tee shots that can pick up yardage with bounce and roll is perfect. As you select shafts to go into your clubs, keep local conditions in mind and customize your set accordingly.
  • Find a good time. If you play in some competitions during the year – even if they are just small tournaments at your local club – you probably won't want to make shaft changes during those times. Instead, try to find a quiet time of the year to change shafts so you'll have plenty of time to adapt before you play any meaningful golf. Take a look at your calendar for the golf year ahead and pick out a point where you can make equipment changes without causing trouble for any of your important rounds. Any time you make an equipment change, you should expect a period of transition where your game will get a little worse before it gets better.

It isn't going to be good enough to simply order some new club shafts and have them installed in your clubs as soon as possible. You will want to think through your plan for this transition, and you will want to avoid making changes to clubs that are already working well. If you take just a bit of time at the start to plan out your path forward, the results should be quite impressive in the end.