What to Consider When Shopping for Golf Shafts for Drivers
Posted by Dallas Golf on 08 May 2020
If you thought shopping for a golf shaft for a driver was a one size fits all deal, think again. In fact, if you thought that all that went into golf shafts for drivers was the length as it fits the golfer, think again once over.
There is a lot more that goes into the production of golf shafts than length. There is more that goes into their production than material as well. In this guide, we will look at some of the factors that are involved in the production of golf shafts for drivers (and golf shafts in general) that you should look out for while shopping.
A lot goes into the production of a golf shaft. Time and resources are spent on research and development to produce a shaft that is properly weighted and balanced to positively affect the energy transfer from the clubhead to the ball to accomplish the desired aims. With putters, for example, the stress is on delivering as accurate of a stroke as possible. With a driver, the aim is to produce a balanced shaft that also allows for an accurate stroke, but also translates the energy from the swing with great efficiency. After all, you need to be able to drive the ball great distances with great accuracy.
To that end, it becomes necessary to take into account not only the material from which the shaft is constructed but also its weight, its flex, kick point, torque, sizing, and more. Here we’re going to look at a few of the considerations you should make while you’re shopping. This is not a comprehensive list, but it is a good place to start, and you can visit us in-store or call us for more in-depth advice, after all.
One of the first and most important things to consider when shopping for golf shafts for drivers is shaft material because that will directly affect everything else that follows. The two most common materials from which golf shafts are produced are steel shafts and graphite shafts, although other alloy and composites, though somewhat rarer, do exist. Due to the prevalence of steel and graphite, we will only be looking in-depth at these options.
When it comes to shafts made of metals, steel is by far the most common shaft material. While it is neither superior to or inferior to graphite, it is somewhat less common than graphite in shaft construction. That being said, here’s what to look for in steel shafts.
Generally speaking, a steel shaft is going to be stiffer, stronger, and heavier than an alternative graphite shaft. It is, after all, steel that we’re talking about, that is renowned for its strength and durability. Steel shafts are also almost universally more affordable than graphite shafts.
All of that being taken into consideration, there are a couple of reasons why people might actually prefer to use a steel shaft instead of a graphite shaft, even without taking price into account.
Because steel is stiffer than graphite, that means that it has the ability to send the player more feedback in the form of vibration through the shaft. A skilled player can read into a swing from the vibrations that the shaft reveals to them. For example, minimal vibrations may indicate excellent energy transfer from the swing to the ball, whereas harsher vibrations may indicate poor contact or even contact with the ground (which, though it is easy to diagnose, is still a major issue that can be read through vibrations that might be deadened in a graphite shaft).
In addition to the ability that steel gives its users to read vibrations, steel shafts, since they are heavier, may be favorable to some players with higher swing speeds. As steel is heavier than graphite, a player with a higher swing speed may find it easier to control a heavier steel shaft, which can improve their game.
That being said, steel shafts are unfavorable to some players that have slower swing speeds because they will find their effective range diminished. In addition, any players that have wrist, arm or shoulder problems might find these aggravated by the unforgiving stiffness of most steel shafts.
As specified, graphite shafts tend to be much lighter than steel shafts and are also more expensive to produce. While they offer the ability to present higher variability in shaft stiffness and response; generally speaking, they are not as stiff as comparable steel shafts.
As graphite shafts are lighter than steel shafts, it is easier for players to increase their swing speeds with them. As a result of that, players can often extend their effective range on the course. If a player is struggling with reaching certain distances that problem can sometimes be diagnosed with a new graphite shaft for their club. At the same time, and as we mentioned, graphite is sometimes favorable to players who have any problems with their joints as graphite will transfer less energy through the shaft to the player.
At the same time, and as mentioned, graphite shafts exhibit much greater variance in flex and rigidity than steel shafts. Though this can be tuned to the needs of the player, if a player's swing needs work, the extra flex and unforgiving nature of some graphite shafts can exaggerate the issue in the swing. Also, as we mentioned, graphite shafts are more expensive than steel shafts which is something to take into account.
Shaft flex is another important consideration to take into account when you are shopping for golf shafts for drivers. As we mentioned, steel shafts tend to be stiffer than their graphite counterparts, although graphite shafts can be manufactured to highly specific degrees of stiffness. In addition, the stiffness of a given shaft can have a serious impact on a player's swing speed, range, and accuracy, all of which are critically important to account for when selecting a driver shaft. They may say that you drive for show and putt for dough, but if you can’t drive the ball to the green, you won’t be putting for anything. You won’t be putting at all!
Stiffness is generally designated in accordance with the following ratings - extra stiff (XS), stiff (S), firm (F), regular (R), senior (also S), amateur (A), and ladies (L). In addition to those more or less standard ratings, here at Dallas Golf Company we also offer shafts categorized as stiff plus and tour extra stiff.
The stiffness of any given shaft is going to have an effect on your swing even while the inherent nature of your swing will make a certain stiffness favorable to your game. As we mentioned with steel shafts, the stiffer a shaft is, the easier it is for a person with a well developed and refined, consistent swing to deliver consistent results. That is, those adept players might want a stiffer shaft in order to attain higher accuracy and greater speed that translates into more distance.
By the same token, a player with a slower swing speed may find that a shaft of regular or amateur stiffness is much more forgiving and therefore desirable. While it is true that it is difficult to impart the same energy into a swing with a more flexible shaft, a flexible shaft might be less frustrating to use at first than a stiffer, less flexible shaft.
Then again, seasoned players with slower swing speeds might appreciate the fact that they can gain a little extra range with a more flexible shaft, so really in order to pick out the right shafts for your game, you need to understand your measurements and tendencies as a player.
Another thing to consider with respect to selecting a golf shaft that will be affected by the shaft construction while having an effect on your swing is the kick point of a shaft.
The kick point of a shaft is the point at which the shaft bends and will affect the trajectory of the short. Therefore two clubs with the same stiffness rating but different kick points will have different and measurable effects on the flight of a golf ball.
A shaft with a lower kick point bends lower down toward the club head and is likely to give the ball a higher, more floating trajectory. Shafts with a higher kick point are more likely to give the ball a lower trajectory and at the same time, the flexion might be more difficult to detect as it occurs higher up in the shaft. Therefore, there is a less noticeable effect on the flight of the ball.
Stiffness and kick point are interrelated and it’s something else to be aware of while you’re shopping for golf shafts for drivers, especially if you have a preference in kick points of which you are already aware as a player.
Also affected by the stiffness of the shaft and thus imparting an effect onto your swing is a shaft’s torque.
Picture a cross-section of the shaft - shaft torque is the degree to which the shaft will rotate along this axis during a swing. In other words, instead of bending the shaft along its length, shaft torque is the degree to which the shaft will twist in your hands as you swing. Of course, this is subject to being affected by the alignment of the club head in addition to being affected by the stiffness of the rod.
The chief reason to consider shaft torque is because it can affect your accuracy. The angle at which a club head contacts a ball can have a great impact on the accuracy of a swing. If the shaft offers too much torque it can be difficult to gauge an accurate shot.
Shafts are rated for torque by a number’s designation which typically denotes the number of degrees by which a shaft is liable to twist during a swing. For example, a shaft rated at 4 can possibly twist by up to 4 degrees during a swing whereas a shaft rated at 6 can twist up to 6 degrees during a swing. It follows then that a higher number indicates a higher number of degrees of twist or a more ‘flexible’ shaft. Moreover, flexible shafts tend to exhibit higher torque.
If you’re looking for new golf shafts for drivers, you happen to be in the right place despite the fact that getting the right shaft can be a trial. If you already know your measurements and the nature of your swing, then you can use our Online Shaft Fitting Tool to help you settle on some new shafts for your game. Our online shaft fitting tool takes into account certain necessary measurements including distance off the tee, swing speed, club weight, and launch height before evaluating what might be a good fit for you.
Afterward, you can shop through our expansive collection of shafts from Aldila, Fujikura, Mitsubishi, Project X and many more to find the shafts that will better refine your game.
In addition, you can always call us for the latest news, for pointers or advice, for suggestions or just for more information on a product. We have many years of experience in golfing and our team is ready to field any questions you want to throw our way. Reach out to us at 800-955-9550 - we’d love to hear from you and we’d be even happier to put our experience to work for you.
Even better, you could pay us a visit at our retail location in Dallas, Texas. Not only can you experience our vast collection of offerings in our retail location, but you can take advantage of our expert services like our club fitting services. Visit us in-store and our professionals will observe your swing patterns, take your measurements, and more in order to perfectly match you to your clubs. Visit our page on club fitting - and plan your visit today.