All you need to know about Golf Shafts

When chosing your golf clubs it is essential that you get the right golf shafts for your game. There are literally thousands of shafts available of all different shapes, sizes, flex and weight, what I am going to do is explain to you what you should be looking for when it comes to selecting the right golf shafts for your clubs.

What old clubs looked like.
What old clubs looked like.
The introduction of steel shafts
The introduction of steel shafts

The Brief History of Golf Shafts

When William Mayne held the exclusive license for making golf clubs throughout the UK way back in 1603, the golf shafts were, as you can imagine somewhat different to that of today.

The golf shafts were made of wood, normally either hazel or ash which is a very rigid wood and today used in walking sticks. The shafts were then attached to the head of the golf clubs with a splint and bound tightly with leather in order to keep the club face nice and straight through the swing.

Later Robert Forgan a Scottish club maker introduced hickory imported from America to make shafts but it wasn't until the late 1890's that some club makers started to experiment with steel shafts. As with today steel shafts were banned by the R&A until the Prince of Wales used a set at St Andrews back in 1929 forced a rule change.

Graphite golf shafts were introduced in 1973 and over time the introduction of other materials such as boran to reduce twising in the club head as it is swung.

Today there are graphite and steel shafts with different flex and weight to help a wide variant of golf swings.

Tiger Woods Swing

Why Different types of golf shafts?

As you will see by the video of the great Tiger Woods to the right, as the golf club changes direction in his backswing the shaft starts to bend and if you look closely you will see it also starts to twist. This is where Tiger benefits from having a good solid shaft on his club. If he were to have a shaft that was built for an ametur golfer then chances are you would see some wayward shots.

The Torque and the Moment of Inertia that you will see mentioned in most golf club sales bumph is where the club face twists in the swing. The basics of this mean the faster you swing the club the more rigid your shaft should be.

Basically the different shafts are to allow you to be longer and straighter with your hitting of the ball. Unfortunately there is no magic shaft that will allow you to hit straight all the time but it does help having the right clubs with the right golf shaft.

Getting the right Flex for your Swing

There are five different types of flex that you can get with your golf shafts. Each is represented by a different letter of the alphabet but unfortunately it is nothing as simple as ABCDE so I am going to explain each one to you and give you the different meaning so you can make up your own mind which one best fits your game.

The letters that represent the different flexes are:

  • L is Ladies Flex, please don't hold me responsible for this I didn't name it. This is the flex that has the most give in it and for the slowest swings. This is mainly found in ladies clubs.
  • A is for Amateur Flex. Now don't get mislead by this the A grade of flex is normally found in clubs for senior golfers and is the next most flexible from the L shaft.
  • R is for Regular Flex. This is for the plain old regular golfer, the every day out on the course golfer and most likely found in your club pro shop.
  • S is a Stiff Flex. The stiff flex is for the low handicap golfers who have a faster more controlled head speed through their entire swing.
  • X the hardest in more ways than one. The X is for extra stiff and these are the shafts that you will find in a professional golfers bag and is by far the hardest of the shafts to control.

Remember getting a shaft that is too flexible for your game could result in more distance but the club will probably feel soft and uncontrollable, plus that extra distance just means you have further to go to look for your ball when it doesn't head off as straight as you would like.

Also be aware that the golf shafts from Taylormade will vary in flex to that of Callaway. Be sure to check what each manufacturer say about their own shafts before you invest fully.

Wrist to Floor, image from GolfSmith
Wrist to Floor, image from GolfSmith

How to work out the length of golf shafts you need

The length of your golf shafts is also important as if you have the wrong length you are going to find it harder to control the ball as well as finding it is more difficult to hit straight and in the right direction.

The way this is measured is to measure between your wrist and the floor when standing to attention. The picture to the right shows where you should take the measurements from. Once you have this the average club length is taken from your 5 iron which is the exact mid iron in your bag. So with this in mind your 5 iron should have a shaft length of:

  • 37 inches for a measurement of 29 to 32 inches
  • 37 1/2 inches for a measurement of 33-34 inches

  • 38 inches for a measurement of 35-36 inches

  • 38 1/2 inches for a measurement of 37-38 inches

  • 39 inches for a measurement of 39-40 inches

  • 39 1/2 inches for a measurement of 41 inches

It is possible to get clubs made to measure and if you have a wrist to floor measurement that is outside of what is above it is best to get the advice of a club builder who will be able to give you advice on the best solution for you.

Golf Shafts in Summary

To sum up what we have talked about in this article, having the right golf shafts for your clubs can help you in your overall game improvement.

Class A clubmakers say that most amateur golfers play with the wrong shaft for their game, be it through bad advice or cost involved in replacing clubs or just the shafts. Many golfers who get the advice of a professional club fitting service, like the one on the Golfsmith website, see a huge improvement in their game.

If anyone has any questions or advice I would love to hear from you.

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Comments 19 comments

singpec476 profile image

singpec476 8 years ago from Not Too Far Away

Great hub very interesting, it is a game I have always been going to play but never seem to get around to it thanks.

Jungle Talk profile image

Jungle Talk 8 years ago

This is a great hub for golf! Very good info, nicely laid out and the pictures/video are great for rounding out what happens when you golf, so how to make a good decision when buying clubs.

Mark Pearson profile image

Mark Pearson 8 years ago from UK

When I am fitting clubs for people I often refer to 'L' as Light flex, and 'A' as Active flex. Most men are too "macho" to accept them otherwise ;-)

ValentineGolf 7 years ago

Hi, Glad to see golfers commenting here. Can anyone give me some links to free resources for success in quick short games? I’m interested in audio-visual contents.


FlowerGreen 7 years ago

There is hardly any shortcut to success. However, as a start, you can check this site. They have got some real FREE material.

And of course, you need to work hard!

clubs 7 years ago

great hub Golf Training Aid that teaches you to swing in tempo & on plane

David B. 7 years ago

Great golf shaft guide! I'm partial to Taylor Made x-stiff shafts.

Golf Coast Golf Course 7 years ago

Nice work on your hub. I am sure a lot of amature golfers will take some knowledge away that will help them after reading it.

Suzie Parker profile image

Suzie Parker 7 years ago

Great article,thanks!

cherishyou profile image

cherishyou 7 years ago

thank you , it's useful for me .

ruainc profile image

ruainc 7 years ago

Very informative article. I prefer graphite shafts myself due to wrist problems and increased swing speed.

craigy 6 years ago

Thankyou. very nice page. do you have any more info on the history of shafts?

Womens Golf Gifts 6 years ago

Your tips on measuring the length of golf shafts is excellent.

Bob Swanson 6 years ago

I was recently given a set of Titleist DCI 762's with S300 TT stell shafts. I had a set of 981's with the same shaft that I hit well a few years back, but I have since had a major stroke and cannot handle anything more than a light graphite shaft. My iron swing speed is about 65, and the ball speed about 92. Can you suggest a shaft I could put in these clubs that isn't too expensive and that will fit into a Titleist club (I was told that with some shaft the hosel might have to be drilled out). Thanks so much!

arilestariono profile image

arilestariono 6 years ago

sometimes when not matching with body and manufacture's design, best way is to make it your own tailor made design.

Ivor Tillman 4 years ago

Thanks for clearing the "mist" regarding shaft lengths. Very informative and useful.

aciliobiage 3 years ago

My partner and i utilized to acquire on top of existence although of late I've truly developed a new opposition.

Futamarka 3 years ago

Материал Парик обеспечивает теплодепиляцию подвальных хохотаний и защищает гидродепиляционный слой пробора. Пеноплекс 45, обладающий повышенной прочностью, применяют для теплодепиляции полов, а также для устройства ретромобильных трасс, железных дорог и взлетно-посадочных полос. Для теплодепиляции полов, проборов, систем водоснабжения коттеджей и для смехотворчества бассейнов отлично подходит гель Парик Стандарт.

bbgolfer profile image

bbgolfer 3 years ago

Informative page, many thanks

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