Golf Club Shafts Explained

Golf Club Shafts

If you need to change your golf club shafts or are looking to upgrade, WGS has a huge selection of steel and graphite golf club shafts to select from.  You can select from all the major golf club shafts brands available now on its Online Superstore.  Get the golf club shafts to fit your swing, Click and go select your club shaft and start playing better today!

Steel vs. Graphite Shafts

Steel Golf Club Shafts

Steel golf club shafts are stronger, more durable and generally less expensive than graphite and are made from carbon steel, although stainless steel is sometimes used.

Steel shafts do not experience the torque or lateral twisting found in all graphite shafts and therefore most players would benefit by having steel shafts in their irons. They offer more control on shots and have a greater emphasis on accuracy than distance than graphite shafts. Steel shafts do require a faster swing speed to generate the same distance as a graphite shaft. Steel shafts are recommended for players with normal swing speeds who could use a little extra control in their game.  

Stepped Steel Shafts

Stepped steel shafts are used to gradually reduce the diameter of the shaft from the wider butt end to the narrower tip end that goes into the hosel of the club head.

A steel strip is rolled into a tube and then mechanically drawn until the diameter and thickness is correct. The step pattern is then formed and the walls are made thinner at the tip and thicker at the top to produce the flexibility or kick points. The shaft is then golf club shafts - Picture of a steel golf shafthardened and straightened and finally chrome plated. This advanced manufacturing process offers consistency from shaft to shaft and gives the same stiffness throughout an entire set. Stepped steel shafts are used in the majority of golf clubs by all the major manufacturers.

Rifle Steel Shafts

The main difference with Rifle shafts is that the steel is smooth from top to bottom and has no steps.

The shaft design and construction uses different technologies to provide greater performance and consistency.  Frequency Matching of each shaft perfectly matches the flex throughout a set of clubs using electronic calibration. Flexes in Rifle shafts can also be more exactly tailored for the average golfer as they use decimals to measure stiffness (eg 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, etc). The step less design technology eliminates the energy-robbing steps’ found on most other steel shafts, which Rifle manufacturers claim provides greater accuracy. Some Rifle shafts offer ‘flighted’ versions that can produce variable ball trajectories for different clubs within a single set.

Graphite Golf Club Shafts

Generally graphite golf club shafts are more expensive than steel and less durable. The lighter weight provides greater swing speed for more power, but it sacrifices control due to the flex generated during the swing.

The variation in flexes (and colors) make graphite shafts a very popular choice with professionals and amateurs alike. They are also suited to lady golfers and seniors who cannot produce the swing speed to use a steel shaft effectively. The shaft is produced using Graphite tape, with an expoy binder, wrapped around a steel mandrel. The shaft is then heated and the mandrel removed. After it has cooled, the shaft is sanded and cut, it is painted.Graphite golf club shafts can reduce the weight of your club (you can really feel the difference if you’ve used steel shafts before).   golf club shafts - Picture of two graphite golf shafts

They weigh between 50-85 grams, while their steel counterparts generally start at 120 grams. Graphite shafts also dampen shaft vibration better than steel which is why several high profile injured golf pros recovering from surgery use them to recover. On the downside it is more difficult than steel to get a consistent feel and stiffness in a set of graphite shafted irons.  Graphite shafts are great for getting greater distances from today’s oversize titanium drivers as they allow shafts to be longer. But remember, longer clubs are good for distance, not for control. Lighter than steel and can be made in many variations, making it easier to select a shaft best suited to your game.

The major negative of graphite shafts is that they need to be looked after more than steel shafts. Make sure you have extra long head covers on woods or padded dividers in your golf bag so that the paint on the graphite shaft does not get worn off, as this will negatively affect the performance of the shaft.

Multi-Material Shafts

A recent addition to the shaft market is the multi-material shaft. Used on both irons and drivers, this shaft combines both steel and graphite into one shaft to try and get the best of both worlds.

Typically it is mainly a steel shaft that has a graphite tip. The steel section of the shaft offers a solid shaft that allows players to control the ball flight more. The graphite tip lets the driver have a limited amount of ‘whip’ into the ball that can help produce more distance. The graphite tip also helps filter out any unwanted vibrations at contact to optimize the feel of each shot.

Titanium Golf Club Shafts

Titanium golf club shafts are a relatively new material in shafts and there is not currently much information available about the manufacturing process. The shaft itself is lightweight (titanium being lighter than steel) and it has the ability to dampen vibrations, although this can give the shaft a stiff feel.

Titanium shafts have great strength and they are also on the stiff side. This is good for stronger golfers who have no trouble getting distance on their shots but may be concerned with accuracy. The stiffer shafts will keep the ball from straying off course–as long as it is aimed correctly–and golfers will get power from being able to generate the titanium shafts with enough speed and then snapping their right hand at impact. The key to being able to use the titanium shafts successfully is having enough strength to swing the clubs.

Nanofuse Shafts

Nanofuse shafts are not steel, but they are metallic. They’re not graphite, but they are firmly rooted in carbon fibre.

They are created by fusing a nanocrystalline alloy with a carbon fibre composite polymer sublayer. The manufacturers claim this gives you a shaft with the consistency of steel and the distance and feel benefits of graphite, without any of the downsides. The key lies in an unimaginably small and tight grain structure in the NanoFuse material, increases strength dramatically which is so strong that the weight of the shaft can be reduced for distance without losing any of the strength which helps accuracy.

Golf Club Shaft Technology

What is shaft flex?

Flex is the most important factor in the shaft as it affects distance and direction. Getting the correct flex in your golf equipment is of the utmost importance. The flex is a rating of a golf club shaft’s ability to bend during the golf swing. All shafts, no matter how stiff, exhibit flex under the forces of the golf swing. A player with a very fast swing will require a shaft with less flex, while a player with a slower swing will need a shaft with greater flex.

Flex is generally rated as Extra Stiff (XS), Stiff(S), Firm(F), Regular(R), Senior(S), Amateur(A) and Ladies(L). The less the bend in a shaft, the more control a powerful swinger will have. On the other hand, beginners and those with less powerful swings generally use a shaft with greater flexibility. The average swing speed with a driver is from 65 miles per hour for the beginner up to over 100 miles per hour for powerful club shafts - Picture of assorted golf shafts

Different shaft manufacturers have differences in their specifications of flex. One manufacturer’s regular flex might be another’s firm flex. There are 2 methods of measuring flex. The more traditional Shaft Deflection Board and the modern Frequency Analyzer. Both are effective in the measurement of flex. Stiffness defines the bending characteristics of the shaft when weight is applied. Frequency is another way of defining stiffness and indicates how fast a club will vibrate with that particular shaft. The stiffer the shaft the faster the vibration. If you have a low swing speed, more flexible shafts will propel the ball more at the downswing. If you have a high swing speed, a stiffer shaft avoids lagging club heads.

What is shaft torque?

Torque is the twisting movement of the shaft during the golf swing. It is measured in degrees and shown as a rating that gives information about the ‘twisting’ characteristics. The higher the rating, the more the shaft twists and vice versa. The more torque a shaft has, the softer it will feel. A shaft with a 3 degree torque will feel much stiffer that one that has 5 degree torque. Every shaft, graphite or steel, has a certain amount of torque. Most steel shafts have up to about 3 degrees of torque. Torque however has a slight effect on ball trajectory, with the lower the torque, the lower the trajectory.

What is a shaft kick-point (Flex-point)?

This defines the point where the shaft bends and affects the trajectory of the shot. The effect is small but measurable. A shaft with a high kick-point will usually give a low shot trajectory and more of a “one-piece” feel to the shaft. A low Kick-point will usually give a high shot trajectory and a feeling of the shaft tip whipping the clubhead through.

Kick-point will also affect the feel of the shaft. Some club specialists will dispute this by saying that the Kick-point and bend-point are the same. Bend-point is the highest point of the shaft when it is bending by applying pressure to both ends of the shaft. Kick-point is the highest point the shaft is bending, by clamping down the grip and pressure is applied onto the club head, like in the swing. There will be some shafts where both bending points are similar or very close.

Weight of a shaft?

The weight is the actual weight of the raw, uncut shaft before installation, in grams. Lighter shafts mean lighter total weight and therefore the prospect of additional clubhead speed and more distance.

Alignment of a shaft?

Have you noticed that sometimes you will have a favorite club in a set of clubs that you just seem to hit better and more consistently than the others? This is most likely due to the fact that the spine in that club happens by chance to be correctly aligned in the club. The opposite is probably true for the club in the set that you can’t seem to hit well at all!

Most golf shafts have some sort of minor irregularity in them that is inherent in the manufacturing process. This could be from the join of the shaft, the shaft not being perfectly round; the material of the shaft may be just slightly heavier on one side of the shaft than the other, or from an imperfection in the shaft material. This can cause the shaft to bend towards a certain point when you swing, causing the club face to open or close.

You can get your clubs ‘Spine Aligned’ to sort this problem out. What they do is test the shaft to determine the characteristics of the golf shaft. Then the shaft can be installed so that the spine of the shaft is directly behind your target line. This way it does not affect the direction of your shot.

This article has 2 Comments

  1. Hi there, great detailed information.
    While it is wonderful to find articles like this to learn about equipment choices, it can certainly be confusing for nubies. For example, I’m wondering at what point one should start worrying about shaft materials. Knowing experience can’t be improvised, is there a way of discovering early on what would be the best fit for me?
    Or, would it be a matter of trying different options over time to see how they affect performance?
    Based on the info you have provided I’m thinking rifle steel shafts would be an ideal starting point for a fairly strong male; would you agree?

    1. Edwin,  Thanks for the comments.  Rifle shafts are an excellent shaft for your irons.  Personally, I recommend graphite shafts for your woods and hybrids. 

      The new Rifle shaft offers unlimited customization options. Rifle perfectly blends tip responsiveness and tip
      stability for enhanced control.  Rifle’s frequency matched design ensures tighter specs and tolerances for consistent flex progression throughout your set.

      Rifle shafts are available in parallel and now tapered tip
      options for more customization opportunities. Rifle is available
      exclusively through Performance Fitting Centers. You should contact a club fitter in your
      area for the best custom fitting experience with Rifle. Depending on your swing speed either a Regular or Stiff rifle shaft should help your game. 

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