With golf technology continuously improving, it can be easy to get lost in information, especially when talking about shaft types, materials, and flex. Graphite shafts have come a long way in the past ten years; gone are the days where they are only for senior or lady players.
All drivers and fairways woods now come with graphite shafts as standard, and you are even starting to see tour players using them in their irons. Technology is getting better and better with each passing year – which is a big reason graphite shafts are now in more of the best golf clubs for beginners than before.
Why Are Shafts So Important?
Whether it be graphite or steel, choosing the right shaft can improve your performance in more ways than one. Playing with the right shaft in your clubs can influence your distance, ball control, and accuracy. The difference is quite substantial.
You need to control the club while still trying to generate the maximum speed possible. Once a club becomes too heavy and stiff, you start to lose speed, which will result in a loss of distance. The heavier the shaft, the harder it is to hit, especially if you don’t have the skills yet.
On the other end, if the shaft is too light and flexible, you will lose control of the clubhead, which will make the club wildly inaccurate.
Graphite Shafts vs. Steel Shafts
Graphite is naturally lighter than steel and usually is around 70 grams in Irons. For golfers with slower swing speeds, like beginners, the lighter the shaft, the more speed they can help create, and therefore get more distance.
Steel shafts have generally been heavy, all the way up to 130 grams, but nowadays, shaft manufacturers have been able to make steel shafts as light as 85 grams.
Are Graphite Shafts Better for Beginners?
Yes, graphite shafts are better for beginners. The lightweight material makes it a lot easier to swing compared to its steel counterparts. This is going to make the game easier when starting.
However, there are a few other things to consider: age, gender, ability, and seriousness. If you have good ball skills, you may have a fast enough swing speed to go straight into steel shafts.
Depending on your age and gender, graphite shafts could be the way to go; juniors, ladies, and seniors should all use graphite shafts when starting. Steel shafts will be too heavy; the lightness of the graphite shaft will make it much easier to swing the club.
Men should consider both when starting; even if you are a beginner, you may have the swing speed to go straight into steel shafts. Graphite shafts might be too light, which will cause you to lose control and speed in the clubhead.
Ability and seriousness also play a part. If you don’t have much hand-to-eye coordination, playing with a graphite shaft will help tremendously, steel shafts will be too heavy for you.
Depending on how serious you are with regards to practicing and improving will also affect your decision. If you are just going to be a once-a-month golfer, then you should choose graphite shafts. If you want to take the game a little more seriously, then consider steel shafts, as your swing speed will increase much faster.
How Do I Measure My Swing Speed?
A device called a Launch Monitor is used. This tracks your swing speed and ball speed, club path, angle of attack, spin, and many more parameters. Most coaches and club fitters should have one, so there is no need to purchase one yourself. Below is a swing speed/shaft flex table for irons. All drivers and fairway woods should be graphite.
Here’s a table I’ve put together to help you match the shaft you will need, depending on your swing speed with a 6-iron.
|6-Iron Swing Speed||< 60 mph||60 – 70 mph||70 – 80 mph||80 – 90 mph||> 90 mph|