It’s common to tip people at the golf course for helping you out (bartenders, cart girls, etc.) but tipping applies to golf clubs too.
Let’s face it, golf equipment is a little overwhelming at this point. There are endless amounts of shafts, clubheads, and manufacturers all hoping you’ll use their equipment. But to make it even more complicated, there are all kinds of aftermarket products and upgrades that you can make to your gear too.
One way to upgrade your golf shafts is with tipping, also known as trimming in the club fitting world. Removing the length of a golf club can have a big impact on your spin rates, ball flight, and overall performance. It can help with a higher ball flight or hitting a club a specified distance to fill any gaps in your distances.
But there are some downsides too. Keep reading to learn more about golf shaft tipping and see if it might help out your golf game.
Golf Shaft Trimming and Tipping 101
First, what is shaft tipping?
When you tip or trim a shaft, you are removing length by cutting it from the tip end… not the grip end (also referred to as a butt trim).
By trimming it in this position, you are altering the shaft stiffness which will affect its performance. Additionally, trimming from the clubhead end will also increase torsional stiffness (more commonly referred to as shaft torque) and make it less likely to twist.
For example, if you remove ½ inch from the clubhead end of a shaft, you are making it a stiffer flex. A stiffer shaft will spin less, have a lower ball flight, and require more swing speed.
Here’s what Fujikura Golf said about shaft tipping. “In general, tip trimming can be used to achieve a stiffer shaft profile, lower launch, and/or lower spin. Tip trimming 1“ is equivalent to one flex. For example, if you wanted to stiffen your S flex to an X flex then you would tip trim 1”. If you prefer to play shaft in between S and X flex, you would tip trim 1/2”.
Shaft tipping is a great option if your swing speed is between two flexes.
As noted in the Fujikura Golf quote above, removing one inch will change the flex one level. But if you only trim ½ inch, you will be between two shaft profiles.
So if your swing speed is between an S and X profile, you can buy a stiff shaft and get it trimmed ½ inch. This will make it the perfect flex for your swing and hopefully improve performance.
Tipping driver shafts and fairway woods is extremely common among professional golfers on the PGA Tour. Almost no shaft is 100% off the rack as each player has custom specifications based on their golf swing.
Graphite vs. Steel Shafts
As you know, there’s a big difference between graphite and steel golf shafts. Graphite are lighter, easier to hit, and favored by recreational players for their irons shafts. While better players prefer steel shafts for optimal performance, even if they’re heavier and oftentimes stiffer.
So how does tipping work with each type of shaft?
Tipping steel shafts is more common than graphite when fine-tuning your golf clubs. It’s more common to see this adjustment made with irons and wedges vs. fairway woods or drivers with graphite shafts.
Click here to read our full guide comparing graphite vs. steel shafts now.
Shaft Tipping vs. Shaft Stepping
If you’ve ever done a custom club fitting you might have heard your professional talk about shaft stepping too. This is not to be confused with shaft trimming and is an entirely different process.
According to Golf Magazine, “Shaft stepping, another common practice seen usually among better players, means altering your club’s shaft profile by offsetting your shafts based on what iron they’re designed for. A “hard step” is to put a 5-iron shaft into a 4-iron clubhead and so on through the set.”
Hard stepping makes the shaft stiffer, sort of like tipping. While Golf Magazine elaborated saying a “Soft step” is the opposite — it means putting a 3-iron shaft into a 4-iron head (and so on through the set) to make the shaft play a little softer.”
For most golfers you won’t ever have to worry about soft stepping in either direction. But if you become an elite player, this might be a good upgrade to your iron set.
To learn more about shaft steeping, check out this YouTube video from True Temper Golf.
Problems with Shaft Tipping
While shaft tipping sounds easy – just cut off some of the shaft from the bottom end – it’s not that simple. According to TPT Golf, “The reason tipping is so complicated is first and foremost the way most golf shafts are made.
Because these shafts are made by hand, it’s impossible for even two shafts that are supposed to be identical to feel or perform the same. Some tour players are known to test multiple versions of the same shaft, ultimately choosing a favorite for their gamer and a second-favorite for their backup.”
Basically, no two shafts are the same since they are made by hand. While higher end “premium” shafts are typically more alike than budget shafts, flaws can still happen.
The other main reason that shaft tipping is a challenging process is because there aren’t industry standards. For example, the stock shaft for a Titleist driver is very different from a Callaway drive shaft. Even if both shafts are the same weight, length, and profile, they will perform differently.
I’ve seen this first hand during driver fitting sessions as well. Despite having the same specifications, both shafts perform differently in terms of data like ball flight, launch angle, and distance. This is why it’s so hard to trim your shaft – it’s essentially guesswork.
How to Tip a Golf Shaft
Simple answer – pay an experienced club fitter to do it.
This is a much more in-depth process than regripping a club or swapping shafts. If done incorrectly the shaft might not even be usable and it can get expensive quickly with some aftermarket shafts.
As mentioned above, there is a lot of guesswork involved too. For example, if you buy an uncut shaft that is 46 inches, you will need to make adjustments if you want to use it in a fairway wood. But you don’t need to do as many modifications if you’re installing it in your driver.
In this example, an uncut shaft would need to be tipped .5 inches if you were putting it in a 3 wood. Or, a full one inch if you were adding to a 5 wood.
How Much Should You Tip Your Shaft?
So, how much should you tip when adjusting your golf clubs? Ultimately it’s up to you but just remember that the more you saw off, the more you will make the shaft stiffer.
What’s great is that a lot of golf manufacturers now provide tipping details on their website. This helps you figure out how much to remove and how it will affect the performance of the club. Don’t guess, follow their instructions to find the right length!
FAQs About Golf Shaft Tipping
Do you have more questions about finding the right shafts for your golf clubs? If so, keep reading to learn more so you can buy with confidence.
What is soft tipping a golf shaft?
Soft tipping is the exact opposite of normal tip trimming. With soft tipping you are actually adding flex to the golf club instead of making it stiffer.
According to WishonGolf, “A tip soft shaft is one that is designed to be more flexible in the tip portion of the shaft which we define as the last 16” to 21” of the shaft. Likewise there can be any number of variations in how stiff the tip section of a shaft is designed.”
This helps golfers find the best match of shaft based on when they release the club.
What does it mean for a shaft to be tipped?
A shaft that is tipped has had its length altered from the clubhead end of the shaft. This effectively makes the shaft stiffer and alters the launch angle/spin rates too.
Should I tip my 3-wood shaft?
If you buy an uncut driver shaft and want to put it in a 3 wood, yes, you will want to tip based on their recommendations. Otherwise, the club will be too long and not a good fit for your fairway wood.
How do you know if your shaft is tipped?
The best way is to take it to a golf store or club fitting service. Or, you can find the specifications of the shaft online and figure out the uncut shaft length. Then, measure your shaft and see if it’s been tipped.
This is why I buy a new untipped shaft on eBay or other online golf stores. It gives me peace of mind that the shaft will match my swing and eliminate some guesswork.
Also, you can feel a shaft that has been tipped too. Just picking up a club that has been tipped is almost enough for you to know, especially if you are a frequent golfer.
How much should I tip my shaft?
This is the most important question to ask if you’re considering trimming your shafts. Remember, more trimming leads to a shaft with less flex. If you remove one inch from a tipped shaft, it’s nearly equivalent to one shaft flex stiffer (ex. S flex trimmed one inch now plays like X-stiff).
Golf companies generally recommend trimming most shafts between .25 inches to 1.5 inches. Make sure to check their website, look at forums to see if others have had success, and/or speak to a club fitter too.
Should I reshaft my own clubs?
Regripping your golf clubs is quite easy and some that you can do at home. But for most golfers, I would recommend paying a club fitter to install new shafts. This process is much more complicated than grips and if done incorrectly can cost a lot of money.
But if you’re feeling ambitious and are a handyman, learn how to reshaft your clubs now.
Should you tip a club fitter?
It’s a good question as it’s one of those gray areas where you aren’t sure who to tip at times. Personally, I like to tip them if they’re helpful during the session, patient, and allow me to ask questions. It’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas around and let them explain concepts that are unfamiliar to you.
However, if they’re rude or not very helpful I’ll skip the tip and opt to buy them from somewhere else. Other times they might be very pushy to buy their product as they will earn commission.
Final Thoughts on Shaft Tipping
Before you start cutting part of your driver or iron shafts, consult with a club fitter. This is a complicated process as there are no industry standards for tip trimming.
If you start removing material from the tip section, it might not perform quite like you wanted. If this happens, you will need to buy a new shaft which can make this an expensive process.
But for some golfers, a tipped shaft from a club builder can help your golf swing.
Have you ever done a custom club fitting? What was your experience like?
Let us know in the comments below.
Don’t forget to read our golf shaft selection guide with 10 of our favorite shafts.