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Signs you need a Stiffer Shaft

Signs You Need a Stiffer Shaft

Don’t you hate it when you put a good swing on the ball, only to feel like the club wasn’t helping you out? There’s nothing worse than going through your routine, picking a target, and making a good swing… only to see the ball react differently than you anticipated.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of guesswork when it comes to hitting good golf shots. But sometimes your equipment is making the game even harder.

While most of us look to blame our swing, it could be your club shafts that are causing problems. When a shaft bends incorrectly or you have a highly flexible golf club but need stiffer shafts, all kinds of bad things can happen.

The shafts you play in your golf clubs have a major impact on performance including distance, accuracy, and ball flight. If the shaft has too much flex (or not enough flex) or the wrong weight, your game will suffer as a result.  

I’m sure you’ve asked yourself, “How do I know if I need a stiffer shaft? Should I play stiff or regular shaft clubs?”

Today, we’ll help you answer those questions and more. Keep reading to learn the most common signs you should switch to a stiffer shaft and other factors.

6 Signs You Need a Stiffer Shaft 

While it’s been said the divot never lies in golf, the same could be said for shafts. If you play the wrong shafts – whether too heavy/light or too much flex/not enough flex – it can negatively affect your performance too.

However, identifying if you need a stiffer shaft or one with more flex isn’t as easy as learning from a divot. To help you figure out if you need a stiffer shaft, check out the warning signs below. 

High Ball Flight

The first telltale sign of a shaft that is too whippy is a high ball flight. Don’t get me wrong, hitting the golf ball high is a benefit but if it “balloons” up in the air, that can hurt your game. You want a piercing ball flight that elevates at a consistent trajectory.

What you don’t want is a golf ball that goes straight up in the air after impact. This type of ball flight will kill your total distance and make playing in the wind even more difficult. 

Don’t forget, the longer the ball is in the air, the more that can go wrong too. Playing a heavier shaft can also help lower your ball flight and help you find the best shaft flex.

Loss of Distance

Distance is everything in golf. The longer you can hit the golf ball, the easier it is to score well, even if you’re hitting from the rough sometimes. 

To increase distance, so many golfers think they need to use lighter stiffer shafts. This goes in line with thinking, “Lighter shaft means easier to swing faster.” While that’s true in a sense, if the shaft isn’t stiff enough you’re going to actually lose distance.

That’s right, a stiffer shaft can actually help you increase total driving distance.

However, there’s a catch… you need enough swing speed. Otherwise, you won’t reap the rewards of a stiffer golf shaft, especially in your driver. 

Start Hitting Hooks

Most golfers suffer from the dreaded slice. The shot shape goes nowhere compared to a straight ball or a powerful draw off the tee. Not to mention it leads to a lot of frustration avoiding trouble on the right and playing from the trees all day. 

However, if you start hooking the golf ball too much, this could be a sign you need stiff club shafts. When you use a shaft with too much flex, the miss is typically a slice. The opposite occurs when the shaft is too stiff. 

If you’re swinging too fast, the clubface will be more closed at impact. The more the face is shut, the more it will go right to left in the air. 

So if you’re hitting unwanted hook shots off the tee, it could be from your driver shaft. However, if this is an ongoing issue despite switching shafts, you need to work on your path and squaring the face at impact. 

Signs you need a Stiffer Golf Shaft

Feels Too Whippy

While there is a lot of data you can factor into your decision on which shaft is best for your swing, don’t neglect feel either. If you pick up a shaft and just instantly feel that it’s too whippy, it’s probably true. 

The more advanced you get in this crazy game of golf, the easier it is to identify the weight and flex of a golf club. Trust your gut because if it feels like it has too much flex, it probably does and can hurt your game. 

Loss of Accuracy 

To hit straight golf shots you need a club face that is square at impact position.

While you can’t expect to hit every fairway and green (even the pros don’t hit 100% of them), accuracy is somewhat important. If you notice you are playing military golf (left, right, left, etc.), it might be time for a stiffer shaft.

When a shaft has too much flex, it will lead to a face that is typically too shut at impact (aka a duck hook). But it can also lead to occasional pushes and cuts too. If you swing too fast, it’s harder to square a shaft with too much flex. 

Too Much Spin

Don’t you hate it when you hit a good drive, only to find that it nearly plugged in its own pitch mark in the fairway? While it might happen with soft winter golf conditions, it shouldn’t be an everyday occurrence. If you don’t get much (or any) roll on your driver, it might be a shaft issue. 

If your shaft is too flexible, it can lead to a balloon ball flight that will not hit the ground and roll. Which can lead to a massive loss of distance. 

This is something you can also notice on your irons too. If you hit the green and are getting too much backspin, your iron shafts might have too much flex. While you want some backspin for predictability when the ball hits the green, too much is nearly impossible to manage. 

Types of Shaft Flex 

Now that you have a better understanding of the main signs you need a stiffer shaft, let’s talk about the different options. In the golf world, there are six main types of shaft stiffness profiles:

  • Ladies shaft flex
  • Senior shaft flex
  • Regular shaft flex
  • Stiff shaft flex
  • Extra stiff shaft flex
  • Tour stiff shaft flex 

These rank from the more flexible shaft to the least amount of flex.

Ladies shaft flex shaft golf clubs have more bend due to a swing speed that on average is slower. Ladies also benefit from a graphite shaft as they are a more flexible shaft option.

Most everyday golfers will range from senior shaft flexes to stiff flex and scratch golfers usually stiff or X-stiff shafts. They’ll also benefit more from lighter graphite shafts too.

While extra stiff and Tour stiff flex shafts require the most amount of swing speed. These will offset their high swing speeds and

If you aren’t sure what type of shaft to play, read our guides below:

5 Parts of Golf Shafts

Flex is only one factor when it comes to choosing the right shaft. Other things to consider include weight, torque, length, and kick point. 

The weight of the shaft is just as important as the flex. If a golf club is too heavy, it’s hard to swing with speed and increase distance. While a shaft that is too light can also hurt your accuracy. 

When it comes to the weight of your shaft, the biggest difference is choosing steel shafts or graphite shafts. Steel is the preferred choice (in iron shafts) by better players as they allow more control and shot making. A steel shaft is not as flexible shaft.

While higher handicap golfers will enjoy the benefits of playing graphite shafts in their irons and woods. 

Lastly, don’t forget about kick point too. While it’s not as big of a component as the other four, it can still affect your ball flight and performance. Click here to learn more about kickpoint in your golf shafts. 

FAQs About Golf Club Flexibility

Do you have additional questions about picking the right shaft flex for your golf clubs? If so, keep reading to learn more so you can buy the right shafts that will fit your swing. 

Will I lose distance with a stiff shaft?

If you don’t have a fast enough swing speed, then yes, you might lose distance.

However, if you have a faster swing speed, you can actually gain distance with every club in the bag by using stiff golf shafts. 

What happens if my driver shaft is too stiff?

If your shaft is too stiff, the opposite will normally occur compared to a shaft with too much flex. Here’s what tends to happen:

  • Loss of distance. If you don’t have enough swing speed, you will lose distance due to a lower launch angle. 
  • Loss of accuracy. If your shaft is too stiff, you will likely miss a lot of shots to the right as it’s harder to square the clubface at impact. 
  • Club feels too heavy. If the club feels like a sledgehammer more than a golf club, it’s probably too heavy and/or has too much stiffness. This will make it hard to swing fast enough and reap the benefits of a stiffer shaft.
  • Hitting it too low. If your ball is a missile vs. a piercing ball flight, your shaft might be too stiff. This will hurt your total distance, especially when it’s cold and wet outside where the ball doesn’t roll very far. 

Can I change shafts in my golf clubs?

Yes, you can replace your shafts of any golf club in the bag. However, woods and hybrids with adjustable hosels are the easiest to replace. Simply unscrew the shaft with your club tool and replace with your new shaft (as long as it has a matching adapter).

Meanwhile, replacing shafts in your putter, wedges, and irons requires a lot more work. First, you or a club fitter must remove the old shafts without damaging the hosel. Then, replace with new shafts (which is an extensive process) and wait 24-48 hours before hitting shots.

Unless you have experience in the golf industry, we suggest hiring a professional club fitter to help with shaft replacement. However, if you are handy and want to save some money by replacing yourself, click here to learn how to replace shafts

How do I know if I need stiff flex irons? 

Most club fitting sessions are done with driver shafts to find the proper shaft flex for the rest of your set. Once you know your driver flex, it’s recommended to play the same flex in all of your golf clubs. 

But there are guidelines to iron fitting as well. Here is the recommended shaft flex based on 6-iron clubhead speed according to Golf.com.

  • Ladies flex = <65 mph 
  • Senior flex = 65-75 mph 
  • Regular flex = 75-83 mph 
  • Stiff flex = 84-91 mph 
  • Extra stiff flex = >92 mph

Make sure to not get these confused with your driver club head speed. Ultimately, you want the same shaft flex in your clubs to minimize big misses and optimize ball flight. The average clubhead speed for a male golfer is 93.4 MPH with a driver.

Will a stiffer shaft help with my slice? 

It might help but it depends on your clubhead speed. If you are missing shots left from a duck hook, this is likely from a shaft with too much flex. If you are missing shots right from a slice, it could be a shaft that is too stiff. 

While your shaft plays a major role in ball flight, there are a lot of other factors when it comes to hitting a slice like sound swing mechanics. Click here to learn how to stop slicing the golf ball

Should a high handicapper use a stiff shaft? 

It’s probably not the best idea for a high handicap golfer to use a stiff shaft. But it ultimately depends on swing speed more than handicap level. This is why it’s so important to use a launch monitor or get a club fitting session to determine your swing speed.

Even if you’re a 20 handicap, you might actually need a stiff shaft based on your swing speed. While a lot of higher handicap golfers will benefit more from a senior flex or regular flex due to a lower clubhead speed. 

Quit guessing and learn your speed so you don’t waste money on shafts that make the game harder. 

Will a stiffer shaft lower ball flight in golf?

Yes, a stiffer shaft will help flight the ball lower.

This is why scratch golfers and professionals prefer to use heavier shafts with more flex. Since these players create plenty of speed naturally, they need a shaft that will minimize spin.

Otherwise, if the shaft has too much whip/flex, it will result in balloon ball flights that kill distance. Not to mention, make it harder to hit fairways too. 

What happens if a golf shaft is not stiff enough? 

If a golf shaft is not stiff enough and is too flex, a few things will happen. 

First, a shaft that is too whippy will make it harder to square the clubface up with a faster swing. This will lead to big misses as the clubface is open or closed at impact. 

Second, the ball flight will likely go way too high and kill total distance. Playing in the wind with shafts that are too whippy is nearly impossible too. 

Do any pros use regular flex shafts? 

Not that I’ve seen. Professional golfers need extra stiff or tour extra stiff (TX) flex.

If they used regular shafts (or even stiff shafts), they would likely lose out on distance and accuracy. This high swing speed shaft helps promote their natural swing shape and ensures the shaft bends properly.

Most pros practice regularly with a launch monitor to constantly measure their club speed, ball speed, spin rates, apex, and much more. They want to control as much as they can in terms of equipment to set them up for success on the golf course. 

Final Thoughts on Needing a Stiffer Shaft 

Hopefully you have a better understanding of the different shaft flex options and how they can impact your performance on the golf course. Remember, picking the right shaft comes down to one thing above all else – your swing speed measured on a launch monitor. 

Get your swing speed measured or sign up for a golf equipment fitting to determine the correct shafts for your swing. Then get the same flex in all of your woods and irons (wedges don’t matter as much) to have the right shafts for your clubs. This will make playing golf a lot easier and hopefully help you hit the ball solidly more often.

Aside from flex, don’t forget about shaft material and total weight. Check out the 10 best golf shafts you need to consider next for your game