If you want more distance and better accuracy in all of your golf clubs, you need to swing the right shafts. If you’re playing the wrong type of shaft, you are making golf even harder on yourself.
For those of you who like distance, did you know playing the wrong shaft flex can cost you some serious yardage? And it’s not only distance that can be hurt, the wrong shaft flex can also make you wildly inaccurate.
Needless to say, your golf club shafts (especially your driver shaft) are vital to playing your best golf. Keep reading to learn more about regular and stiff shafts, shaft weight, custom fittings, and more so your equipment is helping your game.
Stiff vs Regular Flex Shaft
Golf has no shortage of choices in terms of equipment.
While most of us think about the clubhead when we’re buying a new set of irons or a driver, the shaft is just as important. Some club fitters might even argue that golf shafts are more important than the club itself.
Not only do you need to decide on graphite or steel shafts, but shaft flex is just as important. Luckily, there’s a shaft flex for every type of player. It’s just a matter of dialing the right shaft for your specific swing.
Here is a breakdown of each type of shaft:
- Senior (A flex or lite)
- Extra stiff (X-stiff)
- Tour stiff (TX)
For most average golfers, you’ll probably fit in the category of a regular or stiff flex… but how do you decide which is right for your swing?
In the past, there was a lot of guesswork when choosing shafts or you needed a custom club fitting session to find the right one. But now, it’s much easier thanks to personal launch monitors which tell you a ton about your game.
Personal launch monitors display ball speed, clubhead speed, smash factor and more data. If you don’t have one yet, make sure to read about our best launch monitors here.
How to Find the Right Shaft Flex
To determine if you need a stiff shaft or regular shaft, don’t guess and instead, let the data guide you in the right direction.
- At the driving range (or a golf store with a launch monitor), warm up for 10-15 minutes.
- Work your way up from wedges through your bag to driver.
- Once you’re loose and ready to go, start hitting drivers with a launch monitor. Don’t swing out of your shoes and just swing like normal.
- The main number you want to focus on for this session is clubhead speed (not ball speed).
- After 10-15 drivers, calculate your baseline average. If you have any shots that are way off, eliminate those so they don’t skew the data.
Once you have your average clubhead speed, compare it to this chart from True Spec Golf that was featured in Golf Magazine. This makes it easy to determine which shaft is the best option for your swing speed.
Swing Speed for Stiff Shaft vs. Regular Shaft
As you can see from the data, if you swing a driver between 84-96 MPH, it’s best to play a regular shaft. This will help you maximize distance and get the most from every club in the bag.
If you are faster and average between 97-104 MPH with your driver, opt for a stiff shaft. If you’re in this range and have been playing regular shafts, you will see a big difference almost immediately.
Here’s why it’s so important to play the right flex that matches your swing (and what happens when you don’t).
Shaft Too Much Flex
Having a shaft with too much flex can create all kinds of problems on the golf course. A True Spec article (a top club fitting company) stated, “A golfer using a shaft that is too flexible may experience a ball flight that is too high, a ball that spins too much, or a shot pattern that has inconsistent dispersion.”
If you should swing a stiff flex but are using a regular shaft, you will hit the golf ball too high and spin too much. This will kill distance and also leads to much bigger misses.
Make sure to read our full article on signs you may need a stiffer shaft.
Shaft Too Stiff
Too stiff golf shafts create problems too. For example, if you swing a driver between 97-104mph (the swing speed for stiff shafts), but play an X-stiff a few things will happen.
According to the same True Spec article: “A golfer using a shaft that is too stiff will experience ball flight trajectory that is too low, golf balls that do not spin as much as desired, and/or a lack of distance potential.”
A shaft that is too stiff will lead to a lower ball flight which hurts your total carry distance with longer clubs. For shorter clubs it also makes it harder to spin correctly and stay on the green.
To maximize your shot dispersion, add distance, and improve accuracy, you need the right shafts!
While finding the right flex is crucial, you can’t forget about the shaft weight either. The experts are True Spec had this to say about finding the right shaft weight.
“Some shafts can be lighter in weight, which once again biases a higher ball flight and produces more spin. Shafts that are heavier tend to do the opposite, lowering ball flight and spin rates.”
Steel shafts weigh much more than graphite shafts and many golfers benefit from playing a graphite shaft in irons. A steel shaft is heavy and harder to hit consistently well for most golfers.
Not only do you need to find the right flex but match it with the right weight too.
Quick Public Service Announcement: Don’t confuse shaft weight with swing weight.
Shaft Tipping Graphite Shafts
Another factor that a lot of golfers don’t talk about often is shaft tipping. This is when you trim a shaft from the club end, not the grip end like normal.
According to Golf.com, “When you tip a shaft — which by the way, you need to have parallel shafts to do this — you alter how the shaft performs by making it slightly stiffer and increasing torque for less twisting through impact.
Better players tend to make the most use of this technique in order to fine-tune their shafts to precisely the amount of flex and feel they’re looking for.”
This isn’t something that the everyday golfer will need to do but could happen as you progress. Tipping the end of the shaft gives you an even greater ability to fine tune the flex profile and customize your game.
FAQs to Decide on Regular or Stiff Shaft
If you want to learn even more about shaft flex, make sure to read our frequently asked questions and answers below.
Is stiff flex or regular flex better?
Deciding on stiff vs. regular flex is crucial to success on the golf course. One isn’t necessarily better than the other… it’s about matching it with your clubhead speed. Otherwise, you will lose distance and accuracy.
Make sure to review the chart above to learn more about the average clubhead speed that is ideal for each flex of shaft.
Should you get stiff or regular flex irons?
You want to play the same shaft flex for all your golf clubs.
If you do a professional fitting or use a launch monitor and find a stiff flex is best, play that type of shaft in every golf club. Don’t mix it up with your woods, irons, or wedges as it will impact trajectory, distance, and accuracy.
Who should use stiff flex shafts?
Players who swing a driver between 97-104MPH. If you’re above that, you should probably opt for an even stiffer shaft (X-stiff) to maximize distance and not sacrifice accuracy.
What is the average clubhead speed?
After hitting golf balls with a launch monitor, it’s easy to want to learn more about what’s average or above average in terms of speed.
According to Trackman Golf, “The TrackMan Combine data collected from over 10,000 golfers of all levels from around the world will be used to analyze his performance in hopes of better understanding where improvement(s) can be made. The AMA has an average club speed of 93.4 mph and an average total distance of 214 yards.”
To see more of how you compare, see our full article on average distance for all golfers.
If you’re above 93.4 mph, you are an above average player. If you want to keep increasing your speed for more distance with every golf club in the bag, make sure to start speed training too. More on that below.
Can beginners use stiff shafts?
It’s not recommended for beginner golfers to use stiff shafts. Most new players will benefit from a regular flex or even senior flex as they have a much lower swing speed. As you progress and increase your speed, then you can look at playing a stiffer or heavier shaft.
Do pros use stiff flex shafts?
No, pros tend to use X-Stiff or TX. While you can buy X-stiff with most iron sets, drivers, and fairway woods, TX is a custom order. They’re much harder to find these incredibly stiff shafts (usually eBay) and they’re significantly more expensive too.
Plus, they’re only made for .001 of the golfing population as they require a swing speed of 110+ MPH with a driver. My swing speed is between 108-110 and tried a TX shaft and had to sell it since it was stiff. I think you need a swing speed of 112-115 to confidently swing those types of shafts.
Will too stiff a shaft cause a slice?
Yes, a shaft that is too stiff can contribute to a slice. If you already hit a cut shot or slice to begin with, a stiffer shaft than you need will only create more swing issues.
Not only will the ball go more left to right, it will lose distance too, even if you put a solid golf swing on it. Your carry distance is significantly shorter which leaves you longer approach shots. This is why it’s so important to play the right shaft based on your clubhead speed.
What is the shaft kick point?
If you’ve been researching new golf gear in order to optimize driver distance, chances are you’ve seen the term kick point frequently. Simply put, kickpoint is the part of the golf shaft that bends the most during the golf swing.
The lower kick point in a shaft, the higher the launch angle it will produce. While a high kick point leads to lower launch angles.
Go here to read our full article on a golf shaft’s kickpoint.
Should I do a custom fitting?
If you aren’t sure about the right stiff shaft driver or driver shaft to match your favorite club head, a fitting isn’t a bad idea. A club fitter can help you:
- Test graphite vs. steel shaft in irons
- Test out the same shafts in different drivers
- Explore shaft options (flexible shaft vs. stiffer shafts)
- See how different shafts and higher kick points alter your results
While these fittings are common for professional golfers, even the average golfer with slower swing speeds can benefit too. They’ll give you more confidence in finding the right club for your golf game.
How do you increase clubhead speed?
As you can tell from the data provided, finding the right golf shaft is mostly about clubhead speed. Faster swing speeds need more shaft flex you need to match your swing. Otherwise, your distance, trajectory, and direction will suffer big time.
While golf workouts can help with distance, overspeed training is an even more effective way to add distance. We have a full article on increasing swing speed here. Or, click here to read our full review about SuperSpeed Golf – the #1 tool to start speed training for amateur golfers.
These weighted sticks and training protocols make it easy to add more speed to your game. What’s great is that you only need to use them 3X per week to get results. Within 4-6 weeks (or sooner) you will start adding speed to your swing.
For every MPH you add, that equates to three more yards with your driver. It’s a great way to spend the off season to come back stronger than ever.
Final Thoughts on Regular Shafts or Stiff Shafts
Shaft stiffness is something you need to focus on to hit the golf ball better. The experts at True Spec even said, “In equipment circles, there is a common cliché that the shaft is ‘the engine’ of the club.”
The sooner you can play the right shafts (aka the engine of your clubs) in your golf equipment, the better. As you can tell, finding the right shaft flexes for your swing is key to performing your best on the golf course.
A higher swing speed needs stiffer shafts while a slower swing speed golfer needs more flex.
If your shafts are too whippy or too stiff, your distance and accuracy will suffer as a result. Once you find a good shaft flex, don’t forget to think about the shaft weight too.
When you buy new clubs in the future, make sure to always check that it’s the correct shaft specs too. And if you turn into Bryson DeChambeau and get into speed training, it’s a good idea to measure your swing speed in case you need more flex.
If you’re ready to buy some new shafts for your clubs, make sure to read our 10 best golf shafts to consider.