If the shaft influences launch and spin, then it absolutely matters. That was the common sense point of last week’s short video. While we didn’t jump into the weeds with that video, the fact that the debate continues is mind-boggling.
The fact of the matter is that the shaft has a direct and quantifiable influence on how the club moves through the swing and into impact. Changing the shaft can and often will change impact variables like lead deflection (often manifested as impact loft), toe down, and closure rate. As the direct result of a shaft change, we often see attack angle, path, and impact location change as well. Every one of these variables plays a role in the resulting ball flight – and they’re incontrovertibly influenced by the shaft.
Now, it is true that the influence of the shaft is not the same for every golfer. Swing speed, tempo, transition force, and release point are different for every golfer, and each contributes to the loading, unloading, and twisting of the shaft.
Saying that the influence of the shaft is not the same for everyone, is not the same as saying the shaft doesn’t matter. The shaft matters. There should be no debate about this.
It’s also important to note that the majority of product – stock products – are designed to fit the middle of the golf performance bell curve. Not surprisingly, most do a reasonable job of providing a serviceable fit for a healthy chunk of the golfing population. When everything stays in the middle, the impact of a shaft change is likely to be less pronounced.
But what does that mean for a golfer whose swing characteristics place him or her closer to the tail of the curve? It means that the consequences of playing the wrong shaft are more likely to be more significant and dramatic than they are for what the industry defines as the average golfer.
In this video, we show you what can happen when a golfer on the far end of the bell curve – a collegiate All-American with a swing speed of over 120 MPH – switches from a stock shaft into something far more suited to his swing.
This is not the norm, it’s an extreme case, but these differences, while drastic, offer plenty of evidence that the shaft matters.
Will5 years ago
With the shaft being the engine of the club, let me offer this; I bought the G400, 440 driver with the stock Speeder shaft – it played ok, but I wasn’t thrilled that I dis not provide the extra distance/direction I was seeking, I decided to pull my stock Ping Alta shaft from the “G” 460 driver; it is the same flex/length as the Speeder shaft, taking it to the course – the results were quite noticeable; direction wise, out of 12 drives, only 1 was pulled a bit left (the rest, right down the middle)… The distance was vastly improved also; so as Wishon says, ther’s no standard in the industry – the same listed specs from manufacturer to manufacturer don’t mean a hill of beans. Using the meter when being fitted is ok, but the real test comes when you take it out to play, using the same ball, that you’ll discover how the particular shaft you have chosen, will work for you. It was amazing to witness how significant the improvements were, considering that both shafts were mfg. for Ping, being the same length, weight, bend point, flex, grip weight – I had been using the Ping Speeder stock shaft for a while & never thought that a Ping shaft that was 2 years older, would completely out play, by a large margin, a shaft that Ping obviously had chosen for the G400 head – hope this helps another reader…
Rory5 years ago
Stock Speeder shaft? The stock shaft is the Alta CB 55.
Will5 years ago
My error. it is the new color CB 55; it was the one I pulled & replaced with the Alta from the “G” Driver – both are same flex…
CT5 years ago
I honestly don’t get why there is even a debate. Absolutely 100% the golf shaft matters. To suggest otherwise doesn’t make sense. I have gone for multiple fittings where I could see tangible, physical changes to the final result. Just by changing the shaft, I could see differences to delivery, dispersion, start direction, face closure, spin and distance. All this captured on GC QUAD. I was playing a stock fujikura speeder 662 stiff. I thought this shaft was pretty good. After being fitted for the fujikura speeder evo 4 661 stiff, I could literally feel a tangible difference in quality of the shaft. The aftermarket shaft felt thicker (more material) and I felt like I had the stability to really go for it when needed. Before you start poking holes, I know that the shafts are not directly comparable but I’m not comparing them to each other. I’m comparing the quality of a stock shaft to an aftermarket shaft.
Furthermore, I have a friend who had a stock TM shaft which he was struggling with. After a fitting, he was fitted into a lighter shaft (fujikura speeder evo 3 569 SR) his driving immediately improved and he is really enjoying the game a lot more. He didn’t change the club head nor his swing. Only the shaft. The shaft matters.
Gerry T5 years ago
I did a little experiment today, I played half my Cobra Bio Cell irons in stiff graphite, and the other half in stiff steel. My conclusion – if there was a difference between graphite and steel shafts it was not showing that difference in my game. I shot what I normally do on the South Six of late and finally shot a 30 on the back 9. The longer irons and pitching wedge were in stiff graphite and the 7-9 irons and gap wedge were stiff steel. I have played both graphite and steel in irons and have played no worse either way, especially with the game improvement enhancements and improvements in graphite shafts! And considering players like Matt Kuchar aren’t afraid to play graphite shafts, they aren’t just for seniors!
SADoc5 years ago
The shaft makes a great deal of difference between optimizing club characteristics, flight, launch and distance. BUT often there is no mention of spine-ing or FLO (flat line oscillation) and the importance it makes in the dispersion and flight characteristics of shafts and clubs. I know the science is disputed, but I will tell you to have the best club in your bag tested, your favorite to hit because of its repeated performance (we all have one). Have it marked and then the spine and FLO measured. It will be very close to optimum spine and FLO especially if compared to your others in the bag.
Nottingtom5 years ago
I was a bit late to the conversation on Mr Crossfields video which precipitated Adam’s video but I think my comments there are just a relevant here.
I wont refer back to him as he is unlikely to comment here but what I said was that the headline message he was giving was shafts don’t matter, but what he actually said in the videos was be careful thinking the shaft is the answer and th a “brand a” shaft is the best and will fix your swing is not true. He demonstrated and has done several times that the shaft may actually do the opposite to what it says on the tin.
This is exactly the same message that testing has given on the mgs site, that a shaft on average may be “medium launch” + “lowest spin” of a group but for one individual it may produce higher spin than any other shaft.
I always find it funny that some of the comments/commenters use the info you provide to promote their own message I.e. X flex cannot launch higher and spin more than senior/ladies flex.
It can, have a look around. The shaft DOES NOT hit the ball, the clubface does (hopefully the face rather than the crown 😉 but not always in my experience). So the shaft helps to change the players delivery of the clubface.
Although for identical swings (I.e.from a robot) the physical characteristics of a shaft DEFINITIVELY change delivery of the clubface as Adam says in the video, when a player swings the club the FEEL and even more so the players preconceptions (emotional baggage perhaps) will often have a greater influence on delivery.
E.g. Give me an x_flex and I will almost certainly hit up on it more AND probably deliver more dynamic loft (I’m normally +3 to +5 aoa. Conversely I will likely hit more level with less loft presented with a “soft” shaft.
Hopefully this doesn’t seem argumentative as I am agreeing with Adam and Mark, who are seemingly saying the same thing in a different way while am lot of people are using both of their videos to have an argument.
Interestingly Rick Shiels did a “blind” test of the same brand shaft in 4 flexes and was surprised that there was little difference but I would suggest that was because of a reaction to the different feels.
I guess all of that was pointless, I could have just said ignore what’s written on the shaft, get fit and use the shaft that feels best, gives you the most confidence in consistently delivering an improved set of clubface variables to tighten your 360° dispersion.
mackdaddy5 years ago
The shaft makes a huge difference. In 2009 I won a closest to the pin contest in an outing. The prize was a an R9 with a Matrix Ozik TP7HD stiff shaft it has a 2.7 torque and is tipped to 44″ making it more like the strong. I hit it great and straight. When I caught a pebble it punched a hole in the face. I sent it back to TM (just the head) and they sent me a Rocketballs Stage 2 same loft and a stock shaft. I tried it and the ball ballooned and drifted right. I went to Golfdom and got the new tip put on my shaft and took it back to the course the next day. I had my straight penetrating ball flight back and picked up about 15 yards. Now I have an M-1 2016, I got fit and worked hard with the fitter. We tried several shafts and then I ask if we could try my shaft and boom I was 6 yards longer. He said he had the same shaft on hand but was very slow to offer it to people because they run$1000. Holy crap I didn’t realize how much it costs.
With the science of driver heads so close to maxing out what is allowable the shaft is the next horizon.
Chris5 years ago
That price increase is R&D for the shafts and materials. The stock options you’re getting are mass-produced shafts that have quality control issues most of the time. A real aftermarket shaft is far superior in quality and performance overall. It doesn’t mean it will fit you better though. Those upgrade charges are justified for sure. 90% of broken shafts that come through my shop are stock offering shafts. even “stock upgrades” which are mostly free upgrade shafts from OEMS. They buy at the lowest price possible to keep that margin alive so no doubt it’s going to suffer. Incidentally the other 10% of broken shafts are from manufacturers like Aldila and previously Matrix – who have “no questions asked” lifetime warranty on their shafts. I wonder why that is….. you get what you pay for.
Joe Golfer5 years ago
While some OEM’s offer several shaft upgrades, it’s a shame that many do not offer more without the huge upgrade price hike. I understand that a Graphite Design AD shaft is expensive, but there are lots of other shafts that could be offered without that major price increase.
Greg5 years ago
Joe – I agree that it’s a shame that more OEM’s don’t offer free “premium” shaft upgrades. Just recently I went to get fitted for a driver, and my biggest fear was matching up to something like the Rogue or M3/4 with a shaft that was a huge upgrade. To my surprise, my match was the Mizuno ST180 w/the MRC Tensei White shaft. What I learned that day was, Mizuno does not charge for their shaft upgrades on ANY of their clubs. If it’s in the catalog, you get it for free. Even the grip upgrade to the Golf Pride CP2 wrap I love was free. So I was $399.99 +tax out the door (plus fitting charge) and it was delivered in 5 days. As big of a Ping fan I am, Mizuno is my 2nd favorite OEM and if they’re in the running when I get fitted for irons, I would chose them again.
Scott Newell5 years ago
They fit me for the steel Nippon 1150 in my mixed set of JPX 850/Tours about four years ago and it completely changed my game. Especially when I read a separate article a few months later about how that specific shaft is a rare fit (fast tempo/transition profile). No up charge for my own grips, mixed heads and a custom bent/length 4i that I turned into a 2i.
carl r head5 years ago
a friend of mine thought the shaft did not matter , but when I got a driver to try that had a stiff shaft, I got him to hit it and when it went 20 yards more on first , I placed into the head of his driver and the increase was 30 yards more.. He bought the shaft from me and admitted he was wrong and that the matter more than ever
Max Parris5 years ago
For some reason I missed two points. Hope you can clear
them up for me. Is the shaft stiff, regular, senior flex and where
is the kick point for each of the shafts you tested.
I do have one other question. I am using a Taylormade 2.0 driver with
10.5 degree of loft. The shaft is a senior flex with the kick point near
the head of the club. I play low ball and my average is 78.5. Now for the real kicker I am 83 years old, so do you think I am at the maxium for the club I am hitting?
Thanks for any reply
Gerry T5 years ago
Hello Max. I think that this is what makes golf clubs so confusing. A stiff shaft on a Taylormade or Adams Golf iron could be considered a medium firm or regular shaft with Cobra irons. And a stiff shaft in a set of Cobra irons could be a medium firm shaft in Callaway irons. Since there are no standards, you don’t know what firmness your iron shafts or other clubs actually have. Now having said that, my thinking is that the kick point would change based on the firmness of that shaft in the model of clubs Taylormade sells. That’s where a club fitting would be integral. Think about a comparison between a player like Nick Price who because of where his kick point is, he needs a firm shaft to counterbalance his clubhead speed. On the other hand, a player like Freddie Couples has a more relaxed swing but he still can get good distance but because of his swing style, he would tend to play a medium firm iron or driver. Kick point also affects the flex on each shot and also the vibration in the shaft so while you might you don’t notice the difference when out on the course, playing a less firm shaft really cuts back on the distance you can maximize out of your clubs. Kick point relates to your shafts in that the lower the kick point, the higher your launch angle. The closer the kick point is to the butt end, the lower your launch angle. Top PGA pros tinker more with kick point than most amateurs and unless some of us have professional aspirations, kick point is something amateur players shouldn’t be as concerned about, as most of the rack clubs will provide the kick you need off the toe as long as you are properly fitted.
The Club Nut5 years ago
Flex and kick point are arbitrary in shafts. There is no standard for what constitutes a “low” kick point or “stiff” flex so even knowing that information isn’t going to help in this case.
As for your question about maxing out, that can’t be answered with the information you’ve given. The aim of fitting is optimization. For your swing speed and efficiency, it’s about optimizing the launch and spin characteristics to create the best flight conditions for the ball to max out on carry & roll and deliver the head squarely to the ball.
I would suggest finding a good fitter near you and working with them to determine if what you have is optimal for your game. Sounds like you’re doing pretty well, so the other rule of thumb does come to mind – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”
Johnny Penso5 years ago
It’s not surprising that someone at the end of the bell curve just like the stick flex would matter to an NHL player or the bat length and weight would matter to a Major Leaguer. Not sure what relevance that has to the vast majority of players that are at the peak of the bell curve in the 85-95 mph swing speed range.
Bob5 years ago
At 76 years old my swing speed is way down. I also have had my left
Shoulder rebuilt with titanium and other material. I was using a
Men’s senior shaft on a callaway Epic driver set to 12 degrees
Of loft. After a visit to my golf shop and hitting balls my club fitter
went in the back room and a little latter came out with a shaft
A new Rouge shaft . Put it on my Epic driver said wait till tomorrow to
Hit it he said don’t worry about what it says on the shat. What a difference higher launch and straighter. Now I hit a ladies shaft
Lengthened to a men’s length with a built up grip. Never said any thing
To my playing partners. So shaft does matter.
Gerry T5 years ago
Hi Bob! While I am not in your situation, I see what you’re saying. I just gave my dad a 4 and 5 iron Cobra Bio Cell iron in regular steel for Father’s Day, and he felt like he needed to consider the graphite option for more control with those irons. He tried my stiff graphite Bio Cell irons and he did notice a difference. He is currently 79 and I can see how playing regular steel for 20 years would give him enough feedback to know that graphite shafts in all of his clubs would be the best way to go! About 7 or 8 years ago he fell on ice trying to get the mail and ended up with shoulder issues. Initially he was told he didn’t need surgery but eventually he did require surgery on one shoulder and then the other. I am thinking that injury might be causing him issues again now. I have played regular steel and stiff steel as well as regular and stiff graphite and appreciate the help that graphite does give! Thanks for your input and your reminder that we can and need to adapt as we grow older! That isn’t a case of frustration but is more of a case of accepting the help we need to keep playing this great game!
Berniez405 years ago
I know not only first hand, but very recently how much the Shaft matters. Back in 2016 I was fitted into a TaylorMade M2 HL Driver, with the 55Gram Fuji Reax 55 in M/ Senior Flex. This helped buy me another 20 yards, as my previous driver was a 10:5 Degree with a Shaft in Regular Flex. My swing had dropped to 85 Mph with age, so realizing I needed M Flex to be able to load the Shaft, as well as a higher launch model driver in order to increase loft really did the trick.
Recently though, Arthur and the rest of those nasty “Ritis” brothers began having a major impact on my swing, and this time to a slightly greater degree.. The magic 20 yards were gone, as the Fuji Shaft, as this article points out, was a middle of the road Shaft.
I got a deal on a Mitsubishi Tensei Red in 50 gram weight and Senior Flex. This is the highest launching shaft available for the current M3 and M4 models. Not only is the 20 back, but that’s really only the average. Some drives are just downright amazing. I don’t want to start dropping ridiculous yardage numbers and cast doubt upon the legitimacy of my claims, but let’s just say the reboot towards even higher launch has certainly helped increase my carry substantially. The stability of the Mitsubishi helps me keep it in the short grass a little better as well.
DoubleDave5 years ago
I’ve personally experienced a professional fitting with an independent club fitter 8 years ago. I can say without question that it helped tremendously. He put me in a new set of clubs with a Ping K15 driver, heavy/stiff aftermarket shaft, shorter length and heavy swing weight. Over the past 5 years, as I’ve worked on technique and fitness, my swing and game have improved. I went back after 8 years to have a new driver fitted. I ended up being fitted into the Ping G400 LST stock stiff 10 degrees. This taught me that as my swing improved, I must better fit into the “middle of the road” offerings. But, 8 years ago, it made all the difference in the world. I’m hitting it 15 yards further carry.
Jas herrington5 years ago
My irons are pretty straight, but my woods are low hooks.I went to a titleist fitting & it was still Hooking with a hybrid. Any suggestions? thx
Steve S5 years ago
I’ve had many discussions about shafts with folks over the years. I think “the shaft doesn’t matter” discussion for me was around stiffness in the same brand of shaft. For my swing speed (90-95) senior to X made virtually no difference in distance with the same model shaft. It did, however, make a difference in dispersion but not huge, maybe 5 yards from senior to X. The difference between reg. and stiff was hard to measure. And since there is no “standard” for stiffness I have a Motore X tour that is stiffer than a Ozik double X. So brand to brand and model to model, I’m sure there are differences that will show up on a monitor,
Jwells5 years ago
I find this extremely hard to believe. I can’t think of one stock shaft setup where the senior flex is the same weight, tip stiffness, or profile as the X. You should see a significant difference in distance and dispersion when comparing the two and not because of any particular skill set, but because you are likely more used to one than the other. No way you can launch the X as high as the senior
Steve S5 years ago
Don’t care what you believe. Spent 40 minutes on a monitor hitting Taylormade M1 with different flex shafts and the differences in distances were statistically insignificant.
Gerry T5 years ago
If you follow Tom Wishon, who has been a clubmaker for forty years, he will tell you that there are no industry standards. If you find something that works for you, stick with it. The only standards for loft, lie and angle of attack are within each club manufacturer. So you might think you are playing a stiff shafted iron in a Cobra Bio Cell, for example. Go over to TaylorMade and try a 2.0 Black Burner iron in stiff and you will more likely notice a difference there. In all reality, while you figure you play stiff steel or graphite in the Bio Cell, that could be a seniors shaft or regular shaft in a TaylorMade iron. So until the golf industry holds these golf club manufacturers to a higher standard of consistency, you really are taking a crapshoot when you pick a set of irons. One thing I will say as a higher handicapper with a good chance of going into the mid-handicap range…try out your favorite set of clubs in graphite shaft. Get tested for clubhead speed and fitted, and in a matter of time, you will get used to the characteristics of that set of irons. Once you get to a level of confidence and comfort, check out how you are with steel shafts, One misnomer…in some clubs, the swing weight is rated much lower than the steel swing weight…while in others the swing weight based on their standards is above it – D0 with the graphite shaft irons and D2 in the steel shaft irons. I used to play a set of Adams Redline irons in regular graphite that was rated at D2…so graphite has come a long way from the day when my clubhead flew off the shaft due to being too heavy of a weight. Twenty years ago that was more common…today the shafts in graphite irons are more stable and chances of breakage has been reduced greatly, not that it doesn’t happen. I will be playing stiff graphite in the Bio Cell now and playing the stiff steel irons later on. It’s all about progress and results!
Ron5 years ago
After spending 25 years making my living in the golf business and having done literally thousands of club fittings in that time anyone that claims the golf shaft doesn’t matter has never worked with a qualified fitter. I have seen many examples of the correct shaft adding 10-15% to a distance.
The Club Nut5 years ago
I’m glad this video is out there now and from a well-known source. This has been my argument for so many years when people say “*Insert Vloggers name here* did a video and says shafts aren’t a big deal”. It doesn’t matter that i’ve got years of data showing VAST improvement for players when optimally fit for a club, because it’s not in video form. The difference can be HUGE. As Adam said, there’s a population of golfers that may not see a dramatic difference, but there really will always be a difference.
Birdieputt5 years ago
Excellent video and demonstration. I didn’t think there were golfers who believe that the shaft does not make a difference in any club, especially a driver and fairway/hybrids. After years do doing fittings and working for a major OEM manufacturer, I’ve seen the difference a shaft can make hundreds of times. Adam’s video brings it into focus.
Nigel5 years ago
If you’re losing carry due to higher spin, you probably won’t make up for it in rollout. With that said, I think putting it in the short grass will have the biggest impact, so if it works for you, have at it! I’m still playing my 910D2 because it keeps me in play.
jmdr5 years ago
the real question is “does the clubhead really matter ?”
jfpga5 years ago
What do you mean by matter? less spin? In my fitting experience the head can reduce spin more than the shaft.
cksurfdude5 years ago
Short answer: “YES!”
Ray5 years ago
I’ve always found that weight would help me more than flex. And I mean heavier rather than lighter. Tempo. I just seem to find more fairways with a heavier, slightly weaker flex than a lighter stronger flex shaft. I might be giving up a few yards in carry, but maybe I can make that up in roll out. Any thoughts?
The Club Nut5 years ago
Ray, you’re right on the mark. TIs’ really why Adam said in the video it was one of the more important aspects. Shaft weight deals with the balance point of the club – not necessarily the swing weight aspect. As weight increases, generally the flex stiffens, so you may be equal in that respect to a lighter, stiffer rated shaft. The key is balance. Heavier shafts balance higher, among other differences. The overall weight of the club is more evenly distributed. This will help control dispersion for many golfers.
Remember also that not all flex is standard. What is “Stiff” for one company or line may be “regular” for another company. This is yet another reason that proper fit is so important.
Steve S5 years ago
Ray, for me this is more about feel than physics. From a physics stand point you want the lightest grip and shaft as possible and as much weight in the head as you can stand. But for many people it might not “feel” good. Every swing is different and our perception of what is good is as important what the numbers say.
sirhc5 years ago
I am with you there. Shaft weight made a huge difference for me. My miss is a low hook. During two separate demo days on consecutive weeks, two pros fit me to heavier shafts in the 70+ gram range. My old driver had a 55-gram shaft. With heavier shafts, my 20-yard hook became a 5-yard draw.
A 20-something golfer I know had a similar experience. He was a collegiate tennis player who once cracked the face of his driver! His drives were LONG, but often wrong and very high. He went to a ball fitting to lower his flight and the rep had him try a driver w/ a heavier shaft. Immediate improvement. The guy eventually switched his driver’s shaft to a much heavier, tipped shaft and his sprayed 280-yd drives became 300+, w/ penetrating flight and much tighter dispersion.
Nigel5 years ago
Great video. I genuinely don’t get how someone can say shaft doesn’t matter. I don’t care what it says on paper – go hit a club with a Alta CB and then a HZRDUS T1100 and tell me there’s no difference in flight, spin and dispersion. that’s not to say one of those will necessarily be best for you, but the difference will be there.
Vern5 years ago
As always, another very informative video. Thanks again and keep them coming.