The “Best” Driver Shaft?
Labs

The “Best” Driver Shaft?

Support our Mission. We independently test each product we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

The “Best” Driver Shaft?

Stock. Made For. Premium. Featured. Aftermarket. Exotic. No Upcharge.

All common descriptors of the shaft in your driver. The challenge is understanding which one is right for you. The quick answer? It depends.

The longer answer: It really depends.

Selecting the best driver shaft isn’t always a case of you get what you pay for, though many boutique club fitters might have you believe otherwise. The only guarantee that comes with a $400 shaft is that you’re $400 poorer after buying it. Conversely, plenty of golfers can find better performance with something other than the stock off-the-rack shaft.

Fujikura Ventus Bend Profiles

a chart showing fujikura ventus HB hybrid shaft EI profiles

Every shaft has a bend profile which is largely what determines how the shaft will perform. More specifically, the profile is a declaration of how stiff the shaft is in the butt, mid and tip sections. Graphically, the bend profile is often represented as an EI curve. What’s important to note is that the two-dimensional rendering considers two variables. “E” is the measurement of material stiffness and “I” is the shaft diameter at specific points.

Often, golfers will find that shafts with a certain bend profile (EI curve) work better than others. And absent some unique swing characteristics, many golfers are best served by sticking relatively close to shafts with similar bend profiles throughout the bag.

Yes, there are exceptions. However, if a player benefits from an iron shaft with a very stiff handle section, they’re likely going to see a similar benefit from a driver shaft with a very stiff handle section. Case in point: Gary Woodland plays KBS C-Taper 130X shafts in his irons and a Fujikura Ventus TR Black 8X in his driver. Not only is the butt section uber-stiff in both shafts, the mid and tip sections are as well.

My Process

No one has either the time or capacity to hit every shaft-head combination that a fitter has available. So the first step is to determine which family, or class, of shaft fits you best. Based on numerous fittings, my optimal driver head/shaft combination emphasizes spin reduction. It’s a nice way of saying I tend to add too much loft at impact (dynamic loft), which results in excessive spin.

Beyond that, low-spin/low-launch shafts with a stiff handle section tend to produce the stable feeling throughout the swing that I prefer. The combination of a quick tempo, jerky transition and arms-dominated swing means I exert a decent amount of force directly along the handle section of the shaft. It’s a good bit of the reason I’ve played the Fujikura Ventus Black 6X for the balance of the previous two seasons.

It’s Not A Driver …

It’s a driver system. The mass properties (center of gravity, face angle, bulge/roll, etc.) largely determine the flight and spin characteristics of a shot. That said, and despite what some might have led you to believe, the shaft is vitally important. The synergistic relationship between golfer, shaft and clubhead is ultimately what determines performance.

Change any of the variables and results can differ drastically. I’ll concede that a fair number of golfers can get similar performance from a relatively wide selection of shafts. However, one shouldn’t confuse similar with optimal. The concept of “one size fits most” is both accurate and acknowledges that it’s not good for everybody.

My Answer

Every golfer knows something about his or her current driver/shaft. It might be difficult to articulate or seemingly unimportant but you know something. A typical shot shape. Dominant miss. That sort of thing.

Given my history with Ventus Black, I was keen to see how it compared to the Ventus TR Black in a mid-low launch/spin head like the Titleist TSR3. For reference, the Ventus TR Black has the same bend profile as the Ventus Black but with a torsionally stiffer handle section.

My initial thinking is that if the Ventus Black was damned near perfect, maybe the Ventus TR Black could be perfect-ier.

Fujikura Ventus In The Lab

My first step was to compare the Ventus Black and Ventus TR Black in a controlled environment and capture the data on a Foresight GC Quad launch monitor. After several sessions over multiple days, the differences were consistently clear, though relatively small.

Though I used a different clubhead this time, the results were largely the same. Ventus TR Black launched slightly lower (+/- 1°) with +/- 200 rpm less spin. I play most of my golf in Colorado and, while less spin can be a good thing, I like to live close to 14-degree launch with 2,500-2,700 rpm backspin.

I prefer the overall feel of the Ventus TR Black but the uber low spin is a concern. Keep in mind that, to a degree, spin functions as control. A 1,700-rpm Phil Niekro knuckleball might carry 300 yards on the launch monitor. But good luck trying to control that flight on the course. And if there’s more than 10 mph of wind, you’ll have about as much control as a third-grade teacher the day after Halloween.

With that, to raise the spin-floor, I could increase the loft of the driver head or go down a step in flex from 6X to 6S. As I suspected, increasing the static loft bumped up the spin sufficiently. However, the launch angle sat at the very top of the optimal range.

It was at this point I had a thought that manifested as a question. What if I tried the Ventus TR Blue 6X? The Ventus Blue is a softer overall profile than the Ventus Black. But the Ventus TR Blue has a much stiffer handle section than the original Ventus Blue. Essentially, Ventus TR Blue is the Ventus Blue mid-launch/mid-spin profile with a Ventus Black handle section.

Bada bing. Bada boom. With the Titleist TSR3 eight-degree clubhead set to A1 (stock lie/loft), the Fujikura Ventus TR Blue 6X produced the trajectory, shape and spin conditions that sat consistently closest to the middle of my desired range.

My $0.05 …

Every element of a fitting experience is, at its core, an educated guess. It’s why doctors operate a “practice” and not a “perfect.” We’re all constantly learning and evolving our understanding of the relationship between the golfer and his or her equipment. Case in point, I was fully expecting to replace Ventus Black with Ventus TR Black and move on. But that wasn’t what happened.

See, what had happened was …

That said, I could make a strong argument for all three shafts: Ventus Black, Ventus TR Black and Ventus TR Blue. And I could tweak the loft/lie settings on my driver to accommodate the various shaft characteristics to optimize each shaft/head combination. If you want to think about it numerically, let’s say the Ventus TR Blue is a 98/100. Ventus Black and Ventus TR Black might be 95/100 and 96/100 respectively. The best shaft/head combination is the one that fulfills the vital criteria while mitigating any potential downsides.  For me, that’s a shaft with a sufficiently rigid handle section that still generates the required launch and spin.

And while every golfer’s swing is unique, there’s an EI profile that’s the best match for your swing. You might need a softer tip section to increase launch and spin. Or a soft mid section with a stiffer tip and butt so the shaft acts more like a hinge.

The key is figuring out which one is best for you.

Have you solved the mystery? If so, what’s your best fit and how’d you figure it out?

For You

For You

Carbonetti Carbonetti
Putters
Apr 11, 2024
Toulon Golf Small Batch Meadow Club Putter
News
Apr 11, 2024
Tackling the 12th at Augusta – Amateur Edition
News
Apr 11, 2024
MyGolfSpy Forum Highlights – March Edition
Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris is a self-diagnosed equipment and golf junkie with a penchant for top-shelf ice cream. When he's not coaching the local high school team, he's probably on the range or trying to keep up with his wife and seven beautiful daughters. Chris is based out of Fort Collins, CO and his neighbors believe long brown boxes are simply part of his porch decor. "Isn't it funny? The truth just sounds different."

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel





    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

      Mike Scherer

      10 months ago

      Does anyone pure shafts anymore? With adjustable mounting it would complicate the process.

      Reply

      Bryan G

      1 year ago

      Great article. Almost my same experience when I got back into the game 5 years ago. Played like poop, had to be the shafts fault right? Bought some cheaper aftermarket shafts and found one that worked pretty well, but still not great. Bought a Callaway Epic Flash driver with a Synergy shaft, and fairways all day. Found sweet spot more consistently. In trying to find info on the shaft, found the site Golf Shaft Reviews that has EI Profiles and reviews of many different shafts. Russ does great job, great fitter. Researched using his site other shaft profiles that would fit. Moved to GD Tour AD TP after trying out many others. Then found Fuji Atmos Blue and finally Ventus TR Blue. Hit 70% fairways today. One other thing to consider is not all driver adapters have same settings if changed. It really is finding the right combination of head, shaft and settings. With irons, I used the site to find iron shaft profiles that were similar, finally ending up with Oban CT 115. Lots of trial and error, and can be an expensive hobby, but worth it to have some good shots if you care to go down that road.

      Reply

      Jim Rebey

      1 year ago

      Maltby/Golfworks has a list where they group shafts by profile

      Reply

      Phillip Stallcup

      1 year ago

      I’ve tried fittings a few times with really unsatisfactory results and don’t have access to the monitors to compare data over several sessions. I am convinced that one session isn’t enough. Maybe it’s just that my swing isn’t consistent enough to be characterized by a few swings. I’ve ended up buying shafts on Amazon or eBay and trying them for several rounds over 2 or 3 weeks and re-selling the ones that don’t work. This process, while slow, does seem to be working for me. I’m currently using a velocore blue 7S and making good progress.

      Reply

      Terry

      1 year ago

      This is a great read Chris. I was on a similar journey and think have reached my destination. I went from a Ventus Blue 5-S to a Blue 6-R to a Blue TR 6-R to a Black 6-S and now am finding fairways much more regularly. While I don’t have your technical knowledge or launch data to back it up, but my Arccos results show my FIRs are up over 20% and I have added about 10-15 yards to my average drive by keeping it in the short stuff more often.

      Reply

      ROCCO

      1 year ago

      Have you guys ever tried testing Steadfast golf shafts. I first tried one in my Taylormade M4, and what a world of difference. They work like the company says they do. More distance, better dispersion rate. Please put them up next to the so called best, you will be surprised. Thank you.

      Reply

      Ed

      1 year ago

      I’d hadn’t really been through a full fitting session before having a driver fit at the local PXG store. I realized that there are some profiles that just ‘fit’ my swing. And it’s not something I would have every picked out for myself.

      I tried to ‘do my own research’ around EI shaft profiles and numbers based on the rudimentary stuff I remembered from Trackman during lessons and how I ‘thought’ I swung the club.

      I had a PING G400 Max with an Evenflo shaft that I hit fairly well…but not great. I got fit into a PXG 0311 driver. I let the fitter worry about the numbers and just gave feedback on what I felt/liked/didn’t like.

      I ended up with a shaft that gave me 102..7 clubhead speed, 13.8* of launch, 1.48 smash factor and 2500 RPM of sping.

      It was a Cypher Fifty 6.0 that I never would have picked out for myself. (would have convinced myself it was to high launch/high spin for my ego.).

      I’ve played 5 rounds with it and it’s the best driver I’ve ever owned. It feels like it fits my naural swing..

      Reply

      Scott

      1 year ago

      Great read, I’m in the middle of all of this right now. I had struggled with driver since late last year, couldn’t keep it in play and wasn’t real efficient when I did. ~105 mph swing speed but carrying around 245-250. Got fitted for a different shaft about 2 months ago now and ended up in the same exact shaft you did, Ventus Blue TR 6X. My question is this, what are some iron shafts I should start with that are similar or very close to that same profile? I’ve been trying to find that out for a month now. I’m going back to the fitter at some point to figure this out, but I’m on the waiting list and want to tinker until my appt in January. Help!

      Reply

      David from Texas

      1 year ago

      I’ve got the Red TR and it’s perfect for my swing. I’m getting the most out of my driver with desired flight and spin rates. It would be cool to swing the Black, but I’m old and broken down.

      Reply

      mackey

      1 year ago

      I play a TSR 3 at 10* in my Accra Tour Z TZ6 55 M3. I swing at a smooth 100 mph and this give me the launch I want and spins 2100 avg. I played a Matrix Ozik HD 7TP for about 15 years but I needed more height and I have lost speed in my sixties.

      Reply

      Alex

      1 year ago

      Great article. Currently I play a Tour Z 472 M5+ from a couple of years ago. Apart from the new RPG gold, are there any other comparable shafts to my Accra that are that stuff?

      Reply

      Micah

      1 year ago

      Good read! Knowing where your shaft is stiffest will help decide if it’s right for you. For me, a tour stiff shaft that has a soft handle will not work for me, even though a tour stiff shaft should work for someone who swings in my speed range. My transition necessitates the stiffest handle possible. Which explains why I struggled gaming a tx Tensei but doubled my FIR% by putting in a tx Hzrdus rdx.

      Reply

      Greg

      1 year ago

      Best most stable shafts ever made . ( graphite )
      I have been trying to get a shaft that repeated since I went of wooden heads . Bad fittings bad shafts bad swings come and go with every driver that I ever bought and the promises of the next big thing never came
      It turned into being the world’s biggest fraud. So subjective and no grounds for a refund . The first shaft I fitted was a 7x red put in and BOOM heaven off the tee until one day it cracked on the downswing like a branch falling out of a tree.
      It slowly got that bad I could not hit a fairway. I thought that was it never will I get another shaft like this one again .Living in Aus is a terrible disadvantage and even worse if you live in regional areas.
      Fitted another as being subjective warranty is hard to get although I insisted it be sent back and the frequency be tested You don’t get much joy here. The seller agreed to go 1/2 price for another fitted it and BOOm not quite the same as the other one , as this shaft had a double spine but aligned it to their mark and I am so happy .I now have time to work on the rest of my game.. So not only do they make a good shaft they make them to a spec that is of high quality and repeatable . They must have six sigma quality control processes to do this . I recommend this product .
      The hell of graphite shafts is now fixed.and I played off scratch last summer not bad for a 73 yr old so I have had plenty of experience with graphite.
      Chris Your analogy of how to e fitted is also to be recommended..
      Thank You for your time and another great article. for all the golfers out there.

      Reply

      Bob

      1 year ago

      Would like to see an industry standard on golf shaft flex. This would help in choosing the best shaft. Dispersion is also over looked in choosing a new driver.
      20 extra yards out of bounds doesn’t help your score.

      Reply

      Parker

      1 year ago

      Here’s the problem with all this. In San Diego where many of the major golf companies live, there is not a single store that has access to any reasonable collection of aftermarket shafts. They all use maker supplied carts with stock shafts. The only way to try aftermarket shafts is to pay $175 for a driver fitting at club champion. Add the $300-800 for the shaft, and the likelihood that they will try to upsell you on a new head as well and who can afford it. Until shaft makers figure out how to get these into the hands of the regular golfer they won’t be in many bags and golfers will suffer.

      Reply

      Gradius

      1 year ago

      Callaway Rogue ST Max with standard AV Blue was good fit and best off the rack. After proper fitting Graphite Design IZ has taken distance and accuracy to another level. They are expensive but can be had second hand for “reasonable” prices. Same with other high end shafts. But in the end of it ain’t broke don’t fix it till it is….

      Reply

      MarkM

      1 year ago

      Haven’t tried the Ventus shafts yet Chris, been rolling with HZRDUS Smoke in my M5. Have tried other shafts but keep going back to it. May hae to look around more with my next driver.

      So, on finding your preferred EI profile – isn’t that what the Mizuno Shaft Optimizer is all about?

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      1 year ago

      The Mizuno optimizer is an excellent starting point and in my experience, it does a great job of eliminating the “bad” answers. Meaning, that when suggests a top 3, those shafts are likely going to have the best opportunity to produce the maximum ball speed based on your swing metrics.

      That said, my advice for people who already have a shaft that works best for them is to try and understand why that’s the case….and then see if any shafts in the bag deviate significantly from that…

      Reply

      MarkM

      1 year ago

      Thanks Chris

      DKey

      1 year ago

      What a great article! It really captures the ‘magic’ of finding and fitting shafts, and the marginal tradeoffs. Especially with the driver – and for a 67 year old, male (fit, gym-time; 7.5 index) I have searched a long way down this rabbit hole through a favorite maker’s Pre-Owned website (and trying a new, low spin head with all the bonus points accumulated (my son benefitted). For the driver crazy good shafts have not been the big name, big upgrade ones (although a Ventus Blue 6-R Velocore in my Epic Max 7 wood is a perfect answer). One of two great shafts is a 10 year old version of the ATTAS. It’s a commitment of time and money – improving swing mechanics and keeping an open mind along the way – but I’ll suggest the journey is worth the effort. This article captures the nuance improvement potential, so well done. My drives of 240 yards = Shot Scope P*Avg, and top 5% in driving accuracy, reinforce to me the value of my journey.

      Reply

      Ivan G

      1 year ago

      Interesting comment at the end Chris, how much of a difference it is really to go from say a 95/100 to a 98/100?
      I have tried only a few more expensive shafts, generally been fit pretty much off the rack everytime I get fitted. So, how much better can the club be with the right shaft and it is worth another $200 or $300? Interesting question.
      Good topic.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      1 year ago

      Great question. For some golfers, that extra 1%-3% is significant and they’re willing to pay whatever to guarantee that their equipment is entirely optimized. For others, they’re good with saving the $$$ and leaving a bit of meat on the bone.

      Reply

      13jas

      1 year ago

      Driver has been the worse club n my bag since 1984, when I started playin. Now w a Ventus Blue 5A 12 of 14 fairwaz ever x I play. I dont get any roll out tho. That`s the only thing I need now. I dont no what 2 do 2 get it. Any idea anybody?

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      1 year ago

      Need to know your data – specifically, launch, spin, peak height and descent angle…

      Reply

      Bgolfing

      1 year ago

      Is there a site where you can compare different shaft profiles? It is so hard to figure out similar shafts. I really like the TENSEI™ CK Blue and would be interested in knowing about similar shafts

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      1 year ago

      It’s always been a dream of mine to create this sort of database for golfers – there are some potentially significant roadblocks, but it’s certainly an idea worth exploring

      Reply

      T Mac

      1 year ago

      I have found that the golf shaft analysis on the GolfWorks web site is very helpful in comparing the various shafts and their profiles.

      Reply

      Jim Rebey

      1 year ago

      Maltby/ Golfworks has a shaft list where they’re grouped by profile

      Reply

      Kansas King

      1 year ago

      Simple answer: No. Golfworks/Maltby has some pretty generic profile info on their website but it’s not remotely close to the bend profile curves you would want to see.

      Ralph Maltby (founder of Maltby) wrote in his book that he tried to maintain an actual shaft profile database but shaft makers eventually stopped sending him shafts.

      Shaft companies absolutely do not want a definitive shaft profile database will real curves because people would find much cheaper shafts with similar curve profiles. You can have the most expensive materials in the most expensive shaft but if the bend profile/specs are the same a $50 shaft, they will generally perform the same.

      Reply

      Jim P.

      1 year ago

      I have been fit for a Driver several times over the past 4 years. Not sure why, but every time I get fit back into the Fujikura Speeder TR 757X – the same shaft that Will Zalatoris games. I tend to like to hit up on the ball with low-spin fades and that shaft seems to protect well against the head releasing too quickly and turning those fades into hooks off the planet. The Speeder TR has a stiff handle and tip with an ultra-stiff mid-section. I’m not sure why that has worked for me, but I always have success with it on the launch monitor. I game that shaft in my Driver and 3-wood, with a Speeder EVO IV X in my 7-wood and Rifle Frequency 7.0 (146 grams) in my irons.

      Reply

      Shamogity Bo

      1 year ago

      I always love your reviews Chris! Your homespun analogies crack me up!

      Could you expand on what a soft butt in the shaft does, how it can benefit or hinder a player? There’s not a lot of information online on what it does to the dynamically in the swing.. Plus, when you search soft butt and shaft on Google you can get some not rude results. Same with searching A. Rod’s name! LOL!

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      1 year ago

      Thanks for the read and comment!

      In my experience, a softer handle section is good for golfers with a smoother transition and/or those who like to “feel” the clubhead throughout the swing.

      For someone like me, a softer butt section is death. It feels like I’m swinging a fishing rod and my dispersion is all over the place.

      The dynamics are very player-dependent – It’s why a company like Fujikura uses Enso to help understand how different players react to different shaft profiles.

      Reply

      Alan

      1 year ago

      Interesting read. Would love to have an analysis of fitters so I have a sense of who to trust. Understand you might only be able to do national scale companies.

      Reply

      Kirby

      1 year ago

      I play the Velocore Blue 7S in my 3 wood and hybrid. But I have no idea about my “profile”. I don’t think I knew that was a thing. I’ll need to look into it. Where would someone start?

      Reply

      Will Hogg

      1 year ago

      Always love your style in these articles. Great write up!!!

      Reply

      Daric

      1 year ago

      Fujikura Motore-x … still has the longest avg and tightest dispersion for this fella swinging D3 / 105mph.

      Reply

      Tg821

      1 year ago

      Hey Chris,
      Awesome information that makes me want to keep my fitted ventus black 7x.

      My question for you is would you think there would be very minimal difference in changing to a ventus black 6x? I notice that the 7x starts to feel hard to swing after 9 holes or so.
      Thanks and keep up the great work!

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      1 year ago

      The Captain Obvious statement is that the 6X will be a bit lighter. But, it very well might help that back 9 fatigue you’re experiencing.

      I see this with a lot of golfers where they get “fit” into a specific shaft based on a couple of swings on the range or at a demo day – But you really have to consider how a shaft will work for you over 18 holes, multi-day tournaments, etc.

      Like buying a pair of pants. Need to be small enough to fit well in skinny season and large enough to accommodate the holiday.s

      Reply

      Rick

      1 year ago

      I have used the Ventus Black 6 S with the Calloway Epic Speed Triple Diamond and my length and dispersion has greatly improved. I have a 9.5 degree loft. I highly recommend! The Ventus shaft

      Reply

      Gerald Lindell

      1 year ago

      These shafts did not fit me at all. My “go to” shafts are the Xcaliber Mystic 5 and the Avalon 5.

      Reply

      Steeley

      1 year ago

      I gamed a Rogue White 130 MSI 60 Stiff for awhile. I hit it well but like you mentioned there was something that felt off. I was able to articulate that it was the profile feeling like it flexed only in the lower section of the shaft. That made me feel like I lost the head in my down swing, and thus couldn’t 100% confidently swing.

      I knew in my mind that I wanted a shaft that felt like it had a stiffer handle and smoother load through the rest of the shaft. After demoing a bunch of shafts one weekend I settled on the Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 6s and I am in love. Also not the shaft I thought I would want, went in wanting to try the AD UB.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      1 year ago

      Interesting tidbit with Graphite Design is that most of their shafts are variations or slight tweaks on a dominant EI profile. So, if you find one that works really well – in this case IZ – there’s a good chance that you’ll probably stick with them loing term.

      Reply

    Leave A Reply

    required
    required
    required (your email address will not be published)

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Carbonetti Carbonetti
    Putters
    Apr 11, 2024
    Toulon Golf Small Batch Meadow Club Putter
    News
    Apr 11, 2024
    Tackling the 12th at Augusta – Amateur Edition
    News
    Apr 11, 2024
    MyGolfSpy Forum Highlights – March Edition
    ENTER to WIN 3 DOZEN

    Titleist ProV1 Golf Balls

    Titleist ProV1 Golf Balls
    By signing up you agree to receive communications from MyGolfSpy and select partners in accordance with our Privacy Policy You may opt out of email messages/withdraw consent at any time.