What’s the lowest spinning shaft in golf?

That’s the question we set out to answer when we asked 12 different shaft manufacturers to provide us with what each believes is the lowest spinning shaft in its lineup.

11 agreed to participate. Veylix was the only holdout.

Trust me when I tell you that trying to find the answer was one hell of an endeavor.

Here’s what we tested:

With the testing now complete, wouldn’t it be something if I could tell you that we were able to isolate the one shaft that can significantly reduce, we’re talking 1000 RPM, spin for every last one of you?

Sorry folks, it doesn’t work like that. While we’re never 100% positive what we’ll find, we had a hunch that in this case, we’d find something other than an absolute and incontrovertible truth.

The reality of the situation can be best summed in a Facebook comment from reader Rob Hampton in response to our test announcement:

“This isn’t The Lord of the Rings….. there is no ‘one ring (shaft) to rule them all.’” – Rob Hampton

Truer words not spoken… at least not today.

So if we weren’t expecting to find any concrete answers, why test at all?

We test because you never know, because every test is an opportunity to learn (and to an extent an opportunity to learn how to learn), and because it’s a test I’ve always wanted to do.

Bottom line, we’re curious, and we know some of you are curious to, so what the hell, we went for it.

How we tested

how-we-test-shaft

  • Manufacturers provided MyGolfSpy with stiff flex shafts within the ±65g range.
  • Club Conex UNI-FIT adapters were installed on all shafts.
  • Shafts were cut to identical playing lengths and outfitted with Golf Pride MCC Plus 4 grips.
  • Eight golfers with single digit handicaps who generally play stiff flex shafts hit 12 good shots with each shaft (frequently rotating between shafts).
  • Gross mishits were eliminated and are not included in the shot counts.
  • Remaining outliers (determined based on launch angle and spin rates) were identified using Media Absolute Deviation, and dropped before calculation of the final averages.
  • All testers hit the same head in its neutral setting.
  • All testers hit Bridgestone B300 RX Golf Balls.
  • Ball Data and Club Data was recorded using a Foresight GC2 Launch Monitor with HMT.

The Data: Group Averages

What’s the lowest spinning shaft? That was the original question, so let’s take a peek.

When we look at the data across all of our testers, here’s what we find:

 Observations:

  • The Fujikura Pro Tour Spec produced the lowest average spin rate.
  • The Pro Tour Spec’s average spin rate was marginally lower than several others including Aldila NV 2KXV White, Project X HZRDUS T1100, Graphite Design Tour AD TP, and Accra TourZx.
  • The Paderson KINETIXX produced the highest spin (2970 RPM), and while 100 RPM doesn’t sound like much, the gap between it and the Graphite Design M9003 (2866 RPM) is the single largest spin gap in the test.

Looking beyond the Spin column, we find more similarities than differences.

  • Average differences in most measurements including ball speed, carry, and total yards are marginal.
  • The Matrix M4 Black Tie is noteworthy for producing the lowest launch (13.8°), which is nearly ½° lower than the next lowest launching shaft(s).
  • The Oban Kiyoshi White and Paderson KINETTIXX produced the highest launch by a marginal amount.
  • When looking at the average yards from the center line only 4 yards separate the most accurate (Aldila NV 2KXV White) from the least accurate (XPHLEXXX Agera).

Individual Differences

On the suggestion of one of our readers, we wanted to try something a little bit different and provide a better look into performance differences on a more individualized basis.

Please let us know if you find this information interesting and/or valuable. Your feedback will go a long way towards helping us decide if we’ll do it again.

The following series of charts looks at our performance data on an individual basis. Specifically, we look at the differences between the shafts that produced the results at the tails for each tester.

Since the original reason for this test was about spin, let’s again start there.

Individual Spin (Lowest vs. Highest)

Observations:

  • The Fujikura Pro TS and the Graphite Design M9003 combined to produce the lowest spin for 4 (2 each) of the testers.
  • The MRC Tensei CK White and Paderson KINETIXX produced the highest spin for 6 (3 each) of the testers.
  • The average spin difference between the highest spinning and lowest spinning shaft on an individual basis was 687 RPM.
  • The range across all testers was 333 RPM to 1076 RPM on an individual basis; the latter is what we’d expect from a loft increase of roughly 3°.
  • While it doesn’t show up in the group averages, it’s clear that the shaft, even within the confines of a specific design category, can have a dramatic impact on spin rates.

Individual Ball Speed (Highest vs. Lowest)

Observations:

  • The Graphite Design M9003 again ranks near the top. It’s joined by the Aldila NV 2KXV White, which, like the M9003, produced the highest average ball speeds for 2 of 8 testers.
  • The XPHLEXXX Agera produced the lowest ball speeds for 2 of our testers.
  • On average, testers saw an average ball speed difference of 4.35 MPH between their fastest and slowest, with a range of 1.4 MPH to 6.28 MPH on an individual basis.

Individual Carry Distance (Highest vs. Lowest)

Observations:

It shouldn’t come as any real surprise that significant differences in ball speed can translate to significant carry differences.

  • The Graphite Design Tour AD TP and Accra TourZx each produced the greatest carry distance for 3 of our testers.
  • The MRC Tensei CK White and Paderson KINETIXX produced the shortest carry distance for 4 (2 each) of the testers.
  • On average, testers saw a difference of 13.51 yards in carry distance between their individual longest and shortest shafts.
  • The shortest individual difference was 8.74 yards while the most significant difference was 18.33 yards.

Accuracy

More than once, fitters have told us that that accuracy differences between shafts can be much more significant than the other metrics we sometimes focus on. As illustrated by the charts below, that certainly was the case during our test.

Individual Average Dispersion (Most Left vs. Most Right)

Do shafts show any predisposition for one side of the course or the other? Looking through the numbers, we certainly can make a case that some shafts exhibit a left side bias, while others tend to favor the right. Note: in the chart below, negative numbers are used for averages left of center.

Observations:

  • The Fujikura Pro TS (3) and Graphite Design’s M9003 (2) and AD TP (2) combined to account for the greatest left side bias for 7 of 8 testers. MRC’s Tensei accounted for the other.
  • The Paderson KINETIXX and XPHLEXXX Agera showed the greatest right-side bias for 4 (2 each) of the testers.
  • This is likely a contributing factor to comparatively higher spin and slightly reduced ball speeds for these two shafts.
  • Testers saw, on average, 26.17 yards of left/right dispersion differences between their most left favoring and most right-favoring shafts.
  • The individual spread ranged from 13.86 on the narrow end to a whopping 31.93 yards on the wide end.
  • This suggests that the shaft can have a significant influence on accuracy.

Individual Shot Area (Smallest vs. Largest)

Shot area (meters squared) is the area of 90% confidence ellipse centered on the average point for total yards and yards offline. It’s a reasonable measurement of consistency, and again we see significant individual differences.

Observations:

  • Suggesting plenty of it either works for you or it doesn’t, with not much in-between, the XPHLEXXX Agera provided the smallest shot area for two testers and the largest for three others.
  • The UST-Mamiya Elements Platinum also accounted for the largest shot area for three testers.
  • The Graphite Design AD TP produced the tightest dispersion for 2 of the testers.
  • Testers saw significant differences between their most consistent and their least consistent shafts, an average of 3345 meters² difference.
  • The individual differences ranged from 2038 (significant) to 5027 (massive).
  • Once again, this suggests that individual consistency can vary significantly based on the shaft.

What to make of all of This

As we expected, our results don’t suggest any absolutes. Finding the right shaft is a highly individualized endeavor. A number of variables influence how a shaft will perform for a given individual, and some of those variables aren’t easily quantifiable. That task becomes even more difficult within a narrow category like low spin shafts.

We suspect that we’d see greater variation if we tested one of these shafts against a shaft regarded as higher launching and higher spinning.

More relevant perhaps, while I think we inherently know as much… it’s not as if there’s a secret knob or any other mechanism that allows shaft manufacturers to add or subtract spin. The magic of the shaft is how it influences the way each of us delivers the head to the ball.

If something in a shaft’s design causes you to deliver it with the face open then it’s going to start right, and if your path (also influenced by the shaft) is open relative to the face, then we know the ball is going to start right, fade, and the resulting spin numbers are going to be high.

If the shaft’s influence causes the opposite to be true, we’ve got a recipe for lower launch and lower spin.

The Shaft’s Influence on Starting Direction and Curvature

I wanted to come up with a simple and intuitive method to illustrate that the notion of low spin, or low launch, or any other way we classify the manifestation of shaft design ultimately boils down to how it influences the delivery of the clubhead, and by extension the resulting ball flight.

To that end, I bundled our data along with a downrange splatter chart and some simple filters to show how isolating shots by where they start, how they curve, and ultimately where they land, can dramatically shift the relative performance data.

To give you a sense of what I’m talking about and give you some ideas for how you can manipulate the data, consider these examples:

  • The XPHLEXXX Agera was on average one of the highest spinning shafts, however, when we isolate shots with draw spin (technically, a left tilted axis), it presents as the lowest spinning shaft in the test. If you have no trouble turning the club over and are looking to take the left side out of play, the Agera looks really good.
  • We barely discussed the Project X HZRDUS T1100, but the data suggests that if you’re looking to take a bit of spin out of an otherwise reliable fade it, along with the Matrix Black Tie, might work.
  • You can isolate the results by individual testers as well, which in addition to providing all of their data, can give you a solid idea if the same shafts consistently rank near the top for a given metric.
  • A quick note about Yards from Center vs. Yards Offline: Yards from Center is the average of the absolute value of Yards offline. Using a simple two shot scenario to explain; if you hit two shots, one 10 yards left of center (-10), the other 10 yards right of center (+10), our Average Yards from Center value would is 10, while our Average Offline Yards value is 0. Yards from center gives us some insight into accuracy, while Yards Offline gives us a better indication of distribution bias.

lowspindrivershafts-1-2

The Final Word… For now

The one thing that is abundantly clear is that between these low spin options there are vast differences, and those differences will almost certainly manifest in a big way on the golf course. While a few hundred RPMs isn’t massive, other factors contribute to nearly 20 yards of distance in individual cases, along with significant differences in accuracy.

As a gearhead myself, I’m wholly supportive of anyone who compulsively tries everything and anything with the hope of cutting a couple hundred RPMs and gaining a few extra yards. Our data, however, suggests that if you’re constantly hitting up eBay for the latest spin killer, the odds of finding a shaft that works well for you aren’t great.

In fact, the biggest takeaway from this test is that if you’re focusing most of your attention on spin numbers, you’re almost certainly missing the bigger picture.

If you’re serious about finding the best performing shaft for you, the answer, as it often does, almost certainly lies exclusively in a proper fitting.

lowspindrivershafts-1-3

Let’s Have a Discussion

There are probably a couple hundred other points I could make… additional data I could include, but I’m certain my boss doesn’t want me crawling any deeper in the weeds than we already are – unless the demand exists. So for those of you who found this interesting, and I suppose those of you who didn’t, please give us your feedback (please clap).

What did you like? What didn’t you like? Would you like to see more shaft testing in the future?

Those are my questions. We’d love to take a shot at answering some of yours. If you’ve got ‘em, fire away.


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