A poorly optimized driver shaft can rob you of distance and accuracy. Here’s what to look for when purchasing
Golf has never been a simple game. Golf equipment, however, at least when comparing the one-size-fits-all golf clubs of yesteryear to the highly-personalized, precisely-fit clubs of today, is another story.
Because back in the wooden era there was no such thing as “custom” unless you had a workshop like Arnold Palmer’s. Nowadays, if you’re serious about playing your best golf, custom-fit golf clubs are a big part of the equation.
When it comes to your driver, for example, you can dial in lie, loft, draw/fade bias, weighting, grip, shaft and much more. It’s important to optimize all of these to get the most out of your tee shots, but let’s zero in on one of the biggest difference-makers with distance and accuracy: the shaft.
R, S, X: What’s the right flex for you?
Many golfers aren’t familiar with the variables that make up a shaft’s playing characteristics.
One common term is “flex,” which defines the shaft’s ability to bend when a force (a golf swing) is applied to it. Generally, the faster you swing, the stiffer (and heavier) the shaft you need.
Common shaft stiffness delegations come in Ladies (L), Senior (A), Regular (R), Stiff (S) and Extra Stiff (X). These categories would suggest there is uniformity within each, but did you know there’s no industry standard that defines variabilities across manufacturers?
In other words, an extra stiff shaft from one company might be similar to a stiff shaft from another.
Flex isn’t everything
Having the proper shaft flex in your driver is important. But it’s not the only measure of how well the shaft fits your swing.
There are other characteristics like weight, kick point and torque that influence launch, spin and how the clubhead twists. Until the early 2000s, there weren’t many options for golfers in these categories. Manufacturers now offer a wide range of shaft profiles that can be optimized to the most finite nuances of your swing.
Of course, it’s difficult to know what kind of driver shaft fits you best without the aid of an expert club fitter. In the video below, GOLFTEC Director of Teaching Quality, Brad Skupaka, demonstrates the wide range of performance accompanying a proper or improper fit by hitting three shafts with varying characteristics.
With consideration to Skupaka’s fast clubhead speed, the distance gap between his best and worst shaft options resulted in an astonishing 47 yards!
That’s why club fitting is so important to the process – the use of launch monitors and trial and error to find the right shaft eliminates the guesswork, while fully optimizing which flex, weight, kick point and torque yield the most distance and accuracy for your swing.
Take a look at the video and if you think you might be playing the wrong driver shaft, connect with a fitter at GOLFTEC and see what a custom club fitting can do for your game.
VIDEO: Do Driver Shafts Matter?