How many times have you seen something like this posted at a store or clubhouse?
Honestly this chart is wrong. There are so many more variables then swing speed that affect the flex of a shaft. This article is aimed at providing a better understanding about the manufacturing process and the affects on the feel and playability of a golf shaft. The objective is to provide information that will help you bypass the marketing portion of the industry and choose a fitter, who is well educated, and understands what is needed for a proper fit.
There are two ways that most golf shafts are formed. A seamless process, starting out as a solid cylinder, and a welded tube process, which starts out as a flat sheet of metal.
WELDED TUBE PROCESS:
These are very generalized steps and there are so many more, all of which take a significant amount of time. I was told, when I had the opportunity to tour the True Temper plant, that it takes approximately three weeks for one shaft to be completed. There is a reason that there are so many more graphite shaft companies then there are of steel shaft manufacturers. One of the main steel manufacturers, True Temper, is known for their ability to change the wall thickness on the inside (ID) of the shaft. Because of this ability, they are able to design and manufacture different types of shafts to optimize the fitting process.
Not as well known, but worth noting, is that there are two different shaft sizes. The taper tipped golf shaft is the original design and still is considered mostly standard. In the 1970’s the parallel tip shaft came to the market and is widely used, especially in the manufacturing and custom side of the industry.
As a builder, parallel shafts are my favorite to utilize; however, as stated earlier most OEM clubheads are designed for a taper tipped shaft. There have been many studies on the feel and affect of a parallel tipped shaft vs taper tipped shaft and all have come back with little to no difference. It truthfully is a preference.
What does this all mean for the normal golfer, who is not a builder or fitter? It is there for you to not fall into some of the marketing traps that are out there.
So what should you concern yourself with then? WEIGHT, STIFFNESS, AND FLEXPOINT
WEIGHT: Hot topic for the past few years has been the weight of the completed club from grip, shaft, and clubhead. If the weight is decreased there is an increase in speed, launch angle, and spin rate; whereas, an increase in weight can have the inverse affect. Clubhead speed is not everything, as I said earlier, because spin and launch angle will affect distance as well.
STIFFNESS: Please understand that there is no industry standard of this, even though most would believe that: regular, stiff, and x-stiff are standards. This is why it is so important to get a proper fitting. A stiffer shaft is going to lower the trajectory and possibly ball speed. Shafts that have too much flex will have a higher launch angle.
FLEX POINT: This is the portion of the shaft at which the shaft will bend. The bend, or flex point is what provides extra power into the clubhead. By lowering the bend point of the shaft a higher trajectory can be created; whereas, a higher bend point will lower the trajectory
A proper fitter is going to look at these, along with some other variables, to get you in the proper fit. In the swing, your tempo, release, path, and speed are going to factor into which shaft fits you the best. That is why charts are wrong, they only show you one variable that needs to be evaluated.
In a few months we will do a deep dive into KBS, True Temper, and Nippon the major manufacturers of steel golf shafts.