Golf Club Shaft Flex Types
Matching your golf club shaft flex to your swing is one of the most important things you can do when buying new clubs. Having the proper shaft will allow you to hit the ball longer and more accurate. Flex refers to the capacity of the club to bend due to the forces applied to it during the golf swing. This bend or flex in the club helps golfers gain distance off the tee – provided the user selects a proper flex type. Selecting the right shaft flex for your swing is more important than the type of clubs you select. Here are the most common shaft types you will find when looking for clubs.
Five main ratings exist for golf shaft flex:
|Extra Stiff||(X) (XX) (XXX)||270+ yards||110+ mph|
|Stiff||(S)||240-270 yards||90-105 mph|
|Regular||(R)||200-240 yards||80-90 mph|
|Senior (Amateur)||(A) (M)||170-200 yards||70-85 mph|
|Ladies (Women)||(L) (W)||0-170 yards||<70 mph|
Using a shaft with too light or heavy of a flex for your golf swing results in the club face staying open or closed at impact – resulting in poor shots despite seemingly good swings. Golf shaft flex will impact the length, accuracy and trajectory of your golf shots. Since the shaft flexes during your swing, the club head position will change. Since straight shots are largely the result of a square clubhead at impact you can see how important shaft flex can be. A golf shaft too light will result in the club face being closed at impact – meaning draws and hooks. Using too heavy of a shaft results in pushing and slicing since your club face stays open at impact.
Flex is Not Stiff Enough
- The ball will usually fly higher than normal with poor feel.
- Results in “pulled” shots or hitting the ball left (right handed golfers). Shots will tend to “hook” since the club face is closed at impact.
Flex is Too Stiff
- Tendency to over-swing resulting in errand shots and poor feel with lower shot trajectory.
- Results in “pushing” the ball or leaving it out right (right handed golfers). Slicing will also occur since the club face is open at impact.
One of the most frequent mistakes of high handicap golfers is choosing the wrong shaft. In particular, men choosing shafts much too stiff for their swing type. For some reason men like to be macho and try to swing club shafts above their capability. A stigma exists in which men don’t want to be seen swinging a senior or even regular flex. One of the main situations occur with men near retirement who don’t swing as hard as they use to, yet continue using or buying drivers with stiff flex shafts.
Using a shaft too stiff for your swing type causes over-swinging, which will surely hurt your performance. Over-swinging is the most common fault of high-handicappers. Choosing a shaft with more flex will force you to slow down your swing and make better contact with the ball. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you seem to be in between two different flex types choose the lighter of the two. Using a shaft with too much flex is less harmful than a shaft too stiff for your swing.
Getting Fit For Shaft Flex
A few key measurements are needed to determine the proper shaft flex for your swing type. Club head speed, ball speed and launch angle averages will be needed. For the average mid to high handicap golfer, swing speed measurements are all that is needed to determine the proper shaft flex. Lower handicap players should consider a professional fitting with a local golf professional. A pro will not only take club head speed measurements, but will also examine your ball flight and swing tempo. Club fittings by teaching professionals are available at most golf stores and proshops for a relatively small cost. Most golf stores like Golf Galaxy waive club fitting fees if clubs are purchased.
If formal club fitting isn’t for you, demo days are available at most courses. Golf companies hire representatives to showcase golf club product lines free of charge. Attending one of these demos will give you access to the entire product lines of major golf club manufacturers. This includes all the different types of shafts offered with specific clubs you are interested in. Golf instructors can give you recommendations on shaft type based on measurements and observations, but ultimately the club has to perform in your hands. No industry standard exists for golf shafts so one manufacturer’s regular flex may be more stiff than another shaft made by a different company. Trying out all the available shaft options and seeing how the ball reacts off the club face is the best way to judge which type of shaft is right for you.
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