Steel or Graphite Shafts
One of the most important decisions faced when purchasing new clubs is shaft type. Not only will you have a choice in the flex of the clubs you shop for, but you also get a choice in material. Steel and graphite shafts are the two choices you will have when purchasing clubs. The implications of each shaft material will affect your golf game in unique ways. So which type of shaft should you use? Which one is better and what are the major differences? These are questions golfers ask before shopping for new clubs.
Each material has unique pros and cons without either type being universally correct for everyone. One of the main ways the two materials differ is price. Steel shafts are significantly less expensive than graphite shafts. With identical sets of golf clubs the graphite version will cost more. Now you might be wondering, how much more? In most cases graphite shafts will cost around 25% more than their steel counterpart.
Discussion about durability in graphite shafts was another concern in the golf world. When graphite shafts were first introduced they were significantly less durable than they are today. The lack of durability gave graphite a poor reputation. However, with recent improvements in technology graphite shafts have closed the durability gap that existed. So much so, that durability is no longer even an issue anymore. In fact, both shafts should last you a lifetime with proper care and treatment.
One major reason steel irons are favored over graphite is the exceptional feel of the material. Steel is more adapt to transmitting vibrations up the shaft at contact. This enables golfers to receive feedback on each golf shot, allowing them to make adjustments on their swing. The major drawback of graphite irons is the dulling effect the material has on vibrations in the shaft. This could be good or bad depending on your talent level. Most people like the vibrational feedback while other golfers may get tired of their hands stinging on mis-hits.
The most noticeable difference between steel and graphite is weight. If you pick up identical models of clubs, one steel and one graphite you will undoubtedly notice graphite is much lighter. As you might already know, lighter clubs produce faster swing speeds. Going further, faster swing speeds mean added distance. Most golfers experience an increase in swing speed of about 3-5 mph translating into 5-10 yards in added distance when using graphite shafts over steel. In the Tiger age of the long ball, it seems like everyone is in a quest for more distance.
Steel Shaft Player Profile
So who should use each type of shaft? Thinking logically it would seem like everyone should use graphite shafts since they get more distance. Graphite shafts actually aren’t the best for all golfers though. People with higher swing speeds don’t need the added distance. They choose steel shafts over graphite because of the added feel and control throughout the swing. The feedback off the club face and the added weight provides better accuracy as well. As mentioned earlier, steel also provides added feel through the vibrations running up the shaft after each shot. For low-handicappers this feedback is exactly what is needed for making future adjustments in the golf swing.
Graphite Shaft Player Profile
Anyone who has physical problems with their hands, wrists, forearms or shoulders should definitely use graphite. The light weight design will cause less stress on joints. It will also dull the vibrations with each shot protecting potentially sensitive joints . Most importantly, it will help the golfer add much needed club head speed for longer distance. Mid to high-handicap golfers should also consider graphite – again for the added distance and playability.
Graphite shafts should be used on woods, while most players should use steel irons. It is no surprise that 75% of irons purchased are steel. The added feel and playability is unmistakeable. On the other hand, graphite shafts on drivers and woods provides increased distance. For this reason almost all drivers and woods come with stock graphite shafts. If you have further questions or are having trouble deciding on shaft type seek help from your local PGA Professional.
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