Golf Clubs 101: Golf Shaft Stiffness

When purchasing or trying out a new golf club, you may be inundated with a long list of club specifications, measurements and equipment terms that are uncommon to the average amateur player. Our new “Golf Clubs 101” series will focus on a new specification each week with the hope of shining a light on what can be confusing golf club terms.

Golf shaft stiffness, or simply shaft flex, is a term you should be aware of before purchasing your next driver, fairway wood or iron set. In layman’s terms, “flex” refers to the ability of the golf shaft to bend as forces are applied to the shaft during a golf swing. The most common shaft flexes seen on stock golf clubs are Regular, Stiff, Senior or Ladies flex.

According to Brent Kelley at About.com, a good way to determine your appropriate shaft flex is to record how far you naturally hit your driver. If your drives carry between 230-250 yards, a regular flex is best for your game. If your drives carry any more or less than that yardage range, you will need to adjust your shaft flex to either Stiff or Senior/Ladies, respectively. Professional players who routinely hit the ball much further than an average player may use an Extra-Stiff shaft.

Now that you have your shaft stiffness figured out, the next step is determining the appropriate golf shaft brand for your game. This is easier said than done, of course, since there are literally dozens of golf shaft manufacturers from which to choose. This begs the following question: aren’t two golf shafts with a regular flex the same?

According to Tom Wishon of GolfWRX, the answer is “not always.” As it turns out, there is a factor in measuring golf shaft flex referred to as “butt frequency” (stop laughing), which is a coefficient referring to the staff stiffness near the butt-end of the golf club. Two regular-flex golf shafts with the same butt frequency can actually have very different flex measurement throughout the entire length of the shaft. In other words, just because two golf shafts are marked as “stiff,” there is no guarantee both shafts will flex the same amount due to a number of factors (including how far the shaft inserts into the clubhead, for example).

The best way to determine which golf shaft flex is best for your game is to visit a certified club fitter at your local pro shop or golf store and receive a proper fitting. That said, never underestimate your own intuition and feel when it comes to choosing your clubs.

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