How to Identify the Need for a Stiffer Golf Shaft: 6 Signs

driver shaft length

Using the correct equipment in golf for your swing is crucial. It helps you perform at your best, but playing a shaft too flexible for your swing causes problems. Luckily, there are telltale signs you need a stiffer shaft.

A stiffer shaft gives you more control over the club if your swing speed can handle it. The stiffness of your shaft comes down to your swing speed. You run into problems if your swing is too fast for your shaft flex.

Let’s compare swing speeds with the best shaft option.

Swing Speed Shaft Flex Chart

The following chart is for driver swing speed.

Swing SpeedClubhead SpeedShaft Flex
Ladies< 72 mphLadies
Slow72-83 mphSenior
Average84-96 mphRegular
Fast97-104 mphStiff
Very Fast> 105 mphX-Stiff

6 Signs You Need a Stiffer Shaft

1. Club Feels Whippy

You need a stiffer shaft if you can feel the shaft flexing when you swing. Even when you waggle the club, you can feel the shaft flex. However, pay attention to it when you swing because you shouldn’t feel the shaft flexing when you’re hitting balls.

2. Launching too High

Your shaft is generally too flexible if you get a noticeably higher launch. If you changed clubs recently and notice the ball ballooning into the air, check your shaft flex. A stiffer shaft can bring your ball flight down to optimal levels.

3. Loss of Distance

The wrong shaft flex can lead to a loss of distance, especially when you need a stiffer shaft. It launches the ball too high, which affects distance. And it can also affect your ball striking, causing you to miss the sweet spot more often.

4. Hook Shots

Hitting hook shots may be a sign you need a stiffer shaft. You overpower the club when you swing too fast for the shaft flex. That results in the clubhead head whipping around too soon, causing those hook shots.

5. Poor Control

The wrong shaft flex can cause poor control. As we’ve seen, it can cause you to launch the ball too high and lead to hook shots. So it leads to problems with trajectory control and directional control.

6. Less Accurate

You might hit good strikes but still notice your accuracy is off. That’s a sign you need a stiffer shaft.

What is Shaft Flex in Golf?

Shaft flex in golf refers to the flexibility of the shaft during the swing. The shaft bends when you swing the club, so a regular shaft bends more than a stiff shaft.

Generally, golfers with fast swings should use a stiffer shaft. Those with slowers swings should use a shaft with less flex.

Why Golf Shaft Flex Matters?

Golf shaft flex matters because it directly affects your shots. The wrong shaft flex can cause the clubhead to be out of position when you hit the ball.

You don’t want your shaft to bend too much because it puts the clubhead out of position on impact. It whips around too early and causes high hook shots. So, faster swingers need a stiffer shaft.

Also, it’s not good when the shaft doesn’t bend enough because that puts the clubhead out of position as well. The lack of flex means the clubhead impacts the ball too late, causing a low shot push shot. So, slower swingers need a more flexible shaft.

What Happens if Your Shaft Has Too Much Flex?

The ball is going to go left (for right-handers) and high if your shaft has too much flex. It causes the clubhead to whip around too early because your swing speed overpowers the shaft, making it bend too much.

So, the clubface will point left because the shaft has already whipped around. That closed clubface causes the ball to hook to the left.

Also, the clubhead whipping around too early means the face presents more loft to the ball. The clubface points more toward the sky than down the target line, causing that high ball flight.

Adding loft to the club won’t give you the optimal ball flight. It puts too much spin on the ball and causes it to balloon.

The optimal ball flight should be penetrating without too much spin. Using the wrong shaft flex affects that and leads to a high launch, loss of distance, hooks, poor control, and less accuracy.

What Happens if Your Shaft is Too Stiff?

The club will feel heavy and hard to swing if your shaft is too stiff. Also, swinging it repeatedly will make you tire more easily.

For right-handed golfers, the ball will travel right and launch low if your shaft is too stiff. Your swing speed can’t cause enough bend in the shaft, so the clubhead comes around too late.

That results in an open face at impact, meaning it’s pointing to the right. That open face sends the ball to the right for right-handed golfers.

The clubhead arriving too late at impact also means the face points more toward the ground. So, the club presents less loft to the ball, and you get that low ball flight.

Decreasing the loft won’t give you the optimal ball flight. That’s a particular problem when hitting the driver because many golfers already struggle to get the optimal launch off the tee.

Also, you’ll get less spin on the ball if your shaft is too stiff. That affects you off the tee and with approach shots.

A common miss with the driver when your shaft is too stiff is a low push shot. The ball doesn’t even slice because there’s not enough spin to cause the bend. It goes low and straight to the right.

Of course, you can also slice the ball if your shaft is too stiff. But this shot takes a little more spin, which is hard to get with the driver if your swing is slow.

A slice is more common with hybrids and irons when your shaft is too stiff. Players can generate more spin with these clubs.

Will You Hook or Slice if Your Shaft is Too Flexible?

You will hook the ball if your shaft is too flexible. The shaft bends too much when you’re going to hit the ball and causes the clubface to close. A closed clubface at impact results in a hook.

You will slice the ball if your shaft is too stiff. The shaft doesn’t bend enough as you’re hitting the ball, resulting in the clubface staying open. That results in a slice when you hit the ball.

What’s the Difference Between a Regular and Stiff Shaft?

A regular shaft is softer and easier to bend than a stiff shaft. Also, regular shafts are generally lighter, and stiff shafts are heavier.

So, you need less swing speed to get the optimal bend with a regular shaft. Conversely, you need more swing speed to get enough bend with a stiff golf shaft.

Slower swingers will get better results with regular shafts because it gives them the optimal impact position. A stiff shaft gives fast swingers the optimal impact position, leading to better shots and more consistency.

Related: Stiff or Regular Flex: What Shaft to Play?

Knowing your distances is a good way to determine if you need a regular or stiff shaft. Mid-to-shorts hitters will typically need a regular shaft, while long hitters should opt for a stiffer shaft option.

Of course, knowing your swing speed gives you the best indication of what shaft you need.

How to Measure Your Swing Speed

You can measure your swing speed with a personal launch monitor, on a golf simulator, or at a fitting with a pro.

woman hitting golf ball with launch monitor

Personal Launch Monitor

You can get a personal launch monitor and use it to measure your swing speed. These devices track your shots and offer many metrics, including swing speed.

Some popular launch monitors are SkyTrak and Flightscope. You can buy these at a reasonable price.

Golf Simulator

Using a golf simulator is another way to measure your swing speed. These use launch monitors to record your data and project your shots on a screen. So, it’s also easy to see if you’re hitting a high hook or a low push.

Commercial golf simulators are common these days, so you can visit one to record your swing speed. Some are more accurate than others, and you’ll need to find one that gives accurate data.

Pro Fitting

A fitting with a pro is always an excellent way to measure your swing speed. They use premium launch monitors like Trackman and GC Quad, so you know you’re getting accurate metrics.

They can advise you on what shaft flex you need for your swing. And they can take a more comprehensive look at your swing instead of only focusing on swing speed.

When to Use a Stiffer Shaft

You should use a stiffer shaft when your swing speed increases. Here are some signs if you don’t know your swing speed.

  • The club feels whippy in your hands
  • The club is too light when you swing
  • Your ball has a ballooning flight
  • Getting little ball run with the driver
  • Too much spin on the greens with irons
  • You notice a drop-off in accuracy
  • Hitting hooks
  • Noticeably higher ball flight

When to Use a More Flexible Shaft

You should use a more flexible shaft when your swing speed decreases. That usually happens when golfers start to get older or if they suffer an injury. Look for these signs to see if you need a more flexible shaft.

  • The club feels rigid when you swing
  • The club feels too heavy
  • You struggle to launch the ball
  • The ball rolls more than normal
  • Your iron shots don’t spin
  • You hit it to the right more often
  • Less accuracy
  • A drop-off with distance

Should You Use Graphite or Steel Shafts?

It’s safe to presume that your woods and hybrids have graphite shafts. So, we can answer this question about irons.

Graphite shafts are lighter than steel shafts and suit slower swingers. The light shaft helps them swing the club faster than they could swing a steel shaft.

Many golfers find graphite shafts easier to use. They can swing them with less effort and get a higher ball flight.

Related: Graphite vs. Steel Shafts: Which is right for your golf game?

Graphite Shafts Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Lighter to swing – great for seniors
  • Helps increase swing speed and add distance
  • More accuracy for slow swingers
  • Higher ball flight
  • Takes less effort to swing

Cons:

  • Higher price
  • Less durable
  • Reduced feel

Steel Shafts Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Better accuracy
  • More control
  • Durable
  • Heavier for fast swingers
  • Lower cost

Cons:

  • Too heavy for some
  • Weight can slow the swing
  • Vibrate more on mishits

Best Stiff Shaft for Irons

Best Stiff Shaft for Irons

True Temper New Dynamic Gold AMT Iron Shaft Set, Stiff Flex

True Temper Dynamic Gold golf shafts are some of the most popular in the sport. They feel solid and of high quality, offering you control and accuracy.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Best Stiff Shaft for Driver

Best Stiff Shaft for Driver

Project X New HZRDUS Smoke Black 6.0 60g Driver/Fairway Shaft Stiff Flex

This stiff driver shaft is a favorite among many golfers. You get a low spin, a good feel, and excellent control with this shaft.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

FAQs

Will a Stiff Shaft Fix My Slice?

No, a stiff shaft won’t fix your slice. It could make it worse if your swing speed is below 97 mph.

Switching to a stiff shaft to fix a slice is a mistake unless you’re using an X-stiff shaft at the moment. But if you’re using a regular shaft, don’t try a stiff shaft to fix a slice because it’ll likely make it worse.

What Happens if a Golf Shaft is Too Stiff?

Using a golf shaft that’s too stiff can cause your shots to go right (for right-handers). Also, it causes low golf shots that won’t travel very far.

What Swing Speed Requires a Stiff Shaft?

You need a swing speed with a driver of between 97 and 104 mph to use a stiff shaft. Anything slower than this will cause low slices/push shots. You can hit high hooks if your use a stiff shaft with a faster swing.

Conclusion

Signs you need a stiffer shaft relate to the feel and performance you get from the club. You need a stiffer shaft if the club feels too light and whippy.

Players who hit high hooks should check if they need a stiffer golf shaft. That shot often happens when your shaft is too flexible.

A loss of distance, poor control, and less accuracy are also signs you need a stiffer shaft. It’s always a good idea to check for these signs, but you should also measure your swing speed and match it with the appropriate shaft.

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Shane Curry

Shane Curry is a professional writer and an avid golfer who’s been involved in the sport for over three decades. He is a student of the game and keeps up to date with all the latest developments.