What Shaft Flex Should You Be Playing? It may surprise you

bunch of golf shafts

Are you playing with the right golf shaft flex? Most golfers are not. It’s easier now than ever to pick the proper shaft flex for your game with the technology that is available on the market. 

However, before you start shopping for this proper golf shaft flex, it’s important to consider a few key things about your swing, the material, and the weight of the club shaft that you are choosing. Take a look at how to pick the proper shaft flex for your game. 

What is Golf Shaft Flex? 

Shaft flex is a way to measure the flexibility of a golf shaft. When a shaft is more flexible, it will allow slower swing speed players to get the ball flight, distance, and launch they need. 

When golf shafts are less flexible, it gives stronger and faster swing speed players the resistance they need to get plenty of distance. 

Almost always, a golfer is matched with a shaft flex based on their swing speed, but there are some other features of the golf swing that should be considered and will help players trying to dial in which shaft is best for their game. 

Why Does Golf Shaft Flex Matter? (Impact On Your Game)

The main reasons that golf shaft flex matters are total distance and dispersion. However, ball flight is also impacted by the shaft flex. 

Distance

If you play with a shaft that is not the right fit for your game, there will be an impact on the total distance. Most golfers think that this impact will be for golfers that are playing with a shaft that is too stiff, but that is not the case. 

Let’s say, for instance, that you have a golfer with swing speeds and power like Bryson Dechambeau, and you give him a ladies’ golf shaft to swing with. Most people think that since this is a flexible shaft, it will be easy for him to get a ton of distance. 

However, this is not the case. 

Since the shaft does not have enough torque for him and is resistant to his swing speed, the total distance will not be nearly as far. Distance is essential for all golfers, and even just the loss of a few yards can really impact the way the hole is played. 

Sometimes, as older men lose some of their swing speed, they switch to a senior shaft from a regular flex shaft. There is typically a difference in the distance almost immediately that makes up for the distance that was lost while playing with a regular shaft. 

Dispersion 

Another critical reason why shaft flex matters is dispersion. To understand dispersion, it’s always easiest to think of a target with a hula hoop around it. Golfers want to be able to hit shots within this hula hoop. 

However, when that hula hoop expands to the size of a swimming pool or a circus ring, the dispertion rate is quite a bit higher. This is where golfers stand on the tee box and have no real idea as to where the golf ball is going to go. 

The best shaft for your game will be the one that keeps the dispersion rate low. For golfers with lots of speed, that will be a stiff shaft. For players that have the moderate speed or slow speed, that may be a regular or even senior shaft. 

When you play with a golf shaft that isn’t the right fit for your game, expect that the dispersion rates will be considerably higher. Trust us on this one; even if you lose a few yards, getting the dispersion in check is key. 

Ball Flight 

The shaft in your golf clubs will also impact the ball’s flight. It’s easier to hit a more flexible shaft higher. For instance, a senior golfer with a more flexible golf shaft can usually hit the ball relatively high. 

Higher swing speed players with extra stiff shafts have to work a little harder to get the ball up, but this is a good thing for their swing. Players with tons of speed have a tendency to skyrocket the ball, and this causes issues with their control. 

As the shaft flex gets stiffer, it pushes the ball flight back down and makes it more controllable. 

All of these factors are undoubtedly worth considering. Even if you love a club head that a golf club has, if the shaft is not the right fit for your game, put it back on the shelf! 

Shaft Flex Options 

There are typically five shaft flex options for each manufacturer. These shaft flex options include ladies, senior flex, regular flex, stiff flex, and extra stiff or X flex shafts. 

Ladies Flex

Although ladies’ golf shafts are almost always geared toward women golfers, they don’t have to be. This shaft flex is just for the golfer with a slightly slower swing speed. Some male golfers that have slow swing speeds can benefit from ladies’ shafts. 

One thing to keep in mind about the ladies’ flex shaft is that it is almost always a graphite shaft. There are almost no ladies’ steel shaft options on the market. 

Senior Flex

The senior flex shaft is not just for older golfers; it’s for golfers with slow swing speeds. Many players start to have difficulty swinging the club as fast as they age. This makes it important to switch to a golf club that allows for quick rotation and higher speeds. 

Senior flex shafts are also almost always graphite. This is because the golfer that benefits from the lighter weight of the senior flex shaft also benefits from the more flexible materials. 

Related: What is a Senior Flex Golf Shaft (vs. Stiff and Regular)?

Regular Flex

Regular flex is where the majority of average golfers will be fitted. These shafts are for average swing speeds and produce mid-range ball flight. 

Stiff Flex 

Still, flex is for stronger golfers that have a bit more club head speed. With a stiff flex shaft, players can generate a bit more clubhead speed and get extra distance. With the stiff flex, make sure that you are ready for it throughout your entire club set. 

Some players have fast driver swing speed, but the rest of the clubs in the bag are not nearly as fast. 

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

X Stiff Flex 

Extra Stiff flex shafts or X shafts are really built more for the golfer that has a tremendous amount of speed. This is why you will see many professional golfers playing with an X stiff flex shaft. It’s certainly not a choice for beginners or those with average swing speeds. 

One thing to remember about an X Stiff flex shaft is that if you don’t have the proper speed levels, you will have a much harder time with forgiveness. 

How to Choose the Correct Golf Club Shaft Flex

There are a few major factors in choosing the correct golf club shaft flex. Most players believe that the total ball speed is the most crucial factor. However, there are also some other things that play into this. 

Speed

Speed is truly the easiest way to determine which shaft is best for you. With new portable launch monitors that give detailed information about your golf game and the golf ball, it’s easy to see which category you fall into. 

It’s important to remember that swing speed is almost always measured by the driver. So if you are right on the edge of stiff flex with the driver, it may be worth switching to stiff but keeping the regular shaft in the irons. 

The shafts you choose in your clubs do not have to be the same throughout, although having some science and data to back up your shaft selections does make sense. 

FlexSwing SpeedBall Speed Distance (Yards)
Ladies (L)55-65 mphLess than 100mphLess than 200
Senior Flex (A)65-75mph100-110mphLess than 220
Regular Flex (R)75-94mph110-139mph210-240
Stiff Flex (S)95-110mph140-160mph240-275
X Stiff (X)110+mph160+ mph275+

Ball Flight 

The ball flight of a more flexible shaft is going to be considerably higher than the ball flight of a stiffer shaft. For golfers that are looking for longer total distance and higher ball flight, the more flexible shafts will probably be the better fit. 

If a senior golfer has a slow swing speed and is trying to use a stiff flex shaft, chances are the ball flight will be really low, and it will not help to get the player any extra distance. 

Going to a senior or regular flex shaft, especially in the graphite material, can increase total ball flight.

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

Player Handicap 

Golfers with low handicaps tend to need stiffer golf shafts, not just because of swing speed but also because of control. These players will like to direct where their golf ball goes, and this requires a bit more of a stiffer shaft that lets you place the golf ball. 

Strength

Strong players can maintain their swing speed throughout the course of a round. You always want to choose a golf shaft that allows you to swing at full capacity at both the start and end of your round. This is why if you have borderline numbers or have to swing out of your shoes to get over 110mph in swing speed, just settle for the shaft in the previous category. 

Analyzing The Miss 

Take a look at where your miss is. Most golfers that are playing with a shaft that is too stiff for them are going to miss the ball to the right. Is that where you miss the ball the majority of the time? 

If you do, you may want to be tested to see if the shaft you have in your club is actually the right fit. 

Club

Last but certainly not least is the club that you are swinging with. We know that most players swing the driver faster than the irons, so it’s important to consider that when choosing the proper shaft flex. 

Sometimes it’s possible to have stiffer shafts in the driver, fairway woods, and hybrids and then switch to something less stiff in the irons and wedges. 

FAQs

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about choosing the right shaft for your golf clubs. Remember that depending on the club you are looking at putting a shaft in; the flex may vary. 

What shaft flex is best for driver?

Most golfers go for a slightly stiffer shaft in their driver. Players swing with regular or stiff flex based on total club head speed as well as ball speed. The driver is a little longer and very lightweight, and many players can get it to swing pretty fast. 

When to switch from stiff to regular shaft flex?

When your swing speed drops below 100 mph with the driver, it’s time to at least think about making the switch to a regular flex shaft. If you happen to go below 95 mph, it is without a doubt time to make the change over to regular.

What swing speed is perfect for stiff shafts?

The perfect swing speed for stiff shafts is right at 100mph. 

How do I know what flex shaft to use?

The best way to determine what flex shaft to use is to measure your swing speed and determine where you fall on the swing speed chart. The faster your swing, the stiffer the shaft you need. 

What happens if the shaft flex is too stiff?

If a golf shaft is too stiff for you, the miss is typically a slice. These players have a hard time turning the club over and releasing it at impact. This, in turn, creates a ball flight that is very far left to right. 

What flex should my clubs be?

One of the best ways to determine what flex your clubs should be is to go for a custom club fitting. During this fitting, you can use the latest launch monitor technology to determine the distances that you hit each of your clubs. 

The great thing about a club fitting is that the information you get from it will typically work for your game for quite some time. You will find that unless you go through some type of life change, the flex that you need will remain the same for years to come. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, you now know what flex shaft you need in your clubs. If you don’t know your club head speed, do not stress. There are so many ways that you can get your speed now with the way that golf technology has improved.

A club fitting or even the use of a portable launch monitor like the Flightscope Mevo can give you enough data to narrow down the shaft options out there. 

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Joe Morelli

Joe Morelli is the founder of TopRankGolf, a passionate golfer with 25 years of experience playing and coaching golfers around the world. He's dedicated to helping golfers learn and enjoy the game of golf.