Graphite shafts, if fitted properly, can greatly improve your game.
Lighter weight means longer length clubs and greater distance.
Lighter weight means greater ability to control your driver and hit more fairways.
What specifications need to be fitted when getting a graphite shafted driver?
- Shaft flex – how stiff is it?
- Shaft Torque
- Flex point(s)
Length: Graphite shafts are all lighter than full weight steel shafts. As lighter steel shafts have been developed, even lighter graphite shafts have also become available. The lighter weights allow drivers to be made longer without being too heavy to swing and control.
Shaft flex: The flex painted on the surface of a graphite shaft is not necessarily an accurate indicator if its flex. The flex markings on graphite shafts are notoriously variable. A good clubmaker will be able to measure the actual flex of any shaft. A shaft manufacturer’s website will sometimes provide the Cycles Per Minute (CPM) measurement of a shaft.
A more flexible shaft will allow you to hit the ball farther. The flex will let the head kick into the ball with more speed. However, if it is too flexible, controlling your shots can become more difficult. I use very stiff shafts for more control. Any distance loss is offset by more accuracy. Shots in the fairway roll farther!
Shaft torque: Shaft torque is the amount a shaft can twist under a standard load. It is measured in degrees. A shaft with more torque will feel like a softer flex than a shaft with the same flex, but less torque. More torque requires better timing, especially when the golfer has a fast, hard swing. A swing that is not as fast will not twist the shaft as much.
Shaft flex point(s): Graphite shafts in particular can be made to flex in the middle of the shaft, more toward the clubhead, or more toward the grip. The variability is approximately a foot up or a foot down the shaft from the midpoint. A lower flexoint will send your shots higher with more spin. A higher kickpoint will keep your shots lower and keep spin down. In general, the lower kickpoint is better for slower swings or golfers who tend to hit the ball low. Highly skilled golfers who tend to hit their shots too high with too much spin do better with high kickpoint shafts. Most touring pro golfers use high kickpoint shafts. But there are some exceptions.
How to choose the correct shaft: With all these variables, finding the correct shaft is difficult – unless you get fitted with a radar-based device that measures your shaft behavior, ball spin, ball trajectory, and several swing variables. Angle of attack, face angle, and clubhead speed also come into play. Flightscope and Trackman both measure these factors extremely accurately. Flightscope is better on measuring shaft behavior.
A list of Flightscope and Trackman equipped clubfitters will be added to this site. In the mean time, Flightscope and Trackman have directories of fitters on their websites. Because keeping those lists current is difficult, look up clubfitters who are in your local area by using the internet or the good old yellow pages. Golf Digest has a list of Top 100 Clubfitters. Tom Wishon Golf and Golfworks have directories of clubfitters on their sites.