Shaft Golf Club
The shaft of a golf club is the long, tapered tube which connects the golfer’s hands to the club head. While hundreds of different designs exist, the primary purpose of the golf shaft remains the same – to provide the player with a way to generate centrifugal force in order to effectively strike the ball. When properly gripped the player can hit the ball further and more accurately, whilst applying less force. The shaft is roughly .5 inch/12 millimeters in diameter near the grip and between 35-48 inches/89–115 cm in length. Shafts weigh between 45 and 150 grams depending on the material and length. Graphite shafts are woven from carbon fiber and are generally lighter in weight than steel shafts. Graphite shafts became popular among amateurs, because lighter weight helped generate increased club-head speed. The carbon fiber also dissipated some of the stinging vibrations that were caused by poorly struck shots.
Shafts are quantified in a number of different ways. The most common is the shaft flex. Simply, the shaft flex is the amount that the shaft will bend when placed under a load. A stiffer shaft will not flex as much, which requires more power to bend and “whip” through the ball properly (which results in higher club speed at impact for more distance), while a more flexible shaft will whip with less power required for better distance on slower swings, but may torque and over-flex if swung with too much power causing the head not to be square, resulting in lower accuracy. Most shaft makers offer a variety of flexes. The most common are: L (Lady), A (Soft Regular, Intermediate or Senior), R (Regular), S (Stiff), and X (Tour Stiff, Extra Stiff or Strong). A regular flex shaft is generally appropriate for those with an average head speed (80-94 mph), while an A-Flex (or senior shaft) is for players with a slower swing speed (70-79 mph), and the stiffer shafts, such as S-Flex and X-Flex (Stiff and Extra-Stiff shafts) are reserved only for those players with an above average swinging speed, usually above 100 mph (160 km/h). Some companies also offer a “stiff-regular” or “firm” flex for players whose club speed falls in the upper range of a Regular shaft (90-100 mph), allowing golfers and clubmakers to fine-tune the flex for a stronger amateur-level player.
On off-center hits, the clubhead twists as a result of a torque, reducing accuracy as the face of the club is not square to the player’s stance at impact. In recent years, many manufacturers have produced and marketed many low-torque shafts aimed at reducing the twisting of the clubhead at impact, however these tend to be stiffer along their length as well. Most recently, many brands have introduced stiff-tip shafts. These shafts offer the same flex throughout most of the shaft, in order to attain the “whip” required to propel the ball properly, but also include a stiffer tip, which cuts back drastically on the lateral torque acting on the head.