Shafts have some direct affect on the trajectory of your wood shots but "feel" is what really matters. Weight, stiffness, and price are the biggest issues in shaft selection.

The classic True Temper "Dynamic" steel shaft used by most  club manufactures. Super affordable, very consistent, steel shafts that I recommend for most golfers.  Around $8 per club, installed

 

 

 

 

 

BUT if (like me) you just won't listen to common sense.... The Vista Tour 60. Positively lovely feel! Fujikura is the latest craze in very  high-performance, tightly spec'd composite shafts. The Vista Pro is their flagship model. A very high quality shaft available in ultra-light weights down to 50 grams.  For a serious golfer looking for more head speed on his/her distance clubs.  If you are willing to pay for lightweight quality, look no further. $130 per club, installed. 


And if you've really lost your mind... there's the Mitsubishi Diamana Red Board... $400 installed.    
Said to have great feel through impact, but  I've never tried it.


 

 

 

The Proforce line of lightweight, high-quality shafts is known for their consistency and is very popular among low-handicappers and wanna-be's. About $40 per club, installed

 

 

 

 

 

The True Temper Sensicore technology reduces shock transmission for golfers with joint problems, with none of the disadvantages of fiber-epoxy, and at a far more reasonable price.  A bit over $15 installed, per club 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penley has made a big name for themselves in the Long Drive competitions with their very light and very high-quality shafts, available in stiffness up to XXX.    Between $100 and $200 installed, per club

 



 

 

 

 

 

The Pro Custom, Grafalloy's more reasonably priced model. 77 grams, and good quality. About as good as you can get for under $30 installed.

GOLF CLUB SHAFTS

First, let me qualify everything I am going to say in this very long section.  Shafts are the one thing that clubmakers like me have the most control over.  So we tend to get pretty technical and picky about them, and will talk our heads off about them if you let us.


Price
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Steel shafts run from $8 to $30 installed. Fiber-and-epoxy shafts run from $20 to oh-my-god insane. Since you need 13 shafts, it is not a trivial issue, but most golfers do not need expensive shafts. Steel works just fine..

Length-
The length of your shafts probably has more immediate effect on your game than any other club specification. If you are taller or shorter than 5'10" (men's clubs) or 5'6" (ladies clubs), a ready-made set of clubs, regardless of its brand or price, is the wrong length for you. Do your game and your back a favor; bring them in and let me adjust them for you.  A quarter inch makes a difference, and a half-inch makes a big difference!

Shaft length, however, is not a simple cure-all, not even if you simply want to hit the ball further.  Longer shafts could give you shorter distance, but not necessarily.  Only the "right" shaft length will maximize your shot distance, and even then only if the shaft length is matched to the right clubhead and shaft stiffness and bend profile.

Longer shafts will almost always decrease your accuracy. The trick is to find the best combination of accuracy versus distance, to improve your overall game.

Material-
Technically, steel shafts are better shafts, for everyone, for every club.  However, fibrer-poxy composite shafts are lighter, and for some golfers, they have better feel.  In many cases, this out-weights the technical advantages of steel.  Composite shafts are lighter and can be more flexible than steel, which can be an advantage for distance clubs. On the downside, even cheaper composite shafts are considerably more expensive.

Yes, I know that composite shafts are lighter.  That does not mean they hit further.  It doesn't even mean that the clubhead speed at impact will necessarily be higher.  Sorry, but its just NOT TRUE...  shaft weight is not the main limitation on clubhead acceleration. For many people, a heavier shaft, within reasonable limits, is better.

Stiffness-
(This is going to be a long section, because so many of the common wisdoms about shaft stiffness are wrong)

While shaft length will affect your results immediately, shaft stiffness will make or break your handicap for the season.

Your shafts bend and bow during your swing,  (Why shafts bend) Common wisdom is that bendy fiber-epoxy shafts add distance.  Not true... they add trajectory height to your wood shots (but not your irons), which MAY add distance, depending on your wood's face angle and your swing speed. You'd get the same distance and a little more accuracy, using a higher lofted wood with a stiffer shaft. 

This applies only to woods, not irons. A bendy shaft will not add either distance or loft to an iron or wedge, but it may reduce consistency.

Furthermore, "stiff" is a meaningless term in golf clubs, because there is no industry-standard definition of it. Some shafts marked "S" are actually less stiff then some "R" shafts.

All that having been said, shaft stiffness is an important part of a golf club, because if it's right, it helps you swing more consistently. Stiff shafts do not have good "feel" for most people, they feel harsh and unyielding. (Actually they transmit vibration too efficiently, which is just as bad as being too mushy).  Many golfers will have the impression that a stiff shaft is "hard to swing". 

The correct amount of feel is important in maintaining a good swing, and is at least as important as any technical consideration in favor of stiff shafts. Therefore, unless you really want, above all else, the optimum accuracy from your good shots,  your shafts should matched to your ability to feel and interpret the feedback they provide.  Generally, this will depend primarily on your swing speed.  Once we determine the stiffness you like, we choose clubhead lofts to match.

Most (but not all) wood and driver heads come in a limited selection of lofts, so you may not be able to find the perfect loft to match the shaft stiffness you prefer. The selection is even worse for off-the-shelf ready-made clubs, . We can use the stiffness of the shaft to compensate for the not-quite-perfect loft, fine-tune the effective loft angle at impact, and optimize your distance.  Again, this applies only to woods, not irons.

A bigger driver clubhead such as the 400cc and larger monsters, will cause more bowing in the same shaft than a smaller one.  So will a clubhead engineered to have a center of mass further aft. Hence, these clubheads may produce more consistent hits with slightly stiffer shafts.  But the torque resistance of the shaft is also an issue...  see "tip torque" below.

If you have elbow or wrist pain, or if you mis-hit the ball a lot, you might consider softer shafts for comfort reasons, but there are other ways to reduce the shock vibrations that cause joint inflammation.

If you have a "flat" swing (perhaps because your shafts are too long?) then softer shafts will help to slightly reduce your tendency to heel the club up at impact.  But the inconsistencies of softer shafts frequently out-weight this potential advantage.

If you have a slower swing speed and pace, you will probably prefer the "feel" of softer shafts, and there is little harm in using them because shaft bowing is not as serious an issue for you.

Shaft "kick"-
You read a lot of tripe about "shaft kick" adding distance to golf hits.  It is baloney, and if a club-fitter starts telling you (before he's seen your clubs or your swing) how he is going to add 10 mph to your clubhead speed with a super-kicky shaft, go find another club-fitter. 

Shafts do "kick", but it does not add forward speed to your club head at impact or to your golf ball after impact.  It may very well add a little higher trajectory to your wood shots. Higher or lower trajectory can only add distance, if your existing shaft/loft/swing-speed combination is wrong.

"Kick" is important in your distance clubs; it has to work with your club head to give you the right trajectory.  Kick is intimately related to stiffness and feel, and thus important for allowing you to have a consistent and sensitive swing. 

See the sections on "Stiffness" and "Kick Point".

Shaft Weight-
A typical steel shaft weighs 120-130 grams ( about 3.5 ounces).  A lightweight composite shaft can be as low as 45 grams.  

First, let's get rid of one myth.  Lighter shafts do not necessarily increase your clubhead speed at impact.  I know that every $12/hour clerk at the local golf store, and quite a few national advertising campaigns, have told you that they do, but they don't. Club weight is not the main limitation on clubhead acceleration. 

In fact, if your swing is just a little better than average, a traditional "heavy" club will naturally accelerate to a higher impact speed through impact, than a modern lightweight club.  Don't believe me... try this.  Take your lightweight-shafted driver to the driving range.  Wrap an ounce or two (that's a lot!) of lead tape around your shaft about halfway down.  (DON'T put it on your clubhead!!!) Hit a bucket with it.  If your handicap is less than 20, you will be hitting noticeably longer (and quite likely straighter) than you are used to with your lightweight shaft.

Strong hitters benefit from the heavier shafts.

Having said that, it is true that some golfers, and especially women, older men, and young golfers, may benefit from lighter shafts on their distance clubs, tuned to their swing speed and pace.  For easy swingers with late but strong wrist action, lighter shaft weight is far more important than ideal clubhead face angle, but again, this only applies to distance clubs. 

Lighter shafts of acceptable consistency and torque are more expensive, and very light shafts are very expensive, so it may not be a good investment for those who take their golf less seriously.

But be careful what you wish for. Even if you are an easy swinger,  If you tend to "cast off" at the top of your swing, as most beginning golfers do, then a lighter shaft will actually cause lower swing speed.  See a good instructor to cure this problem, before you spent big money on shafts.

Most golfers will not directly benefit from lightweight shafts on their irons, although many prefer the "feel" of fiberglass. Regular weight shafts, whether steel or fiberglass, are far cheaper, and also more consistent.  And I do not mean to deny the benefits of "feel".  Everything else being equal, good feel can take several strokes off your handicap.

If you have joint problems, you could wisely choose to invest in fiber shafts on your irons.

Kick Point-
This is a measure of where along the shaft the bending and bowing induced in the shaft will be deepest. It is an inherent property of the shaft selected for your club. It is of particular importance in woods if you use a soft shaft, a long shaft, or if you have a very low handicap.  

Lower kick point is desirable on the woods for most less-skilled golfers, ladies, juniors, and seniors hitting a 10.5 degree clubhead, because it gets the ball up higher in the air to add carry, without having to go to a too-soft shaft. A "high" kick point will give you lower ball trajectory, which is desirable for big hitters or on hard terrain. Again, this applies only to woods.

Kick point should be tuned to your driver loft, and again, you may be better off just getting the right loft and using a stiffer shaft.  If  you have stiff shafts, kick point is probably not of interest for the rest of your clubs, but if you prefer softer shafts, it could affect the distance of your fairway woods. It could be worth worrying about for the mid-irons of players with very fast swing speeds, for accuracy reasons.  It is an issue in every club for good players who value a high degree of consistent accuracy.

Spine-
All metal shafts, and most composite shafts, are made from a sheet of material which is rolled into a column and then welded or glued.  The process leaves a seam along the shaft with different physical characteristics than the material itself. Better composite shafts are made from more than just one sheet of material, and the better manufacturers purposely overlap the seams to offset the seam effect..  

Some clubmakers claim that the seams are enough to make a noticeable difference in your shots. There are three ways around this possible problem.  The preferable one is simply to ignore it...at worst  it is not a serious problem and affects only the best of golfers. 

You could also get better quality shafts. Ideally you'd get "wound" composite shafts, which have no seam...they're made of a single strand of fiber, wound continuously around a form, and hence have no "seam. Wound shafts tend to be of very high quality and have matching higher prices. In the same vein, you can get multiple layer shafts, which have overlapping seams, minimizing the "spine" effect.

The other solution is to analysis the differences caused by the seam(s), and then orient the seam to the clubhead in such a way as to minimize the effect.  This patented process is called "spining." Note that this does not eliminate the problem, it just minimizes it, or so the folks who own the patent to this idea claim.

It has to be mentioned here, that "spining" has become popular on the PGA Tour in recent years.  There has been no matching reduction in average tour scores, or in fairways or greens hit, however.

Shaft Frequency-
Measuring and adjusting vibration frequency progression is an expensive process, and is not a good value for most players.

"Frequency" refers to the natural vibration speed of your shaft. Despite all the tech talk about shaft vibration frequency, the actual vibration of the shaft is irrelevant to your golf swing. (about Shaft vibration)  Your hands, wrists, and grips damp out any vibration per-se, before it has any effect.  The only direct effect related to "vibration frequency", is how quickly the shaft reacts to forces acting on it.

Frequency in clubfitting is just a way of measuring stiffness, and also of the time it takes for your shaft to respond to bending and bowing forces. Your shorter shafts will always have higher frequencies, be stiffer and respond more quickly then the shafts in the longer clubs. The issue for very good golfers, is whether the stiffness and response times change consistently through your set. We call this "shaft frequency progression". Measuring shaft frequencies can allow your clubfitter to achieve maximum consistency between your clubs

If you must use softer shafts for comfort, or if you choose to because you like the "feel", then frequency progression may be an issue -but a minor one- for you. If you take your golf seriously,  have a moderate to fast swing speed, and use very soft shafts, it may be a worthwhile for you to have shafts that are "frequency matched".  Its expensive. 

Also, if you are good enough to hit a long push-draw with every fairway club in your bag, then the forces induced in your club will bow the center of the shafts of your longer clubs more than an inch outward, even with stiff shafts.  This affects your lie angle at impact, and to a small degree your loft angle and ability to hit the sweet spot.  This is obviously an accuracy issue for a good player. You want this to change consistently and predictably through your set, and so may need to pay attention to "shaft frequency progression". However, this is still a minor issue, only worthwhile for very good golfers seeking to shave a fraction of a stroke per game and willing to pay a good deal for it.

Torque-
This is a measure of the tendency for your club shaft to twist due to the rapid 90-degree turning of the clubhead during the last third of your downswing. Frankly, your clubs' grips and even the skin on your hands, allow more torque than any shaft of reasonable quality, so most golfers need not worry about it.  

Overall shaft torque in golf has nothing to do with any presumed tendency for the clubhead to twist upon impact with the golf ball. Its really an indirect way of measuring the stiffness of the shaft.

The tip of your shaft can twist during an off-center hit, but the amount of overall shaft torque resistance has no significant effect on the twisting of your club during an off-center impact.  Twisting forces can only travel at the speed of sound, and the ball is already gone by the time these forces travel more than 8 inches up your shaft. (But see "Tip Torque" below)

Excessive torque can obviously cause a slice, but it can also cause a hook. It may be of importance to near-scratch golfers with abrupt pace through the last half of their downswing, or with very strong swing speeds. This is not an issue with steel shafts, or with good quality fiber-epoxy shafts. It is probably not an issue of importance for mid to high handicappers using reasonable quality shafts. 

Very cheap fiberglass shafts, like what was on that $30 driver at your local discount warehouse, or what comes on that $146 "complete golf set" someone gave you for Christmas, probably have excessive torque ( I have seen almost 15 degrees on some of these!!!) , and should be replaced.

Tip Torque-
In the past two years there has been some industry talk about the twisting induced in the tip of the shaft by off-center impacts, especially if you use one of the big-head drivers currently in vogue. Tip torque is not an issue if you hit the sweet spot, but most of us don't. Whether or not stiff tips are of benefit and value to the average golfer remains to be seen.

Specially designed low-tip-torque shafts are now available for the big heads. A few shaft makers offer shafts marketed as resisting this tip twisting better than other light-weight shafts, intended specifically for big-head drivers.. They are quite expensive and should only be use on heads specifically designed for them.. Some other designers have gone to bigger hosel diameters in their driver designs, which of course then allow special bigger diameter shafts that can be engineered to resist tip torque

A Caveat: Drivers and fairway woods have carefully engineered face shapes ("bulge and roll"), designed to compensate for the twisting effects of off-center hits. The face shape anticipates a certain amount of twisting by the clubhead during an off-center hit, and therefore  twisting of the tip of the shaft. So it is not necessarily good to add a low-tip-torque shaft to a clubhead that is not designed for it.