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Discover Why The Golf Shaft Is So Important

Why the Golf Shaft is Important: How Your Game Can Benefit From Understanding The Principles of Construction, Weight and Flex. How do you view the golf shaft? Do you see...

Why the Golf Shaft is Important: How Your Game Can Benefit From Understanding The Principles of Construction, Weight and Flex.

How do you view the golf shaft?

Do you see it as the “engine of the golf club” as some people think of it?

Is it merely the device that attaches the grip to the head?

Do you even go to the lengths of choosing a shaft based on what colour it is.

However you view shafts, the role they play in helping your game can’t be overlooked.

Having the correct shaft can not only add distance but also help with shot dispersion - two critical areas that contribute to lower scores.

So in this article, we want to give you some insight into all things related to the shaft.

We’ll talk you through:

  • How a steel shaft is constructed
  • The build process for a graphite shaft
  • Understanding the effects of shaft weight in your swing
  • The key points of shaft flex

Multicoloured Golf Shafts Lying on Green

How a steel shaft is constructed

Steel shafts have been fitted in golf clubs since the 1920s and for many decades, were the principal choice for every club in the bag.

With the introduction of graphite shafts in the late 1970s, steel was gradually phased out in drivers and fairway woods to a point where today they simply aren’t offered.

But steel is still the material of choice in iron sets for both professionals and amateurs alike.

The most common types of steel used are carbon steel or stainless steel and the process of building a steel shaft can start in two ways with either:

  • A raw steel cylinder
  • A sheet of steel

If we take the sheet of steel as the first example it is shaped and stretched through a series of dyes before being welded in a tube.

These tubes are stretched and thinned further to form the correct diameters for a golf shaft and then cut accordingly.

Steps are made at various points in the shaft to give it specific playing characteristics.

This process is how Nippon creates its shafts.

Other manufacturers who start with a cylinder will go through the same process of stretching and thinning to create the correct dimensions of a golf shaft.

The finished shafts are then tested to ensure they are the correct weight and flex.

Cut off End of Golf Shafts on Grey Background


Steel shafts come in two distinct forms - stepped and stepless.

The best example of a stepped shaft would be something something like True Temper’s Dynamic Gold or Nippon Modus.

For some, stepped shafts offer more accuracy in the manufacturing process plus the steps are used as a point of reference to stiffen the tip or butt.

For stepless shafts, the best examples would be the Project X shaft also from True Temper.

The argument for stepless shafts is they maintain energy and accuracy more efficiently by not having steps.

Flex can also be determined more accurately compared to stepped shafts.

True Temper who also makes the Project X LZ shaft has also created variable wall thickness.

Variable weight thickness means that the butt and tip sections of the shaft have thicker walls internally to offset a thinner wall structure in the middle of the shaft.

This thinner middle section gives the feeling of more kick in the shaft without sacrificing its stability.

The build process for a graphite shaft

For starters, using the term graphite isn’t 100% accurate for today’s shafts - carbon composite is more apt and better reflects what goes into the shaft.

The starting point in the production process is a worksheet that gives details to the technician who will build the shaft.

The worksheet will contain information such as:

  • What type of shaft is to be made
  • Materials to use
  • The weight of the shaft
  • Stiffness of the shaft

From there, the technician will start to apply what’s known as flags or plies around a steel mandrel.

A steel mandrel looks similar to a steel shaft providing the framework to build the shaft on.

The flags/plies are sheets of carbon composite infused with resin.

The technician will apply these sheets to the mandrel by hand and then add smaller sections to either the butt or tip end of the shaft depending on the build requirements.

A shaft can have anything from 5 flags/plies to over 20 depending on the type of shaft that is being built.

From there, the shaft is rolled to get air bubbles out and then treated in an oven to bond the layers together.

Once this has been done, the shafts are left to cool down and the steel mandrel is removed.

Now, the manufacturer has a basic carbon graphite shaft that needs to be tested to ensure it matches up to the original specification sheet.

Tests will include:

  • Correct weight
  • Flex testing
  • Durability testing

Once the shaft has completed these tests successfully it will go for final treatment of painting and the relevant decals applied to the shaft.

Golf Ball on Tee with Golf Iron and Red Shaft Behind

Understanding the effects of shaft weight in your swing

Carbon-composite shafts by rule will be lighter than their steel counterparts.

If we take for example driver shafts these can weigh anywhere between 50 and 90 grams.

Lighter shafts will help produce more club head speed but could come at the cost of consistent ball striking and shot dispersion.

Technology is starting to tackle this particular problem.

The hugely successful Fujikura Ventus TR shafts with Velocore technology are designed to be incredibly stable to aid more consistent strikes and reduce shot dispersion in weights that are as low as 56 grams.

Steel shafts come in slightly heavier weighing anywhere between 95 grams and 130 grams.

Steel traditionally provides more stability and tighter shot dispersion which is why they are still widely used in irons where accuracy is of major importance.

Whether a shaft is made of carbon graphite or steel the general rule is that the heavier shafts will favour faster swingers.

The opposite would be true with lighter shafts that will help generate more club head speed for slower swing speeds.

Man Pulling A Golf Club Out of Golf Bag

The key points of shaft flex

Shaft flex can also relate to the overall stiffness of the shaft.

Heavier shafts will be stiffer than lighter shafts.

As an example, if you are a golfer with modest swing speed under 95mph a lighter shaft in regular flex might help you.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are swinging consistently anywhere around 110mph a heavier shaft in extra-stiff might be desirable.

Shafts can also be tipped which can add stiffness and stability to the tip of the shaft and can be done for both carbon graphite and steel shafts.

Tipping can also help dial in desired launch and spin characteristics in ball flight.

When you are going through a custom fitting process it is important to understand how much club head speed is consistently generated to fit the correct stiffness and weight of shaft.

As with any component in a modern golf club, the level of research and materials used to construct golf shafts are of the highest quality.

Understanding the correlation between shaft weight and stiffness will help you understand which shaft profile is best for you.

With our years of experience in club fitting at Nine by Nine Golf, we can help you make the correct decisions on which shaft is best suited for your game.

We can customise the shafts you need for your game by either coming in for a fitting session or alternatively, through the extensive tailoring options available on our website.

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