PGA Pro Talks Golf Shafts
Since many golfers read the club reviews posted on Women’s Golf Center, I thought this would be an appropriate time to discuss different aspects of the golf shaft. In fact, many golfers don’t understand the technical aspects and performance of the golf shaft. While players continue to purchase new equipment, they fail to realize the shaft is like the engine of the club. If the shaft does not match your swing, it will not perform at the optimum level.
The weight of a golf shaft ranges from a lightweight graphite shaft around 40 grams to a heavier steel shaft around 130 grams. Lighter shafts provide the opportunity to increase swing speed. Increasing swing speed correlates to more distance, however, playing a shaft too light will ultimately lead to off center hits. The shaft weight should be an appropriate match to swing speed. Players who lack strength or swing speed will benefit by switching to a lightweight shaft. Shafts that are too heavy will not allow the golfer to generate enough speed to maximize distance and produce more off center hits. In addition, a lighter shaft promotes a higher ball flight while a heavier shaft generally produces a lower ball flight.
Torque is often a misunderstood element of the golf shaft. Torque has changed dramatically over the years. The hickory shafts used decades ago produced as much as 20 degrees of torque. Today’s clubs utilize only a few degrees of torque.
Torque can be defined as the shafts resistance to twisting in response to a specific force. The downswing force causes the shaft to twist. In addition, the extra weight in the club head causes the twisting force on the shaft. Throughout the swing, the club head rotates and must return to the proper position at impact. Since the shaft twists throughout the swing it requires an appropriate amount of torque to resist the twisting. Therefore, a low torque shaft might only have 2 degrees of torque while other shafts require a high torque shaft with as much 6 degrees.
The majority of golfers perform at their optimum level with 3 to 4 degrees of torque. An extremely fast swing requires a low level of torque. The torque in a graphite shaft is more prevalent than a steel shaft. In addition, low torque shafts are more difficult to make and more expensive than a shaft with higher torque.
The torque generally coincides with the shaft flex. Generally, a stiff or x-stiff flex shaft maintains a torque of 4 degrees or less. Shafts with a ladies, senior or regular flex are typically designed with a higher degree of torque. Players with a smooth swing can successfully hit a shaft with higher torque while a more abrupt and aggressive downswing results in the shaft twisting, requiring a lower amount of torque. Furthermore, a slower swing speed puts less twisting force on the shaft which is conducive to a higher amount of torque.
Kick point is another important factor for any club. If you push on both ends of a shaft at the same time, it would bend under the pressure. A golf shaft is tapered toward the club head, resulting in a bend closer toward the club head. Kick point correlates to ball flight and launch angle. A low kick point shaft has a flex point closer to the tip and produces a high launch angle. On the other hand, a high kick point shaft produces a lower launch angle. A mid kick point results in a mid launch. The bend in the low kick point occurs closer to the club head while the bend in a high kick point occurs closer to the middle of the shaft.
In addition to kick point, the tip stiffness impacts the launch of the golf ball. If the launch angle is too high try a stiffer tip shaft. A stiffer tip shaft will also reduce spin. On the other hand, if the launch angle is too low, use a softer tip shaft. The softer tip will increase spin rate.