The Best Golf Shafts for Your Game
Hitting longer, straighter shots should be the goal of every golfer. And while many people spend countless hours researching the clubs they should buy next, it’s common to overlook the “engine” of those clubs: the shaft. A club’s shaft is absolutely critical to performance and playing with the right one can greatly impact your game for the better. Shafts come in lots of materials (steel, graphite, multi-material combinations, etc.), weights and stiffnesses (or flexes), and the best shaft is usually one that’s tailored to a player’s swing speed and tempo. With a properly fitted shaft, energy is stored during the swing and released into the ball through the clubhead at impact, allowing you to hit the ball both farther and straighter.
Common shaft characteristics to take note of include flexpoint (the area of the shaft that bends the most, which will influence ball flight), torque (the relative amount of a shaft’s twisting during the swing) and weight. The number of available combinations is nearly limitless, which is why it’s important to work with a reputable, knowledgeable clubfitter
who can guide you through the process.
There are a few hard and fast rules when it comes to golf shafts. Typically, heavier, stiffer shafts will benefit stronger swingers (fast, aggressive tempo), while lighter, more flexible shafts are better suited for slower swingers with smooth tempos. Low-flexpoint shafts produce shots that fly higher, while models with a high flexpoint generally result in a lower ball flight. A club’s relative tip stiffness can also affect shot trajectory and feel. The shaft of the longest club in the bag (driver) typically weighs the least, while the shortest shaft (wedge) is the heaviest.
Here are some of the top shafts on the market today. Read up on them, narrow down the field and then book an appointment with a Golf Galaxy fitter to find the one that will work best for you.
Players with fast swing speeds and tempos often hit shots that fly too high and spin too much. The Smoke Black has a singular purpose: To produce low-flying, low-spinning shots. Not sure if your tempo is fast? It is if you have a comparatively quick backswing and aggressive transition to the downswing. By contrast, golfers with a slower tempo make a smoother transition.
Both the middle section and tip section of Smoke Black are stiffer than in many other wood shafts. Plus, the diameter of the shaft under the grip (butt) doesn’t taper, for added stiffness, all of which contribute to a stout product that holds up to powerful swings. By repositioning materials, the company created a smoother, less-rigid feel than in its predecessor, HZRDUS Black. The Smoke Black comes in a range of weights (59 to 70 grams), flex options (Regular 5.5, Stiff 6.0, Extra Stiff 6.5) and torques (4.0°, 3.5°).
While the HZRDUS line is for aggressive swingers, the EvenFlow series is engineered for players with smooth swing tempos. The EvenFlow Blue (mid-launch/mid-spin) is the workhorse model and fits the widest group of players. It’s more flexible throughout the shaft than the HZRDUS models, which makes it easier for the target audience to hit shots on a nice trajectory. The design—shaft diameter with a constant taper from the butt (widest part) to the tip—also provides a smooth feel for those golfers who don’t easily “load” the shaft (bend in the midsection) when starting the downswing. The EvenFlow Blue 55 (55 to 59 grams) comes in three flexes: Senior (5.0), Regular (5.5) or Stiff (6.0), while EvenFlow Blue 65 (65 to 69 grams) is available in Regular (5.5), Stiff (6.0) or Extra Stiff (6.5).
Many shaft makers buy materials from outside vendors. Mitsubishi, however, develops its own resins, carbon fibers and prepreg (fibers impregnated with resin and then molded into sheets). With total control of the manufacturing process, the company developed the Tensei CK Series using 11 prepreg materials, including a Carbon Fiber/DuPont™ Kevlar® (CK) weave in the grip (butt) end. This strong, stiff material boosts feel, feedback and stability during the swing. The prepreg also has a low-resin content, which means there’s comparatively more carbon fiber in it. The CK Blue, a mid-launch, mid-spin product for a broad range of golfers, comes in several flex options (Ladies, Senior, Regular, Stiff or Extra Stiff) and weights (50 to 78 grams).
An easy-to-follow color-code system (Red, Blue and White) is used to classify ball flight in the Diamana line. Models identified as “Red” have the softest tip section and produce the highest-flying shots, the “Blue” delivers mid-flight, while the “White” shafts generate low-flying shots. (Pro tip: Look for the oval background color behind the word “Diamana.”) The venerable Diamana D+ falls under the White category, making it an ideal match for golfers who prefer a stiff, strong tip section. High-modulus carbon fiber delivers a stable impact feel and tight shot dispersion, so players can have the confidence to swing away without holding back. The low-spin shaft comes in three flexes (Regular, Stiff or Extra Stiff) in weights from 64 to 67 grams.
Re-engineered using higher-quality materials, the Vista Pro is more stable and feels smoother than the previous model, but with similar launch and spin characteristics. The shaft has a higher percentage of carbon fiber and relatively less resin, which adds stiffness, strength and feedback, and the new butt section is softer than before to improve energy transfer, while the stiffer midsection adds stability. The previous tip section had small carbon-fiber pieces, which have been replaced by full-length materials that enhance control and feel. An array of weight (48 to 75 grams) and flex options (Ladies to Extra Stiff) make it easy to find one that suits you. The lighter-weight models produce higher launch and more spin while the heavier ones deliver mid-launch shots with moderate spin.
Historically, graphite iron shafts have been considered less consistent, and less stable, than steel because graphite shafts weren’t as symmetrical and changed shape (from circular to oval) with each swing in an inconsistent manner. The net effect was more variation in shot dispersion and carry distance. With the Catalyst, players can expect the positive attributes of graphite—light weight, buttery feel and medicinal (dampening) properties—without the drawbacks. The shaft plays more like steel because of a material technology called Iso-6. A strong, stable tip section means off-center hits should be more playable. The Project X Catalyst comes in a range of weights (57 to 100 grams) and flexes: Senior (4.0), Regular (5.0), Regular+ (5.5), Stiff (6.0) or Extra Stiff (6.5).
If you look at photos or slow-motion videos of a golf shaft during the swing, you can see how the shaft bends and springs back at impact, an effect that generates energy into the ball. The aptly named Recoil graphite shaft claims to snap back faster than steel. Potential payoffs can be better ball speeds and distance, tighter accuracy due to more stability and softer feel (no harsh vibrations into the hands or arms). A thin viscoelastic material—the same material used in airplane cabins to dampen vibration and noise—is incorporated into the carbon fiber to absorb additional shock. This feature should appeal to higher handicappers who have a higher percentage of misses and therefore experience more jolts from their clubs’ shafts. The mid-high launch shaft is available in choice of three flexes (Senior, Regular, Stiff) in 67 to 87 grams.
Golfers with moderate to fast swing speeds can benefit from the KBS Tour 90 lightweight steel shaft. From the butt (grip end) to the tip, every section of the shaft is engineered to get softer by the same amount as the corresponding segment above it. The idea is that the shaft can “load and unload” (bend and snap back) efficiently so more energy gets transferred to the ball. The KBS Tour 90 also has a relatively stable tip section to control dispersion—in fact, it has the same design geometry as KBS Tour, a beloved model played on the PGA TOUR. The Tour 90 has thinner walls (weighs less), bends more and produces a higher flight and more spin. The shaft comes in Regular or Stiff flex in 95 to 102 grams.
True Temper’s Dynamic Gold has been the gold standard in iron shafts for decades. Engineered for low-launching, low-spinning shots, the 130-gram offering fits stronger players, including the world’s best golfers. By contrast, the Elevate 95 is a lightweight, 95-gram steel shaft for players with a more deliberate tempo (slower backswing and smooth transition). The Elevate 95 is built to produce high-launching, high-spinning shots for the golfer who needs a little assistance getting the ball airborne. As its name implies, the goal is for shots to come down on a steeper angle and land more softly on greens. In addition, a proprietary vibration-dampening insert inside the shaft softens impact feel so the hands won’t sting on mis-hits. The shaft comes in Regular or Stiff flex.