When is it Time to Change to a Lighter or Softer Golf Shaft
The “softness” or “bow” of a golf shaft is generally dictated by club head speed generated through impact, and the relative stiffness of the shaft. Going lighter with graphite golf shafts should help most every golfer at any age who wants more distance. A lighter graphite golf shaft will enable you to swing smooth to hit it straight; and get maximum distance. If you are on the stronger side and have a fast swing speed, there are long hitters like you who will sacrifice some distance for more control by using a little heavier golf shaft, especially in hybrids.
The “softness” or “bow” of the golf shaft is generally dictated by club head speed generated through impact and the relative stiffness of the shaft; but there are other things to consider such as swing tempo and technique when choosing the right golf shaft for you. A fast back swing with a quick change of direction can add extra shaft bend; but then timing becomes more difficult to square the clubface at impact. The kick point built into graphite shafts and even the spine direction (which is a subject we’ll talk about in the future) are other dynamics to factor in when selecting the right graphite golf shaft for your swing.
Is Pride Getting in Your Way?
Most of my golfing life I took some pride in using a golf shaft flex that was stiffer than the average standard flex for men. I also took some pride in being a longer hitter than the average male golfer. However, my pride was also affected when I had to start using a longer club to reach my former length. Part of the reason was because I was growing older, and couldn’t twist as much or generate as much club head speed as in my younger years. Another factor was that I playing less, which not only affected my golf skill level but also my overall physical strength--because the only other exercise I get is jumping to conclusions. Heck, sometimes I don't even exercise my right to vote!
But getting back to the point, switching to lighter and more flexible graphite golf shafts helped me to perform at the higher levels; and to which I believed others expected to see from someone who goes by the moniker “Joe the Pro”.
Test Different Golf Shafts, One’s Right for You!
Over the years I have experimented with different golf shaft flexes more than most amateur golfers for the simple reason that I would sometimes, during a lesson, hit demonstration shots with my pupils' clubs. Standard ladies clubs give me the feeling of being stronger but it is harder to square the clubface when the golf shaft is too flexible. For me, to hit a shot with a soft shaft I have to slow down my swing; and give up distance.
I recently borrowed a set of clubs while traveling during a family reunion. Because of my interest in graphite shafts I decided to check out the equipment and golf shafts in the rest of our threesome. (Note to Darrell Survey: I am available to work the PGA Tour!) I found that everyone in our group was playing Aldila graphite 55 gram (light) golf shafts. I was surprised to see that they were all stiff flex because of being so light but the combination worked well that day.
As a note: I have played the last several years with the same 55 gram shaft weight but with a senior flex, which purchased second-hand from a tall lady (club champ). I was told that it was tipped (meaning that extra length was taken from the small end rather than the large to make it play a little firmer). This probably changed the kick point a little too. The point is, finding the right graphite golf shaft for you may take some experimenting and tweaking of different combinations.
So when is it time to switch golf shafts? The answer is whenever your situation has changed through age, regularity of play, or physical condition. This should happen several times throughout your golf life as your time constraints and physical shape evolves. When you are growing and improving, you’ll want to explore more stiffness and weight in your golf shaft. When you are slowing your golf development, you’ll want to explore less stiff and lighter shafts.
The good news is graphite golf shaft manufacturing has evolved dramatically through technological advancements over the years. Today, you can find the perfect shaft for each club in your bag if you just invest a little time with your local club fitter. My Advice: Find a reputable club fitter, instructor and fitness trainer in your area if you are serious about having the best fit golf equipment for you.
Aldila’s golf blog is dedicated to bringing you information, news and entertainment about golf and to helping all of us get more enjoyment from the game through golf technology and equipment innovation. Joe CoWhick is a former PGA Head Professional and the founder of Joe CoWhick Golf Innovations, which is dedicated to teaching and improving play in golf. Joe has been part of various PGA sections, including; Iowa, Illinois, Gateway and Metropolitan NY; and he’s given more than 25,000 video lessons in 10 seasons at the world-famous Richard Metz Golf Studio. You can find out more at: http://www.joecowhickgolf.com.
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