Graphite vs Steel Shaft: Which is Better?

For most golfers, deciding a winner in the battle of graphite vs. steel shafts can become overwhelming.

Players must consider how each shaft will benefit their game when evaluating the benefit of graphite shafts and their steel counterparts.

graphite vs steel shaft

While we all play with graphite shafts in our drivers and fairway woods, deciding what to play with our iron shafts can mean the difference between adding game-changing distance and spin from the short grass leading into the green.

In this article, I’ll break down the graphite vs steel shaft debate by offering you the benefits of each type of shaft and how you can make the right choice without needing an expensive club fitting.

Does shaft material make a difference with clubhead speed?

We all know that more club head speed means more distance and a great way to produce that velocity comes with playing a graphite shaft.

Graphite golf shafts offer a lighter weight when compared to the steel most golfers play with their irons.

By removing the heavier weights associated with steel iron shafts, golfers can produce a faster swing speed that translates to more distance when hitting the golf ball.

However, most experience golfers that have high-speed swings need the workability and sophistication a steel shaft provides. For these players, steel shafts in irons, hybrids, and driving irons add more control and feel to their game.

They aren’t trying to hit the ball as far as they can, like with inexperienced players. Instead, they are looking for reliable distance numbers that help them craft shots on the course.

Are steel shafts easier to hit than graphite?

No, steel shafts are not easier to hit than graphite for amateur golfers.

Playing with a graphite shaft offers a lighter overall weight, helping golfers generate more swinging speed when hitting the golf ball. Graphite shafts also provide a smoother feel when swinging, and that helps high handicappers get more confidence as they begin to improve their game.

Steel shafts benefit experienced players with features such as better distance control and more spin. When deciding between steel or graphite shafts, the graphite alternative is easier for most weekend warriors to hit.

Do pro players use steel or graphite shafts?

For PGA Tour players, steel shafts in their irons, driving irons, and utility woods offer a variety of benefits on the golf course.

While all pros use graphite shafts in their drivers and fairway woods, the golf shaft made from steel offers more feel, control, and better spin in some instances.

A few exceptions exist for professional golfers that use graphite across all clubs in their bag, including graphite iron shafts.

Bryson DeChambeau and Abraham Ancer both played graphite shafts in recent tournaments, as the golfers prefer the speed that modern graphite shafts provide to their game.

Multi-material shafts, made from a mixture of steel and graphite, offer the best of both worlds for highly skilled golfers as they deliver a lighter weight with the stability of steel golf shafts.

Do steel shafts hit further than graphite?

No, typically, graphite shafts generate more distance than their steel counterparts. The additional speed generated by graphite shafts remains one of the biggest reasons all our drivers and fairway woods carry these types of shafts.

If you carry a fast swing speed, steel shafts offer a variety of benefits over simply just adding distance. Such features as a better feel, mid-ball flight, and a low, penetrating shot shape are all due to the steel shaft.

Since beginners and higher handicap players struggle to produce distance, they need lightweight graphite shafts to manufacture a faster swing speed.

Should I switch from steel to graphite shafts?

Switching from steel to graphite shafts in their irons for high handicap golfers can provide more distance and better overall shot quality.

Since steel shafts tend to weigh more, the switch to lighter shafts can help high handicappers find a high-ball flight that accompanies the improved club head speed for more carry and overall distance.

If you are looking for the best of both worlds, multi-material shafts offer the strength of steel shafts with a lighter weight commonly associated with graphite composite shafts.

Does shaft flex matter with graphite and steel shafts?

Yes, when deciding what type of material to play, you must choose the proper shaft flex that works best for your swinging speed, regardless of the type of shaft you’re playing on the links.

Playing a flex rating that is too soft or stiff can make it difficult to return the golf club to the square position at impact. Golf club manufacturers have created a chart for players to match their swinging driver speed with the correct flex rating to play.

If your driver club head speed reaches over 105 mph, you should play an x-stiff shaft. Between 97-104 mph demands a stiff shaft. Amateurs that carry a driver swinging speed between 84-96 mph need a regular flex shaft.

Senior flex goes to golfers with a 72-83 mph swinging driver speed. A ladies flex covers any driver speed below 72 mph.

Final Thoughts

Graphite and steel shafts offer many advantages to your game, and it’s the biggest reason why so many golfers mix and match their shaft material to get the correct shaft for each club.

If you struggle to generate the swing speed you want with your irons, a new set of graphite shafts can help you obtain faster swing speeds.

Playing with graphite shafts in your golf clubs can increase distance, improve accuracy, and enhance overall golfing enjoyment, especially if you are a senior, junior, or women golfer.

If you have gained some experience in recent years and have started to see that handicap begin to drop, moving from graphite to steel in your irons can improve feel, increase spin control, and lower flight to add more workability to your game.

However you choose, whether steel or graphite shafts, finding the shaft that optimizes your golf club should always be your ultimate goal.