Here’s The Best Driver Shafts You Can Buy (2020 Guide)

Jordan FullerEdited by: Jordan Fuller
John MarshallReviewed by: John Marshall

Last Update:

Did you know that the speed and accuracy of your swing largely depends on the flex of your shaft?

Indeed, it is crucial for today’s golfer to ensure that his driver shaft is properly matched to his desired swing speed, flexibility, and accuracy.

It’s easy to just leave the stock shaft in your driver, but you could be leaving yards on the table and sacrificing performance by doing so.

Whether you go to your favorite local store or an online shop, the number of distinctive driver shafts available for purchase is mind-boggling.

We’ve got you covered: in this article, we’ll show you the best driver shafts in 2020.

Sources researched
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Sources researched
Customer reviews
19,470
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
20
Hours spent testing
Products tested
10
Products tested
Thumbnail
Best For Most Golfers
MATRIX New HD Radix 5 White Senior Flex Driver/Fairway Shaft
Best To Upgrade Old Drivers
Fujikura Vista Pro 60 Shaft For Taylormade M1/ M2/ R15 Drivers Regular
Best For Irons
dynamic gold True Temper Shaft - .355 Taper Tip - Choose Flex and Length
Pro 1
Nice length and consistency
Ideal to upgrade older TaylorMade drivers
Exceptional feel and response
Pro 2
Solid feel & response on swings
Create distance & boosts swing speed
Easy to customize
Our Rating
Our Ranking: 94 / 100
Our Ranking: 93 / 100
Our Ranking: 93 / 100
Best For Most Golfers
Thumbnail
MATRIX New HD Radix 5 White Senior Flex Driver/Fairway Shaft
Pro 1
Nice length and consistency
Pro 2
Solid feel & response on swings
Our Rating
Our Ranking: 94 / 100
Best To Upgrade Old Drivers
Thumbnail
Fujikura Vista Pro 60 Shaft For Taylormade M1/ M2/ R15 Drivers Regular
Pro 1
Ideal to upgrade older TaylorMade drivers
Pro 2
Create distance & boosts swing speed
Our Rating
Our Ranking: 93 / 100
Best For Irons
Thumbnail
dynamic gold True Temper Shaft - .355 Taper Tip - Choose Flex and Length
Pro 1
Exceptional feel and response
Pro 2
Easy to customize
Our Rating
Our Ranking: 93 / 100

Last updated on 2020-04-01. The links are affiliate links. Product images are served from Amazon Product Advertising API.

10 Best Driver Shafts

Matrix HD Radix 5 White Shaft

Versatile shaft for mid handicappers

MATRIX New HD Radix 5 White Senior Flex Driver/Fairway Shaft
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Overall grade94%
Speed94%
Feel96%
Consistency94%
Response94%
Distance93%

PROS

  • Incredibly tough shaft that is affordable with nice length and consistency
  • Very solid feel and response throughout the swing, especially at impact
  • Promotes a high launch angle for tall ball flight with soft landing, great for fairway woods
  • Better shaft than most stock options provided by equipment manufacturers

CONS

  • Little long at 46 inches, will need help cutting it down for shorter or junior golfers
  • The high launch angle may be too much for low handicappers wanting more control

The Matrix HD Radix 5 White shaft is an understated, tough shaft that delivers very solid feel in a package that will have you excited by the distance that it provides on a consistent basis. The 46” shaft comes ready to modify and the golfer will be pleasantly surprised when they find out that the White shaft is easy to customize for any driver.

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When testing the Matrix HD Radix 5 White shaft we were quite taken with its durability and rock-solid response. This is a shaft that you can really let fly with you swing. Whether you want to stay poised on the tee or if you prefer the grip it and rip it approach, the Matrix shaft won’t put a dent in your wallet and is versatile enough to be considered for your hybrids and fairway woods as well.

The shaft delivers a high launch, high spin shot that works well for the golfer that just needs that small bump in distance to keep their game at a premium point. Yes, the high spin aspect of the shaft may be off-putting for some low handicappers that like a lower flight and more control, but for the inexperienced golfer, this shaft can allow you let go and reach for more distance and exciting play off the tee box.

Fujikura Vista Pro 60 Shaft

Great Shaft for Upgrading Older TaylorMade Drivers

Fujikura Vista Pro 60 Shaft For Taylormade M1/ M2/ R15 Drivers Regular
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Overall grade95%
Speed97%
Feel95%
Consistency94%
Response93%
Distance96%

PROS

  • Ideal for upgrading older TaylorMade drivers that have lost their snap and need more distance
  • Cut to standard length, the shaft is ready to go immediately from the box
  • Creates distance with ease as the shaft boosts swing speed several MPH
  • Restores consistency with terrific launch angle

CONS

  • Primarily focused on working with TaylorMade drivers, the shaft might not be a great solution for revamping other brand drivers
  • The 45-inch shaft will need to be customized if you are looking to play a shorter driver

The Fujikura Vista Pro 60 shaft comes from a renowned company that has built a reputation on delivering quality shaft for all types of drivers, although this one is specifically to upgrade your favorite TaylorMade model. The graphite shaft comes with the company’s patented rigid “cage” structure, building power with the thin walls that provide the feel of a heavier shaft without the burden of extra weight.

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As a result, the Fujikura shaft creates exceptional distance with simplicity, allowing the golfer to focus solely on generating maximum club head speed. The shaft also is well adept at providing trustworthy response for more confidence, encouraging you to reach deeper for more strength and speed off the tee.

Wonderfully stable throughout the swing, the Fujikura Vista Pro 60 shaft does come equipped to adhere immediately to revitalize your favorite older TaylorMade model, but that doesn’t mean that it can be used in combination with other driver heads.

If you are curious if the shaft is right for your non-TaylorMade driver, the company has provided plenty of statistical data to show that the Vista Pro shaft promotes a mid-to-high launch with reliable flight and lower spin that works well in with most name-brand drivers.

Dynamic Gold True Temper Shaft

Best Steel Shaft for Irons

dynamic gold True Temper Shaft - .355 Taper Tip - Choose Flex and Length
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Overall grade93%
Speed94%
Feel95%
Consistency94%
Response93%
Distance94%

PROS

  • Features Variable Wall Technology that promotes exceptional feel and response
  • Wonderfully consistent with strong flexibility for better compression at impact
  • Very easy to customize from the box, with a few slight adjustments, the shafts play perfect
  • Multiple options for each iron, featuring different weighting for heavier feel

CONS

  • Grips are not included with any of the True Temper shafts, so plan accordingly
  • Very affordable steel shafts, great for high and mid handicappers, but experienced golfers may want a better shaft for their irons

If you are interested in finding dependable steel shafts for your irons, then the good people at True Temper have a solidly built shaft to upgrade your aging iron set with the Dynamic Gold True Temper shaft series. One of the most dependable shafts on the market, the True Temper series is a balanced shaft that promotes low flight for a steady and controlled finish for your iron play.

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The company touts the Dynamic Gold series as their most successful in True Temper history as the shafts are preferred by professional golfers who want a heavyweight shaft for their irons. Highlighted by the low flight trajectory and enhanced spin control, the Dynamic Gold shafts are very consistent.

During our testing the True Temper shafts were well received by our testers as raved about the shaft’s stability throughout the swing, especially at impact, where the response was routinely met with delight.

Just a fair warning in that the shafts come alone and without grips, so you’ll want to plan ahead to complete your upgrade if you choose the True Temper. Our pick for the best steel shafts on this list, the True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts are an absolute winner that provide reliability to golfers of all skill levels.

Aldila NVS 55 Shaft

Distance Promoting Shaft for Senior Golfers

Aldila NVS 55 Stiff Shaft + Ping G25 / i25 / Anser Driver Tip + Grip
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Overall grade95%
Speed96%
Feel94%
Consistency94%
Response93%
Distance96%

PROS

  • Moderately weighted shaft is great for slow swingers looking to generate more club speed
  • Mid-level shot height allows golfer to keep the ball from going too high off the tee box
  • Softer flex shaft can create terrific distance in combination with trusted driver head
  • Comes in 46-inch edition, allowing plenty of room for modification

CONS

  • For golfers wanting a more durable and stronger shaft to reinforce harder swings, this shaft may be a bit too soft
  • With the shaft coming in a 46-inch model, there will be necessary modifications

The Aldila NVS 55 Shaft is a moderately weighted graphite shaft that is a terrific option for upgrading your driver if you are a slower swinger that is hoping to generate far more club head speed off the tee. With a mid-range shot height after impact, the Aldila NVS 55 provides the golfer with control, while coming in a very accessible package that promotes the distance high handicappers are seeking.

The Aldila NVS 55 Shaft is a moderately weighted graphite shaft that is a terrific option for upgrading your driver if you are a slower swinger that is hoping to generate far more club head speed off the tee. With a mid-range shot height after impact, the Aldila NVS 55 provides the golfer with control, while coming in a very accessible package that promotes the distance high handicappers are seeking.

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Featuring the quality you’d expect from Aldila, the NVS 55 Orange shaft has a tapered look to give the golfer a consistent feel and performance, whether you are on the range or hitting the links and looking to shorten the course. We didn’t notice any dead areas on the shaft or inconsistency during our testing and were quite pleased with how the driver responded after repeated use.

If we have a minor complaint about the Aldila shaft, we noted that if you are looking for a more solid shaft that allows for stronger, higher speed swings, then the finesse of the NVS shaft may leave a bit to be desired. But that small gripe aside, the Aldila NVS 55 shaft is one outstanding upgrade to your driver that guarantees more distance and consistency.

Accra New Tour Z 85 Driver Shaft

Most Consistent Shaft for Mid Handicappers

Accra New Tour Z 85 Counter Balanced CB Driver Shaft + Adapter & Grip (Stiff) (Ping G30, G, G400)
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Overall grade96%
Speed96%
Feel94%
Consistency98%
Response96%
Distance96%

PROS

  • Promotes low spin for consistent ball flight with forgiveness to create dependable shot shape on each swing
  • Lightweight shaft provides exceptional swing speed, great upgrade shaft if you need more length off tee
  • Sleek black and silver finish is a head turner that delivers confidence and stability
  • Very affordable shaft that includes a high-quality grip installed for delivery

CONS

  • The lower spin aspect of the shaft, also means the ball doesn’t fly as high as other moderately-priced shafts
  • May be too light at 55 grams for heavier hitters that like more weight to their driver shafts

The Accra New Tour Z 85 shaft is a low spin shaft that comes with an adapter that makes it an easy plug-and-play shaft for a wide swath of drivers. Not a well known shaft company among amateurs, the Accra is one of the best-kept secrets for professional golfers as their products provide the player with lightweight shafts that provide exceptional distance and stability.

The Accra New Tour Z 85 Shaft is a low spin shaft that comes with an adapter that makes it an easy plug-and-play shaft for a wide swath of drivers. Not a well known shaft company among amateurs, the Accra is one of the best-kept secrets for professional golfers as their products provide the player with lightweight shafts that provide exceptional distance and stability.

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The New Tour shaft is one sleek machine that promotes repeatable low-range shot height for better control in your favorite driver or fairway wood collection. The shaft is very long from the tee or fairway and you will sacrifice a spot of forgiveness and accuracy in the process, but that’s a small price to pay for the increase in length your game will experience.

The shaft’s high kick point and low torque delivers that low rising shot shape that is popular among professional golfers as it cuts through wind and fights against the elements.

Golfers who want higher launch and softer landing with their driver or fairway wood, might be a bit disappointed with the lower flight provided by the Accra shaft. That aside, the New Tour Z 85 is one lengthy shaft that promotes that club head speed that creates unreal distance.

UST Proforce V2 HL Golf Shaft

Great Shaft for Beginning Golfers

UST New 2018 Proforce V2 HL (HIGH Launch) Golf Shaft (Choose Weight and Flex) (50g High Launch, F3 (Regular))
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Overall grade95%
Speed95%
Feel93%
Consistency97%
Response95%
Distance97%

PROS

  • Great shaft for beginning golfers who want modification with an affordably priced, well-made shaft
  • High launch shaft with tons of backspin for lengthy carry and unreal distance
  • Wonderful consistency with a stable feel and response throughout the swing, especially the downswing into impact
  • Great flex with ability to the get the ball off the club face with velocity and angle

CONS

  • Not ideal shaft for low handicappers who don’t like too much flex in their shaft
  • For high-speed swingers, the shaft may be are too much on the softer side

The UST Proforce V2 HL Golf Shaft is a loud and proud graphite driver shaft that is a racecar, ready to boost your enjoyment of the game, while adding yards to your drives. The shaft features several outstanding characteristics including a stiffer tip that allows for more spin control during impact with the golf ball.

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The shaft’s walls have been reinforced to provide lightweight energy transfer to the golf ball for more velocity that results in outstanding distance.

Make no mistake, this is a shaft that is going to get the ball into the air quickly. If you prefer that low rising trajectory we spoke about with the earlier Accra shaft, this isn’t the shaft that will duplicate that experience. Instead, the UST shaft is a gangbusters upgrade for beginning golfers and high handicappers who need as much carry as possible.

Splendidly designed, the Proforce V2 HL shaft from UST is an absolute winner that has carved a place as a must-own if you are wanting to add launch and distance immediately with your driver.

Project X HZRDUS T800 Green 65 Driver Shaft

Most Versatile Shaft for Low Handicappers

Project X HZRDUS T800 Green 65 Driver Shaft + Adapter & Grip
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Overall grade97%
Speed96%
Feel96%
Consistency97%
Response98%
Distance97%

PROS

  • High speed shaft comes with tons of different adapters making it incredibly versatile for driver head
  • Mid-launch setting delivers repeatable distance with reliable launch angle on every drive
  • Remarkable strength throughout the swing with low flex for a stable feel and dependable distance
  • Installed Golf Pride grip allows golfer to settle into using the shaft before worrying about modifying

CONS

  • Golfers who are struggling with swing speed and want more carry, would be wise to steer clear of this shaft
  • Not great for beginning golfers who want more flex and whip from their driver shaft

One of the hottest shafts on the market is the Project X Hzrdus T800 Green 65 shaft. A mid-weight shaft that is incredibly solid throughout, the T800 promotes a mid-level spin output for moderate control and extraordinary distance. One of the strongest shafts we’ve ever tested, the Hzrdus shaft is ready to go, straight from the box, even equipped with a Golf Pride grip for immediate use.

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Delivered with the right adapter for your driver, the Hzrdus shaft can quickly matchup with your favorite Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist, or Ping driver.

The mid-range flight provided by the T800 shaft may be a letdown for golfers wanting higher or lower trajectory, but that specification makes it a great choice for low handicappers that want a shaft that is versatile and can be played with consistency.

A nice addition to any driver if you are looking for repeatability with nice feel and response, the Project X Hzrdus T800 Green 65 shaft isn’t too heavy to help you find the drive that works best for your game.

 Project X Even Flow Blue Shaft

Great Shaft for High Speed Swings

Project X New Even Flow Blue 6.0 65g Driver/Fairway Shaft Stiff Flex
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Overall grade96%
Speed98%
Feel94%
Consistency94%
Response95%
Distance98%

PROS

  • Inspiring distance from the tee with solid feel and response on takeaway
  • Shaft comes in an uncut 46” mold, allowing the golfer plenty of room for getting the right length
  • Very sharp appearance, the shaft works well in correspondence with a wide variety of different driver heads
  • Great explosion into the golf ball at impact courtesy of the mid-point kick

CONS

  • Higher spin shaft, might be too much for experienced golfers that wanted more control and lower ball flight
  • Tendency to promote small draw with the shaft, making it less ideal for golfers who want to use a fade on the course

A flashy shaft that looks great on any driver, the Project X Even Flow Blue shaft is also a dynamic performer that provides inspiring distance while providing outstanding feel and immediate response. The shaft comes in a 46” uncut mold, giving the golfer plenty of shaft to tailor the ideal length they need for their driver.

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Built for speed, the Even Flow shaft is very efficient for maximum energy transfer at impact, creating more distance with remarkable consistency. The shaft’s mid kick point provides a lot of bang for your buck as the Even Flow is very affordable for a shaft that delivers this kind of yardage.

Even with the extra distance, the Even Flow shaft does promote a higher spin than perhaps lower handicap players might want. Another factor we noticed in our testing is that the Project X shaft tended to repeat a draw on most swings, something to consider if you like to play a casual fade off the tee box.

Fast and long, the Project X Even Flow Blue shaft is a worthwhile upgrade to jumpstart your old driver.

UST Recoil Shaft

Stylish iron shafts for more distance

UST NEW RECOIL 760 AND 780 ES SMACWRAP Parallel (.370) Black finish Shafts (760 Series, F3 (Regular))
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Overall grade95%
Speed96%
Feel94%
Consistency95%
Response95%
Distance94%

PROS

  • Terrific control with mid-range kick point, providing stability and nice response at impact
  • Efficient shaft that promotes moderate distance bumps for mid-to-high handicappers
  • Does an admirable job at dampening vibration after impact for a solid, reinforcing feel throughout the swing
  • Great for golfers who want more from their iron shaft with more flair and sleeker look

CONS

  • Perhaps better served for budget seeking golfers who don’t want to splurge on a new shaft, but want dependability from the fairway
  • Particularly not well suited for beginning golfers who need more refinement

Another option if you are looking for an iron shaft is the UST Recoil shaft. These innovative and revolutionary iron shafts are sleekly draped in black for a graphite-looking option for your irons.

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The highlight of these UST shafts is the Recoil Technology that provides each shaft with a spring effect that channels energy through the walls of the shaft to promote a cleaner and more efficient transfer of energy to the golf ball for incredible distance and greater exit velocity off the face.

Another high profile feature that lessens the vibration in the shaft is the company’s patented SMACWRAP material. Wrapped around the outer wall of the shaft, the SMACWRAP is focused on reducing the vibration through absorption. You’ll notice the solid feel provided by the SMACWRAP on each swing.

If you are looking to nitpick, these shafts are not for the budget conscious. They are pricey, but are well worth the expense if you are looking to upgrade your iron set with a collection of shafts that deliver high performance through a host of innovations.

Accuflex Pro LD Shaft

Best Long Shaft for Golfers Wanting More Distance

Accuflex Pro Long Drive 50' ReMAX World Long Drive Pro LD Nano (+25 Yards) Golf Shaft 50 INCH .335 - A,R,S,X,2X,3X or 4X Flex (Regular)
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Overall grade95%
Speed99%
Feel92%
Consistency93%
Response93%
Distance99%

PROS

  • Comes in 48-inch to 50-inch models, allowing golfers plenty of room for modification
  • Incredibly fast shaft that delivers staggering distance when coupled with faster swings
  • Works well with all types of driver heads, regardless of size or volume
  • Innovative shaft that will provide distance, once you tackle the learning curve of using a longer shaft

CONS

  • Certainly not for everyone, the longer shaft is meant to help golfers who need more distance with the aid of longer swings
  • The shaft has a high kick point, meaning its flex is near the grip, a distracting feature for inexperienced golfers

If you are looking for out of the ordinary, then the Accuflex Pro LD shaft is an option for your driver that could revolutionize your game. The extra-long shaft is primarily used by golfers who participate in long drive contests, but the shaft (if over 48 inches) might not be technically legal for USGA events, it can still provide a ton of enjoyment during your practice rounds or weekend trips to the home course. But if you are looking to find a legal long drive shaft, the Accuflex Pro LD does come 50” long with the ability to be cut down to conform to regulations, if you desire.

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The Accuflex shaft comes with a high kick point that whips the club through the impact zone for maximum club head speed and earth quaking distance. The shaft works well with all sizes of club heads, from 400cc to the max 460cc allowed.

This uniquely innovative shaft is more than just a few extra inches of material, it has been crafted to create distance that will have your playing partners shaking their heads and you, sitting close to the green for more birdies during your rounds.


Testing Protocol & Criteria Used For Evaluation

Speed

One of the biggest mistakes that amateurs make when it comes to finding the right shaft for a driver is not understanding how the shaft’s weight affects swing speed. Shafts can weigh anywhere from 36 grams to around 140 grams, and just the difference between those two numbers alone could cause a five-to-ten MPH swing in club head speed depending on which direction you choose.

On the surface, the type of shaft you choose should be dictated by how hard you swing the club. Slower swingers, or older golfers looking to maintain their distance as long as possible, would be seeking shafts that are on the lighter end of the spectrum. By putting a lighter shaft on their driver, they keep their maximum swing speed close to their peak and reduce the fallout from losing strength as they age.

In contrast, professional golfers typically swing the hardest of any golfer. Much like a professional baseball players’ bat speed sets them apart from lower-level ball players, pro golfers are elite because they can dial-up the MPH, creating jaw-dropping distance that enables them to reduce the size of these large courses they play upon.

Finding the right shaft based upon swing speed is the ultimate goal when matching a shaft to your new driver, so you can unlock the maximum potential of that #1 wood.

Feel

You may be wondering how feel and response in a shaft differ for a golfer. Yes, it may be a subtle difference, but there is a need to understand how feel and response play off each other and with one another’s help. This is especially important when reading the literature that companies provide for the equipment because response and feel are used quite often.

The feel of a club throughout the swing is important to gauge because it feeds the rhythm of the golf swing. While you are swinging a club, you may be registering several information points and answering questions like: How does this shaft feel on the downswing? Does it feel slow or fast? Does its speed affect the quality of the shot?

As you get more experience with a new club, and its shaft, you’ll be able to discern tiny differences that may not be present at first glance. How a golfer interacts with the club is definitely under the umbrella of “feel.”

And just because you reject a club’s shaft doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong with the club or the shaft, but instead it did not jive with your requirements for making your bag. And that’s okay. Too many golfers play clubs that are not right for them because they are too afraid to make a change, instead playing clubs that don’t have the right feel throughout the swing.

Consistency

Not only do you need a new shaft that is durable but it also helps if you can trust it to create the shot speed and shape you ultimately desire. Consistency can come in several forms with a golf club, but we can all agree that it is something earned over time. Older shafts can lose that consistency through no fault of their own, especially if you are a frequent golfer who plays with the club through tens of rounds per year.

Golfers can judge a shaft based on several areas, but many will come back to how the shaft works in unison with the head to create the shot shape they feel can be the most consistent and reliable. And ultimately, that is how we judge consistency in a shaft, by how each shot comes from the face and if there is a pattern that the golfer can depend upon when on the course.

Finding a shaft that is reliable can take some work and time on your part. Through testing and playing, a shaft can give you the information you need to determine if it is the right one for your game.

Response

Another big area where a shaft can excel is with the response you receive during the swing and at impact. With the naked eye, most of us can’t judge the subtle differences that a new shaft can bring our game, but we can register, and therefore judge, how the altered club responds to our swing.

One of the biggest reasons why a player rejects a shaft is how it feels on the backswing. Whether the shaft is either too soft or too rigid, the golfer could potentially feel that their timing is off when the club comes back to square. As a result, the golfer loses confidence in the shaft and is back to square one when finding a club that can truly help their game.

And this principle doesn’t just exist with new shafts either. Losing confidence in an older shaft that doesn’t have the snap it once did, can be a great motivating factor in replacing the one in your driver or iron set.

With the swing, timing is everything and having a shaft that you believe in, can certainly provide dramatic improvements to your game. This is why finding a new shaft that responds to the swing you play is an incredibly important criteria for building the type of club you want in your bag.

Distance

Even if you find the right shaft for your driver or irons, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will translate to longer shots. Perhaps, everything looks perfect on the surface but when you get the modified club to the range, you notice that it isn’t performing as long as you would have hoped.

And this is where testing and understanding the difference between brands is important. Not all shafts are built the same. Yes, they may be classified under the same flex rating, but that doesn’t mean they will perform in a uniform fashion. There are multiple factors that go into a shaft’s performance. Weight, flex and length all play an important role in how your club ultimately plays on the course.

The number one area where golfers will notice that a shaft is underperforming is in the distance of their shots and this is why testing is so vital after getting a shaft set on your favorite driver or set of irons.

When you decide you want to upgrade from the stock shaft on your club, take your time to understand what brands are the most successful. Perhaps, your favorite professional golfers is playing them and has commented publicly about the difference they provide to his game.

Or maybe, you stumble across and article from a highly reputable teacher that explains why these shafts are the best. You may not like homework, but spending a little time research could pay huge dividends down the road in more distance with the right shaft.


Questions & Answers

I never realized how hard it could be to pick a driver shaft until a few weeks ago when I had to replace mine.

Without firsthand experience or knowledge of the popular brands, it can be very challenging for beginners to know which shaft to purchase.

That evening, I acknowledged the dilemma that a contemporary consumer faces when buying a shaft.

No single shaft is right for everyone…

Faced with so many brands to choose from, the questions that emerge have to do with making the right choice for your next driver shaft.

This article will exclusively adopt the perspective of a consumer who is looking for the best driver shaft available in the market today.

What Are The Different Types of Golf Shafts?

It’s an old cliche that “the shaft is the engine of the golf club.” I don’t buy it. To me, the golfer is the engine and the shaft is a component that helps optimize the engine’s performance.

The weight, flex, torque and kick point all work together to propel the ball forward and high into the air. If any of these are improperly suited to your swing, you may experience seriously compromised performance.

Shaft Type 1: Steel Shafts

The steel shaft is the most popular iron shaft among professional golfers. Not many players use them in their drivers, but those looking for accuracy over distance may elect to.

Primarily, steel shafts are made of carbon steel, although some brands use stainless steel. While steel shafts are not as expensive as graphite shafts, they are usually stronger, firmer, and more durable.

Often preferred by experienced golfers, steel shafts are credited with higher levels of accuracy, precision, and forceful impact when compared to graphite shafts, even with an equivalent swing speed.

Their average weight begins at 120 grams per shaft.

Consequently, steel shafts are credited for giving the player more control in the game. Steel shafts come in two designs:

Design #1: Stepped Steel Shafts. Unique to stepped steel shafts is a series of visible steps that reduce of the diameter between the tip and the butt. Starting at the wider butt, the shaft’s diameter reduces gradually and strategically, until it merges into the club head’s hosel at the tip.

Stepped steel shafts are cut out of a steel strip and then rolled into an even tube.

The tube is then pulled from all directions until it gains a gradually reducing thickness and diameter. Thereafter, the shaft undergoes the step patterning process to narrow the shaft towards the tip while simultaneously thickening the butt.

Step patterning allows for refining the kick-point and flexibility of the shaft, before it is strengthened and hardened. The result is a stiff and extremely solid shaft.

Design #2: Rifle Steel Shafts. Rifle steel shafts are designed similarly to the stepped steel shafts, with the exclusion of the step patterning.

The rifle steel shafts taper smoothly in diameter from the butt to the tip. 

Their omission of the step patterning process results in a design specifically fine-tuned for consistency and firm performance.

Electronic calibration helps match the frequency of each shaft’s flex to attain any custom preference. In what is customarily referred to as flighted shafts, rifle shafts can have customized kick-points to attain varying trajectories when different styles of clubheads are used in a single set.

Shaft Type 2: Graphite Shafts

Graphite shafts are standard in every driver available on the market. Their weight has allowed manufacturers to lengthen driver shafts, which can help increase swing speeds for amateur players. A longer, lighter driver shaft will produce longer drives, but may sacrifice accuracy.

While they are more expensive and less durable than steel shafts, graphite shafts are more popular among beginner, intermediate, and senior players

In recent years, professionals have been using shorter, heavier graphite shafts to increase their accuracy. Golf balls these days fly so far that professionals with ultra-high swing speeds no longer need to max out their driver length; they find that sacrificing a few yards of difference is worth it if they find more fairways.

You will need to decide if trading accuracy for distance is a trade-off you’re willing to make. If you’re just interested in distance, a 46” or longer shaft is ideal. If you miss too many fairways, you may want to go with a shorter shaft of about 43.5”.

Further, graphite shafts have greatly reduced vibration upon impact compared to steel shafts. Early models of graphite shafts increased speed but sacrificed precision, accuracy, and control of the flex when compared to steel shafts. However, recent manufacturing improvements have closed this gap and graphite shafts perform as well or better than steel shafts. 

Graphite shafts are manufactured from epoxy binder and graphite tape wrapped around a light steel mandrel. Once heated, the steel mandrel is then pulled out.

The resultant pole is then cooled, smoothed, sandpapered, cut, painted, and branded to make graphite shafts. Weighing between 50 and 85 grams, graphite shafts come in assorted colors and have numerous variations to customize to a player’s preference.

Graphite shafts can be built lighter than steel, and the lower weight can help increase swing speed. The resulting increase in distance is why graphite shafts have overtaken steel in popularity.

Graphite shafts are extremely light and thus allow for longer shafts that would not be feasible with steel shafts.

However, they lack the stiff and firm feel of a steel shaft, particularly for advanced players who need more control in their game.

I’ve yet to transition to graphite shafts, due to my preference for a solid and firm feel when taking a swing.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. In fact, I’ve played numerous times with graphite shaft lovers who hit better shots than I pulled off with my steel shafts!

Shaft Type 3: Multi-Material Shafts

While graphite and steel shafts are all you’ll find in most modern stores, there is a new entrant into the market today.

Multi-material shafts combine both graphite and steel to craft a design that exploits the advantage of both materials. 

Most common multi-material shafts have a lightweight graphite tip, and the firmness of the steel shaft.

With the solid firmness of a steel shaft, the player can control the flight, more than would be possible with an entirely graphite shaft. Similarly, the graphite tip adds to the potential distance of the swing with less vibration than is possible with steel shafts.

Multi-material shafts are however still new in the market, and not many variations are available. Paderson is one of the companies that makes multi-material shafts.

What Is Shaft Flex And How Can This Help Me?

The flex is the extent to which a shaft bends during the downswing.

The right flex allows the shaft to bend properly during the downswing and straighten out, whipping through impact and producing optimal distance and trajectory.

How much the shaft bends during the swing is the degree of stiffness.

When fitted for the proper shaft flex, the player can attain the height and distance he desires in every swing. The most common flex options include:

  • Stiff or firm (for swing speeds 95-105mph)
  • Extra stiff or x (for swing speeds 105+mph)
  • Ladies (though longer-hitting women golfers may want to use regular or stiff flex shafts)
  • Tour Stiff (this is the stiffest available, not applicable to most amateur golfers)
  • Senior (for the slower swing speeds of senior golfers)
  • Regular (for most amateur golfers)

A more flexible shaft will typically produce more distance, while a firmer flex will generally tighten your shot dispersion. There are limits to this, however. A shaft that is much too stiff for your swing speed will result in a slice every time. If your swing speed is right at 105, you may elect for a stiff flex for longer drives, or x flex for tighter dispersion.

If you feel like you’ve made a good golf swing and the ball keeps on hooking, your shaft is probably too whippy. You should look into a stiffer flex to optimize your performance.

From experience, I have seen that an advanced player with swing speeds over 110mph will opt for stiff or extra stiff shafts for a tighter dispersion of shots.

Beginners with lower swing speeds will benefit from a more flexible shaft that increases ball speed and driver distance.

It is important to note that there is no defined industry standard for flex. One company’s “stiff flex” may be another company’s “regular flex.” You’ll need to determine how the shaft feels and whether the results are what you’re looking for by hitting balls and, ideally, analyzing the ball flight data on a flight tracker. There’s no substitute for a good fitting with a properly trained golf professional.

​Overall, the result of your swing will always be determined by the shaft you choose, whether the focus is on gaining flexibility (less firm) or control (greater firmness).

When your desire is to maintain more control and greater accuracy, then you should choose a shaft with a firmer flex. To determine a shaft’s flex, one can use:

What is the Kick Point?

Do you remember that we started the discussion by relating the speed and accuracy of your swing to the flex of your shaft?

The flex of your shaft is perhaps the single most important factor to customize to the speed and accuracy of the swing.

To begin with, the kick-point denotes the height at which the shaft bends, and thus determines the ball’s trajectory in each shot.

As I always explain to my students, if the shaft has a high kick-point, the resulting trajectory of the golf ball will be low. A low kick-point will trigger a high trajectory.

The kick-point is the highest point that the shaft bends during the downswing.

A high kick point is best for golfers with a smooth tempo and transition. The shaft releases smoothly and projects the ball with a medium-to-low trajectory.

Golfers with quick tempos, fast transitions and a late release will likely want a medium-to-low kick point. The shaft will stay stiff under the golfers hands and then release when the wrists release at the bottom of the downswing. The low kick point fires into the ball and sends it flying high and long.

If you make what feels like a good golf swing and the ball just won’t get up into the air, you should look for a lower kick-point. If your ball is ballooning and landing with no roll-out, a higher kick point will help you obtain a better, more penetrating trajectory.

What do I need to know about the flex torque?

The amount of twisting that occurs at impact is the shaft’s torque, measured in degrees. 

Twisting at impact sounds like a bad thing, right? Not necessarily. If you’ve hit the ball out on the toe of the driver, you want the shaft to twist to impart sidespin on the ball. This will help it start out right of the target but hook back closer to the intended target line. 

Beginners should look for a high torque rating to help maximize corrective sidespin to straighten out mis-hits.

Once you start hitting the sweet spot consistently, you’ll want less twisting and lower spin for more control on purely struck shots. Lower spin will produce straighter, longer, lower-trajectory shots with more roll-out on sweet spot impacts. Miss the sweet spot with a low-torque shaft, however, and it’s more likely to fly offline and put you into a tough position.

The average shaft torque is about 3 degrees. A low-torque shaft will result in lower launch, lower spin, and firmer feeling shaft. High-torque shafts will have more spin, higher launch, and more error-correction on mis-hits. 

Why are the weight and length of the shaft important?

Appropriate Weight of the Driver Shaft

Graphite driver shafts are available in a wide range of weights, from ultralight 50-gram shafts to heavy, 100+ gram shafts that feel close to the steel shafts of yore. How do you know what’s right for you?

Proper fitting is important, but the proper weight can often come down to what feels best in your hands, not what numbers the flight tracker is reporting. 

A shaft that’s too heavy can leave you exhausted by the time you get to the back nine, or overswinging to try to get the clubhead to the ball in time. 

A shaft that’s too light might cause you to lose the feeling for where the clubhead is in the swing. You might have a higher swing speed with a lighter shaft, but if you can’t make solid contact, you’re not going to see the benefits of your faster swing.

Before you select your golf clubs, it is important to determine not just their length, but also their weight. The proper weight for you is based on not only your feeling during the swing, but also the results the shaft produces. A clubfitter can help determine which weight and flex will produce the best results for your swing. Your preference is determined by the feeling and speed you desire and the amount of distance vs accuracy you’re willing to trade-off.

Appropriate Length of the Driver Shaft

In conventional practice, longer golf clubs can result in higher clubhead speeds and more distance off the tee.

Always note that with longer shaft length comes a reduction of precision and accuracy. Longer shafts will attain comparatively bigger distances with the ball, but they will simultaneously limit your control on the club during a swing.

This choice, however, comes down to your personal preference and taste: are you willing to sacrifice a few fairways per round to hit longer drives? The core of the argument on shaft length is that more accurate and precisely controlled drives are often the product of shorter shafts.

If you desire to gain more speed, and a greater distance, then go for the longer shafts.

Appropriate Length of Golf Shaft

The standard length for a steel driver shaft was historically 43.5 inches. With the advent of graphite dominating the market, the standard length became 45 inches. The laws of physics dictate that a longer shaft will result in a higher clubhead speed, but that’s not the be-all and end-all of shaft length.

Sergio Garcia won The Masters with a 43 inch shaft in his driver, which he was still able to regularly smack over 300 yards under high pressure.

The ideal shaft length will be the one that maximizes clubhead speed while still ensuring most ballstrikes are at or near the sweet spot of the driver.

A proper fitting will present you with several length options. It only takes 10-15 balls with each shaft to determine how well you’re hitting it (the “smash factor”) and if the length is right for your swing. The best driver shaft will maximize both distance and consistency.

Strategic Use of the Shaft for Height and Distance

It is important to mention the need to balance your gaming needs with the shaft potential.

When discussing the torque in a foregoing section, we mentioned that a torque also influences a ball’s trajectory.

High torque ratings yield higher trajectories. As such, if you want to gain greater height with your ball, then add to the torque rating. This would require a flexible flex with a graphite shaft for instance.

If you use the relatively stiff steel shaft however, you gain a lower torque rating and lower height.

Similarly, the distance you gain is a product of your shaft choice, where the more flexible graphite shafts (ideally longer) will attain a comparatively bigger distance with the ball, though with minimal control and accuracy.

The steel shafts (commonly shorter) on the other hand would attain lower distance but with greater control. Regarding weight and length, of the shaft therefore, a golfing game relies on how you balance:

  • Frequency of vibrations
  • Control
  • Distance converged
  • Flexibility
  • Trajectory (height)
  • Accuracy