Best Driver Shafts in the Market: Matching Your Flex to Your Desired Swing

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. 

The problem, however, is that the increasing popularity of golf has seen the birth of an equivalent (and potentially overwhelming) number of golf equipment brands.

The Best For Drivers
Fujikura Vista Pro 60 Shaft For Taylormade M1/ M2/ R15 Drivers Regular
Good All-Around
Project X PXV Stiff Driver Shaft + TaylorMade R1 Tip
The Best Value
AccuFLEX Assassin II World Champion Long Drive Golf Wood Shaft 46" .335 - Flex A,R,S,X or 2X (Stiff)
Ranking
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
Feature 1
Provides high ball flight path
Firm & stable feel
Ideal to gain distance and control
Feature 2
Very soft on feel
Made to increase swing speed
Great value at this price
Our Rating
Rating: 96 / 100
Rating: 94 / 100
Rating: 91 / 100
The Best For Drivers
Fujikura Vista Pro 60 Shaft For Taylormade M1/ M2/ R15 Drivers Regular
Ranking
Ranked #1
Feature 1
Provides high ball flight path
Feature 2
Very soft on feel
Our Rating
Rating: 96 / 100
Good All-Around
Project X PXV Stiff Driver Shaft + TaylorMade R1 Tip
Ranking
Ranked #2
Feature 1
Firm & stable feel
Feature 2
Made to increase swing speed
Our Rating
Rating: 94 / 100
The Best Value
AccuFLEX Assassin II World Champion Long Drive Golf Wood Shaft 46" .335 - Flex A,R,S,X or 2X (Stiff)
Ranking
Ranked #3
Feature 1
Ideal to gain distance and control
Feature 2
Great value at this price
Our Rating
Rating: 91 / 100

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.

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.

Before reviewing the different brands of driver shafts, it is important to consider how to differentiate driver shafts, the features that are essential in a driver shaft, as well as how a driver shaft should be matched to your golf needs.

What you will learn in this post...

  • The top characteristics to look at before buying your next golf shaft
  • Understanding how and why golf shafts influence your swing speed
  • The top 3 products available on the market right now and why we think they're the best

1

What Are The Different Types of Golf Shafts?

Golf Driver Shaft

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:

Best Steel Iron Shaft 

KBS Tour 130 Steel Iron Shaft
  • Stepped Steel Shafts
  • Rifle Steel Shafts
120 grams Average Weight of Steel Shaft

How do these steel shafts differ, and what is the most likely effect?

Image of Driver Shaft

Subtype 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.

Subtype 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

Graphite shafts are standard in every driver available on the market. Their light 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.

Credit to Instagram & @klvngolf

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.

50 grams
85 grams

Average size of a graphite shaft (50-85 grams)

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!

Best Graphite Shaft
We Reviewed

NEW Aldila VS Proto 60

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.


2

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.

Black Golfer

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:


3

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. 

Golf Course

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. 

Golf Shaft Flex Point and Flex Torque

4

Why are the weight and length of the shaft important?

Appropriate Weight of the Driver Shaft

Golf Shaft Weight

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.

Golf Irons

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

Best Golf Driver Shafts In 2018

The foregoing section has been comprehensive, in qualifying a good driver shaft using evidence-backed characteristics.

Feel - Review

Based on experience and research, the driver shaft characteristics descried above define how one should value a shaft prior to purchase.

While that choice is a personal decision, the section has nonetheless highlighted the most significant features you should look for, prioritize, and expect in any driver shaft.

To conclude the review, the following three shaft brands stand out as among the best in the market presently.

Each of the three brands was selected for the review because of their unique features and performance credit. Each has a unique set of advantage for a specific group of players, and comparatively outperforms the others in that area, as reviewed below.


Project X PXV Driver shaft (Our Top Pick)

An excellent all-around shaft from today’s hottest manufacturer.

Project X PXV Stiff Driver Shaft

PROS

  • Firm, stable feel for a regular flex shaft
  • Good ball speed
  • Medium launch and trajectory provide effective mix of flight and roll
  • Eye-catching white design
  • Lightweight for increased swing speed
  • Flex point optimized for swing speed

CONS

  • Stiffer than most R Flex shafts
  • May cause slices in lower swing speed players
  • Some players may find white shaft distracting
  • Stiff feel at setup may make players nervous

Project X burst onto the scene with their innovative Rifle steel shafts that eliminated the steps found in standard steel shafts.

The smooth look gave the steel shafts the look of graphite and a firm feeling with a very tight trajectory. A lot of PGA Tour players made the switch due to the smooth feel and great trajectory control of Project X shafts.

After the huge splash with their steel shafts, Project X made the natural move to developing graphite driver and wood shafts and have become the hottest shaft manufacturer out there.

Their tour-quality HZRDUS line is one you may want to aspire to, but their PXV line is our pick for beginners.

Project X PXV R-Flex Shaft

The manufacturing specs for Project X shafts are as discerning as you’ll find, as every shaft is tested and tuned to make sure it falls within their high standards. They’re also on the cutting edge of technology, providing lots of different options for different levels of golfer. These shafts use fibers made for military grade airplanes and Boeing 787s.

The PXV line is built for speed: our pick for the top overall shaft is their 52 gram model, but it’s also available in a superlight 39 grams, which is the lightest shaft we’ve come across. I found the 39 gram model too light to really get a good feeling of load and release, but slow swing speed players might want to check it out to help maximize their distance.

The 52 gram model is a great balance of light weight, firm feel, and solid trajectory that combines a long flight and a good roll out.

The Project X PXV has a very distinctive look to it; it’s bright white with minimal decorations. If you want an eye-catching design, look no further. I like the look standing over it, especially when combined with some of the new TaylorMade drivers which feature mostly white clubheads. However, some golfers might find the bright white shaft distracting at address, especially those used to more traditional dark graphite shafts which blend into the background.

Standing over the ball and waggling the shaft, it’s got a very firm, solid feel. It feels stiffer than most Regular flex shafts, which is actually a hallmark of Project X shafts: many golfers find that they play about a half a flex stiffer than the given flex rating. This can be a good thing, because a slightly stiffer shaft usually means that the forgiveness is increased and dispersion is tighter overall.

Those with slower swing speeds may find it too stiff, however, and might want to look into the Senior flex version of the Project X PXV. The stiffness felt at address actually melts into the swing when you take it back, and it loads and releases more like a traditional regular flex shaft when you put a good swing on it. The slight extra stiffness keeps the clubface stable at impact but isn’t noticeable or distracting through the swing.

The trajectory provided is a good compromise between a low-spin and a high-launch shaft. It’s not too hard to get into the air, but the medium launch and trajectory prevent the distance-sapping ballooning that some golfers experience with high-launch shafts. The ball has enough spin to help correct mis-hits but still rolls out well on dry fairways.

The standard length provided is a very playable 43.5”, which is shorter than the industry standard but will help beginner golfers keep the ball in play off the tee. The light weight of the shaft helps offset the shorter length so there’s not much, if any, distance lost from the shorter shaft length.

A Golf Pride Tour Velvet rubber grip comes installed on the shaft. It’s an excellent all-around grip that will feel very comfortable for most golfers and should last a long time. If you’d prefer a longer shaft or a different grip, most special requests can be accommodated at little-to-no extra charge.

This is our top pick because it provides a nice upgrade over most stock shafts at an affordable price point. The V in PXV stands for Velocity, and we think most golfers will find a nice increase in swing speed due to the light 52 gram weight, but will be able to maintain control thanks to the precise engineering and nice, firm feel.


Accra Tour Z 55 Low Spin LS Driver Shaft (Upgrade Pick)

Light, distance-focused low-spin shaft custom assembled to your specs.

Accra New Tour Z 55 Low Spin LS Driver Shaft + Adapter & Grip

PROS

  • Low spin to provide boring trajectory and maximum roll-out
  • Light shaft weight helps beginners achieve maximum clubhead speed
  • Available customized with adapter to fit your driver head
  • Stiff Flex helps golfers with average swing speeds hit straighter drives
  • Comes with Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 grip installed
  • Attractive black and silver design really pops
  • Tour-level shaft at a great price

CONS

  • Low spin means low launch; some beginners who have trouble getting the ball airborne might not find this shaft very playable
  • Shaft provides great distance but not as much forgiveness as higher-spinning shafts
  • 55 grams may be too light for high-swing speed players

Accra is not a household name for golf shafts, but they’re well-respected amongst top-level players, with over 120 victories on the PGA, European and LPGA tour.

That they’ve accomplished all these victories without spending a ton of marketing and sponsorship dollars speaks to their quality: tour players use Accra shafts even if they’re not paid to!

Out of the box, the Accra Tour Z 55 LS Low Spin Driver Shaft looks great with its black and silver graphics. They give a nice sense of speed and motion without being distracting when you’re standing over the ball. It’ll blend well with whatever driver head you pair it with.

The Z 55 LS is a top performer in my tests: this thing is a real rocket, launching the ball with a high speed and a tight dispersion.

The high kick point and low torque keep the launch angle low and spin rates very low. This translates to a penetrating trajectory that flies far and keeps on running when it hits the ground. This is especially advantageous if you play a lot of links-style courses or play in areas with lots of high winds.

You’ll sacrifice a little bit of forgiveness for the extra distance provided by the shaft, because backspin helps straighten out errant shots. The less spin you have, the more a poorly struck ball will fly offline as the shaft will reduce some of the corrective sidespin that a clubhead will normally impart.

The low-spin design maximizes distance and roll-out but some golfers with slower swing speeds may find it’s too difficult to get the ball in the air. If you find drivers hard to hit, you should look for a higher launch shaft such as the UST Proforce shaft I also reviewed. It might also be a good idea to use a 3 wood off the tee until you feel more confident hitting a driver

I found the Accra to play true to its stiffness, perhaps even a little stiffer than other “Stiff”-rated shafts I’ve used (interestingly, there is no industry standard for shaft ratings, so one company’s “stiff” may be another company’s “regular” flex). The light weight allowed for a nice quick transition and it fires through the hitting zone, delivering a great, responsive feel.

If you struggle with losing shots to the right, this shaft may exacerbate that tendency with it stiffness and low-spin. However, if you’re a straight hitter or hit a draw, you’ll probably find this shaft works well with your ball flight. I found it useful to tee the ball high and play it forward in my stance to make sure that I hit the ball on the upswing.

The shaft’s low torque gives a solid, stable feel, and the light weight really helps define where the clubhead is through the swing. The shaft rewards good swings and feels stiff enough to really allow you to swing hard at the golf ball. Of course, wildly aggressive swings are never a good idea, but the shaft gives you the confidence to put a smooth, hard swing on the ball.

The shaft comes with a Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 grip already installed. This grip is great if you use an adjustable driver as it allows you to rotate the shaft in the clubhead to adjust the loft without changing the feel or the alignment of the grip’s logo.

Additionally, you can specify which tip you want based on the driver head you’re planning to use with it. Among the options offered are several different Callaway tips covering all of their recent product lines, as well as all recent TaylorMade, Titleist, and Ping options. If you use a different brand, you can contact the seller for a different tip.

With the Tour Z 55 LS Low Spin Driver Shaft, Accra has delivered a truly tour-level shaft at a price point that’s very accessible for the average golfer. If you have a swing speed of 90+ miles per hour and like to make a hard, aggressive swing, this is a shaft to consider for hitting long, low, straight drives.

UST Proforce 2018 V2 HL High Launch (Our High-Tech Pick)

A soft-feeling, high-launch shaft for players who find it hard to hit a driver

UST New 2018 Proforce V2 HL (HIGH LAUNCH) Golf Shaft (choose weight and flex)

Sale
UST New 2018 Proforce V2 HL (HIGH LAUNCH)
UST - Misc.
$79.99 - $15.00 from $64.99

PROS

  • UST Mamiya is one of the world’s most popular and reliable graphite shaft manufacturers
  • Available in Ladies, Seniors and Regular flex for slower swing speeds
  • Very stable tip delivers consistent performance
  • Great for golfers who find drivers very hard to hit
  • Creates lots of backspin with its high launch
  • “Recoil technology” provides great spring effect for good distance

CONS

  • Higher swing speed golfers will find shots ballooning and not going very far
  • Very whippy shaft hard to control with fast-tempo swings
  • Not very much roll-out

UST Mamiya is a very well known shaft company, bringing top of the line graphite shafts to golfers since 1991. Many of their shafts carry a very high retail price of $300-400 but the UST Proforce V2 HL High Launch shaft delivers UST Mamiya quality at a great price.

The driver is one of the most important clubs in the golf bag, but many beginner golfers or golfers with low swing speeds find it impossible to hit anything but worm burners with it. No matter how high you tee the ball or how hard you try to swing, the ball never rises in the air and just runs along the ground instead.

This can be very frustrating, especially if you’ve watched PGA Tour pros bomb drives that fly in excess of 300 yards in the air before finally landing and rolling out down the fairway. Of course, beginner golfers shouldn’t be aspiring to tour pro-length drives just yet, but a well struck driver should still fly a good distance and set you up in good shape to attack the hole. 

This is very important when playing courses that have forced carries off the tee or long stretches of rough that you have to fly the ball over just to get to the fairway.

So what’s a beginning golfer to do? That’s where the UST Mamiya Proforce V2 HL High Launch driver shaft comes in. When paired with a driver head with a loft of 11 or 12 degrees, this shaft helps get the ball up in the air fast and fly a good distance before landing.

The shaft has an attractive, well-designed graphics style with a white and red theme. The big V2 graphic looks awesome on top of the shaft, pointing down to the ball and inspiring confidence that the ball will launch high and far off the tee.

UST Mamiya is always one of the most technologically advanced shaft manufacturers, and the Proforce V2 HL High Launch shaft is no exception. Even though the shaft is very flexible and feels soft through the swing, they’ve given it a very stiff tip to help maximize stability through the hitting zone.

Despite the simple truth that any high-launch shaft will increase backspin, the stiff tip helps to fire the ball up in the air with less backspin than other high-launch shafts so the ball won’t balloon for the low swing-speed player. It travels a long way while still providing decent roll-out upon landing.

Higher swing speed players will impart too much spin with this shaft even with the stiff tip, so they should look elsewhere for a stiffer shaft with lower spin. The exception would be if the high swing speed player typically has a very low trajectory and needs to increase the launch angle. You can either try a more lofted driver or try this shaft to help get the ball up in the air. 

UST Mamiya also has its patented “Recoil” technology that they use across their product line. The specifics of the technology is incredibly technical; they describe it as “increasing the spring effect in the walls of the shaft and maximizing energy transfer from the shaft to the golf ball.” The spring effect is noticeable as the ball seems to really leap off the clubface while the shaft snaps through the hitting zone.

The UST Proforce V2 HL High Launch shaft has a soft, forgiving feel which rewards a smooth swing with a nice tempo and smooth transition. It feels very comfortable at the top of the swing and loads up with energy on the downswing, giving a whip-like feel. The low kick point and stiff tip combine for further whip-snapping action, rewarding good hand action with a high, soaring trajectory and a long carry distance even at slow swing speeds.

The manufacturer provides a handy chart for which flex to use for which swing speed and carry distance. If your driver swing speed is under 70mph and you carry it less than 175 yards, go for the L flex. For a swing speed 70-85mph and carry distance of 175-215, go for the A (aka Senior) flex. If you come in at an 80-95mph swing speed and carry your driver 200-240 yards, the R flex should be right for you.

UST Mamiya has delivered yet another winner with the V2 Proforce HL High Shaft driver shaft. The price point is great for the technology and performance delivered, and the shaft is designed with beginners and smooth swingers in mind. It should help you get the driver up in the air and get you on the road to those soaring drives you see on TV.

Matrix HD Radix S VII White Driver/Fairway Shaft (Our Budget Pick)

A solid all-around shaft that plays softer than its Stiff rating.

MATRIX New HD Radix S VII White Driver/Fairway Shaft Stiff Flex

PROS

  • Affordable shaft from one of golf’s top manufacturers
  • Decent combination of distance and forgiveness
  • Should be a definite upgrade over most stock shafts at a very low price
  • Solid feel allows you to swing aggressively
  • High launch and high spin helps get the ball airborne quickly

CONS

  • Muted feel doesn’t give much feedback on mis-hits
  • Doesn’t include a grip or tip
  • At 46” long, may need to be cut down to a shorter length to be effective
  • High launch and high spin may be too high for some golfers
  • Heavier weight than most shafts tested

Matrix has long enjoyed being perhaps the most-used graphite shaft both on tour and amongst amateur golfers. The Matrix HD Radix S VII is a budget-friendly alternative to their flagship, the Ozik shaft, designed with beginners in mind.

The Matrix HD Radix S VII feels very stiff at address but smooth during the swing, allowing for a great feel at transition and a good, powerful release. When you deliver the clubhead to the sweet spot, the ball jumps off the clubface and gets in the air quickly, flying a long way. There’s not much roll out, but the flight is long enough that you may not miss it.

In the case of mis-hits, it was very hard to tell if they were missed high or low, heel or toe. You may find yourself looking at the clubface trying to figure out where it is that the miss occurred, as the muted feel of the shaft doesn’t deliver much feedback. The good news is that the missed don’t fly very far offline. The shaft helps produce a good amount of backspin, which helps straighten out the ball flight and spin the ball back towards the target line.

The one drawback that I could find is that the HD Radix S VII has a weight of 78.5 grams, which is a lot for a beginner to handle. Many beginners find that lighter shafts are more suited to their swings, enabling them to swing faster and launch the ball higher. The heavier weight of the Matrix shaft might slow down your swing speed and reduce the overall distance that you’re able to achieve.

Despite the heavy weight, the Matrix HD Radix S VII is a good choice for golfers who like the high launch angles of most stock shafts, but are looking for the stability and forgiveness provided by aftermarket shafts. The increased stability is thanks to more precise manufacturing and higher quality materials used.

This shaft comes at a length of 46”, which is at least a half inch longer than standard. Some players may find this length unwieldy, so you may need to have a clubmaker cut this down to a more manageable length or you won’t be able to get the clubhead through the ball quickly enough to hit anything other than a banana slice.

The Matrix HD Radix also comes without a grip, which some might view as an advantage as it allows you to select the exact grip you want. However, this will add $10-15 to the price depending on the grip and installation costs. Additionally, you’ll need to remove the tip from your stock shaft and have it installed on this shaft, or buy the right tip and have it installed on the shaft.

The good news is that means it can be used with any clubhead, as it doesn’t come with a specific manufacturer’s tip already installed. However, that does add slightly to the overall cost of having a playable shaft. You’ll also want to keep in mind that clubmakers usually have a turnaround time of about a week, so don’t expect to be using it as soon as it arrives in the mail.

Even with the extra costs of customization added on, the Matrix HD Radix S VII is our budget pick for an aftermarket driver shaft. The materials used are the same as those found in shafts that are quadruple the price, and the performance the shaft delivers is exemplary. The firm, stiff feel frees you up to make a nice aggressive swing. The muted impact feel isn’t quite as satisfying as I’d hope, but the results are very consistent nonetheless.

If you find yourself missing the sweet spot frequently, this is a good choice as it’ll provide consistent feel and results despite less-than-solid contact. Matrix is known as one of the best shaft-makers in the industry and this is a good example of why, at a price that won’t break the bank.


Conclusion

The foregoing discussion has provided a comprehensive and detailed review of what makes the best driver shaft.

Exclusively adopting an objective consumer perspective, the present review was initiated by qualifying a good driver shaft, using evidence-backed features and characteristics. Consequently, much of the discussion centered on how to differentiate driver shafts, essential features in a driver shaft, and matching a driver shaft to a player’s needs.

Based on this background, it emerged that Project X PXV Stiff Driver Shaft is the winner among the best driver shafts in the market today. It has the best value for money in our opinion.

Project X PXV Stiff Driver Shaft wins easily on being a lightweight shaft, and yet has a stability and consistency not equaled by others.

Project X PXV Stiff Driver Shaft

Despite its superiority, it is also relatively inexpensive similar to Grafalloy ProLaunch shafts.

Despite attaining the speed and distance of Vista Pro 60 Shaft and Grafalloy ProLaunch shafts, Project X PXV still gains a significant advantage in accuracy and stiffness.

The three driver shafts reviewed above were selected precisely for having attained a credible profile of essential characteristics that are central to a consumer’s buying decision, whether a beginner (Vista Pro 60), and an intermediate (Grafalloy ProLaunch), of a skilled player (Project X PXV)

If you'd like to check out more reviews, we invite you to read our review on the best sand wedges.​