Regular vs Stiff Shaft: Which Golf Shaft is for You?

If you play with a regular group of amateur golfers, chances are you’ll hear a frequent debate on what shaft flex works best for their swing. 

Some weekend warriors will swear their swing speed reaches the level for a stiff shaft, but they spend their entire round spraying golf balls all over the place with limited distance.

But for most golfers, a regular shaft flex fits their swing speed profile and provides the best chance to achieve their golf course goals.

In this breakdown of regular vs stiff shaft, we’ll take a look at what swing speeds fit each flex and how you could transform your game by playing the right shaft in your clubs. 

Regular vs Stiff Shaft Explained

Regular Shaft Flex

Golfers that carry a swing speed with their driver between 84-96 MPH need to play with a regular shaft flex.

Although swing speed certainly becomes varied over time and even during a round, if your swing speed nestles inside that speed range, then playing a regular shaft flex is right for your game.

When it comes to the 6-iron, golfers should swing their mid-iron from 75-83 MPH to meet the requirements for a regular shaft flex.

A regular shaft flex will have more flexibility during the swing than a stiff shaft. On the downswing, a regular shaft creates a whip-like response on the downswing where the head appears to drag behind the center of the actual shaft. 

Although this illusion of lagging is primarily visual, any disruption in syncing the body and club on the downswing can cause the face to open or close prematurely. By playing the correct shaft flex, golfers avoid this problem, helping them hit more reliable shots.

Stiff Shaft Flex

Players regularly reaching 97-104 MPH with their driver swing speed should play stiff shaft flex in their clubs. With the stiff shaft, golfers can expect the club to stay more aligned on the downswing with little flexibility.

The club should feel in sync from the clubhead to the grip as it makes its way to the golf ball.

For the 6-iron, golfers that need a stiff shaft flex should average in between 84-91 MPH with this mid-range iron.

If we compare the feel and responsiveness of the stiff shaft versus the regular flex, we’ll feel a far more rigid feel with the stiff shaft on the backswing and downswing. The regular flex looks and feels more wobbly in the hand when we contrast it with a club with a stiff shaft flex rating.

Golfers with fast swing speed tend to move their body much quicker than players that utilize regular flex in their clubs. Therefore, from the grip to the club head, the stiff shaft must work to keep these areas closely aligned to return the face to square at impact.

3 Reasons Why You Need to Play With Correct Shaft Flex

1. Maximizes Your Distance

If you struggle to reach your expected distance based on your swing speed, chances are high that your shaft flex is far too low.

Golfers that regularly hit the ball on the sweet spot only to see the corresponding shot fall short of the expected distance are being let down by the flex rating of their club’s shafts. 

2. Control the Height of Your Shots

One of the biggest red flags that should caution golfers about shaft flex is hitting balls too high.

If you are skying shots too high in the air, especially with woods such as the driver, then your shaft flex could be the culprit. By playing the correct shaft flex, your shots should take on a more moderate height that maximizes distance and accuracy.

3. Produces Dependable Shots

The best golfers in the world know they can replicate the height, length, and shape of their shots with consistent regularity. Amateurs, in contrast, typically struggle to find consistency with any of their clubs.

One of the biggest reasons golfers fail to strike the golf ball with reliable results is carrying the wrong shaft flex in their woods and irons.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a stiff or regular shaft?

Your shaft flex, specifically if you need regular or stiff shafts in your clubs, comes down to your swing speed.

For regular shafts, golfers need a swing speed anywhere between 84-96 MPH with their driver. For stiff shafts, players should maintain a swing speed of 97-104 MPH. Any speed faster than 104 MPH needs an x-stiff shaft.

If your swing speed is below 84 MPH, you should play a ladies or senior shaft flex. Senior flex runs from 72-83 MPH, while ladies flex runs 71 MPH and under.

As the flex levels down, golfers can expect to see more flexibility in the shaft. Stiff shafts tend to be more rigid during the swing than a regular or senior flex, for example.

Is it better to have a stiffer shaft?

If your swing speed rests around the MPH cutoff between regular and stiff, you are better off choosing a shaft flex that feels better. While it might seem cliché, feel and responsiveness should break the tie between the two shaft flexes. 

For most golfers, the exaggerated flexibility in a regular or senior shaft becomes too distracting or can create a lack of synchronization that throws off timing.

In those instances, golfers are better off getting the stiffer shaft because they can better time their move into the downswing.

Some golfers also prefer the lag created by the regular shaft flex, allowing them to exaggerate their shoulder turn and delay their downswing to get the club face back to square with maximum power.

What swing speed requires a stiff shaft?

When using the driver, golfers requiring a stiff shaft will reach 97 MPH at minimum and 104 MPH at maximum swing speed. All players looking to find their ideal shaft flex should hit as many golf balls as possible to determine the correct swing speed.

One of the worst mistakes that amateurs make is hitting too few golf balls when determining shaft flex. By using a small sample size, golfers risk playing with ill-fitting clubs that can dramatically inhibit ball flight and speed.

If you find that your shots are hooking more or losing distance, then chances are your shaft flex is too low and you need to upgrade to a higher speed threshold, such as a stiff shaft if you are currently playing regular shaft flex.

Will I lose distance with a stiff shaft?

If you need to play with x-stiff shafts or regular shafts, you could definitely lose distance with a stiff shaft. Since golfers need to play with the shaft flex that corresponds to their swing speed, playing with the wrong shaft flex can alter the shape and length of shots.

Also, you could struggle to find consistency if you play with a shaft that does not correspond with your swing speed, therefore costing you distance.

Since the golf swing needs synchronization, having too much flex or too little flex can cause the body to get ahead or behind the swing, making it difficult to square the clubface at impact.

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