Choosing the right flex for the shafts in your golf clubs is essential to ensuring you are getting the most distance out of your swing.
For many years I used off the shelf clubs that were not fitted for me. Once I was able to identify the right flex, my distance and accuracy improved without any swing changes.
What Is Flex In A Golf Shaft
“Flex” in a golf club shaft is the ability for the shaft to bend during a swing. The more flexible the shaft is, the easier it is to bend (or flex) the shaft during a swing. This is very important because the clubhead speed in your swing mostly comes from the club bending and then releasing creating a whip-like effect.
Most people think that only the best golfers would benefit from selecting the right shafts in their clubs. I thought that way for many years. I was totally wrong. For purposes of this post, I am going to stick just to helping you figure out the right shaft flex. There are a lot of other factors that can go into proper shaft selection, especially for the driver. However, if you are a relative beginner or looking to just buy a club off the shelf of your local golf shop, shaft flex is a great starting point to begin understanding proper club fitting.
Effects Of Shaft Flex
Changing the shaft flex can affect the accuracy, trajectory, and distance of your shot. This is because as the shaft flexes and releases the clubhead changes position. This can mean the clubface is open, closed, adding loft, or decreasing loft. Each of these can affect those three things in different ways.
It is a common misconception that stiffer means more accurate. In reality, getting the right shaft for your swing will help you be more accurate. Choosing the right flex ensures that the clubhead has released properly and is square to the direction you want to hit the ball.
Too stiff and the clubhead may not release properly and leave you with a weak slice. Too flexible and you could end up hooking the ball dramatically. Similarly, a more flexible shaft may add too much loft resulting in a high trajectory and a loss of distance. We’ll get into how to better diagnose these kind of problems below.
The overall effects of shaft flex on these factors is the same for all the clubs in your bag, but depending on what club it is, you may want different results. So just because you want a certain flex to achieve certain results in your driver does not mean you want the same results in your wedge.
Swing speed is not the only factor in determining the best shaft flex for your swing.
The tempo that you swing at is important too. Especially if your swing speed is somewhere near the dividing line between two shaft flexes.
In addition, if you are overswinging, your tempo may be fast but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Choosing a softer flex may have the positive mental effect of slowing down your tempo. This often results in a better swing and (surprisingly) a faster clubhead speed. So even if you think you are swinging too fast for a flexible shaft, you may benefit from one.
Feel Can Be The Tie Breaker
Sometimes one flex just feels better than the other.
While I don’t think you should make the entire decision based on feel alone, it can be a good way to decide between two similar flex shafts. If you find yourself getting similar results from two different flexes but one of them just feels better, then use the one that makes you more comfortable. Golf can be a very mental based game and that extra bit of confidence can have a positive impact on your swing.
Golf Shaft Flex Chart
While getting fit for a specific shaft is the best way to find the right shaft, this chart will give you some general guidelines that can help get you started in the right place.
|Carry Distance||Swing Speed||Flex|
|Under 200 yards||Under 75 mph||Ladies or Senior|
|200 to 240 yards||75 to 95 mph||Regular|
|240 to 275 yards||95 to 110 mph||Stiff|
|Over 275 yards||Over 110 mps||Stiff or Extra Stiff|
How do I know what flex shaft i need
The best way to ensure you get the correct shaft is to get a professional clubfitting by a trained professional. They will be able to get you on a launch monitor to check all kinds of things like clubhead speed, ball speed, spin, distance, and many other factors. They can try a number of different shafts in the same driver head to optimize these numbers to give you the best results.
Getting on a launch monitor can have a lot of other benefits to your swing as well. The better launch monitors can even tell show you a small graphic of your clubface position through the hitting area. So you can see if you clubpath needs work.
Most amateur golfers overestimate things like swing speed and distance and are tremendously surprised when they see their swing accurately measured. While this may be a bit of a hit to the ego, it’s better to know the reality so you can work on improving some factors.
If you either can’t find a clubfitter in your area or it’s a little too expensive, then the next best bet is to find someplace where you can demo various clubs. Many brands offer easily detachable heads from their drivers so retailers are given a cart with multiple shaft options. Trying these out either in a simulator or at a range can give you a good idea about which shaft works best for you. The benefit to this is that the shafts they have on these sales carts are generally the same ones that they make available when ordering a new club. The downside is that these options are not exhaustive and might not necessarily be the best possible for you.
Lastly, a good way to dip your toe into the whole clubfitting process is to check out a “demo day” at your local golf course or retailer. Oftentimes, various brands will either have their own demo day and send representatives of the brand that are trained in basic clubfitting.