QA Steel vs Graphite Shafts

By Frank ThomasDecember 5, 2006, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from The Golf Channel's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email

I just read your three articles on the 'Shaft.' I understand there is a new grade of steel now being used. How would you compare this new steel shaft and the graphite shaft? Considering going to steel soon. Thanks, Gilbert

There are some innovations in materials which will allow shafts to be made lighter and approach the weight of graphite. I dont believe that these metal shafts will ever be lighter or even the same weight as graphite.
When I first introduced graphite to the world of golf in 1970 the shafts I made weighed about 75 grams for an XS shaft. A comparable stiffness steel shaft weighed approximately 135 grams. This was a 60 grams or a 44% reduction in weight which made a significant difference. Todays graphite shafts will weigh about 60 grams and the light weight steel shafts about 105 grams. The performance difference from steel to graphite (60 grams difference in weight) in 1970 resulted in about 4 to 5 yards increase in distance.
So I leave it to up to you to determine how much difference in performance you think there will be between the old graphite 75 grams and the new graphite 55 grams (20 grams difference in weight). Most graphite shafts are heavier than 55 grams and closer to 65 grams.
Now I can answer the question about the newer steel shafts. These will be delving into Nanotechnology and probably weigh close to the 90 gram mark. The advantage of the metal shafts is that they are more consistent in their flex and rotational properties than a number of graphite shafts just because it is easier to do this with the production process.
The cost of these shafts will probably be higher than the existing light weight steel shafts but they will be better shafts.
I dont think my game (5-handicap) is good enough to detect the difference in performance but when I get everything right in my swing and have judged the distance and wind correctly and using the perfect ball, I dont want the wrong shaft to get between me and that hole in one.
Hi Frank,
I really enjoy your info. I get the chance to play golf year round here in Las Vegas but with the winter months upon us should I store golf balls were its at least room temperature or just leave them in the garage with my clubs. I'm sure it all depends on the type of ball I use. - Joe

You can store these in the garage for the winter.
Normal temperatures are not going to affect the balls but high humidity may. If the cover absorbs moisture this could affect the performance next summer. Depending on how good you are at determining very small differences in performances you may or may not be able to tell the difference even after two to three years of storage in your garage. As you live in Las Vegas I dont think you have a problem in the winter but would suggest that you bring them indoors during the hot summer months. If you are only talking about a dozen balls then dont worry as you will probably lose them before there will be any perceptible change in performance. I would also suggest that you put scuffed balls in your shag bag as the scuff on the cover will probably affect performance considerably more than the moisture absorption over a period of a year in your garage.

I just purchased a Callaway X460 driver. However, the shaft seems too soft for me. It's regular. Can I have the shaft tipped to make it a little more stiffer? If so, how much tipping and do I add some length to the butt end to compensate for the tipping.
Thanks, Tom

I would strongly urge you not to tip the shaft purely to change the shaft flex.
Tipping a shaft means that you cut a certain portion off the tip end of the shaft. This does a couple of things.
It will change the flex profile making the tip end of the shaft a little stiffer which will lower the launch angle, flight trajectory and also reduce the spin. If shortening the shaft is the objective, this is normally achieved by cutting a section off the butt end as this affects the bending profile minimally.
In both cases these changes are small and tipping is done as a method of tweaking the flight and launch conditions as well as changing the feel. You do this only after you have made the other major changes to shaft flex and loft angle etc. to get into the right ball park of launch conditions which are right for you.
Tipping will make the shaft feel slightly stiffer but in your case Tom I would suggest that change shafts rather than trying to trim it to get the stiffness you want. Before you change shafts I would suggest you go and try a few at a demo day or in a store where you can test these.
Good luck.
Click to purchase the Frog PutterFrank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to Helping Golfers. Frank is Chief Technical Advisor to The Golf Channel and Golf Digest. He served as Technical Director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN System and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.