Q A Proper Shaft Flex Revisited


Frankly GolfEditor'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 letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com
Dear Mr. Thomas,
I am still confused about the proper shaft flex discussions. I watched on The Golf Channel when you answered a question whether a person would hit the ball further with a softer shaft if they maintained the same swing speed.
You answered that the shaft flex had no impact on the distance rather that the swing speed was the entire factor. If this is the case, why is it commonly stated that most golfers play with shafts that are too stiff for them? If a golfer is able to hit the ball straight with a stiffer shaft and distance is directly attributable to swing speed what would be the determining factor to make a shaft change? -- Bill Foor

It is a little confusing I must admit. Most golfers do select shafts that are too stiff and as a result find it difficult to time the swing correctly. They are fighting the club to get it to perform well and as a result lose control and timing.
A more flexible shaft will provide a different feel and allow most golfers to time their swing more effectively and be more consistent and as a result will allow them to more efficiently transfer the energy to the club head.
This is where the distance comes from i.e. feeling more comfortable with your club and proper timing not from the flex in the shaft per say.
Generally for slower swing speeds a more flexible shaft feels more comfortable and bends about the same amount as a stiffer shaft would for a faster swing speed. So what we are really trying to do is to get the right shaft flex for your swing speed not trying to get more distance by changing flex with the same swing speed. I hope this helps.
For more information on shafts, please visit my website at www.franklygolf.com/tgc/shafts.asp
Even though I am 51, I still have a lot of strength and flexibility, therefore I have a lot of distance. As an example, last Saturday I had four drives on wet fairways over 300 yards and I routinely hit my 7-iron 170 yards. However, I am extremely inconsistent with anything larger than a 6 iron. I have two Calloway hybrids, the 2 and 3 iron and when I hit them pure they are great, but that only happens maybe 1 in 3 times. I am playing with older Ping IST irons. Any suggestions on equipment possibilities or just lessons and practice? -- John Haynie

This is a tough one. If you are hitting the ball as long as you indicate then your swing speed, for a 300 yard drive on a wet fairway, would be close to 125 mph. At this swing speed you should be in the X-flex or even an XX-flex shaft if you are not using this flex now.
On the other hand, everybody seems to lose control when they try to do what we all try to do i.e. 'Just Rip It'. If you already have a very stiff shaft then try to back off a little which will decreases the distance a little but you have plenty of this to spare anyway.
The toe on my irons is getting pretty worn out. My friends think that I need to work on hitting the club-face in the center (that one is a no-brainer) rather than worrying about adjusting the lie. It's fairly obvious that utilizing the 'sweet-spot' on the iron face will drastically improve my distance and control but what part does the lie play in this? I am not expecting a miracle cure here or anything like that, but my understanding is that adjusting the lie down a degree or two MAY make a significant difference. Can you help me out here? ' Eric

I cannot emphasize the importance of having the correct lie angle. This is the most important property to check when fitting a set of clubs. If you play a lot of golf then check these lie angles once a year. If these are not right then you will continually be trying to compensate and this will affect your swing and control. I strongly suggest that you check the lie angles of your clubs using your natural (un-compensating ) swing. The fact that you are always missing the sweet spot will not only affect the distance but also your directional control. I think you will be surprised with the results of a correct lie angle.
Hi Frank,
I must begin by telling you that I look forward to each and every time you are on 'Your Game Night' and all of your Q&A sections of The Golf Channel website.
I am 34 years old, a 4 handicap and have been playing since age 7 but I do not know my swing speed, ball speed or launch angle. I use a Ping Si3 10-degree driver with a Grafalloy Blue R flex shaft. I am considered a pretty long hitter at my club although I don't know my average off the top of my head. I would guesstimate maybe 240 or so carry but most of your articles state that figure is over estimated by most folks.
To get to my question; this driver just felt right the first time I hit it although I haven't hit an R flex shaft since I was about 15 years old. It doesn't really matter as long as the shaft works for me not to mention I have 'sold' more than one person on this shaft (one interestingly enough had an S flex of the same model) but I'm curious as to your thoughts on why I would be happy with all of the rest of my set in basically an S flex while I have fairly good results with this driver in an R flex shaft from an accuracy and distance standpoint. Not looking to make any changes at the moment but rather for some insight as to what I might be looking for in my next technology upgrade i.e. looking at R flex driver shafts. Thanks very much for any input. -- Matt Gresham

Well done, you have found the shaft which matches your swing. This is not all that you have found as the shaft is only one piece of the system. The head and loft seems to be made for you based on the results. There is no need to go to a different flex for your irons if you are comfortable with what you have. As you know, I have continually suggested that golfers go to the R shaft as this will most likely be the best match to allow them to maintain a good swing tempo and as a result get more distance and control. If your swing speed is in the 95 + range, only then think about experimenting with a stiff shaft. Good luck to you and again well done.
When I first started playing golf a few years back I bought and wore a glove on my left hand because everyone else had one on. Then I started playing w/o a glove a while back and haven't used one since. During the course of this I've brought my handicap high-33 down to a mid-13. What, if any advantage does wearing a golf glove do for the player? Could going back to a glove improve my game? -- Michael S.

I have a 4.8 handicap and don't wear a glove. This is not what some of the glove manufacturers like to hear but I find under normal conditions a glove is not necessary, if your grips are in good shape. If you feel comfortable not wearing a glove then don't. BUT if the club is inclined to slip because of hot weather and sweaty hands or any other similar or rainy conditions then a glove is recommended, so keep one in your bag for these occasions. Generally a glove will give you confidence that the club will not slip and therefore you don't have to strangle it when making a swing. Strangling your grip is not a good idea and only tenses up your arms and does not allow for a smooth relaxed swing. So if you think the club may slip then wear a glove otherwise enjoy the freedom without one.
Frank 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 letsbefrank@thegolfchannel.com