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Shaft Fitting

Editor's Note: Bruce Martin is a PGA Master Professional with the San Diego Golf Academy. SDGAs program offers a curriculum of golf instruction and golf business management at all four golf schools, and provides graduates with the education required to get the golf job they desire. You'll soon be teaching others how to improve their game! Click here to learn more about SDGA

The shaft is the engine of the club. One major goal all club fitters encounter is to properly fit their students with the correct shafts. This article will discuss the keys toward determining the proper shafts for the Golf Channel viewers. Shaft technology is constantly improving. Consumer shaft options are enormous. New shaft companies are in the market on a monthly basis. Current shaft manufacturers offer a wide array of shafts for drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, and putters.
During the swing, the shaft bends in three directions:

  • On the transition of the swing from the top / downswing, the shaft will lag or load. This is also classified as stored energy.

  • Just prior to impact, at impact, or after impact, the shaft will lead. This is released energy.

  • In addition to lagging and leading, the shaft will also bend toe down = shaft droop. This will flatten the lie angle, which is a major concern for your irons.

With the shaft bending in three directions, how can one consistently return the clubface to a square position while maximizing the potentials for distance and accuracy? The answer may be in properly fitted shafts.
In order to determine the proper shaft for each golfer, proceed to the following steps:
The majority of golfers will experience the following ball flights ' (Right handed)
Shaft too stiff - Low and to the right = fades, slices, push slices.
Shafts too flexible ' High and to the left = draws, hook, pull hooks.
General guide for shaft stiffness (Based on driver club head speed):
  • X-stiff 110-115+ mph

  • Stiff 100+ mph

  • Regular 90+ mph

  • Senior 80+ mph

If you hook the ball too much, try a stiffer shaft.
If you slice the ball too much, try a more flexible shaft.
Lower kick point shafts will produce higher ball flights = excellent for the following golfers:
  • Lower ball flights

  • Slower to average club head speeds

  • Players that reverse pivot / reverse weight shift

  • Players needing more carry distance and higher trajectories

Higher kick point shafts will produce lower ball flights = excellent for the following golfers:
  • Too high of ball flight

  • Higher club head speeds

  • Players that hang back / have trouble shifting their weight forward

  • Scoopers = adds more dynamic loft at impact

  • Stronger players that need more of a penetrating ball flight

To determine the proper length, have your local PGA Golf professional take a look at your posture at setup and your ability to hit the sweetspot / centeredeness consistently.
Length Considerations:
Longer shafts = Offers more distance, but sacrifices accuracy and consistency.
Shorter shafts = Offers less distance, and more accuracy and consistency.
Putting = Too many putter shafts are designed too long. This may sacrifice the golfers abilities to line up properly and produce an improper path.
Graphite shafted irons ' Manufacturers typically design these shafts 1 longer than standard steel shafts.
Changing length = For every change, the lie angle will also change 1 degree.
Ex: Adding 1 to standard lie angles will produce a 2 degree upright lie angle.
Graphite or Steel?
Look at any PGA or LPGA tour event and you will see the majority of players with steel shafted irons and graphite shafted metal woods. Why, Steel offers more consistency and graphite has the potential for increased distance.
Benefits of graphite shafts:
  • Lighter = potential for more speed

  • Higher launch angles

  • Modern technology = wide variations of launch angles and spin rates

  • Heavier shafts generally will be stiffer

  • Tests have proven that shock absorption occurs ' great for golfers with arthritis or tendonitis.

Benefits of steel shafts:
  • More consistency

  • More reliable with frequency matched stiffness

  • Heavier ' This may help the players tempo and feel

  • Ability to control distance and trajectory better with irons

  • A few companies like True Temper (Sensicore) offers a shock absorption device built inside the shaft

Cross Profiling
An experienced club fitter can offer a variety of different shaft manufacturers once the specifications have been determined. This is a great experience for any golfer to demo similar shaft flexes, kick points, weights, lengths to determine the optimal launch angles, spin rates, carry and overall distance, and consistency between different brands. Several fitting facilities offer this technology with cross profiling between manufacturers.