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How to Choose a New Shaft

What You Need to Consider When Choosing New or Replacement Golf Shafts

By Dennis Mack

ROCHESTER, NY - AUGUST 16: David Hearn of Canada examines the shaft of his driver during the third round of the Xerox Classic at the Irondequoit Country Club held on August 16, 2008 in Rochester, New York.
Michael Cohen/Getty Images
Sooner or later you will break one of your shafts, and I'm sure it will be purely accidental! When this happens you have two choices. The first is to take your broken club to a clubmaker for repairs. The second is to replace the shaft yourself. Or you might decide that you want new shafts in your golf clubs as a performance upgrade. Either way, there are a few things you should know about choosing a new shaft.

The first thing to decide is whether you require a steel or a graphite shaft. Then you need to decide on shaft flex and what bend point (or kickpoint) is required. You'll need to choose the right torque rating for the shaft, and finally, determine what length the club should be when it is finished.

All these things are important and must be decided before you order and install a shaft. I will discuss each point individually, which should help you decide what shaft to buy or to make sure the shaft someone else recommends is the right one for you.

Shaft Type
There are two basic types of shafts, steel and graphite. The choice is usually quite simple because your club will have been originally assembled with either of these types of shafts. However, if you decide to change the type of shaft, you should know a few things about each.

1. Steel shafts are heavier, their torque ratings are low, and when assembled at the same length as graphite they will result in a club that has a heavier feel. Steel is more durable and does not have painted surfaces to scratch.

2. Graphite shafts are lighter, and their torque ratings have a more extensive range, providing more choices for the golfer.

• HOW TO CHOOSE: The easiest way is to just replace the broken shaft with the same type. However, you may want to experiment a little. Maybe you find the shafts in your clubs too stiff or too weak. If you hit a 7-iron about 150 yards, then a Regular Flex shaft would be recommended. Choose a shaft with a Swing Speed Rating of 70 to 80 mph in graphite or steel. If you use a 5-iron from 150 yards, you would want to use a shaft with a Swing Speed Rating of about 60 to 70 mph. Most component companies list the Swing Speed Rating of every shaft in their catalogues.

Related article: Steel vs. graphite shafts

Shaft Flex and Bend Point
Every shaft has a Flex Rating (usually L, R, S, XS) and a bend point (Low, Mid and High). (Bend point, by the way, is also called kickpoint.) The unfortunate thing is that there is no industry standard for shaft flex - one manufacturer's Regular Flex shaft may be firmer or weaker than another manufacturer's. These differences will produce shafts that, even though they have the same Flex Rating, will play differently.

One difference will be in Swing Speed Ratings. One 'R' flex shaft might be rated for 65 to 75 mph while another is rated for 75-85 mph. Bend point influences the ball's trajectory so the golfer has to decide what type of ball flight he wants.

• HOW TO CHOOSE: My experience as a club builder is that most golfers play with clubs that are too stiff. As noted above, you should determine what your swing speed is and choose your new shaft flex accordingly. (Note: The effect of torque on shaft flex is discussed on the following page.)

If you find your ball flight is too low or too high, then choosing a shaft with the right bend point can help. If you want to hit the ball on a lower trajectory, choose a bend point of High. For a higher trajectory, choose a bend point of Low. For something in between, go with Mid rating for bend point.

Related article: Choosing the right shaft flex
Related article: Effects of having the wrong shaft flex

Next Page: Determining Torque and Length

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