Question: What is "Torque," and Is It Important In Choosing the Right Shaft?
Answer: The term "torque" is taken to mean the shaft's designed resistance to twisting during the downswing. The torque value is expressed in degrees, so the lower the degrees of torque, the more resistance the shaft will have to being twisted from the force of the downswing on the clubhead attached to that shaft. The higher the degrees of torque, the less resistance the shaft will have to being twisted by the mass of the clubhead on the downswing.
In steel shafts, because the type of steel material is the same throughout the entire shaft, the torque exists in a very narrow range of degrees, one that is much more narrow than in graphite shafts.
Graphite shafts can be and often are made with a wide variety of different graphite fiber strength, stiffness and position on the shaft. This allows the torque in graphite shafts to range from as high as 7 or 8 degrees to as low as 1 degree, while in steel this range is only from a little more than 2 degrees to a little under 4 degrees.
Therefore, torque is not a factor to worry about in the selection of a steel shaft, but it is a point to keep in mind for some golfers when selecting a graphite shaft.
Fortunately, the fitting ramifications of torque even in graphite shafts is not that severe. Simply stated, it means that if you are a big strong, powerful person with an aggressive swing tempo and a late release, you never want the torque in a graphite shaft to be any higher than 4 to 4.5 degrees. Otherwise, your strength and downswing force may cause the clubhead to twist the shaft, causing the clubface to be more open at impact, and resulting in a shot that hangs or fades to the right of your target (for a right-handed golfer).
Conversely, if you have a very smooth, rhythmic swing without a very aggressive downswing move, you do not want to use graphite shafts with the torque below 3.5 degrees or else the impact feel of the shot can be stiff, harsh and unsolid, and the height of the shot may be too low.
So for most golfers, as long the torque of a graphite shaft is between 3.5 and 5.5 degrees - which is the case for the vast majority of graphite shafts today - the golfer will be OK and torque will never be a factor to worry about in the shaft fitting.