What should you choose: stiff vs regular flex on golf shafts?
For starters, both stiffness levels affect golf club performance.
Stiffer clubs create more torque (rotational force) because there is less flexing during impact with the ball; this makes them easier to hit harder shots.
Regular flex shafts are more forgiving and easier to control, which is why they’re favored by a majority of golfers.
Some pros choose the regular flex because it helps them hit straighter shots with less effort than their stiffer counterparts; on the other hand, others find that a stiffer club provides greater distance from tee to green due to increased torque during impact.
Let’s get to know both flex types better…
What is the difference between stiff flex and regular flex shafts?
A stiff flex shaft is a shaft that is harder to bend than a regular flex shaft. It will offer more resistance on the swing.
To determine what flex shaft you have, or if you’re buying one, the label on your shaft will tell you. The flex rating is usually indicated by a letter and number, which will inform of the weight and flexibility of the shaft.
Stiff shafts are harder to bend and flex, and they tend to be heavier in weight. This makes them ideal for golfers with faster swing speeds who need more control over their shots. Regular shafts, on the other hand, are slightly more flexible and lighter in weight. This can benefit golfers with slower swing speeds, as the additional flex can provide more power and distance to compensate.
Difference between Regular and Stiff Flex?
A stiff flex shaft (marked with an S) is a golf shaft that is designed to be less flexible than a regular flex shaft to put it in perspective. This allows for more power and distance when hit hard, but may sacrifice some accuracy. Stiff flex is well-suited for seasoned or professional players since they have refined their techniques and accuracy is usually on point.
A regular flex (marked with an R), however, offers a bit more flexibility and precision while sacrificing power and distance. As you can imagine, regular flex is more forgiving and generally well-suited for beginners or golfers with lower swing speeds looking to achieve maximum control and accuracy.
Other types of shaft flex
Besides, Stiff and Regular flex there are other types of flex. Let’s see other main types of flex (there are others that are less common):
Extra Stiff (marked with XS)
The Extra Stiff flex is the second stiffest of all the flex types and they are for experienced golfers only. Extra stiff shaft flex refers to a shaft with a very high resistance when being twisted, which is why it is recommended for players who want to have a more stable golf club during their swing.
Due to being so rigid, the golfer using an extra stiff golf shaft must have a crisp swing technique. Otherwise, their shot can easily slide and put them in a pretty bad spot for the hole.
Senior (marked with A or M or even A/M)
After the Regular flex, it follows the Senior shaft flex. This is a lighter version of regular and stiff shafted flex, which helps create more speed. It is for those who hit between 75-85 miles per hour with a carry distance of about 180 to 200 yards.
Senior flex shafts make it easier to get the ball in the air with a decent ball height thanks to their extra flexibility, which imprints extra speed on the ball.
Ladies (marked with L)
Ladies shaft flex is designed for slower swing speeds and is cut to a shorter length. This allows for more speed and carry distance. It also provides more flex in the shaft, making it easier to generate extra speed with slower swing speeds.
It’s also common to see ladies flex shafts made of graphite as it is one of the lightest and most flexible materials.
How do you know which flex is right for you?
Knowing the types of flex is important, but the next natural step is to know which shaft flex fits your game. After testing and buying quite a few golf shafts myself, let’s see some of the most important steps when deciding to purchase the best shaft.
Determine your Swing Speed
You can use a launch monitor to test your swing speed, or you can visit a local golf shop where they can help you test it. This is an important step, do not skip it. Just find a way to know your swing speed as it will benefit other choices you might want to do in the future.
Test different flexes
Once you know your swing speed, you can start testing different shafts with different flexes to see which one gives you the best results. Remember that you can always ask for help from a professional fitter if you’re having trouble finding the right shaft.
This is the step to inspect and test thoroughly the shafts so you get a great feel.
Get Custom-Fitted Clubs
The best way to get the most out of your clubs is to get them custom-fitted. A professional club fitter will take into account all the important factors like your height, weight, swing speed, and tempo to find the perfect clubs for you. They will also help you find the right shaft flex for your swing.
Custom-fitted clubs are an investment, but they are definitely worth it if you want to take your game to the next level.
There’s no such thing as the perfect flex
Lastly, keep in mind that there is no such thing as the perfect flex. There are just different flexes that work better for different players. The key is to find the flex that works best for you and your game. So, don’t get too caught up in finding the perfect flex. Just find the flex that works best for you and stick with it.
Important Factors on Golf Shaft flex
And now, let’s look at four of the most important factors that determine and affect golf shaft flex.
Swing Speed as a reference
In order to select the right type of shaft flex, you need to have a reference metric or factor. And that is Swing Speed. Swing Speed is the amount of speed you generate when swinging the club and hence, the speed you generate when hitting the ball.
The faster your swing speed, the stiffer the shaft you will need to compensate for precision.
Depending on your swing speed you might want to choose one or another type of flex that fits your style the best. Of course, swing speed won’t be the only factor that you consider but it’ll be one of the most relevant.
You can use the numbers below as a reference:
|Driver Swing Speed (mph)||Driver Carry Distance (yards)||Golf Shaft Flex|
|105 and above||275 and above||Extra Stiff|
|95 to 105||230 to 275||Stiff|
|85 to 95||190 to 230||Regular|
|75 to 85||Under 190||Senior or Ladies|
Shaft’s Material: Graphite or Steel?
Graphite shafts are usually lighter and more forgiving. That means they will allow you to add a bit more power if you have a slower swing speed.
Additionally, steel shafts are heavier and can feel more stable. This is ideal for golfers with faster or stronger swing speeds. However, it should be noted that you can use either type of shaft depending on the other factors below.
- Graphite shafts are more forgiving: Graphite shafts are less punishing and will benefit golfers will slower swing speeds.
- Steel shafts are a bit heavier and more stable: For golfers with fast or stronger swing speeds, steel shafts are the best option.
Clubhead Mass: How Does That Relate to shaft flex?
Another important factor, and one that has a direct impact on the shaft flex of the club.
The heavier the club head, the stiffer the shaft should be. This is due to the fact that heavier clubheads require more force to swing, which in turn puts more pressure on the shaft. Therefore, the weight of the club head is also a big factor in determining the shaft flex.
A detailed study by Human Kinetics in 2015 highlighted some interesting conclusions.
As noted in the study, increasing clubhead mass tends to decrease clubhead speed. However, they found that clubhead mass has no meaningful influence on ball speed. This suggests that manipulating clubhead mass to increase driving distance is not likely to be successful.
Additionally, the study found that increasing clubhead mass also produces more lateral dispersion (the ball veers off to the sides more easily). This is due to the fact that heavier clubheads are, generally, more difficult to control. Hence, the importance of refining the technique with heavier club heads and stiffer shafts.
When people talk about tempo, they’re usually referring to how fast or slow you swing the club. The “smooth” and slower tempos are best for regular flex shafts; even more so if a golfer is in between their preferred flexes.
If you have a faster tempo then a stiffer shaft would be more beneficial for you – especially when swinging at higher speeds with the driver, let’s say swinging at 94 mph might do.
What are the drawbacks of each flex?
Drawback of the A-Flex: Lacking distance
A-Flex’s, or Senior flex, drawback is that it could be too flexible, which can lead to less distance or power. So finding a good balance between power and precision is a must.
Drawback of the R-Flex: Too ‘even’
The R-Flex shaft, Regular flex, doesn’t have too many pros or cons as they’re designed to offer great balance. However, if a golfer is looking for extreme shot distance, Regular flexed shafts might not be their choice.
Regular Flex shafts are appropriate for golfers who hit between 85 and 95 miles per hour with a carry distance of around 200-230 yards. If you’re a semi-regular golfer or approaching the intermediate stage, Regular Flex shafts are probably the perfect option for you.
Drawback of the S-Flex: Not as much power.
The main drawback of the S-Flex, Stiff flex, is that it is not as powerful as some of the other flexes, like the extra stiff. It is designed for people who drive the ball less than 200 yards, and have swing speeds of about 95 to 105 mph.
So it may not be suitable for everyone. Senior flex is a little stiffer and lighter than regular flex, so it may not be as comfortable for some people to use.
Drawback of the X-Flex: Not as accurate.
The X-Flex is not as accurate as some of the other flex options. Although offering more power and distance, this flex usually lacks a bit more control or precision. So the golfer choosing a Stiff flex shaft has to master golf technique to hit fairways consistently.
Is Stiff flex good for beginners?
Beginners can use stiff flex shafts but they are not recommended. They are typically used by professional golfers and players who can drive the ball over 220 yards.
As they are stiffer, they are also heavier and require a little more power and energy to operate. If your swing is too slow, stiff flex clubs will make it harder to generate power and strike the golf ball cleanly.
Beginners should first focus on gaining a clean swing technique before using Stiff or extra stiff flexed shafts.
What happens if the shaft flex is too stiff?
If your shaft flex is too stiff, it can result in too many fades and slices. This is because stiffer shafts don’t offer as much control.
This can be improved by finding a more flexible shaft that fits your swing correctly. It is important to understand the flex of your clubs so you can find the right stiffness for your swing.
How do I know if I need a regular vs stiff flex golf shaft?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best golf shaft flex for you depends on your individual swing speed and other factors such as the swing speed, material of the shaft, tempo and clubhead mass.
f you’re feeling that many of your shots are miss-hits or are having trouble hitting the fairways consistently, you might be hitting too stiff of a shaft. On the other hand, if accuracy is on point but you’re lacking distance, you might want to try a stiffer shaft but add extra yardage.
Just remember to change stiffness gradually. You might change from Regular to Stiff. Or from Senior to Regular, but not skipping one level in between.
Do I need the same shaft flex in all of my clubs?
Golfers will usually hit the driver a bit faster than their irons, therefore not all golf clubs will need the same shaft flex. Following on this idea, the technique to hit each golf club varies slightly so the best is to also adapt the shaft flex for each club type.
If you need a regular shaft for your driver because you lack swing speed but you feel more comfortable with your irons, then you might want to hit a stiffer shaft on those.
It’s completely fine to change and adapt the flex across your club set.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, it’s important to choose the right golf shaft for your swing speed across your different clubs. The key is to find the flex that works best for you and your game. Just remember that there is no such thing as the perfect flex that works in all conditions and all golfers. Just find the flex that works best for you and helps you improve your game.
To achieve this, testing is a big part of the process. You can talk to other golfers and visit your local shop to get expert advice. But make sure to test multiple types of flex, you might be surprised.