To say that the shaft is important is an understatement. It is everything. The engine that drives the club head to the ball. If it is the right shaft, it gets you to your destination. If not, then the club will take a wrong turn and so will your ball.
What are you looking for in the right shaft? That is the magic question, and very hard to answer. Shafts have different flex, torque, weight, bend points, and other characteristics that dictate its performance.
FLEX: Generally speaking there are five different shaft flexes : Ladies, Senior, Regular, Stiff, and Extra Stiff. The biggest factor in determining the right flex is your club head speed. The slower your swing speed the softer the shaft you’ll need. Matching the shaft to your club head speed will allow the shaft to work for you and not against you.
WEIGHT: Driver shafts weight between 45 to 75 grams. Your tempo and swing strength will help you determine the best weight. If the shaft is too light for you then your club head speed will most likely increase, but also be more erratic causing greater dispersion, and your launch should go up because lighter shafts typically have higher launch characteristics. The lighter shaft is better for a slower swing with a smooth transition.
If your swing doesn’t fall into that category, try something heavier. This should tighten your dispersion, assuming the shaft weight matches your tempo. Ball speeds would suffer, taking away some distance. It is my opinion that a heavier shaft is good for an anti-hook mindset. Lighter shafts should promote a draw in most cases.
TORQUE: This is the most abstract aspect of shafts. It is a measurement of the shaft’s resistance to twisting. In simple terms, torque dictates the way a shaft feels. It is measured in degrees, usually between 2-7, representing the amount the shaft will twist. The lower the number, the stiffer a shaft will feel. I say that torque is abstract because testing shows that there is no concrete cause & effect. In most cases the harder swinger will prefer the lower torque shafts while a slower swinger will prefer a higher number. But these are generalizations and tests couldn’t prove any ball flight patterns attached to torque.
BEND POINT: Shafts are built to “bend” in different spots to influence ball flight. A higher bend point creates lower shots while a lower bend point hits the ball higher. The distance between High and Low bend points is about 6 inches in the middle of the shaft, so not a big difference. In some graphite shafts the manufacturer will put stiffer material strategically in the shaft to create certain stiffer qualities and characteristics.
Years ago I was able to go to Taylor Made for a driver fitting. They were giving us the chance to get fit at The Kingdom and take the driver home with us – free. I went in thinking about only 1 shaft – The Tour ADi. This was Tiger’s shaft. I wanted it. Unfortunately I had to work very hard to get any positive results from it. After much consternation I chose the shaft that was easier for me to hit, and never looked back.
I tell this story to outline how our expectations are not always met. My biggest advice for choosing a shaft is to find the one that works FOR you not against you. The purpose of the fitting is to go home with a club that makes golf easier for you – so pick a shaft that gives you that chance.