There are plenty of debates in golf, but there are only a few that a golfer should actually care about.
If you’re ready to fill your golf bag with some new clubs, you need to do your homework on the regular vs stiff flex irons discussion before you make a purchase. This isn’t the most exciting way to use your time, but the decision you make on shaft flex can have a significant influence on your golf course performance.
If you’re like me, the word homework probably send chills up your spine. To ease that tension, you can replace the expression “you need to do your homework” with “you should read this article.”
Does that help?
By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be an expert on the pros/cons of each golf club setup.
So let’s get into the nitty-gritty of stiff vs regular flex irons.
What’s the Difference Between Regular and Stiff Flex Irons
You may have already guessed it, but the key difference between regular vs stiff flex irons is…
…The flexibility of the club shaft!
Here is the key information you need to know as it relates to shaft stiffness.
Stiff Flex Shaft
- Firmer shaft
- Harder to bend
- Heavier shafts (in most cases)
- Usually some variation of a steel shaft
Regular Flex Shaft
- Flexible shaft
- Easier to bend (or softer flex)
- Lower shaft weight (in most cases)
- Usually a graphite shaft
Generally speaking, a driver/wood/hybrid will be equipped with a graphite club shaft. This setup is ideal for most golfers who want a golf swing that promotes the highest clubhead speed possible. Because the shafts of these clubs are longer, the extra flex is beneficial to golfers across the board.
However, when it comes to the iron shaft choice, there are additional factors to consider. Some golfers actually need a stiff shaft to hit the ball the furthest.
Is Stiff or Regular Flex Better?
The answer to this question really depends on your swing speed and general tendencies when you’re on the golf course. For some golfers, a stiff shaft will deliver better results. However, most average golfers are best served by a regular flex.
So how do you tell what flex shaft you need?
Swing speed and ball trajectory will help you determine what flex shaft you need.
Here is a breakdown of the factors you should consider to determine if stiff or regular iron shafts will suit you best.
Factor #1 – Your Swing Speed
Your swing speed is going to be the most obvious indicator of which flex is best for your needs. Before selecting your golf shaft, you should evaluate your swing speed.
The easiest way to do this is to visit a club fitting facility. Most golf courses or golf retailers can help you determine your swing speed using a launch monitor and/or other fancy equipment. They can then recommend the right shaft for your irons.
If seeing a club fitter isn’t an option, there are some cell phone apps that may help you gauge your speed. You can also try to find a DriveShack or TopGolf near you. Both options are entertaining and can offer some helpful insights on swing and ball speed.
With that information in hand, you can then circle back to the regular vs stiff flex irons discussion.
If you have a slower swing speed, you should probably stick with a regular flex for your irons. Anything below 90mph is considered to be a slow swing speed in golf.
If you have a faster swing speed, you should probably use a stiff shaft for your irons. Anything above 90mph is considered to be a fast swing speed and may warrant steel shafts.
There are exceptions to these guidelines, but they work well as a general rule of thumb.
Factor #2 – Your Ball Trajectory
If you’ve played enough golf, you probably know where your mishits tend to go.
In spite of all the golf tips from your friends, you may find yourself hitting the ball in the wrong direction over and over again.
Your ball trajectory may offer some insights as to whether or not regular flex shafts or a stiffer shaft would serve you best.
If you’re a right handed golfer who tends to hit high and left, you may be using a shaft that is too light and flexible. In this case, heavier steel shafts may be the way to go.
If you’re a right handed golfer who tends to hit low and right, you may be using a shaft that is too heavy and stiff. This setup is keeping you from squaring the club face in time. In this case, a lighter and softer shaft may be the way to go.
If you’re left-handed, just reverse the scenarios I just described to self-diagnose.
Factor #3 – The Kick Point of the Shaft
The first two factors allow for some self-diagnosis, but this third one moves more into club expert category. You may be wondering:
What is the kick point in a golf shaft?
The kick point is the part of the golf shaft that bends the most during your swing. The kick point will influence your ball flight, so finding the right shaft to maximize distance and accuracy may require an accurate understanding of that shaft’s kick point.
We can’t help you figure this out, but a professional club fitter can.
Who should use stiff flex irons?
Generally speaking, if you have a fast swing speed (90mph and up), stiff flex irons are probably the best fit for your game.
Who should use regular flex irons?
Generally speaking, if you have a slow swing speed (under 90mph), regular flex irons are probably the best fit for your game.
A regular shaft is what most beginners and high handicappers are looking for. Most standard golf club sets fall into this category.
Do pros use stiff or regular shafts?
Most PGA Tour players use stiff shafts. Some may even use extra stiff shafts. This decision is largely due to their high swing speeds, but it is also worth noting that there are some exceptions to this rule.
See also: Do pros use hybrids?
Do any pros use regular flex shafts?
Yes, there are a few PGA Tour players who use regular flex with certain clubs, but they are the exception by far. As golfers age, their swing speed declines, so it’s more common to see regular flex or senior flex shafts on the senior tour.
Does flex matter for irons?
Absolutely. The flex of your golf iron shaft plays a vital role in determining the trajectory, distance and accuracy of each shot. Golfers who want to maximize their potential should utilize clubs that offer the right flex for their game.
As a side note, your golf ball choice matters as well.
Can you play with some regular and some stiff shafts?
Yes, you can play with some regular and some stiff shafts. In fact, most drivers/woods/hybrids are regular (more flexible) shafts. However, I would not advise playing irons with varying shafts. Figure out which iron shaft is right for you, and then make sure your set has consistent shafts for each iron.
Are stiff shafts good for beginners?
Stiff shafts are not usually the best for beginners, unless a beginner has an unusually fast swing speed and good accuracy from the get-go. Stiff shafts are best for experienced golfers with fast swing speeds.
Could I use a stiff driver and fairway woods but regular irons?
You could, but the more common scenario in golf would be just the opposite. Most golfers, including many pros, use regular (flexible) drivers and fairway woods. If they are going to play with a stiff shaft, they usually do that with their irons.
Final Thoughts on Regular vs Stiff Flex Irons
When deciding whether you should get irons with a stiff or regular flex, there are several factors that you should contribute to your decision.
First, you must evaluate your swing speed. As we’ve covered already, lower swing speeds are best paired with regular flex and higher swing speeds are best paired with a stiff flex.
Second, you should think about your shots. If you’re hitting the ball fairly straight and consistently, then your swing speed is the only thing you really need to focus on as you make a golf shaft decision.
If you’re missing consistently in a certain direction, you may need to change shafts.
Finding the right setup that plays to your strengths is a crucial step in lowering your score. If you have the time and money, it’s worth signing up for a club fitting. A professional can help you decide if you should go the stiff vs regular flex irons route.