What Happens If A Golf Shaft Is Too Flexible?

If you’ve arrived here, I assume that you know a few things about golf clubs…maybe just enough to be dangerous.

However, I still want to take a moment to define terms before we jump into a common club-related question, such as: “What happens if a golf shaft is too flexible?”

The term ‘flex’ refers to how much the golf shaft bends during your golf swing.

The amount of flex you have in your golf clubs is incredibly important. If you don’t have the right shaft flex, you’re hurting your overall performance on the course. A proper club fitting is your best bet for finding clubs with the right flex.

This article will help you understand what happens if your golf shaft is too flexible. I also offer a few insights into what shaft flex you should be looking for based on your swing speed.

So what happens if a golf shaft is too flexible?

If a golf shaft is too flexible, you will lose accuracy and distance on virtually every swing.

Do you want to hit a golf ball straight? One of keys to success is making solid contact with the club face square to the ball. Club head speed means very little if you don’t hit the golf ball in the right direction.

Unfortunately, the face of the club become more difficult to control when there is extra flex in the club. Extra flex can result in a closed or open clubface, which then results in an errant shot.

If you’re a right handed golfer and you notice that your golf ball often sails high and left, you may need to play with stiff flex shaft.

If you’re a right handed golfer and you notice that your golf ball often flies low and to the right, you may need a softer flex.

What type of shaft flex do I need for my game?

This is, for all practical purposes, the thousand dollar question (the approximate the cost of a new golf bag and club set).

PGA Tour pros typically play with stiffer iron shafts and graphite shafts for their driver/woods. Weekend hackers usually need a softer shaft (graphite shafts) for their entire set.

Showing up with steel shafts might look cool, but if regular shafts are what you need, then you won’t be celebrating your style points for long.

So how can you find the right shaft flex for your game? Two measurements will help you make an educated decision.

Measurement #1 – Know Your Swing Speed

We wrote an entire article covering regular flex vs stiff flex irons. It’s worth a read.

In that article, we highlight the importance of your swing speed.

There are always exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking, those with a slower swing speed (under 90mph) need a regular flex shaft and those with a faster swing speed (above 90mph) need a stiffer shaft.

So how do you determine your swing speed?

The best way to do this would be to get a club fitting. A golf club expert can use their years of experience and pair that knowledge with a launch monitor to determine your swing speed, clubhead speed, ball speed and other crucial metrics.

Armed with that information, you can then make a shaft choice that pairs appropriately with your stats.

If seeing a club fitter isn’t an option, there are some apps that may help you measure your speed. You can also pay a visit to TopGolf or DriveShack. Both facilities are fun and can measure your swing and ball speed.

Measurement #2 – Ball Trajectory

I referenced this earlier, but if your shots consistently miss in the same direction, you may need a more flexible shaft (or your current shafts aren’t stiff enough).

Again, this is where a club fitter can help, but as a general rule for right handed golfers:

  • Misses high and left – go with a stiffer shaft
  • Misses low and right – go with a lighter shaft

Regular flex shafts are often the best option for mid to high handicappers, but if you have a higher swing speed, you can investigate the steel shaft options. A heavier shaft will keep you from reaching the ball too quickly with the face of the club.

If you hit the ball straight on a consistent basis, you probably have the right flex in your clubs.

You can also pick up (or borrow) a club with a different a different shaft weight than what you’re used to. Take that club to your next driving range session and compare its performance to the club that you normally use.

At least I’ve got options…

Sorry, such a fun song that I had to include it here…

The good news: You’ve got options!

Golf shafts come in graphite or steel options. The former is lighter than the latter. Within these options are varying levels of flex, including:

  • Regular
  • Stiff
  • Extra Stiff
  • Ladies Flex
  • Senior Flex

It’s worth noting that every manufacturer has a slightly different flexibility to their shafts (there is no universal standard for regular flex). Test and experiment accordingly.

Regular flex shafts are tailored to the majority of average golfers with mid-range swing speeds. Beginner golf clubs often include regular flex by default.

However, a one-size-fit all approach doesn’t work for everyone. Some mid-handicappers with a higher swing speed may need a stiffer shaft. They haven’t mastered accuracy yet, but having too much flex isn’t making that feat any easier.

These golfers may benefit more from a stiff shaft so that they can control the clubface better and utilize their high swing speed for more distance.

What’s the deal with women’s and senior’s flexibility?

Ladies flex and senior flex are quite similar. I don’t know why some manufacturers chose to use ladies flex as one of their labels (since many female golfers benefit more from regular or stiff flex), but the basic idea is that these shafts are designed for those with lower swing speeds.

Seniors tend to require more flexibility to make up for a loss of swing speed as they get older. In these instances, a lightweight graphite shaft can help senior golfers regain some distance.

“Flexing” Your Muscles

If you want to show off your skills on the course, you should find the shaft flex best suited to your game.

Having the wrong shaft flex will be detrimental to your score. When a shaft is too flexible it can impact your distance and accuracy adversely, leading to shorter, off-target shots. Moving from a high to a mid handicap golfer could be as simple as finding the right shafts for your clubs.

If you’re going to make a club change, you should first check out our article on how much it costs to reshaft irons.

Wishing you continued success on your golf journey!


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