Regular Vs Stiff Vs X-Stiff Driver Shafts – How To Decide What’s Best

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The long old debate on driver shafts is forever going on between golfers. There always seems to be a shaft that hits it straighter or one that hits it longer.

Rick Shiels has done an interesting video on this topic, which you can watch here. He basically says there is no difference between the shaft flexes with regards to performance, but definitely a difference when it comes to feel.

We agree with him but not entirely. The point of getting the right shaft for your game is to be able to control the launch, spin and direction of the ball. Now there are a few guidelines that you should start off with, but because everyone’s swing is slightly different, what the book says might not always work.

Knowing what to look for and then trying out a few options is the best way to go. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what the shaft says, as long as it produces the desired launch, spin and direction you what, then it is the right shaft for you.

Lastly before we dive into things below, a big determining factor that I have found over the years is the feel of the shaft. The weight and actually feeling through the swing is very important. My rule of thumb for mid to high handicap and beginners is – if you can’t really feel anything then there is nothing wrong with it.

Let’s dive into some details to try make your decision easier.

Regular Vs Stiff Vs X Stiff In The Driver Overview

Regular, stiff and x-stiff just refers to the stiffness or flex of the shaft. Your swing speed determines what flex you should be using, not your ability, this is a common misconception.

The stiffness of your shaft is there to control the launch, spin and direction of the ball, the faster your swing the stiffer flex you need.

I like to use this analogy to help explain in more simple terms. If you take a hosepipe and put a driver head on the end of it and swing, you will create a lot of speed but the clubhead will be all over the place, and the opposite if you put a driver head on a broomstick, you will not create a lot of speed when swinging but the head will be really stable.

What that means is, you need to find the right flex for your swing speed that gives you enough speed and control throughout the swing. There is a table below with what swing speed and shaft flex should go together.

How Important Is Flex In A Driver Shaft

The flex of a shaft is very important. It will control your spin, launch and direction.

Don’t assume just because you have the right shaft you will hit perfect shots every time, you will still make bad swings and hit bad shots, but if you have the right shaft the chances of your bad shots being a little bit better than if you had the wrong shaft are higher.

At the end of the day golf is hard as it is, so for me if I put a good swing on the ball, I expect to see a good shot, when you have the right shaft in your club this will happen, if you have the wrong shaft in your club you might see a bad shot, this is not what you want to happen.

How Does It Affect Performance

If you have the wrong shaft in your club the ball will either spin too much causing the ball to balloon into the air or not spin enough causing it to fall out of the air, both instances will result in loss of distance.

It will also affect your launch, having a launch angle that is too high or too low will also result in a loss of distance.

And lastly it can also affect your direction, causing you to hit the ball too far left or right.

How To Know What Flex You Need

stiffer diver

There is no right or wrong here, whatever works for you works, however there is a starting point, and the only way to find the exact shaft that works for you is going to be trial and error.

Starting with the recommended flex for your swing speed is the best place to start, and to be fair 95% of the time that is where you will stay, the tricky part is there are thousands of shafts and weights within each shaft flex, picking the right one is where trial and error comes in, further down in the article we discuss a few more things to consider. See the chart below to see what flex you need for your swing speed.

Driver Shaft Flex Vs Swing Speed Comparison Table

Driver Swing Speed <75 mph 75 – 85 mph 85 – 95 mph 95 – 110 mph > 110 mph
Flex Ladies Senior Regular Stiff X-Stiff

What Swing Speed Should Use Regular Flex

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If you have a driver swing speed between 85-95 mph you should be using a regular flex driver shaft. This will more likely give you the best spin, launch, direction and speed when hitting the ball.

What Swing Speed Should Use Stiff Flex

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If you swing the driver at 95-110 mph you should be using a stiff shaft. When swinging at that speed that stiff flex will give you the optimum spin, launch, direction and speed.

What Swing Speed Should Use X Stiff Flex

x stiff

The x stiff shaft is for the super fast swing speeds, anything over 110 mph and you should be using an x stiff shaft. You will need something very stiff to control the spin, launch, direction and speed.

How Can I Tell My Swing Speed?

The only way to find out your swing speed is to use a launch monitor. These are devices that either use radar or images to determine a number of different parameters, one of them being swing speed. You are able to purchase them, but they are expensive. We suggest going to get fitted, most local professionals, fitting centers or golf retail stores will have something like this.

What Will Happen If My Shaft Is Too Stiff?

If your shaft is too stiff a few things could happen. Firstly if your shaft is too stiff you will lose speed and you won’t get enough spin on the ball, this will cause you to lose distance. Secondly, because the shaft is too stiff it will be hard for you to square the club up at impact, causing the face to be open, this will result in a left to right shot.

What Will Happen If My Shaft Is Too Flexible?

Similar to if the shaft is too stiff, if the shaft is too flexible a few things could happen. Firstly, you will produce too much spin, this is because the shaft will flex too much causing the face to have more loft at impact, this will cause you to lose distance. Secondly, the face will have too much rotation, presenting the club face closed at impact, resulting in a hook.

Are Stiffer Driver Shafts Always Heavier

Yes and no, the main factor determining a shafts flex is the weight, the way manufacturers make a shaft stiffer is by adding more graphite, which in turn makes it heavier.

However there are a few shafts out there that are stiff but are light, manufacturers do this by using different types of graphite or changing the kickpoints of the club.

But in general the stiffer the shaft the heavier it is.

What Weight Should My Driver Shaft Be

Have a look at our table below, this is our recommended weight for shaft flex.

Driver Swing Speed 75mph 75 – 85 mph 85 – 95 mph 95 – 105 mph 105 mph plus
Weight  < 45 gram 45 – 55 grams 55 – 65 grams 60 – 65 grams 65 grams plus
Flex Ladies Senior Regular Stiff X-Stiff

What Is Torque – How Will It Affect Performance

Flex is how much the shaft bends, and torque is how much the shaft twists. Low torque produces less twist and high torque produces more twist.

The faster you swing the less torque you need, this will keep the clubhead under control and prevent it from turning closed through impact, this will cause you to hook the ball.

The slower you swing the more torque you need, this will make the shaft feel easier to swing, and will help you square the clubface up at impact, if there is too little torque the clubface will come through open at impact.

Stiffer shafts have less torque, while more flexible shafts have more torque.

Low Torque Mid Torque High Torque
<2.5 2.5 – 4 >4

 

What Is Kickpoint – How Will It Affect Performance

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The kick point of the shaft is where the shaft is most flexible, manufacturers do this to influence the launch and spin of a shaft.

The higher the kick point the lower the ball will launch and spin, and the lower the kick point the higher the ball will launch and spin.

Manufacturers also can use the kick point to give a heavier regular flex the right launch and spin characteristics as well as a light stiff shaft the right launch and spin characteristics.

Do I Need The Same Flex On Irons And Driver?

Not necessarily, but 99% of the time your driver shaft flex will match your iron shaft flex. The total speed will be less for an iron compared to a driver, but it is all relative. See the iron flex and weight shaft chart below.

6 Iron Swing Speed < 60 mph 60 – 70 mph 70 – 80 mph 80 – 90 mph 90 mph +
Shaft weight 45 – 50 grams 55 – 85 grams 75 – 105 grams 90 – 120 grams 115 grams >
Flex Ladies Senior Regular Stiff X-Stiff

 

Does A Stiffer Shaft Go Further?

Only if it is right for your swing speed, if your shaft is too flexible for your swing speed then you will lose distance, so playing a stiffer shaft will help you hit it further, but if the shaft is too stiff for you, then you will lose distance.

Will I Lose Distance If I Use A More Flexible Driver Shaft

If your current shaft is too stiff for you then going with a more flexible shaft will help you hit it further. But going with a shaft that is too flexible for your swing will make you lose distance and direction.

Can A High Handicapper Use Stiff Shafts?

Yes they can, your shaft flex depends on your swing speed not your ability. No matter what level of golfer you are, you can play any shaft flex, it all depends on how fast you swing the club.

Do All Pros Use X-Stiff Shafts?

Yes most professionals use x stiff shafts, that is because their swing speeds are all over 110 mph. Naturally the better you become the better your technique becomes, and therefore the faster your swing speed becomes.

What Do Ladies & Seniors Use?

Again this all comes down to swing speed, but the majority of ladies will play with a ladies flex and seniors will play with a senior flex. I have done many fittings though where a lady or senior golfer will play a regular flex, this is because the regular flex matches their swing speed. Naturally they aren’t as strong, so usually it is a lightweight shaft, but nonetheless they will use a flex that matches their swing speed.

Conclusion

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Playing the right flex for your swing speed will not make you hit it straight and long everytime, but it will help you be more consistent.

It will also help you make your bad shots that little bit better, and let’s face it we hit more bad shots than good shots on the course.

Matching your swing speed to a shaft flex is the starting point, from there you need to find the right weight and kick point for your swing. Using a shaft that feels good in your hands is also a very important aspect.

Have yourself tested on a launch monitor at your local pro or testing facility, you might be surprised on what shaft you actually need.