Golf is a very technical game. You won’t believe the amount of science that goes into designing and building your golf clubs.
It’s always wise to know how that science can help you as a golfer, and that can even come down to how flexible your golf club’s shaft is stiff vs. regular flex is; which shaft is right for you?
As a general rule, if you’re between 97-104 mph with the driver, you need a stiff flex. If your clubhead speed is between 84-96 mph which is the speed for most recreational golfers, you need a regular flex to help you whip the clubhead through the air to generate more power on your shot.
Wondering what club shaft is the best for you? It can take a little bit of time to figure out which is right for you, depending on your skillset. In this guide, I’ll help you better understand which club flex is right for you and the differences between flex-shafts and stiff shafts.
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Is Stiff Flex Good For Beginners?
Stiff Flex golf club shafts are not recommended for beginner golfers. Beginner golfers should instead use shafts with more give, like a regular or flexible golf shaft. Stiff flex shafts are only recommended for experienced golfers able to generate a high clubhead speed.
Stiff shafts are firmer and harder to bend. Typically they are used by professional golfers and players who can drive the ball over 300 yards. As they are stiffer, they are also heavier and require a little more power and energy to operate and therefore are not great for those who don’t have a fast swing speed.
If your swing is too slow, you’ll struggle to come down onto the ball with enough power to transition that energy into the shot. That will mean you’ll struggle to keep the face of the club square on impact, which causes you to hit the ball low along the ground – similar to if you were topping a shot.
Beginner golfers should stay away from stiff-flex golf clubs until they have developed their golf swing to the point that they are confident enough that they can comfortably put more power on their shot and still strike the ball cleanly.
Beginner golfers should also remember the price they’re paying for their golf clubs. Stiffer golf shafts will tend to set you back a little more money, while you might also find yourself paying a high price for a club with a graphite shaft.
If you’re unsure of how much you should be spending on your clubs, use my beginner’s buyers guide to help you figure out how much you should spend on your next set of clubs.
The reason why most pros and experienced golfers can use these clubs is that they have perfected their technique to use their momentum to flush golf shots down the fairway. As a general rule in golf, you’re only going to be able to send shots 300 yards down the fairway if you have good technique.
Good technique means greater distance; once you’re confident you can comfortably strike the ball consistently, you can then look to increase your clubhead speed and power through the golf ball on your downswing. For that reason, it’s wise for beginner golfers to stay away from golf clubs with a less forgiving firm shaft.
Even if you can swipe the ball long distances, it’s always good to work your way up to using a firmer shaft by playing with flexible shafts, which can help you perfect your technique first. That will help you in the long run to become a more consistent and powerful golfer.
If you want to improve your swing speed, you could invest in the Winner Spirit golf training aid available from Amazon.com. This swing trainer features a patented weight distribution system that can adjust to help you improve your swing speed and get more rip on each golf shot while also helping you warm up ahead of your round.
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Should I Use Stiff Or Regular Flex?
As a whole, if you’re between 97-104 mph with the driver, you need a stiff flex that gives more control and the punch to hit better shots. If your clubhead speed is between 84-96 mph, the speed for most recreational golfers you need a regular flex provide a little more power and accuracy.
A good way to see which shaft is the best for you is to see how far you hit the golf ball. If you’re a big hitter, averaging over 300 yards with your driver, then I’d advise you to take a look at using a slightly stiffer shaft.
If you’re not such a big hitter but want to ensure you still get a good connection on the shot while adding length to your game; a regular or flex shaft might be better for you to see how to add length to your drives check out my article.
Technically, it all comes down to your swing speed. The faster your clubhead speed as you come down onto the golf ball, the stiffer shaft you should be using. The less swing speed, the more flex, and bend you should have in your golf club shaft.
This will help you pull more whip and power into the shot while also helping you better control the angle at which the clubhead hits the ball, giving you greater accuracy and control over your loft angle.
You can also tell if you need to use a different flex shaft by how much the shaft bends when you play with the club. If you use a club that’s too light and bendy for your swing speed, the club head will whip around way too quickly, with it bottoming out before your hands get past the golf ball. That’s a sign that you’re way too strong for the club and need to club up to a stiffer shaft.
You then need to figure out which club shaft correlates in flex to your swing speed, and you can do that by going down to a driving range that has Trackman ball tracing facilities available to use or you can buy the technology yourself and build your own golf simulator at home.
With a trackman, you can hit a few shots with your current clubs and figure out your average swing speed. As a general guide, a PGA Tour player’s average swing speed sits around 110mph, while an average high-handicap golfer hits the ball much less, at around 93mph.
Once you’ve worked out your average swing speed, you should then correlate that to the recommended flex of the shaft for you. Below is a table giving you some guidance on the type of shaft you should use for your swing.
What type of shaft you should use for your swing
|Driver Carry Distance||Average Swing Speed||Flex|
|Under 200 yards||Less than 75mph||Ladies or Senior|
|200 yards to 240 yards||75mph to 95mph||Regular|
|240 yards to 275 yards||95mph to 110mph||Stiff|
|Over 275 yards||Over 110mph||Extra stiff|
When purchasing your next set of clubs, it can be very beneficial to attend a club fitting session to help you determine what your swing speed is and what club shaft flex might be most beneficial for you as a golfer.
Take a look at my guide on the benefits of club fitting for more information on how tailoring your equipment to your swing can help you become a better golfer.
You may also want to consider whether to use a graphite shaft or a steel shaft on your clubs. Graphite is a lot lighter and provides a lot more flex than steel, making it greater for those who struggle to get as much power on their shots.
Meanwhile, a steel-shafted iron is a lot heavier than a graphite club but can help to provide greater accuracy on the shot because of its stiffness coming through on the shot.
Is There A Big Difference Between Regular And Stiff Flex?
A stiff shaft is heavier, firmer, and harder to bend than a regular shaft with a different kick point, the position where the club shaft bends most. If a club has a high kick point, it means it has a stiff shaft that provides players with a shot that fizzes through the air at a lower trajectory.
Shafts with a much lower kick point closer to the clubhead are typically more flexible and allow the golfer to put more loft on their shots. That happens because the club head flexes upwards on impact, opening the face more than you might find on a stiff club.
With that in mind, the main difference between regular and stiff flex shafts then comes down to the distance and the loft that each provides you. Stiff shafts provide less height but greater carry distances, while flexible shafts give a little less distance and higher loft.
If you’re in the market for a new stiff driver, the 2021 Cobra Rapid Speed Driver is currently one of the best clubs on the market that can help you get more torque on your shots, available now for a bargain on Amazon.
You can purchase this club with either a regular, stiff, or extra-stiff shaft. What’s great about this club is how its weight is balanced more towards the front of the clubface, giving you much less spin and more ball speed off the tee.
Conversely, you could opt to purchase the Cleveland Turbo Launcher, a driver that comes in regular flex and senior flex. The Cleveland is available on Amazon for a steal and is a brilliant driver for intermediate golfers looking to add a little more loft to their game and use a more flexible driver.
Remember, that’s only relevant if you’re using the right club. For example, you might currently be struggling to hit the ball 240 yards with your stiff-shaft driver. You might swap that shaft out for a regular flex driver and find that you get a better connection on the shot, allowing you to hit bombs 250 yards down the fairway.
When it comes to swapping shafts around, make sure to seek professional advice on correctly removing and replacing the shaft yourself.
It can be a very tricky process and costly if you manage to snap a graphite shaft. It’s best to pay for a club pro or a shop to replace the shaft for you, and if you’re looking for an idea of how much that will cost you, take a look at my article on how much you should pay to get your clubs shafted.
The difference between flexible shafts and stiff shafts can mean a lot if you’re looking to develop your technique as a golfer or if you’re looking to strike the ball longer. So my top piece of advice is to use what club feels comfortable for you. Too heavy? Go for a more flexible shaft. Does the clubhead feel too whippy? Use a stiffer shaft.
What Happens If Shaft Flex Is Too Stiff?
If your club shafts are too stiff, you will struggle to load properly and generate enough power in the downswing. Once the clubbed receives the ball, the shaft will not unload properly, and the face will remain open, creating a slice and giving a much lower flatter trajectory than desired.
If a golfer can’t get enough speed through their shot, they will struggle to use a stiff shaft. Generally, the shaft will feel heavy, and you’ll fail to transfer enough kinetic energy through the ball, which will cause the ball’s flight to go much lower and a lot flatter.
That’s when you will want to consider using a more flexible club, which is better for golfers with slower swing speeds. That will help you start to get a better carry on the ball with your club’s flex and whip, helping you to turn faster through the shot and rip the golf ball up into the air.
You’ll typically find professional golfers who use stiff shafts don’t get much height on their shots. They hit the ball with such power and ferocity that the ball quite literally cuts through the air. Comparatively, with a more flexible shaft, you’re likely to hit upwards on the ball and add loft to your shot.
It also gets harder to hit your shot if you’re using a lower-lofted driver. I discuss more the difficulties of hitting a lower lofted driver with a stiff shaft in my guide to driving the golf ball. Still, if you’re looking to smash the ball longer distances and you have a breakneck swing speed, then you may also want to consider trying out a low lofted driver with a stiff club shaft.
When it comes to determining which shaft flex is the best for your needs, you need to think carefully about your swing speed and technique. Most golfers have one problem when driving the ball because they’re using the wrong club shaft for their abilities.
Many actually use drivers that are too flexible for their needs, and that is a common cause of why many golfers have problems slicing the ball off the tee.
Ultimately, the only way to find out which club shaft is best for you is by trial and error, so book yourself in for a club fitting session today and find out which club shaft flex you are most comfortable with.
See the latest pricing for the best golf equipment on Amazon below.