DOES SHAFT FLEX MATTER?
A question that i'm often presented with, 'does shaft flex matter?'. I'll answer this for you right now; YES it does matter! However do not leave this page just yet, there's a complexity to this question, and I have broken this down through my own testing.
I used the same club head Srixon Z Forged blade 7 iron with 5 different flex shafts as follows:
- Miyazaki Ladies flex
- Miyazaki Seniors/A flex
- Nippon Modus 120 Regular flex
- Nippon Modus 120 Stiff flex
- Nippon Modus 120 Extra flex
I hit a series of five balls with each shaft set up, and recorded the data samples on GC2 HMT, below are the findings followed by my thoughts on the results.
As you can see from the L flex and the A flex the miss is left (draw/hook spin) both these shafts performed very similar, and for me felt very similar when hitting the shots. I could feel the club actively bending throughout the swing and in order to hit the ball straighter, the picture in my mind would be to wait for the shaft a lot longer and try to hold off my release. In the instance of this test i just hit shots like i would usually do and not adjust to the change in shaft flex.
Moving in to the regular shaft we see something very interesting, I have actually hit the ball further left than the two other softer shafts. The regular flex is the most wayward of all the results, however we need to delve deeper in to this. The flex profile is stiffer in the regular as ooposed to the L & A flex so why should I be hitting this further left? The answer to this is the drastic change in weight of the shaft - and from here this is where we start to get a true picture of the differences a shaft can make. A shaft can change impact conditions through the timing of the shot, the feel in the golfers hands from the shaft will influence the timing and therefore affect the result (impact & ball flight). Moving to a much heavier feeling shaft really threw my timing off.
The final two shafts; stiff and extra stiff flexes really tightened up my dispersion pattern, I was now used to the extra weight, and could really begin to control the clubface at impact because the feel of the shafts helped me to time my release. I had the awareness of the club head, and the results speak for themselves. Throughout this test you can see the following trends:
- Distance was similar throughout the shafts
- Launch angle was similar when compared
- Peak height was within 3 yards of each other
- Descent angle was within 3 yards of each other
My final thoughts on this test were something that i've been aware of for quite some time, it's also something that i continuously to state to golfers who i work with. Shaft flex can indeed make a difference, however it is by nowhere near the sole contributor to making a golfer improve or harm their ball flights. When choosing shafts do not define the shaft by flex, for instance with the regular shaft in this test you could see a major drop off in performance, this was due to shaft weight or 'added heft' from changing from a light shaft to something much heavier. There is no industry standard for flex, this makes it difficult when comparing shafts, and swing speed should not solely be chosen as the factor to base recomended flex off. You simply can't choose a regular shaft and a ladies flex and compare them like for like. The reason for this is they will vary in many other attributes such as: torque, balance point, weight etc. These other attributes play their own roles in how the shaft would feel or be percieved to feel for a golfer. All in all, shaft flex matters however look at the whole shaft and its attributes rather than just flex. A shaft will generate a feel for the golfer, and that feel will therefore influence how the golfers swing reacts to that feel, in turn creating the impact conditions and then the ball flight. Feel will equal how easy or difficult it will be for the golfer to 'time' the shaft, seek advice from a PGA professional or club fitter to help guide you on the correct shafts for your game. If you would like any further advice on golf shafts please do direct your enquiries to me here.
PGA Class AA Professional