One of the best ways to improve your score at golf is to get clubs that are well suited to how you swing. Not every club is great for every golfer, and some golfers need a club with more or less flexibility than others.
Whether or not a lot of flexibility is good depends on how fast your golf swings are. If you can swing your club very fast, a stiff or extra stiff club with very little flex is best. If your golf swing is slower, use a club with more flex to get the best results.
While a club-fitter can help you find clubs that are well suited to you, you should also know a little about the subject yourself. The more you know, the easier it is to make good purchases.
Shaft flex is how much the golf club bends when you swing it. If there is little shaft flex, even a very fast swing won't make the shaft bend all that much. With more shaft flex, a slower swing will be enough to make the shaft bend.
Shaft flex matters a lot because how much the shaft bends determines how far you can drive the ball and what direction it goes in.
You will get quite noticeably worse results if your club has too much flex or too little. If your club is too flexible for your swing speed, the club will bend too much, and you will not have much control over where the ball goes.
What flex should my driver be?
If you know your swing speed, you can find out how much flex you need in a club. All golf clubs bend to some extent - a golf club is never completely rigid. Clubs are given the following ratings, from most rigid to most flexible:
- XS - Extra stiff
- S - Stiff
- F - Firm
- R - Regular
- A - Amateur / Senior
- L - Ladies
Unfortunately, different companies have different standards. A club that one company rates as firm is not always more rigid than a club another company rates as regular. Swing speeds are also not always categorized in the same way.
To know what club you need, you should measure your golf swing speed. If you plan to buy a driver, measure your speed with a driver, not with another type of club.
Your speed with one type of club is not the same as your speed with another. One can swing a driver significantly faster than they can swing a six iron. A driver will give you the fastest swing, followed by a 3-wood, 3-iron, and 6-iron.
Golf swings range from under 65 miles per hour for new golfers to more than 110 miles an hour for powerful swingers. With a driver, a speed over 105 miles per hour is considered very fast. Your swing speed can also be fast (97-104 miles per hour), average (84-96 MPH), slow (72-83MPH), or ladies (Under 72 MPH).
Based on your swing speed, you can choose a driver with the right shaft flex. The speeds line up with the ratings for stiffness:
- Very fast - Extra stiff
- Fast - Stiff
- Average - Regular
- Slow - Amateur/Senior
- Ladies - Ladies
Not everyone agrees on how to categorize swing speeds. According to some, you should have a swing speed of 110 miles per hour before you switch to an extra stiff club. You can use numbers to narrow your search down, but you might still have to try a few different clubs.
There is no guarantee that you will like any club that lines up with your measured swing speed. Not every company has the same standards when categorizing their clubs.
You may also find that you do better with a somewhat more rigid or flexible club than what your swing speed implies you need.
However, choosing golf clubs based on swing speed does work, even though it is not an exact science. While you might like a club that is theoretically a bit too rigid or too flexible, you are not going to like a club that is for someone with a vastly different swing speed.
With this information, you can greatly narrow down your search for a perfect club.
What flex should I use on my driver?
Going with a club that is a bit stiff even if you do not have a very high swing speed can be a good idea. Going with a more flexible club also has its advantages. The best shaft flex for your irons might be different from the shaft flex for your driver.
Many golfers choose between stiff flex and regular flex, as these two options are good for people with typical or somewhat above average swing speed.
Should I use stiff or regular flex?
It may depend on whether you need more distance or more accuracy. If you are hitting the ball a long way but not managing to control where the ball goes, try switching to a stiffer club.
A stiffer club won't bend too much when you swing it, which will make you much more accurate. If you want to hit the ball as far as possible, go with a regular rather than a stiff club.
Graphite, Titanium, and Steel
Not all golf clubs are steel. You can find Titanium clubs and Graphite clubs as well, and these clubs are lighter, so you can swing them faster.
It doesn't make a huge difference - for example, someone might hit the ball 210 yards with a titanium club instead of 200 yards with a steel one. The material might not have very much of an effect on your swing speed, so it might not affect what shaft flex you need.
How far can you hit the ball?
You can determine what flex you need based on how far you can hit the ball and not only how fast you can swing.
If you can hit the ball anywhere from 200 to 240 yards at the driving range, go with a regular flex. If you can hit it 240 to 275 yards, you can swing hard enough that a stiff flex is probably better.
You can estimate what type of driver you need from your carry distance:
- Under 180 Yards - Ladies
- 180 to 200 Yards - Senior
- 200 to 240 Yards - Regular
- 240 to 275 Yards - Stiff
- Over 275 Yards - Extra stiff
There are many other things you need in a club besides shaft flex. Shaft flex is one of the most important things, but there are other reasons why a club might not be very well suited to your swing.
Shaft kick point
While shaft flex is how much the club bends, the shaft kick point is the part of the club that bends the most. Where the club bends the most is also relevant. The club's shaft point affects the ball's trajectory.
Some clubs have a high shaft point, so the club bends the most near the top where you grip it. The ball won't fly nearly as high with a high shaft point. Use a high shaft point if you want a flatter trajectory.
If you want the ball to ark into the air as high as possible, on the other hand, then a lower kick point is the best idea. The lower the kick point, the higher the ball goes.
Usually, higher kick points and lower trajectories are better for more experienced players with faster swing speeds. An expert usually wants a flat trajectory because they can be more accurate that way. If the ball goes too high, it is harder to control.
A beginner might be better off with a lower kick point because they can hit the ball farther that way. If they are not experienced enough to worry about excellent accuracy, a lower kick point will help them hit the ball higher and farther.
Somewhere in the middle is usually the best. You should go with a kick point that is only a little lower or a little higher than average. Not very many golfers want unusually high or unusually low kick points.
Even someone who has never gone golfing before could tell if a club is too short or too long for their height. This is the most basic and obvious thing to consider when buying a new club.
Your posture won't be any good with a club that is too long or too short. You will bend over too much of the club is too short and not bend forward enough if the club is too long. Poor posture will lead to a weaker and less accurate golf swing.
Golf clubs do not vary in length by nearly as much as people vary in height. A very tall person who is more than six feet eight will need a club only two inches longer than average, and someone less than four feet ten a club only two inches shorter.
A golf club of standard length is good for people from five feet seven to six feet one. Everyone out of that range, especially more than a little out of that range, is best with a shorter or longer club:
- Over 6'8" - 2 inches longer than standard
- Over 6'6" - +1.5 inches
- Over 6'4" - +1 inches
- Over 6'2" - +0.5 inches
- Over 6'1" - +0.25 inches
- Between 5'7 and 6'1 - Standard
- Under 5'7" - 0.25 inches shorter
- Under 5'4" - 0.5 inches shorter
- Under 5'2" - 1 inch shorter
- Under 5' - 1.5 inches shorter
- Under 4'10" - 2 inches shorter
You can also use the distance from your wrist to the ground to determine the length of the club you need. This works at least as well as height.
Someone with a wrist to floor measurement of 34 inches or 37 inches is best with a regular size club. A very tall person that needs a club 2 inches longer than normal might have a wrist to floor measurement of 42 inches.
Is stiff flex good for beginners?
Usually, a beginner has a slower swing speed than an experienced golfer. However, some new golfers are stronger and more athletic than others. If you can already swing a golf club very fast despite having little experience, you might go with a stiff shaft right from the start.
If you have played a lot of hockey or baseball before, you might be able to swing a golf club very fast right from the start. Experience in some other sports helps you, as does overall strength and fitness.
However, most beginner golfers are not going to benefit from a stiff shaft. A regular shaft will work better because you can hit the ball farther with a more flexible shaft. Once your swing speed builds up, you should switch to a stiffer shaft.
Are all of a golfer's clubs always the same stiffness?
No, a golfer might carry some stiffer clubs as well as some more flexible clubs.
A golfer might use a stiffer shaft on their driver than on their other clubs. Golfers love their gear and may collect a lot of different clubs over the years.
What happens if the shaft is not stiff enough?
If the shaft is not stiff enough, your accuracy will suffer. If the shaft bends too much, the head of the club will contact the ball in an improper way that hurts accuracy.
If your club bends too much, the golf ball may fly too high, much higher than the club's loft would suggest. If the ball flies too high, it might not fly far enough. Using a shaft that is too flexible with a club with a lot of loft can hurt your distance.
Many golfers use clubs with too little loft instead of too much. A more flexible club can actually help your distance in that case, as the trajectory should be somewhere in the middle and not too high or too low if you want to hit the ball as far as possible.
However, the usual result of using a shaft that is not stiff enough is reduced accuracy.
Many golfers use clubs that are too stiff rather than too flexible, which hurts their distance. Don't insist on a stiff or extra stiff club if your swing speed isn't fast enough for that stiffness. Use a regular club until your swing speed improves.
There are many other things to consider - the club's loft angle and the weight of the club can also affect your swing. It may seem complicated at first.
The two most important things are the length of your club and the shaft flex. If you talk to a club-fitter, they can help you find a great club for you even if you do not yet know about golf clubs in detail.
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