Should you use regular or stiff shafts for driver distance?

For many golfers around the world, being able to use a stiffer shaft often comes along with bragging rights! This is because the stronger and more precise your swing, the stiffer the shaft will need to be. 

However, when it comes to distance, is a stiffer shaft always a good thing? Today, we’re going to be delving into this question and discovering what kind of shaft is best for driver distance. Let’s start.

How does shaft flex affect driver distance?

One of the most common upheld beliefs in golf is that, in order to hit long drives, you need to have practically zero shaft flex in your driver. 

Many pro players opt for an extra-stiff flex, so it can be easy to believe that in order to hit long drives and achieve maximum distance, you too need to have minimal flex in your club, right? 

Well, yes and no. Though a stiffer flex is linked to hitting those long drives, you shouldn’t get an extra-stiff flex just because they’re designed for this purpose. Instead, you should get the golf club shaft flex that is best suited to your swing.

The whole idea behind golf club shaft flex selection is being able to find a club that is going to flex just the right amount upon impact with the ball towards the bottom of your swing. 

A shaft that has too soft a flex swing for you might bend too much and, though you’ll still be able to hit the ball over quite a distance, you’ll have a lot less control of its flight path. 

In contrast, a shaft flex that’s too stiff might not bend enough, leading to a weaker shot. Though you may be able to hit a straight drive, you’ll likely find that you achieve a frustratingly short distance. 

When you choose the correct shaft flex for your ability, you’ll end up with shots that maximize your distance without compromising on any control. 

Therefore, with that being said, if you simply decide to follow the star players and buy a driver with a stiff shaft flex, you might not get the same performance from that shaft that they do. 

Unless you have a similar ability to your favorite golf players, you are better off picking a shaft that is suited to your swing, which is why it’s so important to choose the right flex for you. Here are two ways to do it:

1. Professional Club Fitting Session

In order to discover what golf club shaft flex you should be using, a professional fitting session with a qualified club fitter is a smart choice. 

The fitter will be equipped with all of the necessary equipment and technology needed in order to accurately measure your swing, and then offer you some swing shafts tailored to your ability. 

Though swing speed is the most important element in determining the flex that you should use, it’s not the only factor. Your swing technique and natural rhythm can also play a role in the fitting. 

If you book a session with a local club fitter, they will be able to analyze all of these areas and help guide you to a shaft that provides the ball flight and distance you want to achieve.

2. 150-yard test

Alternatively, another way you can learn which shaft is best for you is to try out the 150-yard test. 

If you find that you can hit an 8- or 9-iron 150 yards (without overexerting yourself) then a stiff shaft is for you. It essentially means that you will have a driver swing speed that reaches around 100 mph making a shift shaft the correct option for you. 

On the other hand, if you use a 6- or 7-iron to hit that 150 yards shot then a regular, softer shaft will be the best option for your game. It’s super easy to get caught up in the competitive nature of golf, but it’s really important to choose the right shaft for you, rather than forcing yourself to use a flex that is too stiff. 

By using a shaft-flex that is right for you, the club will work better and you will gain distance with much less effort, all the while ensuring that you remain in control, which lowers the chances of any slices or mis-hits. For example, a club that is too stiff will tend to produce low slices due to poor contact.

If you choose this option as opposed to getting your technique professionally analyzed by a qualified club fitter, you’ll know if a club is right for you because it will be performing correctly and you won’t feel the need to swing super hard in order to get the ball up and in the air. It should feel comfortable and you should feel confident when standing at address. 

Final Thoughts

Though a stiffer shaft is generally considered to be the best flex for achieving distance, it’s important to play to your ability. 

One of the most common problems is when golfers want to choose a stiffer shaft because they think it will help them achieve more distance. You’ll likely start to swing too hard and lose your swing control in doing so.

If you choose to go for a shaft flex that is not in line with your ability, you’re going to harm your game and end up compromising on control. In fact, if you happen to be stuck between two shaft flexes and you’re not sure which one to go with, we highly recommend picking the softer flex of the two. 

Even though it’s true that many of the best players in the world use stiffer flexes in their clubs, it’s because they have the power and speed to use them correctly and achieve long distances.  It’s better to go for the right shaft flex for you so that you can achieve top distance for your ability without risking losing control. 

Besides, as your technique improves, you’ll likely find that you need to purchase clubs with a stiffer flex, anyway!

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