Golfing Irons: Shafts

Whether you're getting into golf for the first time or are a seasoned pro, whether you live in New Jersey or New Delhi, you have many things to come to grips with (sorry) with regard to all the new equipment and cutting edge designs. The concept behind the golfing iron shaft is one of the easier golf variables to understand, although you'll find plenty of variants on such a simple topic.

What Makes a Good Golfing Iron Shaft?

Materials are one consideration when looking at a new shaft for your iron, and thankfully you have only two to choose from at this point: graphite and steel.

Graphite Shafts

Graphite shafts offer several benefits over their more traditional steel counterparts. First, they're a lot lighter and they can offer the golfer better torque.

Graphite shafts have a higher amount of "flex," which means they have a whipping effect when swung towards the ball that can really add distance to the shot. The distance comes at a price, however, as accuracy can suffer.

Amateurs and those with a slower swing speed can benefit from shafts that have a higher amount of flex, as the power from the downswing is stored and released as the clubhead strikes the ball, resulting in a more powerful shot.

In irons that are numbered, sometimes the shaft is manufactured from graphite as the extra distance gained by this whipping effect can be more of an advantage to the player than the accuracy of a steel shaft. This is especially true for elderly players and women, who might need that added advantage of distance.

Steel Shafts

Stronger players with a faster downswing benefit more from a stiffer shaft that offers a very low level of flex. This is common in professional players, with some extra-stiff variants being tailor-made for high-end competitions.

Irons are generally used to make shots that require a little more precision than shots made with a wood. Many manufacturers therefore prefer to make the shafts of their irons out of steel as steel offers much less torque or "twisting" effect when swung.

This torque is not a benefit to golfers as the face of the golf head can strike the ball at and angle which in turn can end up in a sliced or hooked shot into the rough.

Lower-torque steel offers players much more accuracy and reliability in their swings, which ultimately improves their game.

With numbered irons in particular, the higher the loft of the club, the shorter the shaft. This is to ensure that balance in the swing, accuracy and control are maintained as the angle of trajectory of the ball becomes even steeper. These shorted shafts are designed to be used to drop the ball close to the pin, as well as helping to get the player out of sticky situations that require much more precision than longer shafts can offer.

Take a look at seasoned professionals such as Martin Laird to see how they use different shafts in their game. Watch their stance and how they hold the club. Pay attention to the club they use as this can be a good indicator of how to improve your own game.

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