Steel vs. Graphite Golf Club Shafts

By Bill Herrfeldt

Golf course generic photo
You've decided that it's time to buy a new set of golf clubs, and the person at the store asks if you are looking for clubs with shafts made of steel or of graphite. It's a legitimate question and its answer can have a major impact on your game. When they were first available, graphite shafts were terrific for the typical "weekend warrior" because they tended to make him hit the ball longer, and they were more forgiving. Now, touring golf professionals even have clubs with graphite shafts, including Tiger Woods who has been hitting a graphite shafted driver since 2004. Here are the differences between graphite and steel shafts.

Distance Or Control?

Choose between having more control over your shots and hitting the golf ball further. Because clubs with steel shafts weigh a little more than those with graphite shafts, they tend to give the player more control over their shots. However, since clubs with graphite shafts weigh less than those with steel shafts, more of the club's weight is concentrated making the golf ball fly further. In fact, professionals agree that they will increase one's club head speed by about 3 miles an hour, adding about 8 to 10 yards to his shots. If added distance is a goal, you will do well by having graphite shafts.

Graphite Shafts More Costly

Be prepared to pay more for a set of clubs with graphite shafts, particularly if you are worried about costs. Once considered somewhat less durable that steel shafts, graphite shafts today last as long as their counterparts, unless the laminated coating is wearing off or the shafts are cracked or chipped. On the other hand, if steel shafts are bent or rusty, they will have to be replaced, as well. But replacing a shaft is not a costly or time-consuming task.

Vibration or More Feedback

Pay extra for clubs with graphite shafts if you'd like to feel less vibration in your hands when you mis-hit a golf shot. This feature is really a matter of personal choice because some players like receiving more feedback that is provided by clubs with steel shafts. Also, if you have a physical problem that affects your arms or your hands, or you don't have average strength, there will be less impact on your body if you use graphite shafted clubs.

Try Before You Buy

Hit some shots before you buy any clubs to determine if they are a good match for your swing, particularly if you are changing to a new type of shaft. Most major sporting good stores have indoor ranges.

About the Author

Bill Herrfeldt specializes in finance, sports and the needs of retiring people, and has been published in the national edition of "Erickson Tribune," the "Washington Post" and the "Arizona Republic." He graduated from the University of Louisville.