During a recent round one of my playing companions was having a tough time. He’s a nice guy but has a wicked slice (but then, so do 80 to 90 percent of golfers) and his tee shots in particular had something around 50 yards of left to right movement so finding fairways was all but impossible.
Add the fact the course had water on practically every hole and he experienced a long frustrating day. For the heck of it on the 17th tee I took his driver (an adjustable weight 2015 model) to see if the placement of the sole weights was maybe the problem. It wasn’t or at least not the primary problem. The shaft in his driver said “Tour X.”
No wonder he had a wild slice. That shaft is probably ideal for long hitters like Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy or even Tiger Woods but for a recreational golfer whose swing speed is probably less than 90 mph, it’s wildly inappropriate. When the round was over and I asked who in the world had fit him for a driver with that particular shaft and he replied, and this is no kidding, “Well, I didn’t actually have a fitting but I hit Charlie’s a couple of times. When I was at [a big box store] I saw this on the rack and really liked the color of the shaft and since it was on sale I bought it.”
Now let that sink in for a minute.
My friend had spent probably $300 on the possibility a new driver would help him and because he liked the color of the shaft.
I pointed out the problem with such as stiff shaft for someone with his swing and that an “R” flex would be much closer to what he needed. A few days later he told me the switch had been made and he was hitting the ball a lot straighter. Of course the next step is to get the adjustable sole weights positioned so the heaviest are towards the heel to allow the toe to close more quickly to counteract his slice move. Then he needs to figure out how to stop swinging outside to in and more inside to out and he’ll be all set.
Everyone knows “all set” is a relative term but if by being properly fit for your equipment you can hit it longer and straighter, that’s a big deal.
So what’s all this about the flex of shafts especially with the driver?
The average touring professional has a clubhead speed with his driver of about 110 mph while the average male amateur swings at around 80 mph and the average Tour player has either a stiff or an extra stiff flex shaft in the driver. So it would be fair to say that most recreational players should have either a regular flex or senior flex.
Here’s a listing of the recommended driver shaft flexes from TaylorMade Golf based on average carry distance of tee shots. That’s “average carry” not what happened one day on a downhill tee shot to a concrete-like fairway with the wind at your back. Be realistic.
Less than 180 yards – Ladies flex
180 to 200 yards – Senior flex
200 to 240 yards – Regular flex
240 to 275 yards – Stiff flex
More than 275 yards – Extra stiff flex
You also should take into account, the shaft weight. For example, someone with an 80 mph clubhead speed and a smooth backswing (think Ernie Els) might do well with a 40 gram shaft but if his backswing is really fast (Nick Price) a heavier shaft – say, 50 grams – would probably help.
Selecting the correct shaft is much more complex than what is outlined above but flex and weight are the basics but by no means the only factors to be considered. A master club fitter is equipped to sort out torque, ball spin rate, kick point and shaft length so you will have a shaft that matches to the driver clubhead, to the grip, to your swing.