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Study: Do lighter shafts increase clubhead speed?

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Lighter is faster. It holds true in car racing, running, and well… just about everything. Same for golf shafts too, right?

In theory, lighter shafts allow golfers to swing faster with the same effort, and a faster-moving club head means more distance. But what actually happens when the concept is put into practice?

I set up a controlled test using Club Conex adaptors so I could switch four UST Mamiya ProForce VTS Black Stiff shafts of different weights in the exact same driver head. The driver was a TaylorMade SLDR 460 (10.5 degrees) set to neutral weighting. The UST Mamiya ProForce VTS Black shafts were 4S, 5S, 6S and 7S and they had uncut weights of 46 grams, 59 grams, 66 grams and 74 grams.

Note: The 10.5-degree driver loft and stiff-flex shafts were not ideal for every golfer who participated, but I wanted to keep as many constants as possible to isolate the variable of shaft weight.

In the test, the golfers took two warm-up swings with each weight and then counted the next five swings in the data. Participants were divided into four distinct groups to see if performance varied by swing speed and handicap. All testing was done on our Foresight GC2 with a HMT unit so exact measurements of club head speed, face angles and impact positions could be recorded. The four groups included golfers of various swing speeds and handicaps.

  • High Swing Speed (>100 mph), Low Handicap (+2-to-5)
  • High Swing Speed (>100 mph), Average Handicap (12-to-18)
  • Average Swing Speed (<100 mph), Low Handicap (+2-to-5)
  • Average Swing Speed (<100 mph), Average Handicap (12-to-18)

So how much do you think club head speed increased with lighter shafts? Here’s a spoiler: if this was the set of ESPN’s College Game Day, Lee Corso would be wagging his finger and saying “Not so fast my friend!” Out of all of the golfers in the test, only two had their highest club head speed and increased distance with the lightest shaft.  And here’s the real surprise: both of those players came from our high swing speed, low-handicap group.

Results by Group

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 5.40.40 PM

A couple of key points that jumped out to me:

  • On average, the weight of the shaft does not play a huge impact on swing speed. This seems reasonable when you realize that the difference between the 40- and 70-gram shafts is less than the weight of a golf ball. While less than 30 grams would make a huge difference if focused in or across a club head 45 inches away; that weight reduction spread across the 45-inch shaft is much less significant.
  • No groups had their longest drives with the 40-gram shaft and only one did with the 50-gram — the Average Swing Speed/Low Handicap group. This group was dominated by older golfers who have played their entire life and have grooved swings with consistent impact. They don’t need as much feedback from the club to maintain path.
  • The only group to increase club head speed more than 1 mph with 40- or 50-gram shafts was the High Swing Speed, Low-Handicap group. Despite this, their distance actually decreased due to increased spin.
  • Spin can kill distance and heavier shafts typically do a better job of reducing it.

The Bottom Line

In summary, be very careful when selecting a lightweight shaft for your driver. The only two people who improved club head speed and distance with the 40- or 50-gram options were very good ball strikers with grooved swings who consistently centered their contact. As a note, both of these golfers disliked the feel of the lightweight shafts and preferred the confidence and stability the heavier weights gave them – one actually has an 80-gram shaft in his gamer driver.

There are golfers out there, however, who will get great results from ultra-lightweight driver shafts. The three characteristics I look for when thinking about going light in driver shafts are:

  1. Moderate-to-slow swing speeds
  2. Very consistent ball striking (better golfers)
  3. A neutral-to-positive attack angle that helps limit spin

Our tests did include golfers 60 and older who always assumed they needed a lighter shaft if they wanted more distance. All of them actually found the best balance of distance and control with the 60-gram shaft.

If there was any bias in this test, it was likely in favor of the lighter shafts, as the 70-gram models were losing distance because of launch angles and spin rates that were too low. The heavier shafts’ general outperformance of the lighter weight shafts despite that handicap was impressive and very telling.

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Chris Wycoff is the owner of SwingFit, a custom club fitting and building studio in Hilton Head Island, SC. SwingFit was included on Golf Digest's list of 100 Best Clubfitters in America for 2015 &16.

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70 Comments

70 Comments

  1. Deadeye

    Mar 11, 2017 at 8:59 am

    It seems to me there is more to variables in shafts than just weight. Butt stiffness, tip flex, weight distribution in the shaft, torque, etc. that’s why during a professional fitting you can find a shaft that gives better results but feels like crap. A factor that is never mentioned is hand strength. That’s the only connection to the club and if you have smaller weaker (or older) hands that connection will vary during the swing. If you have a consistent swing then get a fitting that puts a shaft in your club that yields an acceptable result and also feels “right”.

  2. Johny Thunder

    Jul 5, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    You’re all such experts on anything and everything related to golf, you know exactly what everyone should play (from the beginner to every single tour player), and exactly what is truth and what is marketing, how is it you’re not all scratch golfers and in-demand teaching pros??

    My favorites, though, are the comments that guys like Hogan and Nicklaus would have driven it 500 yards and shot 59 every round in their prime with today’s equipment. Delusional is a massive compliment to that thought process. (Of course, the same folks who make those claims will turn around and say Tiger could win majors with a broomstick, and that all golf equipment is “marketing”… You can’t have it both ways, but again, most heavily delusional people think you can.)

  3. Matt

    Jan 23, 2015 at 9:52 am

    I just got a Titleist 915 D3 and had myself professionally fit. Moved to a heavier shaft and instantly added 30 yards to my drive. The lighter shaft felt easier to swing, but was putting too much backspin on the ball and was costing me distance. So yes, lighter isn’t always better.

  4. tlmck

    Jan 20, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    I swing heavier shafts faster and get more distance as well as a better smash factor. All my shafts are also a bit stiffer than my clubhead speed would call for. The pro explained that it was because of how I “load” the shaft rather than just the clubhead speed measurement.

  5. Russ

    Jan 19, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    I went to hotstix is scottsdale, az I hit about 6-10 different heads and shafts. Bottom line the Areoteck shaft was the one for me with the ping i25 head. Areoteck i95, 95 gram shaft spin was great, launch perfect. Angle on accent spot on, get fit people. I was playing the dg sl 300 stiff, 125 gram.

  6. gunmetal

    Jan 5, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Great article. This is precisely why you can’t go to Golfsmith, Dicks, or Golf Galaxy and get a proper fitting. IT TAKES TIME. Just because you have a slow SS doesn’t mean you need a 50g shaft. Just because you swing out of your pants doesn’t mean you need an 80g shaft. It’s all about trial and error. I know we like to say fitting is a science – and to a certain degree it absolutely is. But more than we like to admit, it’s an art.

  7. Tanner

    Jan 5, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Bought the Wilson D100 for a lighter shaft. Although, the club has been short
    for me and and an average performer. Not bad. But, disappointing because of the
    use your same swing and swing faster label.

  8. Justin

    Jan 2, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    I’ve been assembling golf clubs since I was 15. I have tried many lengths, weights, lofts, etc. My driver has an 80g shaft in it. Anything under 75g feels too light for me. I’ve found that flexibility and strength of the golfer make the biggest difference in how a club behaves. Lighter shafts are more forgiving on weaker golfers as they won’t fatigue as quickly. Beyond that, it is mostly about feel. If you feel comfortable swinging the club, you will probably have more confidence swinging it. This will allow your body to swing faster without putting that extra thought into the path of the club.

  9. Bob Gom

    Jan 1, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Hard to go off of these number posted….basic BFL have a 100 mph SS producing 150 mph ball speed with a 1.50 smash. The ball speed and smash numbers are very low on all the testing and the +2-5 players seem to not be able to find the face better then the 12-18 players.

    The LM might be consitant and that’s the most important part I guess

  10. Lee

    Jan 1, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Physics aren’t supposed to lie but I’m 55 (5 h’cap) and have always played a 60-65 gram regular shaft until last year. My club head speed was averaging 86mph with far too much spin and my trusted fitter was scratching his head at the numbers. As an experiment he gave me 74 gram stiff shaft the result was club head speed up to 94mph, spin down dramatically which of course equalled better launch angle, more carry and a better decent angle promoting more run. To be honest I was/am amazed but we’re all different, different horses for different courses as they say.

  11. Gary Rice

    Jan 1, 2015 at 9:05 am

    I thought I would chime in with my conclusions on the lighter driver shafts. I went to the lighter shaft because I felt more in control of the driver and these shafts have primarily helped with controlling dispersion rather than additional yardage. I tried a variety of lightweight shafts (see http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/955395-lightweight-golf-shafts-for-the-senior-or-slower-swing-speed-golfer/), even the UST Tour SPX and found the Miyazaki B Asha as the best shaft for my swing. I am 66 with a swing speed of 80-85. Interesting article and probably more controlled than my article on lighter shafts, because I tried a lot more different shafts. Any significant yardage gains were accomplished by changing from my trusty old Ping K15 to a TaylorMade SLDR head. Thanks for your efforts, Chris.

  12. leftright

    Dec 31, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    It’s all a facade. Everything is negligible. I can hit a 1975 persimmon headed Tony Penna within 10 yards of the lastest driver when caught solidly. I can hit my FG17 Wilson’s within 4 yards of my Ping’s and the Taylor’s and Adams are false lofts and face reflex values that add “inconsistent” and variable distant depending on where you hit the damn ball. It makes aboslutely no difference if you hit the ball solid. This has been known for awhile and as our economy is built on a myth so is golf technology. Its’ the golf ball for God’s sake. Experts know it and if your experiment you will find out. The world is an illusion. Sometimes I feel like nothing is as it seems. I will take my 1979 driver, persimmon, oil hardened with red cycolac insert and hit it within 10 yards of my Stage 2 tour. It won’t go as far on mishits but will on solid shots. I can still hit my Fg17’s within 5 yards of my I25’s. The other clubs are not real, with reflex i hit my 8 iron 150 or 170. They are junk and can’t be trusted. All irons except the reflex POS’s out there are basically Karsten’s 1973 Ping’s with perimeter weighting. Now we live a facade created by golf manufacturers and what is really ironic, smart people are buying into the bullcrap. Practice, take a lesson from a real teacher and not some Foley or Leadbetter or some charlatan like that with BS basic and unproven swing discipline. Ben Hogan with today’s equipment and ball would win 10 tournaments a year. The guys today are basically hackers compared to the likes of the old timers. Nelson could give Tiger two a side if both were in their prime.

    • leftright

      Dec 31, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      I would bet 10,000 dollars Tiger, Phil or whoever couldn’t break 75 on a difficult golf course with 1950 equipment. Nelson won 11 in a row with what we consider “junk.” The old timers would decimate them but it is not the current guys fault, they grew up on it. I would take my 1975 clubs and give a 19 y/o plus 2 the same clubs and beat him like a drum and I’m 57, on any golf course in the world. I like the new stuff, it’s pretty but not much better than the old stuff. We have to sell new clubs, keep people employed, make new drivers every 7 days. Somebody has to fail.

      • leftright

        Dec 31, 2014 at 10:47 pm

        The physics are the same, the math is the same, it makes absolutely no difference from that standpoint. Buy new clubs because you like the looks, the feel but they aint’ gonna help you because the technology is not any different than it was 15 years ago. The equation’s still add up to the same number regardless.

      • rightt2left

        Jan 1, 2015 at 8:28 pm

        Have another drink.

      • Knobbywood

        Jan 4, 2015 at 12:01 am

        Lol drink up old man I’ll take your bet any course any time… And Nelson giving tiger two shots in his prime? Hahaha your age us showing my delusional buddy… Ben hogan winning 10 times a year? Sorry but he didn’t do that against the massively smaller talent pool of the good ole boys day… No chance against the conditioned educated and physically fit and much deeper talent pool of today… Nostalgia is affecting your judgement sorry to break it to you but bubba rory or tiger would dominate if they played back in the day… Look up the scoring averages… And don’t say the game was harder because all these guys hit it in the center and technology only really matters on mishits… Truth hurts

      • Eugene Marchetti

        Jan 4, 2015 at 9:46 pm

        I completely disagree. In 1970, when I was still an in shape teenager, I was lucky to hit a wood driver 210 yards and would be hitting a three iron for my second shot. Players considered a 400 yard hole as long, really long. Now, at 63, I drive 240 and would be hitting a seven iron on that hole and would hit the green with a reasonable birdie chance 70 percent of the time. Modern equipment has made golf SOOOOO much easier.

        • The Dude

          Jun 10, 2016 at 8:36 am

          Or…..45 years of practicing and playing has made you better?????

  13. john

    Dec 31, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    There needs to be different lofted clubs as well as shafts.. Because of the tendency release sooner w lighter shaft..needing a lower lofted head.. So the results may be better w a lighter shaft.. I would like to see more lofts added w this test would prove more accurate.

  14. James Cp;e

    Dec 31, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    It’s very difficult to set up an accurate and fair test which excludes variables introduced by human parameters. For example, long-term familiarity with a driver would suggest both an increase in consistency re’ accuracy and distance. So if a golfer picks up a driver whose specs are close to his gamer driver, you would expect him to strike the ball reasonable well. By the time he swings a club whose specs are far different from what he is used to, you would expect him to struggle with it.

    Bottom line is that club familiarity is a factor which MAY dominate and override your test parameters.

    How do you eliminate familiarity as a key factor? It wouldn’t be easy, but the first step would be to do your testing with an Iron Byron, while having some way to measure small velocity increments as a consequence of small changes in force applied. You would need an excellent physicist to help you work out these problems, and an analyst familiar with conducting parametric studies.

    As is, this study is worthless.

    If you can’t work out the details of a study with Iron Byron, then I suggest a study with PGA tour golfers by comparing results with their gamer drivers with small changes in their shaft weight.

    Just to suggest there are several other factors besides familiarity which complicates the issue, consider the fact that a golfer goes out one day and stripes the fairway. The next day he can barely find the rough. How do you take good days and bad days into consideration?

  15. Regis

    Dec 31, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I read this with interest but as I am a 64 year old with an 83 mph swing speed, I think there may be some flaws with your conclusion. The VTS Black in stiff has a torque of 3.5 whereas the Red (which I own) has a torque of 5.5. My point is that all you have demonstrated with respect to the Average/Average golfer is that if he plays a stiff shaft he will not see a significant change in distance by going lighter. May not be true with a shaft line that is better fitted for his swing speed.

    • Todd

      Jan 2, 2015 at 11:21 am

      Right on! I was looking through the responses to see if someone else had reported this. The only shafts that I know of that would be able to make this comparison possible, are Accra shafts. The Z and Z plus series come close to maintaining the profile in different weights. Also true, not enough of a sample from higher handicaps to get real results.

      Still, I like the idea of the test. I have seen many that should benefit from lighter shafts, not do so. It seems to be relevant to those that have a smooth transition at the top. Those that are quick, are aided by heavier shafts (sometimes). Angle of attack and release timing will also affect the results.

  16. Leftshot

    Dec 31, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Not much to conclude from this test other than shaft weight changes in this range have little impact on distance. I have for a long time believed that lighter clubs (not just the shaft) promote more manipulation of the club and therefore produces less efficient swings. That is one reason why some of the heavy training clubs have benefits. It promotes use of the big muscles in the core and legs and less manipulation of the club with the hands and arms. There is some evidence for this in the results, which generally show greater dispersion as shaft weight decreases. However, with this test you wouldn’t expect much change in the way people swing the club. Distortions or manipulations of the club generally happen over a period of time, just like correcting them doesn’t happen overnight using heavy club swing trainers.

  17. Justin

    Dec 31, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    “Spin” and “Offline Variation” were the two stats that jumped out at me the most. In almost all the categories, the test groups improved their numbers the heavier the shaft got. I know there are exceptions but, the numbers don’t lie. Professional club fitting is important especially if you struggle in any of these areas.

  18. skowalyshyn1@cogeco.ca

    Dec 31, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I always got sucked into trying lighter shafts that come stock with most drivers and wondered why I couldn’t get the desired result, now this verifies I am not crazy. OEM’s please stop brain washing us into thinking lighter is better!

  19. maverick

    Dec 31, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Sure a lighter shaft will give more swing speed but less mass hitting the ball. Did anyone ever take physics in school?

    • Mack

      Dec 31, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      Yeah, which is why I know that an increase in speed effects the energy imparted to the ball more than an increase in mass.

      Speed has an exponential impact on energy.

  20. RP

    Dec 29, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    WRX copying content ideas from Mygolfspy again.

    You guys are shameless in the way you see what they do and copy.

    • James

      Dec 30, 2014 at 1:51 am

      You could say the exact same thing about the countless articles that GolfSpy has “copied”.

      • Undershooter30

        Dec 31, 2014 at 8:07 pm

        The Difference is mygolfspy usually gives some credit to wherever they get their ideas. Dont get me wrong I like wrx but it has lost its way in some respects.

    • OzoneRaiders

      Dec 31, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      RP….Shut up. This was a very informative article. Kind of contradicts what all the big name manufacturers want you to believe.

  21. manz60

    Dec 28, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks for your article. re: do lighter shafts increase clubhead speed and distance? yes but only if hit solidly and on center. Golfsmith tests show 50% of golfers show a less than 6% increase in swing speed; if the decrease in shaft weight from the golfers previous shaft was 1.5oz, the increase in distance was 10-12yds.

    The rule of thumb is to play the lightest shaft you can control, the control part coming from head weight.

    The shaft weight (and flex)has to fit the golfer to allow a consistent swing timing , tempo and full release of the clubhead – and from this comes the golfers max swing speed and highest percentage of on center hits.

    All without thinking about it. Not having to swing a too heavy shaft with more effort; too light a shaft,slower causing a harder time to produce consistent swing timing,rhythm and on center hits.

    It is possible for all golfers to play lightweight shafts (in search of more distance) as long as the clubfitter understands how head weight can ‘mask’ the feeling of the lighter total weight while still allowing the golfer to control the golf club. Control the golf club and most golfers will lower their scores.

    Most golfers would also benefit from shorter driver lengths. Hitting the ball on the clubheads CG will increase distance more than any increase in driver length.

  22. sgniwder99

    Dec 28, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    “No groups had their longest drives with the 40-gram shaft and only one did with the 50-gram — the Average Swing Speed/Low Handicap group.”

    Am I reading it wrong, or did that group actually hit 5yd longer drives with the 60g shaft (254.8) than with the 50g shafts (249.4)?

  23. steve

    Dec 28, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Very nice article and research which scratches the surface on some very fundamental points causing problems in golf these days -firstly, clearly it goes to demonstrate that custom fitting is so essential to make sure you have the correct fit for your swing and game and secondly and more worryingly, it highlights that the golf retail market is being dominated by marketing spin to sell product rather than make golf more fun and easier for all to play – too much hype and not enough fun… No wonder golf has a few challenges compared to other sports
    Personally on shaft weight, I have always found – ( 14hc with over 110 swing speed in driver – my putts go a long way too! ) that I cannot feel the clubhead when the shaft gets too light, tried all the way down to 39g but my gamer is a 77g.

    Look forward to seeing this topic being expanded upon

  24. Julien

    Dec 28, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Between this test – well done by the way – and all the videos on YouTube using the same launch monitor and comparable data that shaft stiffness does not make a marked difference relative to strike, I am really starting to wonder why getting “professionally” fit for other than lie/loft in the irons is even necessary. Seems driver/wood/hybrid fitting should basically be head to a golf store that has a launch monitor; hit a bunch of drivers; find the one that gives you the best numbers, feel and aesthetics and head to the register.

    • Chris Wycoff

      Dec 28, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      Hi Julien – thank you for reading. I think the outcome of this article is actually one of the reasons TO get professionally fit. There are countless “assumptions” and long held beliefs that just aren’t correct for most golfers. Stock drivers today, and in fact the majority of the shafts that are put into manufacturer’s fitting carts, are very light weight and the heavy ones only come in X or Stiff flex.

      Finding a good fitter who cares and isn’t just trying to sell you the first thing that works can help you save a lot of time sorting through all the options. They should have access to different shafts to try with the right weight, torque, stiffness, launch and spin properties that you can get otherwise.

      • hari Chittaluru

        Dec 31, 2014 at 5:42 pm

        Hi. This is precisely why I play with AXE Tour SL tour stiff 50g shaft in my driver tipped 1″ and plays at 43.5″. At that length it is playing at about 46g. Easier on the body and yet I have to swing fully to make the club produce best results.

  25. emeagolfer

    Dec 28, 2014 at 5:58 am

    Some remarks:

    as the swingspeed grows, the max CHS (clubheadspeed) belongs to a more weigthy shaft,
    but the 60gr seems to be a very good starting point as all the four groups reached acceptable numbers with it.
    it would be interesting to see four groups with higher smash factors.

  26. No big

    Dec 28, 2014 at 3:37 am

    “were very good ball strikers with grooved swings who consistently centered their contact.”

    It’s not just that!

    It’s also because these guys want to keep the ball in play!

    Lighter shafts do increase swing speed – if people didn’t care about putting it in play! Anybody can swing willy-nilly and increase their swing speed with lighter weight shafts. The point is we are all trying to get the ball in play and not spray it all over the map just because we can swing faster!
    That’s golf in a nutshell.

    This analysis and table above is totally meaningless.

    • Chris Wycoff

      Dec 28, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      I think I agree with the point you are making but definitely disagree that the results are meaningless. The data showed that for most people the lighter shafts didn’t increase club head or ball speed so there’s even less reason to go light for most. As a fitter and store owner, I am confronted daily with people that assume that lighter will get them to go faster and further – this study shows that is probably not the case. Oh yeah, heavier does also help keep it in the fairways like you mentioned.

      Thank you for the comment!

  27. Mark

    Dec 27, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Great article.
    I wonder if the same test could be done to irons. I recon that the results will be even more surprising. I personally have found the lighter shafts horrible in consistency and lacking distance.

  28. Tony Wright

    Dec 27, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Chris thank you for sharing the results of this study. Another element of varying shaft weight that is important is that heavier shafts can help golfers to swing more inside out, and lighter shafts can help golfers to swing more outside in. The value of this is that shaft weight can be varied to help golfer reduce the difference between their face angle and path at impact…..and the closer these are to each other, the more straight shots they can hit. So sometimes – not always for sure – heavier shafts can in fact produce more distance for golfers.

  29. Nat

    Dec 27, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Great article. Echoes my real life experiences. I am an avg swing speed 95+ low hdcp and have tried UL shafts in so many different configurations. But my adams F11 with a 60 GM shaft wins every time for both distance and consistency. Also, while the UL shafts can feel easy to swing, the misses are way worse than anything I do with a heavier shaft.

  30. Kevin

    Dec 27, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    I only problem with this test was no had a good smash factor. I would love to see total distance when they are smashing at 1.46-1.5. But thats jud t my TrackMan OCD

    • Chris Wycoff

      Dec 28, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Kevin – I hear you, seeing those 1.48s and above is nice!

      I can tell you that the shots we did see with great smash factors exhibited results in line with the trends above – they just went further. I will also say, the percentage these very good shots was lower with the lower shaft weights. In general, the heavier shafts helped improve contact and therefore smash, we just had a couple of small outliers that prevented that from showing up in the final results.

      If I were able to put a couple hundred golfers through this to reduce the variance, I feel confident the smash would go up with the weight.

      • Chad

        Dec 31, 2014 at 1:25 pm

        Interesting, I was going to ask if smash was consistently better with a heavier shaft, but this pretty much answers the question.

        So would you say this is purely because of ball striking improvement with a heavier shaft, or because there a better transfer of momentum through the downswing with additional weight?

        It seems to me that logic would indicate I was hitting something with more force if I swung something heavier at the same speed. For instance a hammer of 16 ounces and a hammer of 50 ounces swung at 40 mph…

  31. Yes an

    Dec 27, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Bravo RWP, I couldn’t agree more.

  32. realworldperspective

    Dec 27, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    I’d actually have to do the opposite and nominate this as one of the worst articles of 2014. There are so many flaws in the setup of the test the negate any results that have been published.

    The biggest problem is the use of a single head, loft, and length configuration. In trying to reduce the number of variables, the person setting up the test actually increased them. By using such a wide variety of testers (handicap & swing speed) he also introduced a plethora of swing types and the notion that a single head configuration would produce reliable results for so many different swing types is just naive.

    I completely understand that it was probably both cost and time prohibitive to fit each golfer for THEIR proper setup and then use the shaft as a variable, but without doing exactly that there is no way to make such definitive statements about using a lighter or heavier shaft. No one should be taking these results as a guide for anything other than how NOT to set up a test.

    In addition, the use of a lighter or heavier weight shaft needs to come with considerations for what overall weight, length, swing weight, and flex the golfer will be using. I think the best thing anyone can do is ignore nonsensical articles like this and just go get fit for the driver setup that fits THEIR particular and unique swing.

    • Neige

      Dec 27, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      Great article. Data for people who want it. Thanks to the author.

    • chris

      Dec 27, 2014 at 6:56 pm

      The title of the article is “Do lighter shafts affect club head speed”. I choose to read this article because I wanted to know the answer. So from reading the article the answer is yes all four trial hitters swung a lighter shaft faster. That is personally what I wanted to know and it provided that information. However they go on to talk how different handicapped golfers with different swing speeds struck the ball using different weighted shafts. Pointless information in regards to the the title of the article. I didn’t find it to be bad read, but it definitely got off point in terms of the direct relationship between so g speed and shaft weight.

      • Shallowface

        Dec 28, 2014 at 1:39 pm

        Chris, I think you need to take another look at that chart and re-read how the test was done.

        • James Cole

          Dec 31, 2014 at 4:24 pm

          It’s very difficult to set up an accurate and fair test which excludes variables introduced by human parameters. For example, long-term familiarity with a driver would suggest both an increase in consistency re’ accuracy and distance. So if a golfer picks up a driver whose specs are close to his gamer driver, you would expect him to strike the ball reasonable well. By the time he swings a club whose specs are far different from what he is used to, you would expect him to struggle with it.

          Bottom line is that club familiarity is a factor which MAY dominate and override your test parameters.

          How do you eliminate familiarity as a key factor? It wouldn’t be easy, but the first step would be to do your testing with an Iron Byron, while having some way to measure small velocity increments as a consequence of small changes in force applied. You would need an excellent physicist to help you work out these problems, and an analyst familiar with conducting parametric studies.

          As is, this study is worthless.

          If you can’t work out the details of a study with Iron Byron, then I suggest a study with PGA tour golfers by comparing results with their gamer drivers with small changes in their shaft weight.

          Just to suggest there are several other factors besides familiarity which complicates the issue, consider the fact that a golfer goes out one day and stripes the fairway. The next day he can barely find the rough. How do you take good days and bad days into consideration?

  33. Scooter McGavin

    Dec 27, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    So what we see here is another example of how different equipment will only produce noticeable results in better players. It’s only the low handicap/high speed players where you actually see the trend you would expect. With the high handicap golfers the results are everywhere. This is why people need to stop pushing every novice golfer to get a full professional fitting. It’s a waste of time for the golfer, as they will hit any club poorly until they learn their swing, and it’s a strain on golf retailers that don’t need to have the beginners see their inconsistent shots on a launch monitor. Witnessing it first-hand, when you see a new golfer getting fit on a monitor, 9 times out of 10 they get discouraged or embarrassed and don’t end up buying clubs. New golfers just need to get something fit to their static measurements and take it out and learn to play with it.

    • chris

      Dec 27, 2014 at 6:42 pm

      It’s a strain on golf retailer’s? Come on, are saying that the novice golfer should not know what there numbers look like on a launch monitor for fear they they might not buy the most profitable club from the retailer. The 1st time I went in to buy a set of irons the sales person took me directly to the most expensive set of game improvement irons, he didn’t day “hey, you aren’t that good, go buy some junkets on Craigslist”. Part of buying clubs from a retailer is the ability to hit them in a simulator or at least in front of a trained eye. To much of a strain on the retailer, that is a joke.

      • Jeff

        Dec 27, 2014 at 11:16 pm

        He’s saying, a bad fitting experiences may be more harmful than good, and he’s right. Sensible people just can’t always buy “the most expensive set of game improvement irons” and certainly won’t want to after realizing they can’t hit ANYTHING.

      • Jimmy

        Dec 28, 2014 at 9:03 am

        Chris, a joke is seeing how uninformed you are.

    • Chris Wycoff

      Dec 28, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      Scooter – thank you for reading and commenting, but I am going to have to disagree with you..to a point. Do I think that high handicappers who are just trying to have fun will fully benefit from a full custom build with a brand new $400 driver shaft and $100 graphite shafts in every iron? No way.

      At our store we frequently see the biggest performance gains in mid to high handicappers. A smart and reasonable fitting can really help these golfers compensate for their swing flaws and make the game easier and more fun for them. For example, if someone walks in asking for 9.5 stiff driver because that’s what they used to hit 20 years ago and has a 80mph, casting, over the top slice that they can’t get off the ground I’m going to just say here you go and good luck. I would try to fit them into something that has more loft, a draw bias and likely a heavier stock or inexpensive aftermarket shaft that I might cut down to 44″ so they can get it around on a better path. That person would likely see a huge performance gain. Getting fit doesn’t necessarily equate with spending a ton of money.

      • Steve

        Dec 29, 2014 at 5:58 pm

        So what you are saying is you fit newer golfers to compensate their swing flaws. What happens when their swing improves in 6 months? And those clubs no longer the right fit? Come back in and drop more $$$ for another fit. I agree with the other posts if you are new or high handicap it doesn’t pay to get fit. Better learning to have a repeatable good swing, then look to get fit. Getting fit to compensate your bad swing is not going to make a better golfer

        • Derek

          Dec 31, 2014 at 1:38 pm

          Steve as someone who is studying to become a PGA professional and has done numerous club fittings and worked with some great professionals in the industry I completely disagree. You take club fitting to be completely out of context it’s up to you and the golf pro fitting you to decide what is best! If you just want to go play golf 1-5 times a year with whatever swing you have then let’s fit you with clubs that will compensate for that swing, if you want to take a lot of lessons and improve your swing then let’s work on your swing and get it to a point where it’s good enough to get fit for a set of clubs that will further improve your performance along with your swing improvements. Also do you not realize that clubs today are adjustable especially drivers, fwy woods, and hybrids and often times can adapt over time to your swing and irons are bendable as long as you go to an experienced person. Which means we can adjust your clubs without you having to buy new ones every time.

        • Chad

          Dec 31, 2014 at 1:46 pm

          This is a dumb comment. I worked in golf retail for a year, and sometimes the best you can do is get a slight fix in someone’s hand because they don’t care to improve their swing, or are simply incapable of improving, but still want to play better golf. Not everyone is gonna bang balls to make improvements.

          You would be surprised that most of these golfers who are not capable of improving their swing are INSISTENT on buying a new club because it’s what they want and it will make them happy. Classic example of consumerism, they don’t even need products pushed on them.

          However, I totally disagree and think a fitting is always helpful for a golfer who has genuine interest in the game, especially when you start playing. But for those people you fit them based on their physical features, which are primarily strength and height (not their swing). I would never advocate someone starting golf with clubs that are not fit because they will be the wrong size and lie, and will lead to bad posture, poorly grooved mechanics, and a generally frustrating experience

          • Steve

            Jan 1, 2015 at 2:40 pm

            Working in retail for a year makes you a expert

          • Chad

            Jan 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm

            Im not an expert, but being a +2 handicap, a member of a high school state championship team, runner up in my city am this year, and shadowing my local master club builder has given me some pretty valuable experience with equipment

          • Steve

            Jan 3, 2015 at 11:12 am

            Being a 2 hc doesnt make you a club fitter. I should know played to a +2 now scratch and I don’t know anything about fitting anyone but me. I still don’t know why you think you have knowledge of it. Playing ok golf doesn’t make you a expert fitter. But whatever good luck thinking you are

        • Regis

          Dec 31, 2014 at 4:06 pm

          Big difference between “newer’ and a “high handicapper” I see a lot of guys my age (64) that have been playing a long time and aren’t likely to get significantly better, fundamental wise, but they could definitely benefit with a fitting and they aren’t likely to be buying again for a number of years.

    • bradford

      Dec 29, 2014 at 7:42 am

      Unfortunately, I agree. Can’t tell you how many aging “I have a back problem now so I don’t play” retail store employees are playing the role of “club fitter” now. Fact is, they’ll sell you whatever spec TM is currently pushing…right now it’s loft, next will be low spin. Fact is the VAST majority have no idea what to do beyond the tired high swing speed=stiffer flex myth. These fittings should be done at a legit clubfitter, and I have yet to see one at a retail store, and YES a legit clubfitter will be bogged down with bad data from a new player. They’d be happy to help, I’m sure, at several hundred an hour–but it’s a waste of money for that player.

      The higher handicapper with a grooved swing however would probably benefit greatly.

  34. Paul Dunn

    Dec 27, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    I use light shafts and I have a >100mph swing and play off single figures. The reason I use light shafts is for one reason only – my slow transition. I’ve always understood transition speed to be the only to reason consider shaft weight to be honest, and it works for me. I have a slow back swing and transition, then pick the speed I have through the ball. I also tend to pick the ball off the turf rather than take a divet.

    Horses for courses. Just depends on your swing style as much as speed.

    • Chris Wycoff

      Dec 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      Paul – I couldn’t agree more. There aren’t any blanket statements in golf and this article is definitely not trying to create one. Lighter shafts very well might be the best for you, my hope is that this information will challenge the general belief that lighter is faster and longer and get some people to try heavier shafts. They may not work for them, but I believe that there’s a very good chance they will and they might have to get used to hitting one club less on their second shots in the fairway.

  35. eppey

    Dec 27, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Taking a quick browse at the results it seems the 60 gram had the best overall results of launch / spin / smash / control variances (taken as averages). I would liked to have seen an 80 and maybe 90 gram test to show where the best weight shafts would be based on above tested groups.

    • Chris Wycoff

      Dec 28, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      Thank you eppey – using 80 or even 90 gram shafts is something we looked into but weren’t able to include it because of scope and so few shaft options that have a single shaft ranging from 40 to 90 grams. Our anecdotal evidence is that past 70 and up into the 80 gram range the shafts do start to feel heavy and “boardy” for most golfers. 60 to 70 grams is the sweet-spot we see a lot of golfers fitting into.

  36. Chuck

    Dec 27, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    For years, my theory has been as follows:

    An ultralight-weight shaft allows a manufacturer to build a longer club at an equivalent swingweight. And using machines (and certainly not humans) to test those lighter, longer-length clubs, a manufacturer could truthfully produce and then advertise gains in distance.

    MOAR DISTANCE! = more sales.

    Put those clubs into real golfers’ hands, and you get a lot of mixed and often bad results.

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Equipment

The hottest blade irons in golf right now

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As we’ve written before, the decision to put a new driver in the bag is usually obvious. Better numbers at testing, perceptibly longer distance, and as long as your bank account allows, you have your new gamer.

The iron switch, however, is a trickier beast. Comfort with the variety of shots one needs to hit is key. Confidence from one’s long irons through the higher lofts is critical. Thus, even the greatest enthusiasm for a new iron release isn’t always followed by a mass exodus to gaming said irons. This is doubly true at the professional level, where the tools are critical to a player’s livelihood.

That said, the combination of forum chatter, GolfWRX member enthusiasm, and what we’re spotting in our WITB photos from tour stops are a reliable indicator of the hottest irons in the game.

And judging by the response to our recent Instagram post, we’re confident that these four models are the hottest blade irons in golf right now.

Callaway Apex MB

Buzz built steadily for the Apex MB iron when we first spotted them in Tour players’ bags at the beginning of 2017. The irons are the product of direct feedback from the company’s Tour staffers, according to Luke Williams, Director of Product and Brand Management at Callaway. Forged from 1025 Carbon Steel, these irons have the shortest blade lengths, the thinnest soles and the smallest overall heads in the vast line of Callaway irons. They’re designed for maximum workability, and for tour-desired turf interaction.

Related: Callaway (finally) launches new Apex MB and X Forged irons

Mizuno MP-18

The pioneers of Grain-Flow Forging, Mizuno went back to its roots with the MP-18 iron model. A throwback to the great muscle backs in the company’s history, Mizuno was shooting for the look of an iron that could have been forged a century ago. Shorter blade length, cambered top line, sharp, compact wedges, all combined with the most minimal badging make the MP-18 an instant classic that set the GolfWRX forums afire.

Related: Mizuno brings the MP family closer together

TaylorMade P730

TMag’s P730, particularly in its prototype incarnations, made quite a splash on the PGA Tour. Building on the heritage of the TP-MB irons, P730 was developed in collaboration with the very best players in the world. The 1025 carbon steel irons irons feature a smaller profile and crisper lines than the MB series irons. The combination of the clean look and a deep rear groove have players drooling. Discussing working with Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose to design the P730, TMag’s Senior Director of Irons, Tomo Bystedt said, “What these players need is a very low-inertia club that they can [manipulate] easily, almost like a surgeon’s scalpel.” Behold the scalpel.

Related: Taylormade expands forged offerings with P730 and P790

Titleist 718 MB

“For the purist there is no substitute for a one-piece, muscle back iron. The 718 MB is the modern choice for those desiring a traditional forged look and feel,” says Titleist in the 718 MB marketing materials.

It’s hard to argue with that statement from the “appearance of a classic forged iron” standpoint. Purists appreciate that the 718 MB maintains Titleist’s traditional lofts (the 6-iron is 31 degrees, the pitching-wedge is 47 degrees), thin top-line, minimal offset, and limited badging. In short, if it ain’t broke…

Related: Titleist’s 718 irons offer endless possibilities.

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Whats in the Bag

Austin Cook’s Winning WITB: The 2017 RSM Classic

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Driver: Ping G400 LST (8.5 Degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 661 Evolution TX-Flex

3 Wood: Ping G400 Stretch (13 Degrees)
Shaft: Fujifuke Motore Speeder VC 7.2 TX-Flex

Hybrid: Ping G400 3 Hybrid (19 Degrees)
Shaft: Matrix Ozik Altus Tour H8 91X

Hybrid: Ping G400 4 Hybrid (22 Degrees)
Shaft: Matrix Ozik Altus Tour H8 91 X

Irons: Ping S55 Orange Dot (5-PW)
Shafts: KBS Tour S-Flex

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 SS (50-12, 56-12), Ping Glide 2.0 WS (60)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue

Putter: Ping Sigma G Tyne 
Grip: SuperStroke Mid-Slim 2.0

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1

5095fce33e880406a172796becbc64f8 6900daf1b0d2a2751ffa5557ac3865f7 2340677acd0b3c6d0f53ae8fa46c2024 80f602716821fd9518f148951913c9c0 4df372aac347ad61f031f519a1fd1edb 48039d9dfced6272ba047b51e6265d03 6fecf1d551cb1559587f1f17392ba7c8 0519679f5fdaaae2ffbaf2d97c0def72 5445ea5d9987cddfda04efba5d2f1efd

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Whats in the Bag

Jon Rahm’s Winning WITB: 2017 DP World Tour Championship

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Driver: TaylorMade M2 2017 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Tour Green 75X

3 Wood: TaylorMade M1 2017 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Tour Green 75TX

5 Wood: TaylorMade M1 2017 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 8X

Irons: TaylorMade P-750 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52 and 56 degrees), TaylorMade “Hi-Toe” (60 degrees)
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Golf Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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