2014 Iron shaft shootout: Top-rated steel and graphite iron shafts get put to the test
Iron shafts are the forgotten younger sibling of the golf shaft family. Where’s the love?
Most of the avid golfers we see in our shop will spend hours combing WRX forums, reading various reviews, asking questions and trying out countless different options for their new driver shaft. For some reason, these same golfers simply don’t pay attention to the shafts that go into their irons, even though there are typically at least eight of them in their bag versus just one driver. Too many golfers use the same iron shafts they’ve been gaming since the last time they were fit (usually at a demo day, a couple of sets ago) or use whatever might come as stock.
Although you surely don’t fall into this category, you might have a friend or two that does. So to help, we did data-driven, head-to-head comparison of several of the top iron shafts for better players. Our findings indicate that everyone should take a fresh look at what shafts should go into their next set of irons. Putting the wrong shaft in one club can show up on the scorecard. Now imagine having 7 to 10 shafts that don’t match your swing. It’s not a pretty picture.
As we began the test, I didn’t think any single shaft or shafts would surpass the others in total performance. Instead, my hypothesis was that certain shafts would distinguish themselves in one or two areas and potentially fall behind in others. For example, the longest shaft would likely be the least consistent.
For each shaft in our test, I asked four low-handicap golfers (-2 to a +2) to take five shots with a 4 iron and PW with a stiff-flex shaft using Mizuno JPX-825 Pro iron heads for each shot. We threw out obvious mishits, but included slight misses as they’re part of the game. A shaft’s performance must be measured by how misses are managed. The number of excluded shots was low and very consistent across the shafts, however, indicating that these were caused primarily by a swing issue and not a result of the shaft.
We used a Foresight GC2 launch monitor to track all the results. The order we hit the shafts was random and the shots were broken into three different hitting sessions to ensure that fatigue didn’t skew any numbers.
Here are the shafts we used in our testing:
- Aerotech SteelFiber 125S
- KBS C-Taper 120S
- KBS Tour 120S
- KBS Tour-V 110S
- Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 120S
- True Temper Project X 6.0
- True Temper Dynamic Gold S300
- UST Mamiya Recoil 125S
We tracked the average ball speed, launch angle, backspin, carry distance, carry deviation, decent angle and distance offline.
Shafts perform differently for different golfers. All the shafts performed well, however, and if you spend any time looking through the data you’ll see that the single biggest finding is that my original hypothesis was wrong. On average, there are very limited performance differences between shafts when data from the four golfers is averaged. Yes, there are some minor variances, but given the sample sizes we cannot conclude anything definitive.
The real variations come when we look at how each shaft performs for individual golfers*. Take the Aerotech SteelFiber performance for Golfers A & B from the table below.
For Golfer A, the SteelFiber was his longest 4 iron and flew nearly 7 yards more than his average carry distance. It was the shortest shaft for Golfer B, however, and 6 yards below his average. The only way to ensure you’re playing with the best shafts is to go through a thorough fitting where you’re able to hit several options, ideally with the same head.
How a shaft feels should not be the first criteria used when selecting a shaft. Other than in extreme cases, it’s best not to assume how a shaft is performing, but instead rely on a launch monitor to provide unbiased data. You might be surprised how your perception of feel might be changed by performance. For example, our testers expressed concern about the dispersion with the Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 120S and UST Recoil 125S shafts. The numbers show that the dispersion for both shafts were right in the middle of the pack. Feel is best used as a final decision when two shafts are performing very similarly. Here is the summary feedback on feel:
- Project X 6.0: An incredibly stiff, solid feel. Not much in terms of the shaft loading/unloading and what the ball is doing at impact.
- KBS Tour: Lots of feel throughout the swing as the shaft flexes. It feels like it “pops” at impact. Also, it feels more flexible than it actually is.
- Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 120: Incredibly smooth-feeling throughout the swing, a definite favorite. Only concern is if the shaft too soft and distance and offline consistency are sacrificed.
- UST Recoil 125: Feels very good with a lot of pop, like a KBS Tour on steroids. Despite being graphite, it feels very stable and many would play them. Testers knew when and where misses were, but the feedback wasn’t harsh.
- KBS C-Taper: Heavy and stable, a cross between the Project X and KBS Tour. The weight and stability feel good, but the ball doesn’t jump off the face.
- Aerotech Steelfiber: The Recoils feels nice off the face, but the SteelFiber feels more stable and smooth throughout the swing. It really feels like steel.
- True Temper Dynamic Gold S300: Feels like home, very familiar.
- KBS Tour-V: Very smooth, but light and flexible. It would take a while to get used to the lighter weight.
Both the Recoils and SteelFibers limit harsh, negative vibrations on mishits, but still feel solid throughout the swing and at impact. The shafts provided enough feedback that the players could control ball flight and knew where exactly they hit it on the face. Graphite performs, even for very good golfers. Living in Hilton Head, I got a front row seat for Matt Kuchar’s win with a set of SteelFibers.
Despite being doubters before the testing, all of our testers indicated they would strongly consider both high-end graphite options for their next set of irons. The feel feedback indicated the Recoils could be felt loading and unloading during the swing more than the SteelFibers and provided a “pop” at impact. The SteelFibers felt stable like steel throughout.
Note*: In this study, we attempted to correlate shaft performance differences with differences in the golfers’ swings. We were unable to do the correlation as a result of our limited sample size.
The original purpose of this testing was to provide a data-driven guide to help better players select what shafts to put in irons. As with much in golf, my research findings didn’t turn out quite that simple.
What this testing really proves to me, and hopefully for you, is that everyone can really benefit from taking a fresh look at what they’re playing and do a thorough fitting. What you are playing may not be the optimal shaft for you.
Related: Click here to see GolfWRX’s top-rated players irons and game-improvement irons picks for 2014.
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7 takeaways from an AWESOME equipment talk with Padraig Harrington
Fans of golf equipment have long known that Padraig Harrington is one of us. Throughout his career, Harrington has been willing to test new products, make changes from week to week, and play with a bag of mixed equipment brands.
What equipment fans may not know, however, is just how brilliant of an equipment mind Harrington truly has.
Ahead of the 2023 Valero Texas Open, I caught up with Harrington to pick his brain about what clubs are currently in his bag, and why. The conversation turned into Harrington discussing topics such as the broader equipment landscape, brand deals in 2023, his driver testing process, why he still uses a TaylorMade ZTP wedge from 2008, square grooves vs. V-grooves, and using a knockoff set of Ping Eye 1 irons as a junior.
Padraig Harrington’s 2023 WITB
Below are my 7 major takeaways from the extensive gear talk with Harrington.
1) Padraig’s stance on equipment contracts, and why he prefers Wilson
Harrington is a longtime Wilson staffer, and although he supports the brand and uses their equipment, he doesn’t use a full bag of Wilson clubs. He finds Wilson’s understanding of a player’s need for flexibility to be beneficial to the player, and it’s attracting more and more professional players to the company (such as Kevin Kisner and Trey Mullinax).
“Wilson wants me to play whatever I’m comfortable with. It’s very important. They’re not a manufacturer that says, ‘We want you to play 14 clubs.’ There’s always a club you don’t like. That’s just the way it is. So Wilson is like, ‘We want you playing well and playing the best clubs for you.’
“I am very comfortable with their irons. I’m very comfortable with their wedges, as you can see. They have an old hybrid 4 iron that I love. They have a new hybrid 4-iron that is too powerful. I put it in the bag last week and I had to take it out. The thing is, I use a 4-iron and a 5-wood. My 4-iron has to go somewhat relative to my 5-iron, and then I have to bridge that gap between 4-iron and 5-wood, so it has to do both. The new 4-iron was going 230 yards. My 4-iron goes about 215-235, maybe 240 on a warm day. And my 5-wood is like a warm-day 265 in the air, but I have no problem hitting it 235, so I can cross it over. But this 4-iron, the new version, it just went. I couldn’t hit the 215 shot with it; it’s just too powerful. That’s why I have the old 4-iron in the bag, but it does the job to bridge the gap…
“As players get more money, they’re less dependent on manufacturers. They need the service of a manufacturer – because, like I need to be on that truck and get things checked. But you’re seeing more players see Wilson as an attractive option because you don’t have to use 14 clubs. If you’re not happy this week with the putter; you know, Wilson has the putters, they have everything, but if you want to chase something else for a moment…remember, there’s two things you’re chasing. If you’re a free agent, it’s not good to be changing a lot. That is a distraction. But it’s nice to have the option that if somebody…like I feel Titleist has come out with a great driver. And I’m able to work my way straight into Titleist and say, ‘Hey, gimmie a go with that. Oh, this is a great driver, I’m going to use this.’ Wilson is aware of that. They want their players to be happy and playing well. Like it’s still 10 clubs, but it’s just not 14 and the ball.
“The irons are great, there’s no doubt about that. They’ve won the most majors. They make a gambit of irons. If you want to use a blade, they have the blade. If you want to use my iron, which is just a good tour composite, it has a bit of a cavity-back, you can do that. If you want to use the D irons that have rockets going off there, you can have them. Like the 4 iron, the one they gave me, it was a rocket! And guys are happy to carry driving irons like that, but mine has to match in with the 5-iron. It was just too high and too fast.
“So yeah, I think you’re going to see manufacturers go more of that way. Our players want to be independent, but the problem is that full independence is not great. You don’t want a situation where you’re turning up – as you see kids who make it into their first tournament, and the manufacturers start giving them stuff, and they’re changing. You don’t want to be the guy changing too much.”
2) The dangers of a 64-degree wedge
Although Harrington himself uses a Wilson Staff High Toe 64-degree wedge, he seldom practices with it. Here’s why he warns against it:
“The big key with a 64 wedge is DO NOT use it. No, seriously, do not use it. It’s a terrible wedge for your technique. That club is in the bag and it gets used on the golf course, and it gets used when it’s needed, but you don’t practice with it, because it’s awful. So much loft will get you leading too much, and you’re going to deloft it. Hit one or two shots with it, then put it away. You’re better off practicing with a pitching wedge and adding loft to be a good chipper instead of practicing with a lob wedge and taking loft off. A 64-degree wedge is accentuating that problem. It’s a dangerous club. It does a great job at times, but it certainly can do harm.
“It’s not bad having it in the bag for a certain shot, but it’s a terrible club to practice with. I literally hit one or two full shots with it, a couple chips with it, and that’s it. I know if I spend too long with it, I’ll start de-lofting.”
3) The interchangeable faces on TaylorMade’s ZTP wedges from 2008 were Padraig’s idea?!
I couldn’t believe it myself, but Harrington says that the idea for TaylorMade to offer interchangeable face technology on its ZTP wedges in 2008 was originally his idea…
“The TaylorMade is obviously attracting a lot of attention, but that was my idea! Myself and a consultant for Wilson, I got him to build changeable faces and he sold that to TaylorMade…that’s fully my idea. He sold that then to TaylorMade, and TaylorMade produced them, which I was happy about. But TaylorMade couldn’t sell them. You can’t get people to clean the grooves, so they weren’t going to buy a new face. Why have 400 faces at home? So I went out and bought these faces to make sure I had them for life. And I was home chipping a while ago, and I have a nice 58. I like the grind on that wedge, and the fact I can just replace the face and have a fresh face every three weeks, it’s just easy, so that’s why that’s in there.”
4) Driver testing isn’t all about speed
“The driver companies know I’m a free agent when it comes to drivers, so every time a new driver comes out, they’ll come to me and say, ‘Hey, would you have a look at this?’
“I will test everything, yeah, but it has to beat what I have in the bag. And Wilson’s new driver is the same. They brought out a new driver and it’s great, but I love the driver I’m using. So I say, ‘Look, guys, not only do you have to be as good as the incumbent, you have to be better, because I already know this and I’m familiar with it.’
“Wilson has built a very, very good driver. There’s know doubt about it. But I love the driver I’m using. And none of these manufacturers can build me a driver that’s better.
“Ball speed gets a driver into the conversation, and then you bring it to the golf course. So the driver has to be going as good as my current driver, and then I bring it to the course and see if I can hit the thing straight. I have gone down the road [of prioritizing speed]…I used a driver in 2014, and it never worked weekends. But it was fast. I used it for about six weeks I’d say – six tournaments – and I missed six straight cuts. It never worked the weekend. It was really fast on the range, but it just wasn’t good on the course.”
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5) Playing with knockoff irons as a junior
“I played as a junior for Ireland, under 18’s, and I owned half a set of golf clubs, and they were imitation Ping Eye 1’s. I borrowed the other half set off my brother. We had a half set each. I had the evens, he had the odds. In that tournament, there was a guy playing with Ping Berylliums with graphite shafts. They cost 1,900 pounds. Mine cost 100 pounds, and they were knockoffs. So I played, for my country, with a set of knockoffs. Before I used those knockoff clubs, I used a mixed bag of clubs. As in, I picked up whatever club they had. The 6-iron might go farther than the 5-iron. The 5-iron might go with a fade and the 7-iron might go with a hook, but I knew what my clubs did. Each club had a purpose.”
6) Using square grooves and V-grooves simultaneously
Square grooves – or “box grooves” – were outlawed by the USGA in 2010 because they were said to help golfers spin the ball too much. V grooves are said to provide less of an advantage because they restrict the sharp edges of the grooves, thus reducing the amount of friction imparted on the golf ball. Prior to the rule change, however, Harrington actually used both V grooves and box grooves, and he’d adjust his setup depending on the golf course.
“What’s interesting is, when the box grooves were around – very few people know this – I carried two sets of clubs at all times. I carried a V groove and a box groove.
“Yeah, see, the box grooves were unbelievable out of the rough, spin wise, but if the rough got to a certain level, the ball would come out so low and with spin that it wouldn’t go very far. Your 7-iron coming out of this rough would only go like 140 yards and it wouldn’t get over any trees because it would come out so low. What I was doing was, if I got to a golf course with this sort of a rough, I’d put in a box groove 7-iron and a V-groove 8-iron. If I got in the rough and I had 170 yards, I’d hit an 8 iron and get a flyer, because the 7 iron wouldn’t get there depending on the lie. And I couldn’t get it over things. So if there were trees, you needed the V groove to get over the trees. A box groove wouldn’t get up in the air.
“No one else was doing it. I played with the box groove for a couple years before I realized that in certain rough, you need the V groove to get there. Hale Irwin played a U.S. Open seemingly with no grooves. Off the fairway it’s meant to make no difference. I would disagree, but that’s what the officials would say. But out of the rough you needed the flyers to get to the green. The V grooves were doing that for me. You get your flyer to get of the rough to get the ball there, but then if it was the first cut of rough, or light rough, or Bermuda rough, or chip shots, it would come out so low and spinny that you’d have no problem.
“I can’t believe that people didn’t realize that I was doing this two-groove thing all the time. I swear to you, you could stand here, you would not launch a 7-iron over that fence there if it was box grooves out of light rough, and V groove would launch over it. The launch characteristics were massively different.”
7) Blame the person, not the putter
Interestingly, Harrington, for all his tinkering, has only used a handful of putters. It turns out, there’s a good reason for that — although he’d like his current model to be a few millimeters taller.
“I used a 2-ball when it came out. Then I used a 2-ball blade, which I won my majors with. I always had a hook in my putts, so not long after I won my majors, I went to face-balanced putter because it helps reduce the left-to-right spin. I started putting really badly in 2013 and 2014 – I had some issues. And then come 2016-2017, I just said, look, I putted well with this putter. If I use this putter, I can’t go back and say it’s the putter’s problem. It’s gotta be me. So I went back to the face-balanced 2-ball blade because I’ve had good times with it. I may have only used 5 or 6 putters in my career.
“I’m really happy that I’ve got a putter that I know I’ve putted well with, and I don’t blame the putter. I can’t say that anymore. I don’t blame my tools, I blame myself if I miss a putt. So it comes down to…I know the putter works, then it’s me. Me, me, me.
“You know, I’ve toyed with using other shafts in the putter, and I will look at other putters, but things are askew to me when I look down. So I can’t have a putter with a line on it. It doesn’t look square to the face. I’ve never putted with a putter that has a line on it for that reason. I line up by feel. I know that putter works, I know it suits me, so that’s why I go with that…
“I prefer a deeper putter (a taller face). The one issue I have is I hit the ball too high on the face, but they won’t remodel the whole system to make me a deeper putter. I’ve tried some optical illusions to try and get it where I hit the ball more in the center, but I hit it high. It seems to be going in the hole so I’m not going to worry about it too much. But in an ideal world, if someone came along and said they could make the putter 3-4 millimeters higher, I’d be happy with that.”
See more photos of Padraig Harrington’s 2023 WITB here
TaylorMade survey on ball rollback finds everyday golfers massively against introduction of Model Local Rule
In response to the USGA and R&A’s recent announcement that they plan on rolling back the golf ball for the professional game, TaylorMade Golf issued a survey asking everyday golfers to voice their opinion regarding the topic of golf ball bifurcation. Today, they are sharing the results.
Almost 45,000 golfers across more than 100 countries spanning a variety of ages, abilities and participation levels took the time to complete the survey and have their voice heard, with some of the major findings shown below:
- To the best of your knowledge, do you agree with the proposed golf ball rule?
- 81% No
- 19% Yes
- Do you think average hitting distances in professional golf need to be reduced?
- 77% No
- 23% Yes
- Are you for or against bifurcation in the game of golf (i.e., different rule(s) for professional golfers versus amateurs)?
- 81% Against
- 19% For
- How important is it for you to play with the same equipment professional golfers use?
- 48% Extremely important
- 35% Moderately important
- 17% Not important
- If the proposed golf ball rule were to go into effect, would it have an impact on your interest in professional golf?
- 45% Less interested
- 49% No impact
- 6% More Interested
The results also show that 57 percent of golfers aged 18-34 years old would be less interested in the pro game should the rule come into effect, while five percent said they would be more interested.
“The goal of our survey was to give golfers the opportunity to voice their opinion on this proposed ruling as we absorb the MLR and its potential effects on the everyday golfer. We are grateful that nearly 45,000 golfers across the world felt the need for their voice to be heard. The overwhelming amount of responses show the passion, knowledge and care for the game our audience possesses. Each response and data point is being reviewed as we will utilize this feedback in our preparation to provide a response to the USGA and R&A.” – David Abeles, TaylorMade Golf President & CEO
You can check out the survey results in full here.
Spotted: Odyssey Tri-Hot 5K Three “anti-right” prototype putter
Odyssey Tri-Hot 5K putters have really taken off on tour, and we have seen a handful of models in tour player’s bags. The latest version we spotted out on tour is a very unique design.
Odyssey makes this putter head with a standard flow neck that offers plenty of toe hang for golfers who prefer or need that weighting. This prototype has a long slant neck installed more near the center of the putter head that lets the toe sit slightly up in the air when held horizontally. This is pretty different since most putters sit with the toe hanging down towards the ground or are face balanced (face sits parallel to the ground). A full shaft offset looks to be achieved with the slant neck and the look at address is definitely different.
We spoke to Callaway PGA Tour manager Joe Toulon about the putter and he had the following to say
“On course [we had a player who] had a little push bias that didn’t necessarily show up in practice but it is something that he felt on course. So we wanted to build something that was a little easier to release and maybe not necessarily open the toe as much in the back stroke and not have to work as hard to release it in the through stroke. That was kind of designed to give a little offset and when you rested it on your finger it would rest toe up a little bit. We thought for that player it would help him square the putter face at impact rather than leave it open a little bit.
“It was more of a concept we had and will continue to work on it. When we had it on the truck and we were hitting some putts with it we noticed that you had to work really hard to push this putter. We wanted to make an anti-right putter. Just a fun little concept that we have an idea and work with our tour department to test things out.
“It isn’t something that ended up in a player’s bag but we learned some things in that process and will keep in mind for future builds and projects.”
The finish also looks to be a little different than the standard Tri-Hot 5K putter’s black and silver motif. The face and neck are finished in silver and the rear done in more of a blueish-gray tone. The White Hot insert looks to be standard and the sole still contains two interchangeable weights.
The shaft looks to be painted in the same metallic red as their standard Stroke Lab shaft, but we don’t see a steel tip section. Not sure if this putter has a full graphite shaft or painted steel.
Check out more photos of the Odyssey Tri-Hot 5K Three Putter.
More “Spotted” pieces
- Spotted: S.H. Kim’s Custom Scotty Cameron Circle T Newport putter
- Spotted: Brent Grant’s Scotty Cameron Circle T T5W putter
- Spotted: Beau Hossler’s custom Scotty Cameron Circle T TG6 putter
- Spotted: Tom Kim’s 2 new Scotty Cameron Circle T putters
- Spotted: Bettinardi BB41 Flow 25th anniversary putter
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Jun 25, 2018 at 5:08 pm
Having seen success in graphite shafted irons in the past, I am feeling like a little kid now with the Bio Cell Black irons in stiff graphite. I switched to graphite from steel in the early to mid-90s and noticed significant improvement and a greater confidence in my game. I figure that now with the Black Bio Cell irons I will see more improvement immediately and can work from there into the steel shafted irons. But at this point, there’s no rush! So knowing how things went based on past experience, this will be an exciting time for me! I can only imagine the confidence and extra length that comes with such a switch will work very well in my favor!
Jan 29, 2015 at 2:40 am
I am low single figure handicap, 55 yrs old and still have driver ss of 118. Iron play is my strength and have change shafts a few times, X100, C taper, KBS tour, Steelfiber i95 and now, Nippon Pro Modus 120. I play Mizuno MP 63 irons. for my game I find that the Nippon Pro Modus 120 is a great fit, I had them custom fitted and lofts and lie angles done as always. Dispersion is no problem and I find the slightly higher launch angle a great help. My home course is in the mountains so we have a lot of alleviation changes and wind. In the wind I can still hit it low and uphill shots to greens are fantastic. In my view people change clubs to often as every small change takes time to adjust to. My Driver is a D3 910 Titleist with custom vir Accra shaft. I see now positive improvement in changing to one of the newer models. I agree, with the test results, Find the shaft that works and stick to them. I tried the C Tapes and for me they where a disaster. I still have a set of MP 62 with the Steel fibre shaft. I play them in winter and they are my second choice. Enjoy and play well all good people
Jan 19, 2015 at 12:58 pm
With graphite shafts there is a learning curve, where you have to dial them in, whereas with steel, generally you don’t other than adjust to the weight–there’s some difference in feel and trajectory, but not near as much. I’m of the opinion that graphite can work well, but some might give up after one or two rounds with them. I’ve got the right graphite shaft, which is a GDI, I feel now I’m pretty consistent with the irons after working through what they can and cannot do in regards to working the ball, trajectories, common miss errors, adrenaline highs and lows throughout the round, etc., the learning curve with graphite is definitely sharper. Add the expense of graphite, and regular golfers won’t go to them.
Dec 2, 2014 at 3:47 pm
Used to play the C-tapers in S+ hard stepped once. It was the best shaft for my 120mph driver swing with hard, aggressive transition. Flight was nice and low and spin was very low. Dispersion was also the best. I absolutely hate PX shafts. Very harsh and excessive vibration. I hooked the crap out of the PX 6.5 shafts I had very briefly and broke my hand. Currently gaming the Recoil proto 125 F5 shafts. Very glad I made the switch from the c-tapers. Dampens vibration, feels great and gives me a slightly higher launch and a little more spin. I was shocked how great composite shafts could be when I tested them. I will be gaming the recoil protos for a long time.
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Aug 6, 2014 at 8:31 am
You guys have an F5 recoil in the test picture. F5 is x flex. In the story it says s flex.
Aug 5, 2014 at 10:53 am
I’ll add to the Steelfiber praise. I’ve been plagued by joint and bone issues since I started playing just 2 years ago. The Steelfiber i95s are the easiest on my body by far. I’m going to have them put in my main set now and I’m very excited to see the difference. They lack nothing in terms of feel, though if you are used to an S400 or X100, the weight might take a little getting used to.
I LOVE S400’s in my wedges though!
Aug 1, 2014 at 4:08 am
I was fitted with S-300, but opted for X-100 for the feel and tighter shot dispersion. There was no distance difference. I got better distance with KBS Tour, but just could not control the spin. For me, the KBS not only felt weaker, but played weaker as well. PX 6.0 also worked well, but just did not have the “thump” of the x-100. PX 6.5 just plain felt weird. Never tried any of the others.
Jul 29, 2014 at 4:18 pm
These are results that are for scratch golfers. A 10-20 HDCP may love the Recoils but hate the Steelfibers, or vice-versa. You must get fitted when your swing is at it’s best (end of the season) regardless of your handicap. I’m a 10 and love the Recoils, X100’s and the modus120’s. It’s all about your own preference. Just because someone has the same S.S. does not mean he will love the same shafts as you. People: just get fitted at the proper time and you’ll know which shafts work best FOR YOU. Drastic difference for me when I was fitted. I was playing R300’s and now I game Recoil 680’s in an “X” flex. Wow, what a difference a fitting makes. Never would’ve thought my SS would tell me to get x stiff iron shafts but they have made a heck of a difference in my iron game. Kudos to moderngolf.
Dec 2, 2014 at 3:49 pm
Shafts don’t care what your handicap is. Someone could be an excellent ball striker with a very high swing speed but also have a really bad short game. They could be an 18 handicap as a result. When picking a shaft, what matters is swing speed, feel, angle of attack, launch angle and spin, NOT HANDICAP.
Jul 29, 2014 at 1:14 am
I always wonder how the flex will feel in comparing the same listed flex of a steel vs a graphite shaft.
With old woods that had steel shafts, I always found the comparable flex shaft in graphite to be whippier.
Even with older model irons, the graphite shafts available were whippier than steel of the same flex, although those were stock graphite shafts of the OEM’s and not premium (and expensive) aftermarket graphite shafts.
Sep 30, 2015 at 6:35 pm
Graphite shafts 15 years ago were not nearly as consistent as steel shafts. That variability went away a number of years ago as graphite shaft quality control became better and better. Also, some golf club companies cheat on their shaft flex markings. Callaway did it first, marking senior shafts as Regular, Regular shafts as stiff, etc. That way guys who were aging, but vain, could brag that they still used the same flex shaft as they alway did. You won’t find that “cheating” with good quality after-market shafts like the Aerotechs or Recoils. They are the same flex as steel shafts. If the lighter shaft weight is offset be adding weight to the heads, the shafts will flex a little more, but that is due to the heavier heads weights, not whippier shafts.
Jul 28, 2014 at 8:50 pm
Has anyone hit the new Loomis iron shafts. All I can say is unbelievable. Hit a demo #6 iron and my launch angle and spin were the same as DGS300 but increased ball speed by 3 mph. The feel and how straight I hit the Loomis was what caught my attention.
Jul 28, 2014 at 6:04 pm
Why no PXi’s??
Jul 28, 2014 at 2:22 pm
I have three sets of clubs: TM320s withGrafalloy ProLogic. TM360s with TM Lite M-70 and TM R7s with Rifle 5.5 steel. Other than weight, I don’t see much difference in either of them insofar as distance and accuracy is concerned.
Jul 28, 2014 at 1:32 pm
I may be alone, but I find when I switch shafts I do swing a bit differently initially as my feel for the clubhead changes a bit, but it’s kind of a temporary effect and after a few dozen swings I’m back to my norm. So that shaft that was just perfect during my fitting did in fact perform better because I’m more aware of my transition tempo, for example, and strike the ball better. But once I get used to it they don’t really seem to make a huge difference. That said, I still think DGS300 is the most underestimated shaft in golf, and personally love the feel!
Jun 13, 2016 at 4:11 am
Jul 28, 2014 at 12:36 pm
Great article and as always a thorough presentation. However, saying that, how about ratings for Joe Average, 15-21 handicap? As a senior, we need more info for us average Joe’s who don’t carry a 2-5 handicap and don’t have a 100mph swing speed.
Not a complaint, just looking for what fits me.
Jul 28, 2014 at 12:32 am
I found this article interesting. Good work! thanks. lots of negative nelle’s here that are never satisfied with anything produced. But, I think it was a good effort.
Jul 26, 2014 at 12:39 pm
C taper lites are the best shafts out there hands down
Jul 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm
Agree. The C-Taper Lites were a big game improvement for me.
Aug 4, 2014 at 7:59 pm
Yep- I loaded the c-taper lites into a set of 714 ap2s and am hitting 1 club farther across the set. It took a while to adjust mentally but now I am loving it.
Sep 30, 2015 at 6:39 pm
For you they are. Everybody’s swing speed, swing timing, release point, etc. is slightly different. What works for you may not work the best for a lot of other people. That is why custom fitting is so important. Two people with the same clubhead speed may need very different shafts if the way they got to impact is different.
Jul 25, 2014 at 8:58 pm
I have been playing the SteelFiber i95’s for a few months now. Am very pleased with them.
Jul 26, 2014 at 10:07 am
I have i95s waiting to go in a set of 2010 ping forged that I’ve been playing this year, (ebay for 300, haha). I love the px 6.0 shafts, but i’m 54 and having some elbow pain. I have played i110 steefibers in cb2s and liked them, but was told that by dropping over all weight will help my elbow. I hope they’re not too light, but I guess i could sell them on ebay fast as pullouts.
Maybe towards the end of the season i will throw them in, didn’t want to mess with the shafts right now, i hit these 6.0s so good. I really like the pings because they have minimum offset for a game improving iron, the new forged look like they have too much offset.
Anyway, we’re talking shafts. Any steelfibers I ‘ve hit are EXTREMELY accurate and smooth like butter. I would recommend them to anyone to try. But like every other shaft, you have to hit it. Doesn’t matter what the manufacturer says, it’s about the individual’s swing. For me, I’ve always liked PX’s. If these graphite shafts were cheaper, I’d have tried more.
Jul 28, 2014 at 12:05 pm
May I ask your handicap and approximate swing speed?
Also what shafts were you playing before the switch.
I am switching to SteelFiber soon and am still trying to determine
what is the best match for me. ( 5 handicap)
Dec 2, 2014 at 4:04 pm
Michael, your handicap means nothing in terms of fitting you for the right iron shaft. Shaft doesn’t care if you are scratch or a 30 handicap. You need to look at swing speed, feel, angle of attack, flight and spin.
Jul 25, 2014 at 12:14 pm
This is really good stuff! I love tangible data and there isn’t enough for iron shafts. Thanks!
Jul 25, 2014 at 7:49 am
Rather have seen x100 than s300… This is Golfwrx!
Jul 25, 2014 at 2:07 am
Totally useless study. Any golfer who hits down on the ball will get far more spin off of mats. Reminds me of the crappy exec courses I played that had mats (you could literally spin the ball back 15 yards). Spin is the one variable that makes no sense when looking at the shaft profiles and the above results. I also like how the carry deviation is the the same or greater in the PW vs the 4 iron. Whaaat?!
Jul 25, 2014 at 12:07 am
Well there you have it. It’s no wonder the DGS300, Project X 6.0, KBS Tour and KBS C Tapers all were about the same for me in terms of performance.
Jul 24, 2014 at 10:50 pm
What? No PING CFS shafts? Lol
Jul 24, 2014 at 10:10 pm
No surprise that strong golfers performed well with S300s. Some (if not all) of them probably play X100s.
Would definitely like to see the test redone with 10-20 HCP players and AP2/G25 irons.
Jul 24, 2014 at 9:26 pm
This article is nice to read, and I’m sure it was limited in size. It would be nice to see more statistics for each golfer, such as angle of attack and club head speed. I just think that more information would paint the whole picture.
Jul 24, 2014 at 8:53 pm
No love for DG Pro’s ?
Jul 24, 2014 at 7:56 pm
I went to Steel Fiber 95s a month or so ago in a set of BS DPC because I was developing tendonitis in both elbows. I was really nervous at first until I put them into play and found that my distance, dispersion and feel improved dramatically! The dispersion on the Steel Fibers is amazing and yes I can work the ball. Expensive but well worth it imo
Jul 24, 2014 at 7:44 pm
Why would the KBS C taper have a higher launch with both the 4i and PW when it is supposed to be a lower launching shaft compared to the KBS Tour and Tour V?? Am I missing something?
Jul 24, 2014 at 9:22 pm
Because they can’t load the shaft properly and are presenting too much loft at impact instead of compressing the ball.
Jul 24, 2014 at 10:00 pm
You need to remember that all shaft testing posted by shaft companies are done using robots, its a robot function, when you ad a human being to the equation you add a sense of feel and balance that no robot has, therefore forcing different individuals to FEEL different things and in turn move the club in a different manner producing different results.
Ultimately the shaft that FEELS the best to you will perform the best as you will deliver it the best, performance comes from the Head, feel comes from the shaft, control comes from the flex…. keep it simple!!
Jul 25, 2014 at 8:25 am
It isn’t that simple, the shaft will give the player the right launch and spin. head has a little influence on the flight and spin, but in the end the right shaft will give you the best results. Go get fit and stop looking at these tests because it will tell you nothing about how you swing(tempo, load, unload etc). Mizuno has the Shaft Optimizer for a reason, and Ping is about to do the same. Keep it Simple.
Jul 24, 2014 at 7:42 pm
What’s your explanation for the C Taper having the highest launch of all the shafts? To me, it seems odd. It’s been my experience that the C Taper is lower launch than most of those other shafts. Even The KBS website has them as the lowest launch of their shafts. Obviously, they did a bunch of testing to come to that result on their own.
Jul 24, 2014 at 6:20 pm
Great to see some group testing like this!! Please keep them coming!!
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Jul 24, 2014 at 5:48 pm
Can’t believe they could get Aldila RIP Tour to be in this iron shaft test. I personally just re-shafted with these and have found them to be a very good shaft, can keep up with any steel shaft on the market or graphite for that matter. I would have liked to see Aldila involved in this test . I can see a day when Steel will be phased out and graphite will be the norm in irons. Just like when everyone use to play steel in woods now you don’t see a one on Tour!
Jul 24, 2014 at 8:00 pm
compare the cost of a dynamic gold $15 to an aerotech or similar graphite / composite shaft $75-$150, for a standard set of 8 irons going to pay a hefty upcharge
Jul 25, 2014 at 7:26 am
P Reed son
Jul 24, 2014 at 5:24 pm
It would have been interesting to see the shafts played on tour in the Aerotech i95 against the Tour Recoil 95, and the standard Recoil 95
Jul 24, 2014 at 5:04 pm
Thanks, shows me that feel really is the deciding factor if I like my ball flight.
Jul 24, 2014 at 4:48 pm
Doing a shaft test with golfers all between +2 and 2 handicaps isn’t really very relevant to me.
Jul 24, 2014 at 7:18 pm
Martin – I understand that the scratch testers might not have the most relevance to you, but I think the results still do.
Even with this set of golfers with excellent and consistent swings, there was a very large variation in performance between golfers. There is no simple answer to the question of what is the best shaft, regardless of handicap. We found that you really need to find a quality fitter that allows you to try different shafts that fit your profile and see which performs the best for YOU, not your friend, pro or anyone else!
Jul 24, 2014 at 7:47 pm
I get that, but it’s the same as a review of a new driver done by a guy with SS of 115 mph.
I have tried many different shaft/clubs over the years and no what I like and works my old broken down body and decent if not slightly over the top golf swing.
I keep ending up back with my Mizuno JPX with the TT Dynalyte XP S300. Given it’s not available anymore I was hoping for some more “mainstream” testers when I saw the headline.
Jul 25, 2014 at 9:42 am
If you did this test with higher handicap players, the results would be all over the place. Not enough consistency with their swings. This is the best way to do it to get a more realistic view of how these shafts compare and contrast. These results should transfer to most people’s swings.
Jul 24, 2014 at 3:26 pm
Mizuno has a very nice fitting cart with a shaft analyzing device to help find the right club head and shaft for your ball striking skill level and swing. A lot more to it than what was mentioned here, like an early or late release for a golfer and which shaft might perform better for that and so on.
Jul 25, 2014 at 7:02 am
…in regards to the specs. if i was really working to improve my score through equipment, i would not be surprised if someone would now consider using different shafts for their long irons versus their scoring clubs (8,9,pw).
i would consider this if i was for example, trying to control off-line deviation, or backspin, as these will help with distance to the pin.
Jul 24, 2014 at 3:25 pm
For the price you can’t really beat good ole S300’s.
Jul 24, 2014 at 3:04 pm
Actually, these results seem to indicate that you SHOULD go by feel for iron shafts. Very minor differences in performance.
Jul 24, 2014 at 9:02 pm
This is not true at all. The overall averages for all of the testers combined may have shown very little variance, but the example involving the performance differences for golfer A and B with the Recoil shows that every golfer will see a noticeable difference from shaft to shaft.
Jul 24, 2014 at 2:57 pm
If the study is not statistically valid, then what is the point of publishing your results.
Saying “We were unable to do the correlation as a result of our limited sample size” is saying we are too lazy to do it properly.
Jul 25, 2014 at 6:35 am
Agreed. Much like “We threw out obvious mishits…” Good thing. Becasue you TOTALLY get to do that on the course.
Sep 30, 2015 at 6:49 pm
There was so much variability between golfers that there were no easily discernable patterns. That is because even very good golfers’ swings vary a lot from one golfer to another. That doesn’t mean the results aren’t valid. They reinforce the idea that getting individually tested by a good custom clubfitter is the way to go.
Jul 24, 2014 at 2:40 pm
Hard to compare all these shafts side by side unless they all frequency out the same. Most know that C Tapers, Aerotech and PX in Stiff are all stiffer then the other and still even vary between the three. In the Player A and B charts, the launch killed the distance for Player B.
Love all the info and article. Would have loved to see how C Taper Lite, and Aerotech 95 would have stacked up even though they are lighter.
Jul 24, 2014 at 2:19 pm
I fitted for the Ping i20 (wound up purchasing the i25’s, due to availability at the time) with ProjectX 5.5 shafts. During the fitting, it was night and day, in feel, when switching between stock shafts and the ProjectX shafts (fitted with a 7 iron). I am certainly glad that I did this as the clubs now play the closest to my swing and help produce great results
Jul 25, 2014 at 3:16 pm
Doug, re your fitting of the PX 5.5 can you confirm your
7 iron swing speed please? eg 88 to 93 mph? Smooth ?
I thought it was a great Test Article. Thanks Golfwrx !
Jul 24, 2014 at 2:16 pm
In short they perform more similar than different. Players should determine results/feel in their decision for which iron shafts.
Jul 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm
I think PX 5.5 and C-Taper R+ flexes (and maybe R+ in KBS Tour) are more comparable to S300 and Modus120 stiff. Using the correct flex probably would have made these shafts perform even closer in comparison. Nice experiment though.