Shaft Myth #7 – The flex of the shaft has an important effect on shot performance for all golfers
For some golfers, very definitely this is true. But for many golfers, approaching even the majority of golfers, the flex of the shaft is one of the very least important of all the fitting specifications of a golf club.
To sum it up, the higher the clubhead speed, the more forceful the transition move, the more aggressive the downswing, the later the unhinging of the wrist-**** angle, and the more the golfer has an specific preference for the bending feel of the shaft, the more important the shaft flex will be to shot performance. For a slower swinging, smooth tempo, early release golfer who does not have a refined sense of feel for the bending action of the shaft, the flex is virtually unimportant and the WEIGHT of the shaft becomes the only important fitting element related to the shaft.
The one swing characteristic that has the most influence on making the flex become an important part of the performance of the shaft is the point of the wrist-**** release during the downswing. The later the wrist-**** release, the more the shaft can arrive at impact in a flexed forward position – which is how the shaft flex can have a visible effect on the launch angle, height and spin rate of the shaft.
Second after the release in terms of the swing moves that dictate the importance of shaft flex is the force the golfer applies during the transition move to start the downswing. The more forcefully, the more sudden, and the more aggressive the golfer starts the downswing, the more bending force is applied to the shaft. The more the golfer bends the shaft at the start of the downswing, the more the golfer could feel differences in shaft stiffness and from that, develop a preference for a specific type of bending feel in a shaft that if satisfied, can make a big difference in shot consistency and clubhead speed.
Shaft Myth #8 – The higher the clubhead speed of the golfer, the stiffer the shaft should be
There are two reasons this is frequently not true. First, as we said previously, with no standards in the golf industry for shaft flex, there are very definitely a lot of R flex shafts that are stiffer than a lot of S flex and even X flex shafts. So it can be very possible for a golfer with a certain clubhead speed to be properly fit with an S flex in one company’s shaft model, but to find that another company’s R flex may in fact be stiffer.
The second and main reason this statement is frequently not true is because clubhead speed is not the main element in the swing that determines how much a golfer actually bends a shaft during the swing. The swing element that applies the chief amount of bending force to a shaft is the golfer’s transition move to start the downswing. Among two golfers with the same clubhead speed, it can be very common for one golfer to have a short backswing with a very forceful, abrupt and sudden acceleration to start the downswing, while the other golfer might start the downswing with a much smoother, more gradual acceleration of the club.
Among two golfers with the same clubhead speed, the one with the stronger, more forceful transition move will always put more bending force on the shaft, and from it, will typically need a stiffer shaft than the golfer with the same swing speed who has a smooth, gradual acceleration of the club during the downswing. It is also not uncommon to see a golfer with a slower swing speed and stronger transition as well as a golfer with a higher swing speed and smoother transition move. In such a case, the slower swinging golfer with stronger transition would need a stiffer shaft than the golfer with a higher clubhead speed but smoother, less forceful transition move.
The bottom line is that while clubhead speed definitely offers a starting point for flex selection, the most accurate shaft fitting involves a careful evaluation of the other swing movements that have a direct effect on how much the shaft is flexed during the swing.