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Pro golfers with fast swings typically use stiff-shafted irons.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Golfers seeking some extra distance on their shots may look to more flexible shafts as the answer. Ideally, a more flexible shaft lets the clubhead move faster through the hitting zone, generating more power and a longer shot. But more power may come at the expense of accuracy, so consider the advantages of stiffer shafts before you purchase more flexible shafts for your irons.
Defining Shaft Flexibility
Stiffer shafts don't bend as far during the downswing when compared to more flexible shafts. The more a shaft bends, the farther the clubhead lags behind your hands on the downswing, and the faster the clubhead snaps forward at the bottom of your swing. Manufacturers typically place their shafts into five categories. Ladies, or "L," shafts are the most flexible. Senior, or "A," shafts are a bit stiffer, followed by regular, or "R," shafts; stiff, or "S;" and extra stiff, or "X." However, there is no industry standard to determine where one category ends and another begins, so one company's regular shaft may be another manufacturer's senior or stiff shaft.
Fast Swings Require Stiffer Shafts
A professional clubfitter considers many factors when he matches a shaft to a player. But as a general rule, players with faster swing speeds require stiffer shafts to maintain maximum control of the clubhead. If you have a fast swing speed and use a flexible shaft, the clubhead may wobble too much during your downswing, making it less likely that you hit the ball squarely. A stiffer-shafted iron, matched to your swing speed, should let you hit more balls on the sweet spot. You'll also hit the ball more accurately, which is particularly important when you hit approach shots with your irons.
Fast Swing Tempos Require Stiffer Shafts
Golfers with similar swing speeds may have different swing tempos, which require the use of different shafts. For example, one golfer may have a longer swing that accelerates gradually, while a second golfer may have a shorter swing featuring an aggressive, sharp transition from backswing to downswing. All else being equal, the latter player will bend his club more during the downswing and will benefit from a stiffer-shafted iron. This situation demonstrates why you can't select a shaft flex based on your swing speed alone.
Use a Stiffer Shaft for Lower Shots
Getting the ball in the air is a positive result for many high-handicap players. But others, particularly golfers with upright swing planes, may pop the ball too high in the air and can lose distance. Stiffer-shafted irons may help players with upright swings maintain optimal launch angles.