Choosing the Right Golf Shaft: Stiff vs Regular Flex

stiff vs regular flex golf shafts

Choosing between stiff vs regular flex golf shafts can make a considerable difference in your accuracy, distance, and overall enjoyment of the game. So let’s take a look into the differences between the two to help you decide which is best suited for your swing.

Understanding Shaft Flex

Shaft flex is categorized into several types, including Ladies (L), Senior (A), Regular (R), Stiff (S), and Extra Stiff (X), with each category designed to match the swing speed and style of different golfers. Regular and stiff flex shafts are among the most common choices for amateur and professional golfers alike.

Regular Flex Shafts

Designed for golfers who have a moderate swing speed. They offer more flexibility, allowing for a greater degree of bend during the swing. This can be particularly beneficial for players with slower swing speeds, as it helps to propel the ball further by adding a whip-like action to the shot.

Stiff Flex Shafts

Intended for golfers with faster swing speeds. They offer less bend, which is crucial for players who can generate significant power on their own. A stiffer shaft provides better control for powerful swings, ensuring that the energy is efficiently transferred to the ball without excessive flexing of the shaft.

How to Choose Between Stiff and Regular Flex

The choice between stiff and regular flex depends on several factors, primarily your swing speed and style. Here are some guidelines to help you make the right decision:

  • Swing Speed: To keep it simple, if your driver swing speed is over 95 mph, you might benefit from a stiff flex shaft. (If over 105mph, you may want to consider an extra stiff shaft.) Conversely, if your swing speed is below 95 mph, a regular flex shaft could be more appropriate.
  • Distance: Or consider how far you hit your driver. If you regularly drive the ball over 260 yards, stiff flex might be the way to go. If you’re hitting it shorter, regular flex could help you gain some additional yards. For irons, if you’re hitting your 7-iron over 170 yards you may consider a stiff shaft.
  • Accuracy vs. Distance: Stiff shafts tend to offer better control and accuracy for faster swingers, while regular flex shafts can help slower swingers achieve more distance.
  • Personal Feel: Ultimately, the best way to choose between stiff and regular flex is to test both. Pay attention to how each shaft feels during your swing and the consistency of your shots. Comfort and confidence with your equipment can significantly impact your performance.

What Happens If Your Shaft Is Too Stiff?

  1. Reduced Shot Distance: When a shaft is too stiff, it doesn’t flex properly during your swing. This lack of flex means the shaft won’t be able to store and release energy as efficiently as a more suitable flex, leading to shorter shots because the energy transfer from the club to the ball is less effective.
  2. Lower Ball Flight: A stiffer shaft can result in a lower launch angle. Since the shaft doesn’t bend as much, it’s harder to get the ball airborne, which can be particularly problematic with longer irons and woods. This lower trajectory can reduce your ability to clear hazards and may also decrease your total distance.
  3. Decreased Accuracy: While it’s often thought that stiffer shafts can enhance accuracy for players with very fast swing speeds, if the shaft is too stiff for you, it might lead to less control over the direction of your shots. This occurs because the stiffer shaft can hinder your ability to square the clubface at impact, leading to shots that are more likely to veer off to the right for right-handed golfers (a push) or to the left for left-handed golfers.
  4. Poor Feedback and Feel: A shaft that’s too stiff can also affect the feedback you receive from your shots. You might find it more challenging to feel the clubhead during the swing, making it harder to make adjustments and improve your technique. This diminished feedback can detract from your overall experience and enjoyment of the game.
  5. Increased Strain: Using a shaft that doesn’t match your swing can lead to unnecessary strain on your body. Trying to compensate for the lack of flex in a stiff shaft, golfers might alter their swing mechanics, potentially leading to inconsistent performance or even injury over time.

What Happens If Your Shaft Is Too Flex?

  1. Timing and Control Issues: A very flexible shaft can create timing problems, as the increased lag and whip effect make it more challenging to square the clubface at impact consistently. This inconsistency can lead to difficulties in controlling the direction of your shots, potentially causing both hooks and slices.
  2. Increased Spin: Shafts that are too flexible tend to increase the spin rate of the ball. While a certain amount of spin is necessary for control and to achieve specific shot types, excessive spin can cause the ball to balloon or rise too high, reducing overall distance and making it more susceptible to being affected by wind.
  3. Erratic Shot Trajectories: With too much flex, you might find your shot trajectory becomes more unpredictable. For players with higher swing speeds using overly flexible shafts, this could result in shots that have a higher than desired flight path, leading to lost distance and control, especially in adverse weather conditions.
  4. Reduced Distance: One of the most noticeable effects of using a shaft that is too flexible is the potential loss of distance. The excessive flex can cause the club to release too early or too late, leading to suboptimal energy transfer to the ball. For golfers who rely on distance, this can be a significant disadvantage.
  5. Difficulty in Feel and Feedback: Golfers might find it hard to get accurate feedback from their shots when using a shaft that’s too flexible. This lack of precise feedback can make it more challenging to adjust and improve your swing over time, as it’s harder to pinpoint the cause of mis-hits or other issues.


Choosing the right golf shaft flex is a critical step in optimizing your golf game. Whether you opt for a stiff or regular flex shaft should be based on your individual swing characteristics and goals. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution; what works best for one golfer might not work for another. If you’re unsure, consider getting a professional fitting.

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