The most common customer question is “What is the Best Golf Shaft?” and “What Shaft will Work with a #3 Fairway Wood from Brand-X”.
There is a plethora of shaft manufacturers on the market manufacturing hundreds of various shafts each with different weights and flexes resulting in thousands of different shaft offerings. Adding to the confusion is the fact that there is no industry standardization among shaft manufacturers for shaft flex. For instance a Senior-flex of manufacturer-A could be equivalent to a R-flex at manufacturer-B, making it difficult to compare shafts ‘Apple to Apple’. If you are switching a shaft from manufacturer-A to another shaft from manufacturer-B, chances are that you will not stay within the same flex.
Another misconception is that shafts are designed for a certain club head model. Shafts are not designed for a particular club head made by a certain golf manufacturer but shafts are designed for a certain player profile. The selection of a shaft shall is not only based on your handicap or estimated swing speed. To find the best shaft fitting your swing involves a complete fitting section with swing analyzer, launch monitor, slow motion video camera to witness your swing, your personal way of down swing.
With a golfing population of aging players, more golfers try a shaft with a more responsive tip section to give them some extra distance at less efforts.
Distance is the combination of different factors such as speed, loft, direction, solidness of contact, weather condition.
Speed: the ball speediness is effected by the club length, weight of club and weight distribution. A longer club length will produce a higher speed if you are able to consistently hit the ball on the sweet spot, for the rest of the golfers it will reduce accuracy. A senior flex graphite shaft is usually 2 or 3 gram lighter than a Regular flex shaft, switching the flex alone will not really reduce your overall club weight. A golfer with smooth swing speed is better served when playing with a light weight shaft, i.e. 50 gram light weight shaft on a driver. Conclusion: not only change the flex but also select a shaft that is lighter than your current one.
Loft: Loft is a key component for distance. If you tend to hit a ball too high or too low, both will reduce your carry distance.
A flexible shaft or shaft with a responsive (or soft) tip section will bend more at impact compared with a stiffer flex. Bending at a lower section of the shaft will increase the loft angle and provides a higher ball flight. A higher ball trajectory increases distance. If you are hitting the ball low, then a more flexible shaft will help you to optimize your launch angle for increased distance.
However there is a disadvantage from above rule for some golfers: Some golfers have an abbreviated swing or quick tempo. Down stepping the flex (even when their swing speed declines), will make it more difficult to square the face at impact. If you were the hitting the ball straight in the past, you could hit a high fade when dropping down a flex because you have less time to square the face at impact, robbing you of some distance.
Above argument can be different for another type of player. Let us say you are hitting a high fade because your shaft is too stiff for your swing. A stiffer shaft will prevent you from closing and squaring up face at impact. In this scenario a more flexible shaft will improve the position of the club face. An optimized loft and direction will result into more distance.
Conclusion: a more flexible shaft for your increasing age can help or even hinder your search for more distance. It depends on your player profile and your individual swing, how you load and unload and the way of your downswing.
Start your search for a shaft fitting your swing by visiting a professional club fitter with the right club fitting equipment. You can also experiment with different shafts and as a Pro at your local golf course to watch you hitting some balls and get his advice. You may also ask another Pro or club fitter for a second opinion.