A student of mine, Tim P. emailed these comments and questions that I I thought might be of interest.  Tim is always tweaking and looking for that special driver – like most of us – myself included.  In fact, I’m going to the Werhle Dome to find mine, I hope – it’s Callaway Demo Day and I’m itching to swing the Callaway FT-iZ driver…….

Q) Tom…

Well I find it kind of neat that I spent so much time reviewing clubs & shafts online and then get handed one I never looked at and hit it well. After the fact I did read some on the Nike VR Tour with Project X 6.0, and from what I have read, the shaft is very smooth.. so maybe this is a factor in it.

The more I read online about clubs I tend to think that just about any head will do the job, if you have the shaft fit you more than the head itself.  I do know that the VR Tour head in it is smaller than 460.. I think it’s like 430 or 420..so smaller head might lead to faster swing speed. And to be honest, I was fairly happy with the Titleist 909 D2 with Diamana shaft that I got to play only one round with last year, it did spray one out right on me, but that was the swing, not the club. I’m just stoked because at least with the VR Tour I might have found a club that will allow me to draw the ball with.

I’d even though of maybe a STR8 FIT (adjustable head) to get the draw flight, but I’m going to wait and see what real world results I get with the VR Tour first.

–   What typically happens when using a shaft that is too stiff? (as related to ball flight tendencies, problems)
–   What typically happens when using a shaft that is too weak? (as related to ball flight tendencies, problems)
–   Does ½” or more longer or shorter than standard really make a difference?
–   What are the benefits of graphite versus steel shaft in irons, is graphite for “senior” players only (possibly misunderstood)-   Drivers… Tour version versus standard, only for better players?


(A) Hi Tim, thanks for the questions…

Usually tours heads are manufactured with a face that is 1 or 2 degrees open, and often 20 cc smaller – you should look up the exact specs online just to know for yourself. 

That’s what convinces me that it’s the shaft proprieties in combination with a good swing path for your success at getting that “draw”.

No question that the shaft is the engine of the swing, for some odd reason that fact is lost on most of the golfing population.

In fact, when they have the “what’s in the bag” articles, I’d rather have it read “what shafts are on the clubs” with very detailed info on the shafts – but I think that’s the one secret that most players guard closely. 

Shaft too stiff – usually a ball flight that is too low and hit to the right, also it doesn’t feel “sweet” at impact, it will feel clunky.

Shaft too soft – usually a ball flight that is too high, after that it can either hook too much or go right depending on swing speed.  With a relatively normal swing speed and release, it will usually hook too much because the clubface over-rotates at impact.  With a faster swing speed it will usually start out to the right because the clubface is open (hasn’t caught up) at impact.

Longer or shorter affects control more than anything else – shorter is usually easier to control – longer gets you a little more distance, but usually at the expense of accuracy. Yes, 1/2 inch can make a difference.

Graphite or Steel for irons – graphite is lighter than steel, the biggest advantage IMHO. Steel shafts range from approximately 90g to 130g, while graphite shafts can be a low as 39g. The most popular weight range of graphite shafts for woods is 60-70 grams and for iron shafts the weight is closer to 70 – 80 grams.  Steel is significantly heavier, although there have been advances in lightweight steel shafts lately.  I tried light weight steel last year, and I just gave then to my grandson two months ago and went back to the trusty True Temper Dynamic Gold S300 shafts for my irons.

Since graphite shafts are generally lighter than steel shafts, there is a potential for greater distance because they may be able to be swung slightly faster. Most graphite shafted clubs are assembled longer in length than standard steel-shafted clubs, in order to produce the desired swing weight for the club. Golfers that tend to be less consistent may find that steel shafts give them greater control. But for those players that may need additional length to enjoy the game more, graphite shafts are an excellent choice.

Irons and wedges are usually just the opposite in the shaft material choice. Approximately
75% of irons sold today are sold with steel shafts. The primary reason for choosing steel
may be an economic factor as the irons and wedges make up a great percentage of the
clubs in the bag, and graphite is more expensive than steel. 

As mentioned before, the other reason why golfers choose steel in their irons and wedges
is for control rather than increasing distance, especially among stronger individuals. However, there are a number of quality graphite iron shafts that come in all different weights and stiffness to match nearly every golfer. 

Personally, when I see a lot of tour pro’s using graphite shafts in their irons, I will too. 
Right now, the only one I know of is John Cook, on the Senior tour.  For me, I like to
feel the overall weight of the club (the heft – different from swingweight) to give me a feel for where the shaft is in the swing.  Graphite has not worked well for me in that regard.  They are now making heavier graphite shafts, but I ask myself “why” – wasn’t
the main advantage the lighter weight?

 “Tour” version drivers – only for the better golfers?  Generally yes, but if you had a really
dominant crossover release at impact, the manufactured open clubface would be helpful -but even better would be to learn the “push” release, it would serve you better in the long run.

Most amateur golfers fade or slice, the open face on a “Tour” version driver spells disaster for them.