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10 Types of Shafts




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This article is from the Golf FAQ, by marcelo@nntpserver.Princeton.EDU (Marcelo A. Gallardo) with numerous contributions by others.

10 Types of Shafts


I found this to be the most difficult FAQ to answer. The shaft is the
most complex piece of a golf club, and probably the most important.
With varying degrees of flex, flex locations, weight, length,
materials, torque, etc., an article devoted entirely to the shaft is
needed, but not available. I'll do my best to answer some of the
questions regarding them.

Steel
+++++

Steel shafts are generally made from carbon steel or occasionally from
stainless steel. For the most part, the manufacturing process between
the two are similar. A steel strip is rolled into a tube, and is drawn
over a mandrel until the diameter and wall thickness are reduced to
their exact specifications. At this point the step pattern is formed on
the shaft. Then the walls are made thinner at the grip and thicker at
the tip to give the shaft its flex characteristics. Then it is
hardened, tempered, straightened and stress relieved. The final step is
to polish and chrome plate the shaft. One of the best features of the
steel shaft is the ability to have the same "feel" throughout the
entire set. This means that the stiffness in the 3 iron will will be
the same as the 9 iron. Other features are its durability and price.

Graphite
++++++++

Graphite shafts are made from a graphite tape. The tape, which has an
epoxy binder, is wrapped around a steel mandrel. The wrapped shaft is
then temperature cured and the mandrel removed. The raw shaft is then
sanded and cut to proper length, at which point it receives a clear or
colored paint coating. Its most talked about feature is its light
weight. It also helps dampen the vibration caused by clubhead impact
with the ground. A few of the drawbacks are the "feel" of the shaft
(some people complain that a stiff graphite shaft does not feel like a
stiff steel shaft), the stiffness may not be consistent throughout a
set, and its price tag. A new manufacturing process called "filament
winding" can produce a set with more consistency, but at a higher
price.

Titanium
++++++++

I have very little information regarding the titanium shaft and its
manufacturing process. Among some of its features are its weight
(lighter than steel), and its vibration dampening. Some complaints are
that the shafts are too stiff, and it carries a big price.

Stiffness
+++++++++

The stiffness, flex, or deflection of a shaft defines the bending
characteristics of the tube, when a load is applied to the shaft. The
most common shaft flexes are designated as X (extra-stiff), S (stiff),
R (regular), A (man's flexible), or L (ladies'). For people with high
swing speeds, it's desirable to have a stiffer shaft to keep the club
head from lagging behind. For people with slower swing speeds, the more
flexible shafts offer an extra "kick" at the bottom of the downswing to
help propel the ball.

Frequency
+++++++++

Some shafts are rated for "frequency", an alternative way to express
stiffness.The "frequency" indicates how how fast a "standard" club
would vibrate if made with that shaft. The stiffer the shaft, the
faster it will vibrate. A rough guide to translate between frequency
and traditional stiffness ratings is:


                FREQUENCY               STIFFNESS
                  cycles                  Grade
                per minute
                ----------              ---------
                  <240                      L
                   245                      A
                   255                      R
                   265                      S
                  >270                      X


Torque
++++++

Generally torque is a rating applied to a graphite shaft. It specifies
the "twisting" characteristics of the shaft. The normal torque rating
of a steel shaft for woods is about 2.5 degrees, and 1.7 for the irons.
The general range of torque ratings found on graphite shafts are from
3.5 to 5.5 degrees, although it is possible to get shafts with lower or
higher ratings. The higher the torque rating, the more the shaft twists
for a given twisting force. The torque rating also seems to be tied to
the stiffness of a shaft. The lower the torque rating, the stiffer the
shaft.

Kickpoints
++++++++++

The kickpoint, bendpoint, or flexpoint defines where the shaft will
bend. It affects the trajectory of the shot; the higher the kickpoint,
the lower the trajectory. The effect in trajectory is small but
measurable. For someone that generally hits the ball with a high shot
trajectory, a High kickpoint is desirable in a shaft. For someone with
a low shot trajectory, a Low kickpoint helps get the ball airborne and
on a higher flight path. The kickpoint also affects the "feel" of the
shaft. A golfer who can feel the difference finds the high bend point
makes the shaft feel like "one piece", while with the low bend point,
the shaft feels as though the tip whips the clubhead through the ball.

Notes
+++++

Now what you really want to know: The type of shaft a person should use
is one of the most often asked questions. It is also one of the most
unanswered questions. Choosing the material, flex, and kickpoint of a
shaft will depend entirely on what "feels" right when you swing the
club. Someone with a high swing speed may choose a steel shaft with a
flex rating of X and a low kickpoint, while someone with the same swing
speed may choose a graphite shaft with a flex rating of R and a high
kickpoint. The general consensus is see your local Pro and see what
he/she recommends. Make your decision from there. For more information
please refer to Dave Tutelman's "Designing golf clubs" articles.





 

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