Changing Golf Shafts – When I Use a Shaft From a Different Company Do I Use the Same Flex I Currently Play?
Sometimes and then again, sometimes not. Sorry but that’s the truth because there are no standards in the golf industry for how stiff any of the letter flex codes are from company to company. There never have been and never likely will be any sort of flex/stiffness standards in the industry because the vast majority of the various golf equipment companies don’t want that. So the R flex from one company can have the same stiffness as the S flex from another company or even the same stiffness as the A flex from a third company. Not only that, but the same flex of different shaft models within the SAME company is not necessarily going to be the same stiffness.
Sound a little confusing? Or a little bit like that’s not the way it should be?
Actually, it’s fine if each golf club company or shaft company wants to design their shafts different than another company. In doing that, they can express their own beliefs for each of their shafts should be designed. Each company is free to design their shafts and set their stiffness specifications anyway they wish.
What’s messed up is the fact that virtually none of these companies provide golfers with specific information to tell them exactly how stiff their shafts are in comparison to any other shafts. When it comes to flex, golfers are literally kept in the dark and have to adopt a “trial and error” means of determining how stiff this or that shaft is and whether it fits the golfer or not.
Since there are numerous shafts in the industry today that cost $100, $200, $300 and even more, a trial and error approach to shaft selection can get more than a little expensive. What’s the alternative? To put your shaft fitting needs in the hands of a custom Clubmaker who works with defined, empirical stiffness measurement data that can be used to compare the stiffness design of shafts and to explain differences in shaft stiffness to golfers in an understandable manner.
In short, many years ago Wishon Golf saw the need for quantitative shaft stiffness information and created not only a measurement methodology for shaft stiffness, but a software program to allow all shafts in our data base to be compared in a way that you can definitely compare the full length stiffness design of many different shafts. At its peak in 2015, we had nearly 3,000 different shafts in the TWGT Bend Profile software data base.
Unfortunately at the time of this writing (2019) our Bend Profile software is inactive and the data base has not been updated since 2015 because of a lack of support from the shaft industry. When we were actively maintaining the Bend Profile software data base we had to rely on the shaft companies to provide us with multiple samples of each flex of each shaft model they made. With so many shafts on the market, many of which cost a lot of money, Wishon Golf could not afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars each year to buy all the new shafts that were introduced each year by all the shaft companies.
In the beginning of the Shaft Bend Profile software project most of the shaft makers agreed to send us samples of their shafts to measure so we could include in the data base because they saw the benefit for clubmakers and golfers to be able to empirically compare actual relative stiffness data to be able to make valid shaft fitting decisions. It is to be noted we always returned the shafts to each company in perfect condition so the companies had no expense to participate.
But eventually, a number of the shaft companies began to see the Bend Profile software as a potential threat their business because they became aware that some clubmakers were beginning to use the software to find shafts of similar stiffness measurements that cost less than the shafts they offered. By 2016 many of the shaft manufacturers began to refuse our requests for their latest shaft introductions so we were unable to keep the data base up to date with the vast majority of new shaft models.
As of this writing we are trying to re-do the software and develop ways to obtain enough of the popular shafts in use each year to be able to re-launch the Bend Profile software to continue to try to help clubmakers and golfers have access to the quantitative information they need to be able to make valid shaft fitting decisions without going through an expensive trial and error process.
Here’s an example of what the information in the TWGT Bend Profile software looks like and how it works. The following data shows the range in stiffness among R-flex shafts for example which were sold as of the early 2010s.
To translate what you are seeing, if we apply a swing speed rating to each shaft based on its relative stiffness measurements, you are looking at R flex shafts which range in swing speed rating from a 55-65mph shaft all the way up to a 110-120 mph shaft. And yet all these shafts are marked and sold as R-flex shafts. The same goes on within the entire offering of S flex shafts in the industry as well.
Bottom line? If you want to be fit as accurately as possible for the shafts in your clubs, go get fit by a good, experienced custom Clubmaker.