Should I Use Graphite Shafts for Hybrids and Steel Shafts for Irons?

14 comments

Industry statistics say that over 90% of all hybrids are sold with a graphite shaft, while only 30% of all irons are sold with graphite shafts. These trends most definitely say graphite is the shaft of choice in hybrids while steel is the predominant shaft material for iron shafts.

But is that right? Since few hybrids are offered by companies with steel shafts, if they were, would that make hybrids a better match to a set of steel shaft irons and thus offer a golfer a higher level of shotmaking consistency from hybrid to iron?

As always with matters concerning the WEIGHT of golf clubs, the answer to that question is, it might and it might not – it depends on the golfer, his sense of weight feel and how his swing tempo reacts to heavier or lighter total weight clubs. When we talk about the overall weight feel of a golf club, we are talking about both the total weight and the swingweight. Total weight is the weight of the parts – the weight of the shaft, head, and grip added together. Swingweight is an expression of how much the golfer feels the presence of weight out there on the end of the shaft while the club is being swung.

There is no question that a BIG part of each golfer’s shot consistency has to do with whether the total weight, swingweight or both together match well to the golfer’s strength, transition force, downswing aggressiveness and overall swing tempo, rhythm and timing. Put a strong golfer with a fast, aggressive swing into a club with a light total weight and/or a low swingweight and the results can be a disaster of miss hits and terrible shot consistency. 

Likewise put a weaker golfer with a smooth, passive swing into a club with a heavy total weight and high swingweight and the golfer will lose distance and shot consistency. So if the hybrids have light graphite shafts and the irons have heavier steel shafts, won’t that mess up most golfers’ tempo and timing? No, it won’t as long as the headweight feel in both parts of the set is made so that it matches the golfer’s strength, transition force, downswing aggressiveness and overall swing timing.  IN other words, it is eminently possible to mask or hide a light total weight by making the club with a slightly to substantially heavier headweight feel. 

Depending on the actual weight of the graphite shaft in the hybrids, it may mean that the lighter the graphite shaft, the higher the swingweight may need to be in relation to the swingweight of the steel shaft irons in order to give them both a similar headweight feel. Typically, most graphite hybrid shafts are heavier (80g average) than graphite shafts used in drivers and fairway woods (65g avg). Thus when a heavier graphite shaft is used in a hybrid, its swingweight likely will not have to be more than 2 points higher than the golfer’s preferred swingweight in the steel shafted irons to produce a similar headweight feel.

At the same time, it is also a viable solution to make the steel shaft irons and graphite shaft hybrids to have the same or very similar MOI to allow both types of clubs to have a more similar swing feel despite the difference in their total weight. 

Tom