Golf Shafts Less Than 100 Dollars

Are You Still Wasting Money on Golf Shafts With Nothing to Show For It?

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Are You Looking to “Upgrade” Your Golf Shaft?

Never fear, dear readers- that’s one of my specialties!
There’s a lot of information- as well as misinformation- floating around the internet about this very subject.  But at Green Lantern Golf, I’m all about the Common Sense, which will only help you.

What do you really need in a golf shaft?

The Truth About Golf Shafts

Just a handful from my collection!

This is just a sampling of shafts I’ve used and still own in my golfing lifetime.  There’s two in there that sold new for about $20, a couple in the $70 area, and one that was damn-near $400!

Needless to say, I’ve been around the block, so to speak.

Not that way- get your mind out of the gutter!

All have served me well, some more than others.  They all served their purpose.  Wait… why am I telling you this?

It’s because I’ve spent a lot of money- too much, if you ask my wife!- believing I was chasing some holy grail golf shaft.

I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did.  I want you to find your “it” shaft, at the price that’s right for you.  But how?

You have to ask yourself: what do you really need in a golf shaft?  Is it:

  • performance?
  • prestige?
  • both?

Sure, you can buy a shaft for $400 and it’ll perform very well, as well as (maybe) make you the envy of your friends… but that isn’t always the case.

From all my experiences, not just in golf but life as well, you don’t always “get what you pay for” when you drop a lot of cash on a commodity.

Yes, you read that right: a golf shaft is a commodity.

FURTHER READING: 10 Golf Shafts Under $50!

It has a job in the overall design of a golf club: present the clubface squarely to the ball.  

You control most of that, though; the golf shaft just helps.

Believe me, buying a golf shaft can be confusing.  And frustrating.

Everyone wants to play better golf, but there are too many people out there claiming the shaft is the most important part of the golf club… the “engine” of the club if you will.

Well, club fitting guru Tom Wishon believes otherwise.

He states that the shaft is the “transmission”.  You are the engine, the shaft transmits the power/energy you create to the club head.

Makes a ton of sense, right?  Ever see a golf club swing itself?  I thought not…

Take a moment to reflect on this little nugget: price isn’t the only factor when choosing a golf shaft.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Just like every other aspect of life- be it cars, peas, suits, shoes, or whatever- you always have options.  If you have a budget, stick to it.   You don’t need to break the bank to play a high level of golf.

By the way, I made a video.  I call it “Epic Shaft Battle”.  It’s the first in a series of “battles” between two shafts.  If you’re interested, you can check it out here if you like.

When you’re ready to buy a new golf shaft, are you really ready?

There are tons of choices, in a very wide range of price points.

Do you know how to buy one?

Before you go giggity looking online, there are some things you should know before dropping three bills on one.

Golf Shaft bend profile for Aldila NV 65 S

Do you see this?  It’s called a Shaft Bend Profile.  Specifically, this is a profile of a pretty popular golf shaft model, in “S” flex.

Now’s probably the time you’re asking “what the hell”?  Well…
A “shaft profile” is a frequency measurement taken at seven different points along a golf shaft.
Those frequency numbers are then plotted on a graph.  Read left-to-right, with the butt end on the left and the tip end on the right.  You can use the information to get an image in your head of how the shaft will play.
Now, check this out:
Epic Shaft Battle Number One
Does something look… funny to you?
In the example above, you can see these 14 shafts (including the one from the first picture) are, for all intents and purposes, the same shaft.
WTF?!
Yes, believe it or not, there are shafts that can and do play the same.  They “feel” the same.  There’s something like a gazillion options to choose from… the Law of Probability would state that the likelihood of similarities would be a given.
You should also see that most are labeled “S”, but do you see that one labeled “X”?  Are you wondering what’s up with that?

It’s there because there is no such thing as “standards” in golf shaft manufacturing.

Each company has their own methods for deciding what a “stiff” flex is; even their torque measurements can’t be compared “apples to apples”.  The reasons for this are:
  • Different sized clamps give different frequency readings.  A 3 inch clamp will give a higher reading than the “clubfitter standard(*)” 5″ version.
  • Some companies use a 12″ long “arm” and a one pound weight to measure torque… but not everyone does.  Arm length and weight can fluctuate.
  • Some companies use the “standard” 205 gram tip weight to measure frequency, while others don’t.
(*)= there are clubfitter standards when it comes to measuring shafts.  A 205-gram weight and 5″ clamp are two of them.  Wishon’s Bend profile uses them to help normalize the numbers.
That’s why, if you ever do any digging, you might find that what the shaft OEM states in their tech specs might differ from what a Wishon Fitter or Hireko Golf states in their findings.
It can lead to confusion, something that companies like TWGT and Hireko are trying to eliminate.  Unfortunately, it still persists, which can then transform into buyer’s remorse.

Whether you spend $4 or $400, no one should have that feeling of “why the hell did I buy this?”.

Now, so you can see a different perspective, here’s a new set of shafts:
Can you see that all of these are labeled “S” flex?
While they all may be labeled as stiff flex, they’re similar only in the butt (left) end, up to the 3rd section (31″ from the tip) of the shaft.  From about 26″ (#4) to the tip (#7), it’s a free-for-all.
To help you, the lower the line on the graph, the stiffer it is.  So, the light blue shaft has a stiffer tip than the others, while the red and yellow lines would have the softest tip.
That’s the beauty of the Shaft Bend Profile System (as well as Hireko’s Dynamic Shaft Fitting Index): it gives consumers a true apples-to-apples comparison of different shaft models!  It helps take some of the “mystery” out of these tubes of graphite and/or steel.
But why is it so mysterious?  As I just said, all it is is a tube made of steel and/or graphite fibers… it’s what connects the head to the grip (and subsequently, your hands).  It really only has two performance functions:
  • Transmit the energy you create with your swing to the club head
  • Present the clubface to the ball squarely and consistently
It’s not an “engine”, as we’ve already established.
We’ve also seen that price point isn’t a determining factor in performance.  As a refresher, check out the pic below:
Look at the pic above: we have high-end models, “made-for” models, “mid-tier” models and little-known brands that all flex out the same.  Look closer and you can see both “X” and “S” flexes, as well.
So why do companies still bother with flex?  Why would someone like me fit someone like you for flex, when there’s no real standard?

Shaft flex is still important is because of “feel”.

“Feel” is a buzzword that gets abused by many golf companies, but in this instance, we can make something of it.
There are tons of amateurs that have misguided notions of what “feel” is, and where it comes from.  Such-and-such style of golf club “feels” better than a different brand with the same style of club.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that many of the clubs that people claim to “feel” better are also usually higher-priced.
That’s just their inner voice talking; their perception of price is clouding their judgment.
In all walks of life, people equate price with performance.  There’s a $25 bottle of mouthwash… but does it clean your teeth better than a $4 bottle of Listerine?
As Ramit Sethi says, “probably not”.  But that doesn’t stop people from buying it.  Why?
As Sethi says, it’s a luxury, and for some, a $25 bottle of mouthwash is their luxury.  For some golfers, a $400 driver shaft is their luxury.  It’s not that they couldn’t find a shaft for $300, $360 less… but that’s not what they want.
It’s not “right”, it’s not “wrong”… it is what it is.
If splurging on a $400 shaft makes you happy, I’ll be happy for you.  If you come to me with the intent of wanting a $400 shaft, I’ll gladly find one for you.

I do offer some that aren’t $400, but they’re pretty damn good shafts in the $175-$250 range.

So I do offer some premium shafts, but that’s not 100% of my thing at Green Lantern Golf, though: I want to make golf as inclusive as I can.
How I do that is by showing lower cost, yet equally performing, alternatives.  These 10 are a good start, if you’re interested.
If you’re of a like mind we can find more wallet-friendly alternatives together.  Something like these, all that can be had for less than $100:
Golf Shafts Less Than 100 Dollars
If not, if you still have your heart set on a $400 shaft, I’ll help you, as well.  I am here to serve you, the paying customer.
So we know that the perception of price has a mental effect on what a golfer “feels’, and we know now that that doesn’t matter.  Did you also know that there are true physical properties that do the same thing?

What does make a golf shaft “feel” different?

No, I’m not talking about the head design, or what metal is somehow “better” than the other.  I’m talking things like swing weight (head heft) and shaft flex.

I had originally thought that shaft flex having an effect on playability was kind of bullshit, but after an email exchange with renowned club fitter (and just an awesome guy) Tom Wishon, I realized I had been wrong… from a certain point of view.

Here’s a portion of what he had to say about the effect of what the golfer “feels” with a shaft that’s properly fit for flex:

 

 “(T)he ability to detect one shot as solid feeling and another as more dead or boardy or unsolid is something that some mid and high handicappers can sense… 

If the shaft is too stiff for the golfer’s speed and downswing force, it will transmit more of a dead or boardy impact feel to a golfer who does have the ability to sense such differences in the feel of impact. 

And conversely, if the shaft is matched well in stiffness design to the golfer’s speed and downswing force… that shaft will transmit a more solid impact feel, or less boardy feel.

While stiffness feel has nothing directly to do with shot performance it most certainly can have a lot to do with a golfer’s swing consistency. (emphasis mine)

Few golfers who get an unsolid feel of impact tend to achieve very good swing tempo or swing timing consistency because it is very common when feeling an unsolid impact to try to swing harder or swing differently as a way to try to make the shot feel more solid. 

But when impact feels very solid, this very often results in the golfer being able to achieve a little better swing to swing consistency in their tempo and timing.  Of course having the right total weight and swingweight is as much and even more of a contributor to tempo and timing consistency too”.

 

So while multiple shafts with the same bend profile would suggest they’ll “feel” the same, those with varying degrees of stiffness will provide different “feels”.

The price of the shaft has no bearing on it- unless you want it to.

Golf Shafts Less Than 100 Dollars

What does that mean for you?  It depends on what you’re looking for.  Looking at this picture again:

  • Need a lower, more penetrating ball flight?  The light green shaft would likely be your best bet
  • If you need a higher ball flight, the light blue shaft would be your best bet.
  • Do you prefer a more firm feeling shaft?  Those lower on the graph would be a good place to start.
  • Conversely, if you want a more flexible feeling, you should be looking for shafts higher on the graph
Keep in mind that this is only if you make a very specific move in the golf swing.

Also keep in mind that the effects of the shaft will be minimal, at best, especially if you’re someone that gets fitted for their gear currently.

If you’re a “caster”, meaning, you let go of the release too soon, none of this information will help you.

When you cast the club, you’re throwing away all the energy you’ve built up in the backswing.

When it comes to buying a new golf shaft, it’s a lot more than just “Oh, I think this is a good shaft, <insert tour pro’s name here> uses it… I’m gonna buy it!”.

If you want to play your best, you should seriously consider getting fitted.  Click here to read my How-To Guide on surviving your first fitting experience!

I can help you, or you can see someone local.  There are some things you need to know before making a golf shaft change, though.

I know some people that change their golf shafts as often as they change their pants.

With the coming of the adjustable hosel, it makes swapping shafts even easier.

But just because you can change the shaft, does that mean you should?  Are there any reasons to actually change the shaft?

There is a nice video by Mark Crossfield (that you can see here) that details the information.  For those that suffer from “tl;dr” syndrome, the short answer is, the shaft only accounts for “about 1%” (his words) of the club’s overall performance.

Yes, it’s that unimportant.

Well, it’s not that it’s completely useless, so don’t get too upset.  We’ve established that, remember?  Anyway, there are only a handful of specs we need to look at:

One: The Weight

The weight of the shaft is important.  If a shaft’s too heavy, it’ll be too hard for you to swing fast enough to get good launch numbers.  Conversely, if it’s too light, you’ll risk over-swinging.  Somewhere between too light and too heavy is “Just Right”- the weight that creates the perfect blend of speed and balance.

Two: The Flex

No, it’s not what you think.  Shaft flex alone plays no part in how the club performs.  But we already discussed that having a flex match your swing speed and transition will help you create a solid feel at impact, which can also help with your tempo and timing.

I’m going to stop right here and bust a long-standing myth: clubhead material plays no part in what you “feel” at impact.

None.

Zip.

Zilch.

Sorry, but it’s not your fault.

Things come up, myths, that get perpetuated to the point they become “truths”… it doesn’t do anyone any good.

Think about it for a second.  Titanium is the hardest metal used in a golf club.  But if you flush a well-fit driver, the feel is just smooth.  You can “feel it in your toes (or soul, for the more spiritual)” when you do.

The same can be said for both stainless and carbon steel irons.  It’s not the metal, it’s the fit.

So why do those “players” irons (the carbon steel versions) cost more?  Simple- they take longer to make, with more hand operations.

An investment cast club head costs less to make.  In a nutshell, a mold is made, molten metal (usually stainless steels like 303, 304, 431 and 17-4) is poured into the mold.  The metal cools, and viola!- a club head is born.

When it comes to forging a club, a billet of carbon steel (examples: 1025, 1018, 8620) is set in a machine.  The machine has a die made to resemble the shape of a club head.  The machine then pounds the living crap out of the billet, until the shape is made.

There is excess material that is produced when the billet is hammered in the die; that’s called “flash”, and it has to be ground off.  That’s one of the extra steps needed, which adds to the cost.  There’s more grinding, polishing, and drilling.  Some models have the hosel made separately, which needs to be welded on later.

There’s also the chrome-plating process that adds to the cost.  I worked in a factory at one point in my life that had a chrome plating department.  They ended up ditching it because the cost to run it was high and the environmental laws were cumbersome.

It wasn’t worth having it, even to make higher-priced service parts for outdated models.  It was just easier and less costly for the company to move away from doing any of that kind of work.

According to Dave Tutelman:

The “softness” of feel is a combination of the softness of the clubhead and that of the ball. More precisely, the softness of feel is the inverse of the total stiffness of the collision between ball and clubhead. Stiffness is measured as a force divided by the deflection (in this case, the compression) produced by the force, designated “force/deflection”. The lower this ratio (either due to reduced force or a longer compression), the softer the collision feels.

He has an equation to find this:

Force/Deflection Overall = 1/(1/Kb) + (1/Kh)

Kb= Force Deflection of the ball

Kh=  Force Deflection of the clubhead

See the whole article HERE

So what’s that leave us?  In short, there’s only “a 0.2% reduction in overall stiffness of the collision”.

What does this mean for the golf shaft?

Well, do you know about swing speed ratings?  That’s where the OEM decides what swing speed range is best suited for a particular shaft flex.  A generic example would be a swing speed range of 85-95mph would be good for the “S” flex.

Why are we worrying about this?  It should be noted that this also doesn’t take into account your “transition”, the point in the swing where you transition from the backswing to the downswing.

Another generic example: let’s say you have a swing speed of 90mph, with an aggressive transition.  You’d think that the shaft from the previous example would be the right shaft… but you might be wrong.  The general rule of thumb is:

  • With a “normal” transition, stick to the flex rating of your swing speed
  • For a “smooth/passive” transition, go a flex softer (“R” instead of “S”)
  • If you have an aggressive transition, go a flex stiffer (“X” instead of “S”)

But what does that do?  Does it mean you’ll be bombing it 300+ yards right down the fairway every time?

No.

Sorry, but if you aren’t swinging it 105+ mph already, you won’t be getting 300 yards.  Physics has more to say than the shaft flex.  What it does do, however, is create a pleasant “feel” during the swing and at impact.

A shaft that has a flex that matches up to your swing speed and transition will “feel” good.  It’ll help create that “pure” feeling- especially if you make contact with the “sweet spot”!  It also helps you create and maintain a solid swing rhythm, which means you’ll get a more repeatable swing and more consistent results.

Now you might be wondering “so when is a good time to switch shafts”?

I wrote about this in an earlier post, but the basics are:

  • You’re hitting the “sweet spot”, but feel as if you’re not getting the distance you should
  • Your impacts are all over the club face (this could be a swing weight and/or, most likely, a length issue, though)
  • If you can’t keep your balance throughout the swing
  • Impact feels harsh (shaft too light or the flex is too stiff) or dead (shaft too heavy or the flex is too soft)
  • You get tired on the range (shaft too heavy)

Among other things.  If we’re talking about drivers, it’s more important to get the loft of the club to match your swing speed and angle of attack and the length of the club to match your swing.  Yes, get the shaft fitted, but put it lower on the priority list.

When you’re looking to upgrade something, it’s always a good idea to make sure that it truly is an upgrade.  Changing for change’s sake, or for whatever reason other than enhancing your play, is never a good idea.

FURTHER READING:

 

 

 

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