Stiff vs. Regular Flex: Which Shaft Is Right For Your Game?

Golf Iron Shaft

Do you want more distance, better ball flight, and improved accuracy for your golf game? 

Then it’s time to ensure you are swinging the right shaft flex. While a lot of golfers worry about graphite vs. steel shafts, shaft flex is incredibly important too. 

In fact, a lot of professional fitters and high-level golfers would argue that shaft flex is more important than the clubs themselves. For most everyday golfers, this means deciding on stiff vs. regular flex shafts

Some golfers will benefit from regular flex, while others will benefit from stiff shafts. Ultimately, it comes down to one number to measure your swing and use the right equipment. 

Today, you will learn how to find the right shaft based on data instead of taking an educated guess. Having the right shaft flex can lead to better ball striking overnight. 

Stiff vs Regular Flex in Golf Clubs 

If you’re like most golfers, you’ve probably wondered… “Should I play regular or stiff flex golf clubs?” 

If you haven’t asked yourself that yet… you need to ASAP. Playing shafts that match your swing is one of the few things you can do that will lead to instant improvement.

While most clubheads and training aids promise to fix your swing issues, shafts actually have that potential. While it’s not to say that shafts will fix all your swing flaws, they can lead to more distance, better accuracy, and better trajectory. 

Here’s how to make this complex decision easy.

Golf Iron Shot

Finding the Right Shaft Flex 

When it comes to picking the right shaft flex, one piece of swing data matters above all else – clubhead speed. Thanks to the help of launch monitors, it’s easier than ever to find the right flex for your golf swing.

Shaft flexes are based on swing speed with your driver. 

Swing speed is the biggest factor, not age, handicap, years of experience, or what shafts you’ve played in the past. Too many golfers make the mistake of thinking, “I’m 60 years old so I should play a senior flex shaft.” Or, “I’m a beginner so I should play a regular flex shaft.” 

While both of those instances might be true, clubhead speed is much more important. Because 60-year-old players can still swing at regular or stiff flex speeds. And beginners who have athletic backgrounds might need stiff flex shafts, even in their starter set. 

Also Read: How To Clean Golf Clubs

Here are the different flexes recommended based on your average clubhead speed:

  • Ladies flex = >72 mph
  • Senior flex = 72-83 mph 
  • Regular flex = 84-96 mph 
  • Stiff flex = 97-104 mph 
  • Extra stiff flex = 104-115 mph 
  • Tour stiff flex = 115mph+ 

The faster you swing the golf club, the more flex you need. The majority of recreational golfers need a stiff or regular flex as most golfers swing between 84-104 mph. 

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Stiff vs. Regular Flex 

Choosing flex for ladies and Tour players is pretty easy. But for most golfers, it’s harder to decide senior vs. regular vs. stiff flex shafts.  

Before buying any new shafts or golf clubs, head to your golf store (or use a personal launch monitor) to evaluate your swing speed. Once you have a good sample size (about 20 driver swings), calculate the average to find your “normal” swing speed. 

This will determine if you need senior, regular, or stiff flex. Then, make sure your shafts in your woods, hybrids, and irons all have that flex. 

Here’s why it’s so important to play the right flex and not “guess” on your equipment. 

Playing a Shaft that is Too Stiff 

A lot of golfers let ego get in the way and think they swing faster than they actually do. This can lead to using stiff shafts instead of regular flex which might have a negative impact on your game.

According to Bombtech Golf, “The most common mistake is playing a golf shaft that is too stiff. If you are playing a golf shaft that is too stiff for your swing speed or golf mechanics, you may experience the following.

  • Lower ball flight which leads to less distance.
  • A fade or leaking ball flight. This occurs because the golfer cannot flex the golf shaft enough to create a square impact position.
  • It won’t feel great even on center hits.”

As you can tell, this small mistake can have an enormous impact on your ball striking. This is why it’s so important to calculate your swing speed instead of guessing. 

Playing a Shaft with too Much Flex 

Another common scenario among amateur golfers is playing clubs that have too much flex. A good example would be a player with a 100mph driver speed and using regular flex shafts instead of stiff shafts. 

Based on the same Bombtech article, “If you are playing a golf shaft that is too flexible, you may experience the following (less common)

  • Higher ball flight, regardless of loft which can result in less distance. Which for many golfers is needed.
  • A draw or slightly hooking ball flight. More forward bend of the shaft at impact can cause the face to rotate past square and become closed.
  • Better feel and solid contact.” 

The article elaborated and said that it’s better to play a softer flex instead of a shaft that is too stiff. 

However, if you are actively speed training and working on increasing your swing speed, you might want to wait to buy shafts. 

Related: How to increase Swing Speed

Play the Same Flex in All Golf Clubs 

Finally, I think it’s important to note that you should play the same flex in all of your golf clubs. While you don’t need the exact same type of shaft or same weight in your driver, woods, and irons, you should play the same flex. 

Here’s why… 

If you play a regular flex in some golf clubs and stiff flex in others, you will have different misses. You won’t have a consistent miss and it can make it hard to figure out if you have a swing flaw or a shaft issues. 

For example, with two different shafts one miss might be low and to the left. While a club with a different shaft might miss high and right. Having a two-way miss makes golf hard and very challenging to manage your mistakes. 

Once you find out if stiff or regular flex is best, swing that shaft in all your golf clubs. 

The only exception is your wedge shaft flex as it’s okay to play a slightly different shaft with more flex. Since you don’t swing wedges with high speed, less flex can improve performance. 

In fact, a lot of golf club manufacturers don’t even offer different shaft options. Titleist’s wildly popular Vokey wedges are a great example as they’re only available in a “wedge flex.” While you can pay extra to get shafts that match your irons, it’s not necessary for the majority of golfers. 

Related: Golf Wedge Buying Guide  

Should You Get Fit for Golf Clubs?

It’s easy to think that club fitting sessions are only for more advanced golfers. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

When asked, “Who should get fit for golf clubs” Club Champion answered – everyone

Further, elaborating with, “All ages, all skill levels, doesn’t matter. In fact, we’ve found that the higher your handicap, the more measurable improvement can be seen in our fitting bays and out on the course. Having the proper shaft flex, weight, profile and length coupled with the right swingweight, lie, loft and grip can all help you reach your golf goals.” 

Higher handicap golfers, especially those that are actively improving, will benefit the most from a proper fitting session. Getting fit with an expert can help you find the right flex and test out different shafts to see how they affect distance, spin, trajectory, and accuracy. 

Plus, you can also find the right length and lie for your irons and wedges. For a small fee, it’s one of the best investments you can make in your golf game. 

Top Questions About Shaft Flex 

Do you have more questions about swinging the right flex in your golf clubs? If so, keep reading to ensure your shafts match your swing speed for optimal results on the golf course.

Is there a big difference between stiff and regular flex? 

Yes, there is a big difference between stiff and regular flex shafts. As discussed above, clubs with too much flex or not enough flex can impact distance, shot dispersion, spin, and ball flight.

Will I lose distance with a stiff shaft? 

If you don’t have a high enough swing speed, you can lose distance with each club in the bag. However, if you have enough clubhead speed, you could actually gain distance with stiffer shafts. Not to mention, the right shaft can improve your accuracy and minimize those big misses. 

For example, I have a friend with a baseball background and swings the club extremely fast, despite only playing 1-2 times per month. When he swapped regular for stiff shafts, his big misses went from off the golf course to ending up in the right rough. 

Is stiff flex harder to hit? 

Stiff flex shafts are harder to hit if you don’t have enough swing speed. However, if you have a higher than normal swing speed, they’re a great option and will actually improve your ball striking. 

Can a high handicapper use stiff shafts? 

A high handicapper should generally avoid stiff shafts. Beginner players or golfers who don’t get to the course as would often benefit from senior or regular flex shafts. 

But it ultimately depends on one thing – swing speed. Some golfers might be classified as “beginners” but have a ton of speed and need to use stiff shafts. That’s why it’s important to always check your speed using a launch monitor instead of guessing the right shaft flex. 

Will a stiffer shaft lead to lower ball flight? 

Yes, stiffer shafts can lead to lower ball flights. 

Golfers who play regular flex shafts but swing at 100mph will have a high ball flight that isn’t penetrating and can hurt distance. Swapping to a stiffer shaft can instantly improve trajectory and make it a much more piercing ball flight.

Additionally, shaft weight also plays a big role in trajectory and shot dispersion as well. Lighter shafts tend to go higher than heavier shafts and also amplify your misses. So if you want to hit more fairways and keep it under the wind, a heavier shaft might be just what you need. 

What if I’m between stiff and regular shafts?

This is a good question as you don’t want to buy the wrong shafts and have to replace them as they’re not cheap. Let’s say you swing at 94 mph, which is the high end of a regular flex shaft but close to stiff (only 2mph away).

For most golfers, you would benefit from using a softer shaft. It’s much better to play shafts that are too soft vs. ones that are too stiff.

However, if you’re playing more often, practicing regularly, and/or speed training, it might make sense to buy stiff shafts. This way you won’t need to replace them in the near future. 

Wrapping Up

One of the most important things you can do is swing the right shafts. Because even if you love your driver, woods, and irons, without the right shaft flex the clubs won’t perform their best.

Golf has so many variables and tons of them we can’t control (weather, course layout, etc.). But one thing that is 100% in your control is buying the right shaft.

Switching to regular or stiff shafts based on your swing speed can lead to overnight changes to your game. While they won’t hide swing flaws, the right shaft can improve ball flight, increase distance, and hopefully minimize your misses. 

Have you made the switch to regular from stiff (or stiff to regular)? If so, how did it impact your ball striking?

Let us know in the comments below. 

Picture of Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard is a full-time writer, author, creator of Wicked Smart Golf and +1 handicap amateur golfer. He left his corporate career in 2017 to pursue entrepreneurship and professional golf; since then, he’s competed in 160+ tournament days and went to Q-school in 2019.

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