One of the first things that you’ll typically notice when you’re buying new golf clubs is that they’re typically available in different shaft materials.
In fact, choosing the right materials for the golf club shaft has a major impact on your performance, including shot accuracy, trajectory, and distance.
Ideally, the two most popular materials out there are graphite and steel. So which one of them is the more suitable option for you?
In today’s guide, we’ll put graphite vs steel shafts in a one-on-one comparison to help you pick the ideal one for your needs. Let’s jump right in!
What Are the Differences Between Graphite and Steel Shafts?
The material of the shaft affects various features of the club. To understand the difference between the two, let’s see how each material affects these aspects:
1. Overall Weight
Since steel and graphite have different densities, there’s a noticeable difference between the weight of a graphite club and an identical one but with a steel shaft.
Ideally, a graphite shaft yields a club that weighs anywhere between 50 to 75 grams (1.7 to 2.65 ounces).
On the other hand, a steel shaft weighs a lot heavier with most options ranging from 90 to 130 grams (3.1 to 4.58 ounces).
2. Durability and Lifespan
Both steel and graphite are sturdy shafts that could take a beating. However, in terms of sheer durability and longevity, steel shafts are far more powerful due to their higher stiffness.
For that reason, you should expect a steel shaft to last significantly longer than graphite ones, as they’re much less prone to breaking. However, steel shafts scratch easier than graphite.
When you hold a graphite club, you’ll feel that it swings with a lot more flexibility, which translates to a higher level of comfort.
On the other hand, the steel shaft feels more solid, but they’re relatively harder to hit than graphite clubs.
The difference here depends on your personal preference and playing style, as maintaining a suitable feel of the club is essential to achieve consistency.
4. Torque (Responsiveness vs Control)
The torque describes how much a shaft will bend or twist when you apply some force to it, and it’s usually recorded in degrees.
In golf, torque is directly proportional to responsiveness but inversely proportional to control. For instance, graphite shafts record 1 to 8 degrees of torque while steel counterparts are usually limited to 3 degrees.
This allows graphite shafts to offer a more comfortable performance but with less control when compared to steel shafts.
5. Swing Speed and Distance
In addition to being lighter, they also offer less resistance during swings. This translates into greater swing speed, and therefore, a more powerful shot.
On the other hand, steel shafts offer more feedback to the players, but with a reduced swing speed.
Since graphites have higher torque, they also have more flex. This translates into more power while hitting the ball.
As for steel shafts, they have lower flex and torque, so they deliver a less powerful shot, but it’s more accurate with improved overall consistency
7. Vibration Dampening
One of the inherent characteristics of metals, especially stainless steel, is that their atoms are highly compact and responsive.
Although this improves the feel of the ball upon contact, it prevents the shaft from dampening the vibrations.
This problem is typically solved by using graphite shafts, which are excellent vibration dampeners.
Lastly, when it comes to technology and design, graphite requires more advanced machinery to design and manufacture than steel. For that reason, graphite shafts are usually more expensive than their steel counterparts.
Which Shaft Material Should I Go for?
As you can see, both graphite and steel have their own set of pros and cons. For a lot of golfers, the best way to pick the more suitable shaft material is by trying them both. With time, you’ll begin to notice that you’re more comfortable with one than another.
Despite being a personal preference, graphite shafts are usually ideal for players who are all about shot speed and ball distance.
Graphite shafts are also ideal for those who suffer from back and joint problems because they’re better at dampening vibrations.
However, if you’re on a tight budget, starting out with a steel shift would still give you a decent shot power with the added bonus of improved club control.
This marks the end of today’s guide that shows you all the differences between graphite and steel shafts, so you can pick the one that suits you the most.
As you can see, graphite shafts are lighter, easier to use, and offer better flex, which makes them excellent for beginners who want to improve their shot power.
On the other hand, steel shafts are far more responsive and affordable than graphite alternatives, so they’re better for improving shot accuracy and consistency