Here's What Can Happen When You Use the Wrong Shaft Flex in Your Clubs

Richard Johnson flexes the shaft of his club in anger during a European Tour tournament
Is that too much shaft flex ... or not enough?. Andrew Redington/Getty Images

What happens if you choose a shaft flex that is wrong for your golf swing? Bad things, my friends, bad things.

In another article, we wrote about some of the general reasons choosing the right shaft flex for your golf clubs in so important. But we wanted to get more specific: What are some specific examples of the effects of using a shaft flex that doesn't match your swing?

We put that question to golf club designer Tom Wishon, founder of Tom Wishon Golf Technology. What follows was written for us by Mr. Wishon.

Possible Outcomes When Using a Shaft Whose Flex Is Too Stiff for Your Swing

If a golfer is using a shaft that is too stiff for his or her swing mechanics and swing speed, any or all of the following may result:

1. The ball flies lower for any given loft, and possibly shorter in distance, because the golfer's best launch angle for maximum distance cannot be achieved.

2. The ball may tend to "leak" to the fade side of the target because the golfer cannot cause the desired forward bending of the shaft at impact, which helps bring the face back around to a less open position at impact.

3. The shot will probably feel less solid and more harsh, even when impact occurs in the center of the face, because of the different impact vibrations transmitted up the shaft to the golfer's hands.

Possible Outcomes When Using a Shaft That Is Too Flexible for Your Swing

If a golfer is using a shaft that is too flexible, here are the likely results:

1. The ball will possibly fly higher for any given loft. If the golfer is using the proper loft for his or her swing mechanics, this could cause a slight decrease from the golfer's maximum potential distance. On the other hand, if the golfer is using too little loft, which is the case with a very high percentage of players today with the driver and 3-wood, the more flexible shaft could bring his launch angle up to a more optimum trajectory, which could actually result in an increase in their distance.

2. The ball may tend to draw a bit more from the forward bending of the shaft at impact causing the face to rotate past square to be slightly closed. However, if the golfer happens to slice or fade the ball, this actually could help reduce such a misdirection tendency.

3. The shot will feel more solid because impact vibrations transmitted up to the hands along a shaft which is both more flexible and more bent will feel more solid.

It's Better to Err on the Side of More Flexibility

The best thing to do is make sure your shaft flex is well-matched to your swing (by meeting with a clubfitter or at least a teaching pro in a hitting bay when buying new clubs). But when in doubt, always err on the side of more flexibility in the shaft. That should be obvious from the numbered items above, some of which in the "Too Flexible" section are actually positives.

Thus each golfer must take a look at his or her natural swing tendencies before selecting the shaft flex best for their overall game. But at the end of the day, the majority of golfers with swing speeds of 100 mph and lower are going to do far more harm for their game by choosing a shaft that is a little too stiff rather than a shaft that ends up being a little too flexible.