When I buy a Club with an S-flex Shaft I Know I am Getting a Stiff flex
Sorry, but my guess is that you have no idea how stiff the shafts are in your golf clubs. You see, the “S” flex code (or X, R, A or L) you see on your shaft is virtually meaningless.
Most golfers know that shafts come in a variety of flexes: X for extra stiff, S for stiff, R for regular, A for amateur but which really means senior, and L for ladies. What most golfers don’t realize is that those letters (and only those letters) represent just about everything upon which there is almost universal agreement when it comes to the flex of your shafts.
You say you want a “stiff” shaft in your driver? Fine. Whose definition of “stiff” do you want to use? Because one shaft company’s “stiff,” is another company’s “regular,” which is another company’s “A-flex.” Worse, the flex rating of one model of shafts might be a hopeless variance with that of another model, even within the same company!
If it sounds as if the concept of shaft flex is hosed to the point of insanity you are exactly right. If a part of the reason you buy a golf club is because it has a stiff, regular, senior, or ladies flex shaft in it, you have no idea what you’re getting – nor do the sales people in the big golf store or the pro in the pro shop selling the clubs.
The reason for all this confusion with shafts? Simple. There are no standards in the golf industry to ordain the actual stiffness of each letter flex, so each shaft maker and golf club company is free to define their flexes any way they want. The S-flex from one company might be for a golfer with an 80-90 mph swing speed, while the S-flex from another is designed for a 100-110 mph golfer. The same goes for all the other flex letters! Even same flexes within different shaft models made by the same company do not necessarily have the same swing speed rating.
It’s an interesting way to make one of the central equipment components for an entire industry, isn’t it? Try doing that in any other sport! In tennis where string tension is a racket’s equivalent of shaft flex in a golf club, string tension is measured and set in pounds per square inch of force.
Thus, when you get a new racket and have the strings set at the same 55 pounds as the strings in your old racket, you’ll be playing with the same “flex” that you’re used to. Not so in golf, however.
You might be measured for your swing speed in a retail golf store; but I am here to tell you that virtually none of the major golf club companies ever provide their retailers with a reference chart to indicate what swing speed matches up with which flex in each shaft model they offer. So, the recommendation of the retail sales person will quite possibly be either a guess; or it will be based on which flex they have more of in their store inventory at the moment.
The proper way to do it is to have an experienced custom clubmaker measure your swing speed, then observe your swing mechanics to look for things like your downswing tempo, how much force you use to start the downswing, and where in the downswing you unhinge your wrists. The clubmaker will then observe how high or low you hit the ball with different clubs to determine what real shotmaking improvements could be associated with the shaft’s performance for your game.
He or she will then reference the files of shaft information that they get from experts in the custom clubmaking industry, or from research on shaft testing that they or other clubmakers have done and made available to each other. Clubmakers will have far more precise data of what shafts equate to what swing speeds, than will any person working in a pro shop or big box golf store.
After that, the Clubmaker will make a recommendation and possibly build a test club for you to hit to obtain feedback. Some clubmakers have a device that will allow them to instantly change shafts in different clubheads so you can actually test hit the different shaft options. The clubmaker might also have a launch monitor that can be used to actually measure the launch angle, ball speed and backspin contribution of the shaft as you swing the club. And in the end, the clubmaker will come up with a far more accurate recommendation of which shaft is likely to perform and feel best to you.