MyGolfSpy Labs: Does the Shaft Matter?

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Does the golf shaft really matter?

Some will tell you that there's little to no performance difference between shafts. Others will tell you that the shaft is absolutely everything. Forget the head; it's the shaft is what matters.

Everybody has an opinion.

For this test, our goal wasn't to try and identify a single best iron shaft. Few things in golf are so universally true. Instead, we wanted to take a closer look and see what, if any, actual differences exist between shafts. To that end, the shafts in this test feature different weights, different materials, and different bend profiles.


They are, by design, different in nearly every respect.

Are those differences significant enough to yield any actual performance differences? To find out, we had golfers test 5 of the most popular shafts on the market today.

Here's what we tested:

*All shafts tested were stiff flex

How We Tested


  • Testing was done using a TaylorMade PSi 6-iron head outfitted with Club Conex FUSE-FIT adapters provided by custom fitting specialists, TrueSpec Golf.
  • Shafts were cut to a playing length of 37" and outfitted with identical PURE grips.
  • 10 golfers with handicaps ranging from 0-15, and driver swing speeds between 90 and 110 mph participated in this test.
  • Each tester hit 12-14 shots with each shaft (rotating between shafts after each 6 shot sequence).
  • Any gross mishits and shots coming to rest more than 25 yards from the center line were eliminated and not included in the shot counts.
  • Remaining outliers were identified using Median Absolute Deviation (both distance and offline), and dropped prior to our averages being calculated.
  • All testers hit Bridgestone B300-RX Golf Balls 
  • Ball Data was recorded using a Foresight GC2 Launch Monitor

The Data

In addition to our full group averages, we have broken the data down by swing speed groups to provide additional insight into how the shafts performed. Please note that tables are sorted alphabetically by brand.

All Swing Speeds

The table below reflects the data from all golfers in the test.



  • On average, Aerotech's SteelFiber generated the highest ball speed as well as the longest carry and total distance.
  • Using shot area as a measure of consistency, the KBS C-Taper offered the tightest dispersion.
  • KBS C-Taper was also the lowest launching with moderate spin.
  • Perhaps not surprisingly, Project X launched the highest by nearly a full degree.
  • As a group, testers listed the SteelFiber (graphite/steel blend) and UST Recoil (graphite) as the two "best feeling" shafts.

6-Irons Swing Speed (81-90 MPH)

The chart below shows shaft performance for golfers with 6-iron swings above 80 mph. For easier reference, these are golfers who generally swing their drivers 95MPH or faster.



  • For higher swing speed players, the SteelFiber shaft again produced the highest average ball speed, as well as the greatest carry and total yards.
  • The Project X shaft produced the tightest average dispersion.
  • The Project X also produced the highest launch with the lowest spin.

6-Irons Swing Speed (65-80 MPH)

The chart below shows shaft performance for golfers with 6-iron swings below 80 mph. For easier reference, these are golfers who generally swing their drivers below 95MPH.



  • Within this segment, the KBS C-Taper generated the highest ball speeds by more than 1 MPH, and also was also the longest.
  • The C-Taper also produced slightly tighter dispersion within this segment of the test group.
  • Project X again launched the highest with moderate spin.
  • Testers in this group reported not liking the feel of the DG S300. This is possibly attributable to its higher weight.


Additional Notes:

  • The Aerotech SteelFiber produced absolutely identical spin numbers for each of our three segments (we triple-checked, it's not a typo).
  • Not surprisingly, the SteelFiber also produced the most consistent spin numbers (smallest standard deviation) of any shaft in this test.


So, does the shaft really matter?

Our results show that performance differences between iron shafts are undeniable.

  • In general, smoother swingers (picture Ernie Els), find less variation in shaft performance.
  • Aggressive swingers, with quicker tempos, will generally see greater performance variations between shafts.
  • While not reflected in the group averages, for the majority of our testers, there was one, sometimes two, shafts that offered significant performance benefit.
  • As a whole, the data suggests that, for most golfers, often significant differences do exist between shafts.
  • As always, we recommend getting properly fitted for your iron shafts.


About MyGolfSpy

As the “Consumer Reports of Golf” our mission is to educate and empower golfers. Our goal is to help you get the most out of your time, money and performance.

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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Golfer December 10, 2016 at 5:52 pm

I’d be curious to know how the frequency of each model compares to each other.
So often it seems like graphite shafts tend to play to a softer flex than their steel counterpart of the same listed flex.
Perhaps this is less so nowadays, but I recall in years past that a Stiff flex graphite shaft sometimes felt whippier than an R flex steel shaft did.


Marc Becker November 18, 2016 at 12:26 am

It’s the most important part of the club by far.


james December 7, 2016 at 1:22 pm

all the averages were within 2-3 yards of each other….not a hell of a big difference


Robert Quay November 17, 2016 at 1:37 pm

It was a 3 iron and your shoulders were at 70 degrees with your feet below the ball and the club face wide open. Def a 2 mil dollar shot


Billy Adamski November 17, 2016 at 1:09 pm

I’d still argue it matters less than you say it does


Chad Mardesen November 17, 2016 at 10:06 am

The shaft is, for the most part, all that matters.


Chad Mardesen November 17, 2016 at 4:31 pm

There’s also CG, spin, MOI, COR, and a whole host of other things. Thus, “for the most part”.


Mo October 7, 2016 at 5:09 pm

Shaft designers have many ways to change the performance and feel of a golf shaft – the materials used and the way they are cut and oriented all impact specs such as torque, frequency and weight. Most golfers find it difficult to feel subtle differences in specifications or to feel the difference between specific specifications such as torque and tip stiffness. The best way to select the best shaft is by hitting shots with a trusted, expert fitter to guide you through the process.


Carolina Golfer 2 October 7, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Really good article and data to back it up.

As somone who just made a almost $300 mistake by ordering the wrong shaft on a whim for a new set of irons, as opposed to one I knew the data on and that would work for me, I say no doubt the shaft matters. The shaft I ordered did not come close to working for me, even though by all accounts it should have fit my swing profile


Rod_CCCGOLFUSA October 7, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Thanks for breaking the shaft data report into swing speed groups. The most frequent concerns among my customers are apex, dispersion consistency, and feel. In having shafts PUREd, SteelFiber’s raw shaft data is by far the most uniform, shaft after shaft. It is interesting that many clients choose a shaft on feel, even when the data might suggest otherwise. Thus, Wishon’s observations on shaft fitting for the average golfer could be on target.


Marc Baldwin October 7, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Great test, thanks for the hard work. Surprised that the Nippon Modus3 was not represented? Moving from s300’s to Modus3 tour 120x (ss x1) was a massive improvement in my iron game in flight and dispersion as well as feel. Nippon won out for me over DG, PX and KBS hands down.


John Duval October 7, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Absolutely. Aerotech Golf has proven to be the best shaft in the business. I’ve been playing them for years and I’ll never go back.


RAT October 7, 2016 at 10:57 am

I ‘m glad this has been done. I have the KBS Tour 90 shafts and I’m wanting more height but need a little more distance . Would the test of the taper shaft be comparable to the Tour 90?


Nick Marino October 7, 2016 at 2:04 pm

They come off with a higher initial launch off the club. They don’t have as high of a peak and have a flatter overall trajectory. In other words. It gets to its peak flight quickly then flattens out


W.B. October 7, 2016 at 7:54 am

I have been playing for about 35 years and tinkering with clubs and shafts for about 20 years. I have found that once I have a head that I like and have confidence in, the shaft is the next part of the puzzle. I have been fitted a few times and had a different shaft installed in my Mizunos by the fitter. This same set of shafts is now in it’s 4th set of irons. I’m a firm believer that the shafts can bring out the best in a set of clubs.


JW October 7, 2016 at 4:04 am

Great test!! On my current set (Titleist AP2) I have tested with several shafts, and I also felt and saw a lot of difference between True Temper, Project X and KBS.
True Temper felt hars, did not really fly for me and had a great dispersion. Project X and KBS were similar for me. Where the KBS had a better (smaller) dispersion. Went for KBS Tour. Still love it. Nice to see similar test results in line with what i felt.


Charles D October 7, 2016 at 1:12 am

There is absolutely NO DOUBT that shaft matters to the majority of golfers (whether they believe it or not). I have seen the results myself, in my own game. I play Aerotech Steelfiber I95’s and the shafts made a difference for me in flight and distance compared to a custom fitted set of stepped True Temper (think they were golds but its been a couple of years since the change). I was so amazed I wrote Aerotech to tell them how much difference they made in my game.


RSeg October 6, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Would like to see the results ofna very wierd test. 1 guy, 1 shaft, 1 clubhead (preferably driver). Hit 28 balls, group odd vs even. Discard 2 “best” and 2 “worst” shots in each group.

See allnthe stats availiable.

The intention of this test is to see the variability of any golfer and have a control test to evaluate variarions in the rest of the tests.



Zachery Murphy October 7, 2016 at 3:03 am

Love my steelfiber shafts and of course they will produce better ball speed being lighter in weight


stevegp October 6, 2016 at 9:00 pm

This is an interesting article. Good stuff!

Thanks for your efforts. They are appreciated.


Ol deadeye October 6, 2016 at 8:07 pm

I love the steel fiber 70 stiff in my ping g20s. However, I have noticed that when I hit 2 inches behind the ball I lose significant distance. Would a different shaft help?


Skip Perrey October 6, 2016 at 9:19 pm

Hit the little ball first before you hit the big ball, lighten your grip on your lower hand.


Cace Smith October 6, 2016 at 9:55 pm

I’ve made the switch from DG and PX to Steelfibers before and these results are spot on.


anton October 6, 2016 at 4:01 pm

I thought the test was interesting. What I was looking for was the results of the lightest shaft. Being a senior and using senior (A Flex), I was encouraged to note that with the slower speeds the lightest shaft hit well. A good outcome for the many golfers like me. The whippiest shaft really work for me as a senior. Thanks for the testing.


Tony Covey October 6, 2016 at 3:14 pm

For those that asked for it, I’ve rounded up apex and angle of descent for all testers as well as the individual groups. Not fancy, but should get the job done for those who are interested:

Apex and Angle of Descent


Adam October 7, 2016 at 9:21 am

Thanks Toney for including this data! I must say I’m a little surprised at the fact that the C-taper doesn’t have a lower apex. I went from KBS tour to C-taper and my ball flight was much lower with less ballooning. I thought Dynamic Gold would be similar to the KBS Tour. Maybe not!


Dustin B. Dennis October 6, 2016 at 6:49 pm

I’d like to see this done for wedges and driver shafts. I wish there was a way to try out shafts before building a set or woods. I find club heads to be less different in performance than shafts. Shafts are the engine that drives the club l.


Supraman October 7, 2016 at 6:38 am

yep, its call a club fitting service.


Dennis October 6, 2016 at 2:42 pm

Do you think therapie will be more differentiatie in the more flexibele shaft like ladies and senior? A good test can help them who can benefiet the most from extra help in distance. And what can torque restanten do for accuracy and distance?


Mark Moore October 6, 2016 at 2:35 pm

The difference is never going to be as dramatic to the player in the irons as it would be in the driver.

Reason being: 1)iron heads are heavier and so is the shaft to keep overall feel relative, 2) shorter shafts keep the CG closer to the head, 3) swing speeds aren’t typically fast enough with irons to cause the above factors to matter. Total opposite with titanium heads and graphite shafts!

Thanks for the article! Would love to see the next article focus on same group dynamics with the driver.


Dan Weitzel October 6, 2016 at 1:26 pm

It is an interesting article, but as many tests previously completed, it would be much more effective and telling if robotic results were used instead of actual golfers. When I do fittings I eliminate at least 50% of the shots hit in order to more accurately measure shaft and head performance. I am not as interested in seeing average results as I am potential results. Robotic tests would eliminate most of the variables inherent in human tests and give readers a better feel for shaft performance. Another comment – I deal with all of theses shafts on a routine basis, and I would seldom fit the slower swinger category with the PX 6.0 C Taper or DG S300 shafts. It might have been a better test to use softer/lighter shafts for that group.


Tony Covey October 6, 2016 at 2:21 pm

The overwhelming majority (basically everyone in the industry we’ve spoken with on the topic) has told us that robots will show almost no variation from one shaft to another. Tom Wishon, for example, has told us that he does most of his testing using solid steel bars as shafts. The machines don’t load and unload like humans and will tell you nothing about shaft performance in the real world.

I agree that the conventional wisdom doesn’t generally involve fitting slower swingers into heavier shafts, although I’ve personally seen situations where it offers tremendous benefit. That said, the point of this test wasn’t to find an ideal fit, but rather to investigate whether or not the shaft actually matters.

I’m guessing as a fitter you might find that to be an absurd premise to begin with, but we encounter many (many, many, many) who believe that all shafts are effectively the same.


Fergus Harrold October 6, 2016 at 5:23 pm

Great article
Well worth reading


Bob Welsh October 6, 2016 at 5:23 pm

Interesting! Always enlightening!!


Bill Presse IV October 6, 2016 at 1:20 pm

Hi Tony, I like what you set out to do first off, it takes a lot of time and energy. Next time I would prefer to see comparisons between similar weight shafts i.e. Aerotech 125g , S300, S300 tour issue, kbs tour 120, c taper 125, project X and then follow up with the 95gram weight shafts in a separate comparison but done with the same golfers , heads and guidelines. The next test I believe your readers would get a kick out of is comparing flighted shafts vs non with the same company i.e. Kbs tour vs Kbs FLT and project X vs project X flighted and areotech 125g vs aerotech players spec version. Food for thought…


Tony Covey October 6, 2016 at 2:29 pm

Bill – absolutely. Fair to say we’re looking into some things around shaft testing. This one was intentionally broad (we intentionally tested unlike things), and was as much about getting a range of weights and materials vs. testing like things. Before we start digging into small differences between reportedly similar things we wanted to learn if there were actual differences between reportedly unlike things.


Matt Green October 6, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Project X was the highest launching? 6.0? That seems odd as it is typically low launch and spin


MyGolf Spy October 6, 2016 at 5:16 pm

We checked the data, and it’s accurate. Sometimes things don’t test exactly how they’re marketed. -TC


Ryan Tracy October 6, 2016 at 7:35 pm

I launched the PX high and spun the crap out of them.


Matt Green October 6, 2016 at 8:25 pm

I just did the same test with the shaft 5 shafts. S300 and C Taper by far the best for me, just goes to show there is no perfect shaft only a good shaft for each individual and their own swing. Importance of club fitting never been more relevant.


Matt Dumble October 6, 2016 at 10:02 pm

This makes sense to me. My irons have the Project X 6.0 shaft, and I always find it easy to really launch the ball higher in the air when I want to.


Jeff Wallace October 6, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Suggestions for a lightweight(not crazy light) stiff mid launching iron shaft currently using dynamic gold s300 and are a bit bulky


Marc Anderson October 7, 2016 at 3:51 am

SL S300 – Same profile as S300 but around 105-110 grams. Tried these on a set of Callaway Apex and they rocked!!


Brian Jay Murra October 6, 2016 at 4:34 pm

I’d like to try the graphite shafts. With that said, I love my C-taper 130 X’s


Michael Jordan Haiduck October 6, 2016 at 4:33 pm

I found the KBS C Taper lite shafts in stiff were more like regular stiffness at 110 in weight. I tried the same shafts in The X stiffness of 115 g’s and they performed much better.


George Crickmore October 6, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Dynamic gold X7 for me.


Steve S October 6, 2016 at 12:23 pm

“As a whole, the data suggests that, for most golfers, often significant differences do exist between shafts.” Really? For the slower swing speed folks the max to min carry distance is less than 3 yards; about 2% change. Other stats are similarly small differences(except for spin, which is more, but more spin isn’t always good. Ballooning shots into the wind, etc.) . If you consider 2% significant then yes, but I don’t. The physics of swinging a heavy object(club head) in a more or less circular motion to strike an object says that the shaft has very little to do with the strike. A “whippy” shaft will have more effect on scatter and spin than a really stiff shaft when swung very hard. But the “optimal” swing speed will produce similar results. I know I’m going to hear about “this isn’t physics, it’s golf” but the laws of nature apply here.


Tony Covey October 6, 2016 at 12:33 pm

Going quote for quote, we also said this:

“While not reflected in the group averages, for the majority of our testers, there was one, sometimes two, shafts that offered significant performance benefit.”

We didn’t publish the individual data, but it’s definitely interesting. As with a good bit of what we test, with this group of shafts, the group averages didn’t show tremendous variation, however, on an individual basis there was a standout or two for nearly everyone (with more variation for swingers we would describe as more aggressive). Along the same lines, standard deviations among individual testers (a good measure of consistency) also showed significant differences between shafts on an individual basis.

It’s tough finding the right balance between presenting all the information and overloading guys who might not be as tech savvy.


Steve S October 6, 2016 at 4:58 pm

Fair enough. But it is fun looking at all this stuff.


Justin October 6, 2016 at 12:06 pm

In case anyone’s interested, these are the weights of each shaft as listed on the websites:
i95: 95g
C-Taper: 120g
PX 6.0: 120g
S300: 130g
Recoil: 95g

This is a well-written article with a lot of data, but to call the results “undeniable” might be a misnomer.

Is a 3-5 yard difference in carry yards a big deal? Even the total yards (which can vary, based on turf conditions) isn’t that great of a difference.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I figure a remarkable difference would be closer to 10 yards of gain. I will say, though, that any gain is better than no gain!


Tony Covey October 6, 2016 at 12:39 pm

As you know, Justin, yardage is but one small piece at the puzzle. When you look at the full picture; ‘optimal’ flight, shot dispersion, deviation from center, and standard deviations of key metrics, you begin to see meaningful differences. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to package that into an A+B+C=D formula, but when all things are considered, difference can be substantial.

Not unexpected, but still interesting, the impact of the shaft does vary from tester to tester. As mentioned in the article, our Ernie Els type swinger saw very little difference from one to the next, while others had a single shaft that was significantly better in nearly every respect.

The tricky thing for the golfer – especially for the self-fitters among us – is figuring out what the single most impactful variable is on an individual basis. For some it’s flex, for others it’s bend profile, very often it’s weight.

While not part of this test, a few months ago I worked with another smooth swinger. We tried everything in the cart from 105g to 130g with very little actual movement in the numbers. Finally, I tried an 85g shaft and everything tightened up.


golfercraig October 6, 2016 at 3:56 pm


I think I’ve told you this before, but who cares…..

I was at Callaway when Ernie was being fit for a driver right after he was signed. I was lucky enough to be standing 3 feet form him as he went through the process. I asked the fitter about 7000 questions and finally he said “Hey Ernie, hit this…” He put a head on a shaft, and Ernie hit it. Same numbers as before. Same trajectory. Really couldn’t tell the difference. One was a 757X, tipped an inch, the other was a stock shaft out of the current retail driver–Reg flex. The fitter said that was why they didn’t use robots to test shafts. EE had a smooth enough tempo that the shaft never loaded on the way back. His shaft never ovaled, so it performed completely different than anyone elses–no matter what. All they cared about was if Ernie liked the feel and launch window. It was eye-opening.


Scott Mitchum October 6, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Great article and confirms what any clubfitter has either known or suspected for many years – the shaft can make SOME difference but it’s just one of the several parts of the club-design pie and after making custom-fit clubs for over 30 years part-time I fully agree that hitting balls with various combinations is the only true way of fitting any golfer in the world.

Of course, how many amateurs with handicaps over 10 can honestly say they have a consistent enough swing to even suspect a different shaft might help them? Tom Wishon’s books go into detail about all the aspects of club design and fitting and I highly recommend them to anyone who really wants to learn how a golf club works and what might help your game.

Any web sites like Golf Spy are doing everyone a great service in providing this type of quality testing that can help every golfer learn more and improve their game. Very well done article on a very difficult subject – thanks!


Javier Vigil October 6, 2016 at 3:50 pm

Can you point me to a couple of those books please they sound interesting? I agree with you, I believe we should take a note from the military and call a club a system, the military calls a weapon a system not a gun because of the various configurations. I think that the golf industry should look at it the same way because of the various ways a club can be configured, between the grip, shaft, and head and the combinations are endless. Which if you want to play your absolute best you need to be fit properly for the best equipment you can afford. Thoughts?


Jason Roof October 6, 2016 at 3:56 pm

It only matters to the serious golfer who strives to play their best!! It matters a lot!


Todd Tschantz October 6, 2016 at 12:15 pm

Not by a long shot, It is just as important for the “once a month” recreational golfer. They need the right shaft for flight and flex to have a better chance of hitting a good shot. I find the most significant impact for these players as they are often playing to heavy and stiff.


James L Burton III October 6, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Tried everything except for the SF.

Was as PX 7.0 player last decade. When I hit the C-Taper 130, it took me right back to that time.

Still a PX player based on my swing profile and feel.


Adam October 6, 2016 at 11:48 am

Why didn’t you guys include apex height? It is inferred by launch angle and spin, but the apex height is important to know for those who want to control ball flight. The Aerotech, KBS C-taper, and Project X shafts are designed for lower launch, supposedly. That data would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


Todd Tschantz October 6, 2016 at 12:20 pm

and/or landing angle too


Tony Covey October 6, 2016 at 12:40 pm

We’ll look to add Apex in the future for our iron tests. It’s a balance between the essentials and overload.


Adam October 6, 2016 at 12:46 pm

I’d call that essential info!


Joe Monk October 6, 2016 at 1:15 pm

Rifle shafts are designed to go high…


saveva October 6, 2016 at 11:46 am

“As a group, testers listed the SteelFiber (graphite/steel blend) and UST Recoil (graphite) as the two “best feeling” shafts.”
Very interesting – I’ve always thought the gripe about graphite shafts were that they reduced feel because they absorbed the vibration.
Also thought that graphite would produce higher swing speeds and longer distance bc of their generally lower weight.

A chart of the shaft weights would be helpful.


Jacopo Negro Ferrero October 6, 2016 at 3:45 pm

I got MP5 Mizuno with kbs c taper 110 stiff and MP15 Mizuno with Steelfiber 110 stiff and I can say that KBS better performs and yes a good shaft makes the difference.


James Trotter October 6, 2016 at 11:41 am

What?! No testing of hickorys?


Geo Golfx October 6, 2016 at 3:39 pm

Would be curious to see the Dyn Gold s-300Shafts put on a flex board and see where they really are. I have found wild variations since they made some changes years ago.


Steven C October 6, 2016 at 11:39 am

It is nice to see some data on this. I became a believer in the difference golf shafts can make just this year. At a local golf shop I tried an iron head on four different shafts and felt a big difference between them. The data from the launch monitor showed that there was a performance difference as well. I also rented a set of clubs when I was traveling this summer and even though they were the same flex that I normally play, it took me a few holes to adjust to the shafts. Thanks for another great test.


Paul Kielwasser October 6, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Great stuff!!! I’ve experienced these results going from DG to Steelfibers!!! Glad to see data confirming what I’m seeing.


GilB October 6, 2016 at 11:33 am

Very interesting data. Thank you.


Ryan October 6, 2016 at 11:28 am

Great write up. I was fitted into Aerotech Steelfiber i95’s in stiff (I soft stepped them though) and my fitting results and real world results mirror what I read here (6 iron SS about 86mph). They are the longest iron shafts I’ve played and they feel the best too. They’re expensive, but I’m a big fan and so far I feel the price is worth it.


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