Since the introduction of graphite shaft around 1970, there has been a debate about which one is better: steel shaft or graphite shaft. People used to think that steel shafts were mainly for skilled players while graphite shafts suit amateurs better; however, nowadays, this assumption is not necessary correct. Each type of shaft has its own pros and cons as presented in this handy guide:
Steel vs graphite material
Firstly, let’s have a look at the materials.
Steel is widely known to be durable and strong. While it is quite rigid, it is trusted for high accuracy and consistency. Nickel-chrome is applied to prevent rust. When well-maintained, steel shafts can last for a very very long time. It is considered quite inexpensive
How are steel shafts and graphite shafts different from each other?
Weight is the most notable difference between steel and graphite shafts: The total weight of a graphite shafts is much lighter; as a result, it is easier and faster to swing. This type of golf club is suitable for people who look to increase the shot’s distance. Also, people with hand, arm or shoulder problem will prefer graphite shaft: it is less rigid and more flexible; its vibration hurts much less.
That being said, it does not mean everyone prefers the lightweight shaft. There are many players who are physically strong and can already swing very fast. Weight is not a big problem to them and they can withstand even the steel shaft’s irritating vibration. What they look for is better control. A lightweight club can lead to poor shots if you cannot control it well.
Each type provides a different feel due to the difference in vibration translated to the hand. Ask yourself if you prefer the solid feel and stronger vibration from the steel shaft or the soft, dampened feel from the graphite shaft. Generally, a good player can adjust his or her performance based on their swing’s feel and impact.
In terms of stability, it was thought that steel shafts last longer. In reality, nowadays, both types are very durable, especially under proper maintenance. You can hardly find they rusted or cracked if you treasure your investment and perform cleaning/checking very frequently.
Last but not least, you need to consider about the product price. There is no denying that graphite shafts are much more expensive: they generally cost at least 20-40% more. Even if you really fancy a set of graphite clubs, consider your budget first: you may need to make some compromises and go with steel clubs instead.
Which one should you choose?
This is a very difficult question to answer because it should be based on various factors, including:
• You skill level and swing speed
• Your physical conditions
• Your swing requirement
• Your “feel” preference
• Your budget
Overall, steel clubs are preferred for better consistency and accuracy while graphite clubs are easier to use for people with slow swing speed, adults (or those who are not very physically strong). It is recommended that you try out both, consider the feel of the shaft in your hand and check the distance and accuracy of your shots in both cases. Make sure you take your time to find out what is really worthy of your investment.