How to Choose the Best Driver Shafts 2019

There’s nothing like standing on the first tee with a brand new driver. The feeling of confidence that the first tee shot will be in play can set the tone for the rest of the round. But what do you do when the driver that worked so well before suddenly fails you? In this guide we will help you understand how to choose the best driver shaft for your game.

Top Picks By Ben Crane

Preview
Budget Pick
Grafalloy ProLaunch Golf Club Shaft, 46-Inch, Blue, 65gm, Regular
Aldila Rogue Silver 60 Graphite Wood Shaft, R-Flex
Mitsubishi-Rayon Diamana S+2 70 - Wood TX Shaft
UST New 2018 Proforce V2 HL (HIGH Launch) Golf Shaft (Choose Weight and Flex)
Matrix OZIK X5 White Tie 50 Driver Shaft + Adapter & Grip (Stiff) (Taylormade M1, M2, M3, M4)
Product Name
Grafalloy ProLaunch Golf Club Shaft, 46-Inch, Blue, 65gm, Regular
Aldila Rogue Silver 60 Graphite Wood Shaft, R-Flex
Mitsubishi-Rayon Diamana S+2 70 - Wood TX Shaft
UST New 2018 Proforce V2 HL (HIGH Launch) Golf Shaft (Choose Weight and Flex)
Matrix OZIK X5 White Tie 50 Driver Shaft + Adapter & Grip (Stiff) (Taylormade M1, M2, M3, M4)
Best for
Best for players on a budget
Best for slower swingers
Best for the fastest swingers
Best for players who want to hit the elusive high draw
Best for slow swingers
Rating
-
-
Budget Pick
Preview
Grafalloy ProLaunch Golf Club Shaft, 46-Inch, Blue, 65gm, Regular
Product Name
Grafalloy ProLaunch Golf Club Shaft, 46-Inch, Blue, 65gm, Regular
Best for
Best for players on a budget
Rating
More Information
Preview
Aldila Rogue Silver 60 Graphite Wood Shaft, R-Flex
Product Name
Aldila Rogue Silver 60 Graphite Wood Shaft, R-Flex
Best for
Best for slower swingers
Rating
More Information
Preview
Mitsubishi-Rayon Diamana S+2 70 - Wood TX Shaft
Product Name
Mitsubishi-Rayon Diamana S+2 70 - Wood TX Shaft
Best for
Best for the fastest swingers
Rating
More Information
Preview
UST New 2018 Proforce V2 HL (HIGH Launch) Golf Shaft (Choose Weight and Flex)
Product Name
UST New 2018 Proforce V2 HL (HIGH Launch) Golf Shaft (Choose Weight and Flex)
Best for
Best for players who want to hit the elusive high draw
Rating
-
More Information
Preview
Matrix OZIK X5 White Tie 50 Driver Shaft + Adapter & Grip (Stiff) (Taylormade M1, M2, M3, M4)
Product Name
Matrix OZIK X5 White Tie 50 Driver Shaft + Adapter & Grip (Stiff) (Taylormade M1, M2, M3, M4)
Best for
Best for slow swingers
Rating
-
More Information

Thinking about cheap or budget golf products? Definitely read my guide about 68 Frugal Tips That Will Save You Money in Golf

Guide to Selecting the Best Driver Shaft

Subtle changes in a golf swing can make drastic differences, and the same applies to equipment. Luckily manufacturers take our idiosyncrasies into account when they design golf implements. Like every other piece of equipment, driver shafts utilize technology to improve upon the things we do well and to correct the things we don’t.

Factors that Influence Shaft Selection

The old adage in golf is that no two swings are identical. However, they can only differ in so many ways. Driver shafts have specific characteristics that are engineered to cater to one subset of golfers or another. The two main pieces of the puzzle that manufacturers seek to address are a player’s swing and that player’s shot tendencies or preferences.

Player’s Swing

A shaft is not a magic cure for serious swing flaws. It is like the transmission of a sports car. It does not provide the power, but rather tries to transfer the power from the engine (your swing) smoothly on to the next step in the process (the driver head). The two main characteristics of a swing that affect how efficiently and effectively the power of the swing get transferred into the club head are swing speed and tempo.

Swing Speed

The swing speed is the main consideration in selecting a driver shaft. Stronger players with faster swings typically elect to use stiffer shafts, for example. They do this because a stiff shaft gives them more control over the clubhead throughout the swing. Players with slower swings typically choose shafts with progressively more flex, which adds power to the clubhead at impact but at the cost of control. Swing speed should be the major factor you use to determine which flex option in a model line is best for you, but it is not the only one.

Tempo

Swing tempo is an oft-forgotten consideration in shaft selection, but it is perhaps more important than swing speed. Players with faster takeaways will torque the shaft more than players who swing smoothly, regardless of swing speed. A slow takeaway may cancel out a fast downswing – requiring softer flex. A fast backswing might necessitate an extra-stiff shaft for the same downswing. So swing temp and swing speed work together to determine which shaft flex options will suit a particular golfer, but there is still another swing characteristic to consider.

Release Point

The release point is the point in the swing where the golfer has ceased to accelerate the golf club. Ideally we want this point to be later in the swing rather than earlier, to enable us to compress the golf ball. Many golfers struggle with release point. Players who don’t hit the ball very far tend to be the ones who release early, casting the clubhead into the ball at impact. These players tend to benefit from added shaft flex and softer tips. On the flipside is the player who holds the lag all the way through impact, delofting the club and squashing the ball. These players often benefit from stiffer flexes and tips.

Player’s Tendencies

Your swing can tell you a lot about which shaft flex should work for you, but the results of that swing can help you complete the puzzle. Here, you must ask yourself what your miss is. If your one booming drive in ten is a slice but the other nine were worm burners, you should focus on improving trajectory before addressing that banana ball. Of course, there may be a driver shaft on the market that can do both for you.

Direction

Shot dispersion is a major concern for average golfers, most of whom tend to slice the ball. Often these players are simply using a shaft that is too stiff for their swing. Their slower swing speed keeps them from properly loading the shaft on the downswing. The clubhead then comes through the hitting zone still open, causing that wicked slice. For some others the problem miss is a hook. These players should consider a stiffer shaft, as the clubhead may be whipping through the zone and closing too quickly. The result is often a game-wrecking duck hook.

Trajectory

The longest drives are the ones that have optimal trajectory. When trajectory is too low, there is less carry distance. That’s fine for dry ground on links-style courses where the ball can run, but not so great on the lush course played in the U.S. Of course, too high of a trajectory is equally problematic. Launch angle combines with spin rate to give us our overall carry distance. Whether you are having trouble getting the ball in the air or you are ballooning it, a driver shaft change can almost assuredly help remedy the issue.

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Characteristics of Driver Shafts

Material

There is not much of a decision to be made when it comes to the material of choice in a driver shaft. Technology has advanced to the point where the only material being used in modern driver shafts is graphite. Still, it worth looking both this wonder material and its precursor to see why graphite took over the industry.

Steel

Steel has certain properties that at one time made it ideal for driver shafts, which are the same reason that steel shafts continue to dominate in irons. Steel is strong and can be rolled into thin sheets, which are perfect for making golf club shafts. Steel shafts are usually much stiffer than graphite shafts, though, meaning they are harder to load. The steel shaft held on for a while after graphite’s introduction in drivers, mainly because it offered the golfer more control over the clubhead. That advantage disappeared as graphite technology improved.

Graphite​

Graphite shafts are made from strands of carbon fiber. The graphite comes in sheets – called flags – which are rolled together around a form to make the hollow shaft. The term graphite is actually a bit of a misnomer. Actual graphite is pure carbon with its molecules arranged in fragile crystalline sheets of hexagons. The molecules in carbon fiber are arranged similarly, but they interlock together to give carbon fiber its phenomenal strength. Both materials are carbon-based, and the term graphite is standard in the golf industry. The use of graphite in golf shafts took some 30 years to take hold, but it is now the main ingredient in driver shafts. Part of the reason is graphite’s inherent lightness compared with steel. It stands to reason that the same swing will produce a faster clubhead speed with a lighter implement, and tests have borne this out. Whether or not the extra flex graphite enables equates to faster clubhead speeds is still an open question, though.

Flex

When a golfer swings a club, there are two instances of deflection that come into play. First, the golf club bends as the golfer transitions to the downswing. The handle leads the clubhead, creating the lag that stores the energy the golfer is putting into the club. The second instance of deflection occurs as the energy stored is released into the ball. This unloading deflection is obvious when you see a slow-motion video of a driver swing at impact. Notice that the secondary deflection occurs before impact, which is the reason physics says there can be no extra kick provided to boost ball speed from flex alone. So what can account for the longer drives some players experience when they add flex? The answer is that the unloading and reverse deflection of the shaft increases the effective (or dynamic) loft of the clubface. The result is a higher launch and generally more carry distance. So which shaft flex will provide you with the ideal launch angle? The answer to that question depends on swing speed.

Ladies (L)

These shafts have the most flex available in any given line of golf club shafts. As women generally have less upper-body strength than men, it stands to reason that most ladies will have a harder time loading a club than most men. However, anyone with a swing speed less than 75 mph will likely benefit from shafts with L flex.

Amateur (A)

This category was once called Senior (S) flex, but A flex has become its standard demarcation. It’s a fact of life that as we age we lose strength. Aging golfers and younger golfers – as well as stronger female players – may benefit from amateur-flex shafts. These shafts are generally best suited for players with swings between 75 and 85 mph.

Regular (R)

The majority of amateur players will benefit from these mid-flex shafts. They are best suited for players with swing speeds of at least 85 mph. Players with up to 95-mph clubhead speeds may still benefit from a regular shaft stiffness, but golfers at the upper extreme of that range may prefer a stiffer flex for the added control.

Stiff (S)

Generally considered the correct shaft stiffness for better players, the stiff-shaft category tends to suit players with swings above 95 mph. With stiff shafts, the deflection during loading is of secondary concern. Players with fast swings have no problem loading the club, and they get their height from backspin rather than from dynamic loft. The stiffer shafts then impart feel and clubhead awareness more than any other benefits.

Extra Stiff (X)

Players with the fastest clubhead speeds require the stiffest shafts in their drivers. Only golfers with carry distances above 275 yards and clubhead speeds in excess of 110 mph should use extra-stiff shafts. All other players will likely find them unwieldy and difficult to load, which is why these shafts are also sometimes known as Tour Flex shafts.

Torque

The shafts torque is its resistance to twisting during the swing and on off-center hits. It tends to correlate with shaft stiffness, so that more flex equates to higher torque. To understand this effect, one need only realize that connecting the shaft to the very heel of the clubhead causes the toe to lag behind in the downswing. With the heel leading the way, the face is open relative to the address position. As the clubhead descends, the toe catches up to the heel, passing it through impact. Torque is a prime reason for golfers displaying a wide shot dispersion when they use clubs with too much or too little flex. Too much flex can cause the face to close violently through impact, resulting in a low, screaming hook. Too little flex can leave the clubface still open at impact, resulting in a high, floating slice. Neither scenario is ideal for increasing distance. Again though, because torque corresponds to shaft flex, simply selecting the right flex for your swing speed should eliminate those wild misses.

Kick Point

The kick point (or flex point) is the position on the shaft where the most bending occurs. Because of the reverse deflection of the shaft at impact, the kick point has a direct but inverse relationship with trajectory. A high kick point essentially delofts the clubhead at impact, lowering trajectory. A low kick point allows the clubface to kick upwards at impact, increasing dynamic loft and raising the trajectory. A mid-kick point will have a neutral effect on dynamic loft, tending to create the piercing, boring trajectory that better players seek.

Weight

Graphite shafts may have come into existence because they are lighter, but the premium on accuracy in competition has PGA Tour players installing heavier shafts than they have in years. Lighter shafts often have higher torque, making them unwieldy to faster swingers. They also increase clubhead speed naturally, so they can add yards to drives. Shaft weights can be below 50 grams or above 100 grams. Higher weights tend to increase control, but they can rob slower swingers of clubhead speed. Most of us benefit from shaft weights between those extremes.

Butt and Tip Diameter

The tip and butt diameters of the shaft have less impact on their performance than flex and torque, but they are important measurements nonetheless. The typical driver hosel will require a .335-inch tip, but some outliers require a .350-inch or a .370-inch tip. This is where knowing your equipment will make a difference, but most driver manufacturers have this information on their websites. Butt diameters are normally around .6 inches, with heavier shafts tending to have higher numbers.

Tip Section

The tip section (or tip length) is the amount of non-tapered tip that can seat within the clubhead’s hosel. The minimum requirement for this length is usually 2 inches, but some manufacturers incorporate extra parallel tip length on their shafts.

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Brand-Specific Adapter Sleeves

The sleeve that attaches a modern shaft to a modern driver head will be specific to brand and model. While removal of the sleeve and shaft from the clubhead is likely to be simple, removal of the shaft from the sleeve can leave the sleeve damaged. To simplify things, you may wish to purchase a new adapter sleeve for your driver head. Once you epoxy the shaft to the new sleeve, installation is often as simple as removing and retightening one star-head bolt.

Shaft Length

Longer shafts – those above 45 inches – tend to equate to faster swings, given the longer arc along which the clubhead must travel. However, lengthening a shaft also affects a club’s lie angle, often requiring the golfer to make compensatory movements. Those moves are difficult to repeat, leading to wide shot dispersion and inconsistent distance. Shorter shafts eliminate those compensation moves, improving accuracy for the majority of players. New driver shafts are made as long as 46 inches, requiring them to be cut down to size for most players.

Longer shafts – those above 45 inches – tend to equate to faster swings, given the longer arc along which the clubhead must travel. However, lengthening a shaft also affects a club’s lie angle, often requiring the golfer to make compensatory movements. Those moves are difficult to repeat, leading to wide shot dispersion and inconsistent distance. Shorter shafts eliminate those compensation moves, improving accuracy for the majority of players. New driver shafts are made as long as 46 inches, requiring them to be cut down to size for most players.

The Best Driver Shafts 2019

Now that you know what you should be looking for in a driver shaft, let’s consider some of the most popular and effective shafts on the market. If you are using the stock shaft that came with your driver when you purchased, any of these options will likely be an upgrade.

Grafalloy – ProLaunch Blue

Best for players on a budget who need higher trajectories.Grafalloy, a subsidiary of shaft stalwart True Temper, has had a winner on its hands with the ProLaunch line for some time now. While there is a lighter version available, the 65-gram ProLaunch Blue provides a sublime mix of high trajectory and clubhead control for golfers with medium clubhead speeds. The regular-flex shafts of this model have just 3.2 degrees of torque, enabling the player to feel where the head is during the swing. The high launch angle is the result of a low kick point. 

Things We Liked

  • A proven design from a trusted brand
  • Blends high launch and mid-torque
  • Provides impeccable control
  • Offers improved feel over most stock shafts
  • Costs less than many competing shafts

Things We Didn’t Like

  • An updated version (pricier/same specs) exists
  • Players with fast swings may balloon drives

Aldila – Rogue Silver

Best for slower swingers who hit it high.Aldila’s Rogue Silver driver shafts have low torque (3.8 degrees in R flex) for improved control. The key to that low torque is the ultra-high-tensile strength of the carbon fiber. At 110 MSI (millon pounds per square inch), it is twice as strong as the graphite in the average shaft. The high kick point combines with the stiff tip section to lower spin rate and keep trajectories down, creating the piercing ball flight better players crave.

Things We Liked

  • High-grade carbon fiber has ultra-high tensile strength
  • Not as remedial as many regular-flex shafts
  • Offers superior control of shot shape
  • In the bags of multiple PGA Tour winners
  • Improved laminate technology over previous Aldila shafts

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Offers no help in raising trajectory
  • Less back spin sometimes equates to more side spin

Mistubishi Rayon – Diamana

Best for the fastest swingers of the club. The Diamana was Mitsubishi Rayon’s first big hit, and the updated version continues the performance-improving tradition of its predecessor. The tour-stiff (TX) version is meant for the fastest swingers, providing them with a medium-high kick point to lower the overwhelming spin rates those players produce. It has a low torque value of 3.1 degrees, and weighs in at a stout 75 grams. The tip O.D. is .335 inches, while the butt O.D. is .620 inches.

Things We Liked

  • Tour-level stiffness gives superior control
  • Prevents fastest swingers from ballooning tee shots
  • One of the best-known names in golf shafts
  • Improved Pitch Fiber in butt end for better stability
  • Proven quality of manufacturer’s Blue Board line

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Requires 105-plus mph clubhead speeds
  • Fast swingers who already hit it high may balloon it

UST Mamiya – Proforce V2 HL

Best for players who want to hit the elusive high draw.Like all the best driver shaft manufacturers, UST Mamiya builds its products by hand. The Proforce V2 line offers the cost-conscious golfer tour-like performance at a cost most can afford. The HL (high launch) version combines a lower kick point with a stiffer tip to provide a unique combination of high initial trajectory with lower spin. The 50-gram version lightens the load for faster clubhead speeds, while the heavier 60-gram shaft improves ball control. Torque values in both regular and stiff flexes are around 4.2 degrees, which will help slicers more than those who draw the ball. 

Things We Liked

  • Raises trajectory with a low kick point
  • Available in two different weights for control or speed
  • Higher torque values help close the face
  • Provides tour-level performance improvement for average players
  • Can help anyone hit the high draw

Things We Didn’t Like

  • No extra-stiff version
  • Higher torque can lead to duck hooks for fastest swings

Matrix – OZIK X5 White Tie 50

Best for slow swingers who want high trajectory with impeccable feel.Matrix is a company that does not skimp on quality, regardless of the shaft, which equates to top-notch performance across the lineup. This fifth-generation White Tie shaft does everything the earlier versions did, but it does them just a bit better while sacrificing nothing. The “50” relates to weight, as all the shafts in this line weigh around 50 grams. The stiff version is pushing things at 57 grams, but the Amateur flex is just 53 grams with a torque rating of just 4.2 degrees. The stiff version is only .1 degrees lower in torque. The low kick point supplies the high trajectory, which may be too remedial for the fastest swings.

Things We Liked

  • Low torque (4.2 degrees) compared to flex
  • Launches it high thanks to low kick point
  • Ultra-light, especially in the A flex
  • Boutique branding at a box-store price
  • Tighter dispersion for average golfers

Things We Didn’t Like

  • No extra-stiff version available
  • Low torque in A flex could create a slice where once there was just a fade

Conclusion

Trusting the stock shaft that came with your driver could be costing you valuable yards or fairways hit. Installing an aftermarket shaft could be the easiest way to improve one or both of those issues while allowing you to keep a trusted driver head in play. Just choose wisely, and allow your swing speed and current ball flight to be the main factors in your decision. Shorter approaches from shorter grass await.

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