Graphite Or Steel?

Steel Vs. Graphite

Should you go with graphite or steel shafts? What’s the difference? Is one type better than the other?

These are questions that newbies – and some old hands – have when they go shopping for new clubs. In almost all cases, your driver and fairway woods will have graphite shafts. The real question comes down to the irons.

The old wisdom was that mid- and high-handicappers should use graphite while low handicappers should use steel. We’ve finding that’s not true anymore. When PGA tour players are using graphite shafts, it’s obviously not just for weaker players.

The biggest difference is the weight. Graphite shafts are lighter than steel shafts. That difference will translate, for most golfers, into an additional 2-4 mph of swing speed with graphite. That could equal up to 6-12 yards of extra distance with a graphite shaft, compared to steel.

So go with graphite, right? Not necessarily. While graphite can give more swing speed, not all golfers need it. They already have a strong swing. Players who prefer steel shafts often make that choice because their heavier weight provides the golfer with a feeling of more control over the clubhead during the swing. And these are players who can analyze and benefit from the added feedback (more vibrations traveling up the shaft) that steel provides.

Clubmaking expert Tom Wishon says, “If gaining more distance is a primary goal for the golfer, they should definitely be fit with the proper graphite shaft design in their woods and irons to match their swing. On the other hand, if distance is not the main focus for the golfer because they already have a high swing speed, if they like the feel of steel and their swing tempo matches a little better to the higher total weight steel shafts bring to the clubs, then steel is the better option.”

You’ll also want to take 3 things into consideration:

-Steel shafts are less expensive than graphite
– It is no longer true that steel shafts are more durable than graphite shafts. Either set will last a lifetime if your equipment is treated properly.
-Graphite is better for those who aren’t physically strong, the elderly, or have physical problems in their hands, arms, or shoulders. This is because fewer vibrations travel up the shaft on a mis-hit.

What do you play Rockheads? Let me know in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Graphite Or Steel?

  • February 6, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    I just switched to steel from graphite. It seems that my swing speed was too great for the graphite I had. I would have too much bend and the club face was open on impact every time. Of course, I have yet to swing the steel shafts because it has been too cold. So give me a few months and I’ll be able to provide a much better analysis on my own game.

  • October 25, 2013 at 7:38 am

    I grew up using steel shafts and so it’s what I’ve grown accustomed to. I’m not a huge fan of graphite woods and irons and feel they don’t perform as well as they are advertised. This just could be the fitting isn’t correct.


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