Whether you're a seasoned pro or still an amateur, choosing the right golf equipment can make a tremendous difference in the quality of your game. The golf shaft in particular is considered to be one of the most important club components, and the type of shaft you choose can impact your shot's accuracy, speed and trajectory. Golf irons typically feature shafts made of graphite or steel, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages.
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The primary difference in iron shafts made of steel versus graphite is their composition. Steel shafts are typically made from carbon steel, although stainless steel might also be used. A strip of steel is rolled into a tube and then stretched until the correct diameter and thickness are achieved. The steel is molded to add flexibility and kickpoints and finally chrome-plated. Graphite shafts are made by molding graphite tape with an epoxy binder around a steel mandrel. The graphite tape is heated, and once it has cooled, the mandrel is removed and the shaft is sanded, painted and sealed with laminate.
The durability of a steel or graphite shaft generally depends more on how they're used rather than their composition. Steel shafts will last a lifetime so long as they're not allowed to rust. Steel shafts also tend to be more forgiving in terms of newer players who have yet to perfect their swing. Shafts made of graphite can be as durable as those made of steel when cared for properly. It's important to check graphite shafts for chipping or cracking to prevent the laminate seal from peeling.
Steel Shaft Advantages
There are several advantages to steel shafts, particularly for more experienced players. Steel shafts are heavier and for players with a faster swing speed, this added weight can help to improve accuracy and control without detracting from shot distance. Steel shafts also produce more feedback or vibration in the hands and arms when the ball is struck, which can help experienced players to "feel" the shots and make corrections to their swing.
Graphite Shaft Advantages
Graphite shafts can often be more beneficial to newer players and those with a slower swing speed. Since graphite is more lightweight, it takes less force to swing the club and for less experienced players, this can help to maximize their shot's distance. Graphite shafts also tend to dampen vibrations on poorly hit shots and this can be helpful for players who have a hand or arm injury or newer players who are still working on their swing.
When choosing between steel or graphite iron shafts, there are several factors to consider, including cost and consistency. Steel is typically less expensive than graphite, with premium steel shafts costing as much as low-end graphite shafts.