PING began its life as a golf manufacturer by producing putters, in which shaft flex -- or stiffness -- is inconsequential. But the company eventually began making a variety of clubs and, like all golf club manufacturers, now offers clubs with different shaft flex options. Among those options is a flex rating that’s comparable to the one typically known as “senior” flex. If your swing speed is a bit below average, a senior flex club may help your game.
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Golf Shaft Flexibility Levels
A golf club’s degree of flex describes the shaft’s stiffness. The most flexible shafts are typically labeled L for “ladies” -- although many women swing clubs with less flexible shafts. The next level up on the stiffness scale is labeled either A or M, both of which usually stand for “senior” -- to avoid confusion with “stiff” shafts, which are labeled as S. Moving on from senior flex, the remaining three levels, which become progressively stiffer, are R for “regular,” S and then X for “extra stiff.” PING avoids the term “senior,” however, and instead labels its comparable shafts as “soft regular.”
How Shaft Flex Affects Your Swing
When a shaft is relatively flexible -- such as a senior-flex shaft -- it bends more than stiffer shafts during the downswing, all else being equal. If you could watch a swing in slow motion you’d see the clubhead lag a bit on the way down as the shaft bends. Near the bottom of the swing, the clubhead will then snap forward. Ideally, the shaft should be perfectly straight at impact. If your club’s shaft is still flexed at impact you’re losing power and require a less flexible shaft -- you’d move up from a senior to a regular flex, for example. If your shaft straightens before impact you need a more flexible shaft.
When to Use Senior Flex
Just as women don’t have to use a “ladies” golf shaft, senior citizens don’t have to swing clubs with “senior” shafts. In fact, a senior-flex shaft may be right for some younger players. In general, the slower your swing speed, the more flexibility you want in your club’s shaft. With a relatively low swing speed, the senior flex helps you square the clubhead at impact and generate more power. PING recommends its “soft regular” shaft flex for players who swing their drivers at 90 mph or less. PING manufactures a variety of clubs with soft regular shafts, including drivers, hybrids, irons and wedges.
A Lack of Standards
There is no industry standard regarding the flexibility of golf club shafts. If you compare clubs from the same manufacturer, you can be reasonable sure that a “senior” or “soft regular” shaft will be more flexible than a “regular” shaft, for example. But one company’s senior shaft may be noticeably more or less flexible than another manufacturer’s senior shaft. Indeed, while PING recommends a senior-shafted driver for players with swing speeds up to 90 mph, TaylorMade says its senior shafts are best for players in the 75 to 85 mph range.