Stiff flex and regular flex are the two most common golf shafts used by amateur players and professionals alike. If you’re wondering which one is right for you, the answer depends on your swing speed, experience level and a few other key factors.
We’ll break down the differences between stiff vs. regular flex golf shafts to help you find the right one for your game — and set you up for soaring drives instead of disappointing duffs.
Stiff vs. Regular Flex: What's the Difference?
The main difference between a regular vs stiff shaft lies in their flexibility and how they respond to your swing.
Stiff flex shafts are less flexible and better suited for golfers with faster swing speeds — typically around 90 to 105 mph.
Regular flex shafts, on the other hand, are more flexible and can accommodate golfers with average swing speeds — roughly between 80 and 95 mph.
Other key differences between the two include:
Distance and Control
Stiff shafts minimize missed shots as they provide greater control and accuracy for golfers with above-average swing speed.
Regular shafts, on the other hand, offer a balance of distance and control for golfers with moderate swing speeds, allowing them to achieve consistent shots without excessive twisting or torque.
Ball Flight and Spin
Stiff shafts generally produce a more moderate ball flight and less spin compared to regular shafts. This can be advantageous for golfers with faster swing speeds who want to minimize the impact of wind or other adverse conditions.
In contrast, regular shafts typically generate higher ball flight and more spin, helping players achieve higher trajectories and increased stopping power on the fairway.
Feel and Sensation
Stiff flex shafts tend to offer a firmer and more responsive feel at impact, providing better feedback to the golfer.
Regular flex shafts, with their increased flex, can provide a softer and more dampened feel, which some golfers may prefer for enhanced comfort and feedback.
Stiff flex shafts are generally more suitable for golfers with a fast-swing tempo, as they can handle the increased force and provide better control.
In contrast, regular flex shafts are better suited for golfers with a slower, smoother swing tempo, as they allow for easier loading and increased clubhead speed.
Types of Flex in Golf Shafts
Golf shafts come in various flexes to accommodate the unique swing characteristics of different golfers.
The main types of shaft flex include:
Extra Stiff Shaft
Extra Stiff (X) golf shafts are designed for golfers with the highest swing speeds and power — usually above 105 mph. These shafts have the highest shaft stiffness among the various flex categories, providing maximum control and stability during the swing.
Golfers with fast swing speeds typically generate high clubhead speeds, and using an extra stiff shaft helps maintain accuracy and prevents excessive twisting or torque that can lead to off-center shots.
Rory McIlroy uses extra stiff shafts in his driver and woods to accommodate his high swing speeds and maintain control.
Stiff (S) golf shafts are intended for players with above-average swing speeds — typically ranging from 90 to 105 mph. These shafts offer less flex compared to regular flex shafts, providing improved control and stability for golfers who can generate higher clubhead speeds.
By using a stiff shaft, players with faster swings can maintain accuracy and minimize twisting or torque.
Tiger Woods has used stiff shafts in his driver and woods throughout most of his career, with some variations in brand and model over time.
Regular (R) golf shafts are designed for golfers with average swing speeds — typically falling within the range of 80 to 95 mph. These shafts have more flex than stiff and extra stiff shafts, offering a good balance of control and distance for players who do not generate extremely high clubhead speeds.
The additional flex in regular shafts helps create increased distance by transferring more energy to the ball at impact — especially for those with moderate swing speeds.
Professional golfers do not typically use regular shafts, as they are geared more towards beginners or casual players.
Senior (A) golf shafts, also known as "A-flex" or "amateur" shafts, are specifically designed for players with slower swing speeds — typically below 80 mph.
These shafts are more flexible than regular, stiff and extra stiff shafts, offering increased forgiveness and distance for golfers who may have less strength or power in their swings. Senior shafts are popular among senior players.
Ladies (L) golf shafts are specifically designed for female golfers or those with very slow swing speeds — usually below 70 mph. These shafts are the most flexible among all shaft flex categories, providing maximum forgiveness and distance for players who have less strength or power in their swings.
A junior golf shaft is a type of golf club shaft specifically designed for younger and smaller golfers — usually ranging from age 5 to 13. These shafts are tailored to meet the needs of junior golfers by taking into account their size, strength and skill level.
Using the appropriate junior golf shaft is essential for young golfers to build a solid foundation for their skills, develop good swing habits and enjoy the game.
How To Choose Between Stiff Flex vs. Regular Flex
When deciding between stiff flex and regular flex shafts, consider your swing speed, tempo and skill level.
If you have a fast swing, a stiff flex may be the right choice for you.
However, if you have an average swing speed and could use a little help with distance, a regular flex shaft could be a better fit.
Test your swing with different shaft flexes to find the one that works best for your game.
You can film your shots and upload videos to get golf swing feedback from other players. Advanced players can give you technical advice on improving your swing, posture, grip and timing. They might also spot issues that aren't immediately apparent, such as misalignment or subtle swing flaws.
Stiff vs. Regular Flex: FAQS
Have more questions about the differences between stiff and regular flex golf shafts? Find answers to frequently asked questions below!
Is stiff flex or regular flex better?
Neither type is better than the other — the golf shaft that’s right for you depends on your swing speed, tempo and skill level. Each flex caters to a specific range of swing speeds and provides different benefits.
How do I determine my swing speed?
You can measure your swing speed using a launch monitor at a golf store or by consulting with a professional club fitter.
Can I switch between stiff and regular flex shafts?
Yes, but it may affect your swing and shot consistency. It's best to find the right flex for your game and stick with it.
Do I need different flexes for my irons and driver?
Not necessarily. Test various combinations to determine the optimal setup for your game.
Can I use a stiff shaft even if I have a slower swing speed?
While it's generally recommended to use a shaft flex that matches your swing speed, personal preference and feel play a significant role in choosing the right shaft.
If you prefer the feel of a stiffer shaft and you’re able to maintain accuracy and control, it may work for you. However, you may lose some distance compared to using a more flexible shaft.
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