Activities Sports & Athletics Golf Shafts FAQ: Answering Common Questions About Club Shafts Share PINTEREST Email Print Tom Dulat/Getty Images Sports & Athletics Golf Basics History Gear Golf Courses Famous Golfers Golf Tournaments Baseball Basketball Bicycling Billiards Bodybuilding Bowling Boxing Car Racing Cheerleading Cricket Extreme Sports Football Gymnastics Ice Hockey Martial Arts Professional Wrestling Skateboarding Skating Paintball Soccer Swimming & Diving Table Tennis Tennis Track & Field Volleyball Other Activities Learn More By Brent Kelley Brent Kelley is an award-winning sports journalist and golf expert with over 30 years in print and online journalism. our editorial process Brent Kelley Updated June 21, 2019 Welcome to the Golf Shafts FAQ, where we answer some of the most-commonly asked questions about the technical aspects of golf shafts. The shaft, and specifically the weight and flexibility of the shaft, play important roles in golf clubs and the success and failure of shots played with those clubs. So let's dive in. Golf Shaft Q&As Click on the title of the FAQ to read the answer: What are the basics I need to know about shaft flex? How do I choose the right flex?What are the effects of choosing an inappropriate shaft flex?What do the letters X, S, R, A and L on the shaft mean? Are they the same for every manufacturer?How are golf shafts (steel and graphite) made?How do steel and graphite shafts compare, and how do I know which is right for me?What is 'kickpoint' (and bend profile)? Does it influence golf shots?What is 'torque,' and how important a consideration is it?What is 'frequency matching'?What is 'spining'?How important a factor is the weight of the shaft?What is the typical lifespan of a golf shaft?Will heat or cold damage my graphite shafts?Cutting golf shafts: What's the effect, and which end is trimmed? See also: Golf Clubs FAQ ... and More Q&As About Golf Shafts Here are a few more questions about golf shafts that we'll answer right here on the page. Or, rather, Tom Wishon will answer them. Wishon, the founder of Tom Wishon Golf Technology, provided the following answers: When Should You Replace the Shafts In Your Clubs?Shafts should only be replaced when they are damaged (such as bent, kinked, rusted/pitted, cracked or delaminated) or when they do not fit the golfer's swing. (See: What is the typical lifespan of a shaft?) Symptoms of the shaft not being fit properly to the golfer may include any or all of the following: When you hit the ball on the center of the clubface, the strike simply doesn't feel that solid;Lower or higher flight/trajectory than you have been used to seeing with other clubs;A feeling that the shafts are too stiff or too flexible for your taste in the club while being hit;The tendency for the ball to hang out to the fade side of the target line along with the feeling the impact is just not that solid. (The ball hanging out to the right, when accompanied by a solid feel at impact, is more of an indication of a swing error, the swingweight/total weight being too heavy, the club being too long, or the face angle of the woodhead being too open for the golfer's needs.) Do Golf Shafts 'Wear Out' or Become More Flexible With Long-Term Use?Repeated, long-term use of a golf shaft does not affect its playing characteristics, so long as the shaft is not damaged (i.e., no kinking or pitting/rusting of steel shafts, and no chipping or delaminating of graphite shafts). The idea that an undamaged shaft will "wear out" or suffer from "fatigue" to the point that it no longer performs the same after long-term use is a myth. I've Heard the Expression, 'The Shaft is the Engine of the Club' - What Does That Mean? It means that some golfers believe the shaft to be the most important part of the golf club, which really is not true. Sticking with the automobile anology, the shaft is really part of the "transmission" of the golf club. The golfer is the engine. The role of the shaft is quite simple. It elicits the primary control over the total weight of the golf club, and it has a minor to medium effect on the trajectory, or height, of the shot. What makes some golfers believe that the shaft is the most important part of the golf club is a very interesting part of the performance of the club that we call "feel." For golfers who have the ability to perceive the bending feel of the shaft during the swing, using a golf club with a shaft that is much too stiff or much too flexible will result in a fairly universal reaction to the shot: Yuck! So when golfers who possess such a refined sense of feel for the action of the shaft happen upon a shaft that elicits a pleasing response, these golfers appreciate that feel. And many form the belief that the shaft is more important than it really is from a pure performance standpoint. Does the Type of Shaft Used in the Putter Have any Effect on My Putting Success?To golfers who have developed a very refined sense of feel, the flex of the putter shaft can be detected, and this could potentially lead to some doubt in the confidence of the golfer. But as to the question of whether a more flexible or more stiff shaft will actually affect the performance of the putt, no, there is no effect. The effect, if any, is on the feel of the putter to the golfer, not anything to do with distance or accuracy. That being said, confidence with the putter is probably the most important requirement any golfer has for being successful on the greens. So if you sense that you feel the shaft bending during longer putts and you do not like that feel, by all means replace the shaft with one that is more stiff. That should change the feel and improve your confidence. But if you feel nothing with the shaft when you hit a 60-plus-foot putt, forget about it. Fitting the length, the lie angle, the loft angle and for sure the swingweight of the putter is vastly more important in the putter.