How Important is Golf Shaft Weight in Clubs?

Ping golf clubs in a custom oven t
Tim Rue/Corbis via Getty Images

Greater variations in the weights of golf shafts are coming along all the time. Steel shafts weigh more than graphite shafts, but within both categories manufacturers seemingly keep coming up with lighter and lighter options. From lightweight to ultra-lightweight to ... ultra-ultra? Don't bet against it.

But just how important is the weight of the shafts in your golf clubs? Does it matter to an individual golfer?

Overall club weight is definitely important, and that makes shaft weight important because the shafts are where the greatest variations of weights are found.

More Variety In Shaft Weight Than in Clubhead and Grip Weights

"While clubhead weight and grip weight can and do vary depending on the golfer's need for a higher swingweight (headweight) or a larger grip size (grip weight), neither the head nor the grip exist in nearly as wide a range of weights as does the shaft," said Tom Wishon, veteran golf club designer and founder of Tom Wishon Golf Technology.

So when a golf manufacturer wants to lower the weight on an OEM club offering, that company may first look to the shaft options. Because of the variety in the shaft market, that's where the most weight savings may be found.

Weight Range of Golf Shafts

At the time we spoke to Wishon, he told us that "shafts can be bought that weigh as much as 130 grams (4.6 ounces) or as light as 40 grams (1.4 ounces). Thus, when a golfer switches from an average steel shaft to an average graphite shaft today, the drop in total weight will be in the area of at least 50 grams or more (1.75 ounces)."

Since then, graphite shafts in the 30s of grams have come along. So even switching from a heavier graphite shaft to a lighter one can yield real, significant drops in total club weight.

What's the Point of Building Lighter Golf Clubs?

Recreational golfers love to hit the ball far, even if we don't always know what direction the ball will go! Hitting it farther means swinging faster. And marketing lighter golf clubs is all about marketing potentially faster clubhead speeds and, therefore, more distance.

"Swing speed is the most direct factor affecting shot distance," Wishon explained. "The lighter the total weight of the golf club, the higher the swing speed the golfer should be able to generate with the club."

Just remember: Swing speed doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's one piece of the puzzle. If you decrease your golf club's overall weight, you might swing faster, but you could, possibly, be throwing off some other factors.

As Wishon explains, "The swingweight of the club must be fit properly to the strength and tempo of the golfer or else any significant decrease in the total weight of the clubs will simply result in a higher percentage of off-center hits, which in turn will reduce distance."

So, yes, golf shaft weight is important in that it is the major factor in differences in overall club weight. But if you go lighter to chase more distance, just remember to consider swing weight, too. (Which, if you're not a golf gearhead, probably means a trip to a clubfitter would be beneficial when selecting new shafts or clubs.)

Watch Now: How to Make Your Golf Swing More Powerful