Graphite vs Steel Shafts (What’s Best For Your Game)

Graphite shafts were introduced in 1970 at the PGA Merchandise Show. The debate pitting graphite vs steel shafts has continued ever since.

Although slow to be included in golf clubs, it eventually became the standard in the 1990s for drivers and fairway woods.

I have always had a strong and fast swing. This made me hesitant to consider graphite shafts as it was a struggle to get the right flex to suit my swing.

Graphite vs Steel Shafts

The ongoing debate, steel vs graphite shafts, continues with graphite seeming to continuously increase its market share in the irons department​.

In this article, we look at graphite vs steel fiber shafts and some of the reasons why and for whom each shaft is suited.

Key Differences Of Graphite and Steel Shafts

Manufacturers provide an option of using either steel or graphite shafts in new clubs. You may also replace the original shaft with either a steel or graphite shaft.

What are the key differences comparing graphite vs steel fiber shafts?

Steel Shafts

Steel shafts are generally made from stainless steel and tend to weigh between 90 grams and 120 grams.

This makes steel shafts slightly heavier than what you will experience with a graphite shaft.

In deciding between graphite or steel shafts, it’s worth noting that stainless steel is less expensive than graphite and easier to produce, resulting in a less expensive component. Steel is also more durable than graphite and less likely to scratch when mixed with other clubs

Steel shafts offer less torque than graphite shafts. This tends to offer more feedback and feel to the golfer than graphite shafts.

Furthermore, steel shafts are generally more accurate than graphite shafts in the shorter clubs.

Pros

  • Control

Heavier steel shafts enable golfers to have more control over the shot hence the reason it is used in mid to shorter irons for accuracy in the all-important scoring zone from 100 yards or less.

  • Durability

Steel shafts are generally stronger and more durable than graphite shafts. They can withstand scratches better and take more of a hammering clashing with other clubs in the bag.

Cons

  • Weight

There is more weight built into steel shafts. This makes it more difficult to swing as fast as graphite shafts.

Graphite Shafts

In contrast to stainless steel, graphite shafts are much lighter weighing between 50 grams and 85 grams. This will aid you in swinging the club faster for more distance.

Graphite is more expensive than stainless steel and requires a more intricate production process adding to the cost of graphite shafts.

📢 Need To Know: Quality and flex of graphite shafts have improved to such an extent that Bryson DeChambeau, one of the golfers with the fastest swing speed, use graphite shafts in all his clubs.

Pros

  • Lighter

Graphite shafts are significantly lighter than steel shafts enabling you to swing faster and get more distance.

  • Vibration

The design of a graphite shaft combined with the materials used dampens the vibration considerably. This is especially noticeable on off-center strikes.

  • Flex

Graphite shafts are also available in the same range of flex as steel shafts. It includes junior, ladies, senior, regular, stiff, and extra-stiff flex.

  • Customization

As graphite shafts are painted it allows for more customization and you can express your personality through the looks of the graphite shaft.

  • Mix And Match

For an even spread across all clubs, golfers often have graphite shafts on the driver, fairway woods, hybrids, and sometimes even in the long irons.

Most accomplished golfers require more accuracy and elect steel shafts on mid and short irons, and wedges.

Cons

  • Feel

Although graphite shaft dampens vibrations make it more comfortable on mishits, it reduces the feel and feedback that golfers need to improve their shot-making.

  • Higher Torque

Graphite shafts generally have more torque than steel shafts making them more comfortable to hit but reducing the control and shot-making ability of the better golfer.

  • Durability

Due to the materials used in graphite shafts and it being painted, they are more likely to show scratches and damage than stainless steel. Graphite is more likely to break than stainless steel.

Is It Better To Have Steel Or Graphite Shafts As A Beginner Golfer Or A High Handicapper?

Beginner and high handicap golfers are generally still forming their swing and thus have lower swing speeds, and the choice between steel or graphite shafts for high handicappers can significantly impact their game.

Are graphite shafts good for high handicappers?

Graphite shafts come to the rescue for these golfers as they can generate more swing speed with graphite shafts than with steel shafts.

Is Steel Or Graphite Shafts More Forgiving?

Are graphite shafts better? When it comes to forgiveness and reducing vibration, graphite shafts offer more forgiveness than steel shafts and reduce the vibration taking the sting out of those all-so-common mishits.

Who Should Use Graphite Irons?

The general conception is that golfers with slower swing speeds will do better with graphite shafts to gain distance and forgiveness.

However, Bryson DeChambeau’s s introduction of 14 graphite shafts on all the clubs in his bag has changed the mindset of many golfers.

Golfers that miss the sweet spot of their clubs will appreciate the reduction in the sting from less vibration, especially on those mishits.

Can I Replace Steel Shafts With Graphite?

Shaft replacements have become commonplace, and you can swap between steel and graphite shafts at any time. Most manufacturers offer their clubs in both steel and graphite when buying new clubs reducing the need for shaft replacement.

If found that you need to change shafts during a fitting the process can be done quickly in store within a few hours.

📋 Keep in mind: It is not advisable to replace a steel shaft on forged irons.

Is A Multi-Material Shaft Worth It?

Is steel or graphite better for irons?

Well, there is another option available that includes multiple materials.

Multi-material shafts, also known as nanofuse shafts, are made from metal but not steel. It also uses carbon fiber in its construction but is not graphite.

The nanofuse material used in the construction consists of an unimaginably small and tight grain structure.

This creates more strength enabling the manufacturers to reduce the weight of the shaft dramatically without sacrificing strength that resulting in more accuracy.

The manufacturing process fuses a nanocrystalline alloy with a carbon fiber composite polymer sublayer.

📢 Need To Know: It is claimed that this type of shaft provides the consistency of steel and the distance benefits of graphite.

Do More Tour Players Use Steel Or Graphite Shafts?

Do pros use steel or graphite shafts for irons? The most frequently used material for shafts used by professional golfers remains to be steel, especially on their irons.

This is due to the consistency and feels that steel shafts offer.

However, there are some professional golfers such as Bryson DeChambeau and Ricky Fowler that use graphite shafts in their irons.

This is likely to convince more professional golfers to go the graphite shaft route.

Nearly every professional golfer uses graphite shaft in their drivers and fairway woods.

Does Tiger Woods Use Steel Or Graphite Shafts?

Tiger Woods started his professional career as graphite shafts became popular stating with steel. However, as such an excellent striker of the golf ball, Tiger has never felt the need to change his irons or wedges to graphite shafts.

He uses graphite shafts on his driver and fairway woods.

FAQ

What swing speed should use graphite shafts?

In irons, graphite shafts should be used by golfers with swing speeds less than 75 miles per hour. They are lightweight so golfers such as seniors or children can increase their swing speed and attain distance. 

When should a golfer switch to graphite shafts?

A golfer should switch to graphite shafts when they are aging and losing swing speed. This can help them stay consistent with distances and not lose any off the tee or from the fairway.

Who Should Use Steel Shafts?

Steel shafts should be used by golfers with a swing speed of greater than 75 miles per hour. Steel shafts make the clubs heavier and players with higher swing speeds can take advantage of this. Distance can come at ease when equipped with steel shafts. 

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Author

Charl is a full-time writer who has been with Golfible since 2019. He is an avid golfer and tech enthusiast. When not writing, he tries to squeeze in a round of golf or escape to the mountains.

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