Soft Stepping

Different golfers prefer different flexes sold by manufacturers. The most common flexes available are stiff and regular flex shafts.

Stiffer shafts are meant for golfers who have higher swing speeds and can help with straighter and more accurate ball flight. Regular flex shafts are easier to hit and are for slower swing speeds.

Some players want to change their shafts to be between the two for their swing speed and style. Soft stepping golf shafts is a way to do this.

What Is Soft Stepping?

Soft stepping is the process where a soft shaft is made by making the club shafts slightly more flexible. For example, if you had a stiff flex, after creating a soft shaft through soft stepping, the club would become closer to a regular shaft and easier to hit if a player had issues with it being too stiff.

📋 Keep in mind: The effect of soft stepping works identically even if the shafts are parallel or taper tipped.

Soft Stepping Irons

Creating soft stepped irons requires a process that makes the club shaft more flexible. For example when soft stepping, the 3 iron shaft would be put into the 4 iron’s head. The 4 iron shaft would go into the 5 iron shaft and so forth.

The only shaft left would be the extra pitching wedge shaft but it is discardable since the 9 iron shaft replaced it.

How Much Does Soft Stepping Change Flex?

Soft stepped golf shafts would enable the flex to be softer and more flexible. If you soft step a stiff flex shaft it would feel between a regular and stiff flex.

Benefits Of Soft Stepping Irons

  • Higher ball flight.
  • Less stiff flex making it easier to swing.
  • Softer flex allowing players with slower swing speeds to get better results.

How To Soft Step Iron Shafts?

The following video made by McGolf Custom Golf Clubs explains step by step how to soft step and hard step iron shafts. Certified club fitter and club maker Jim McCleery takes you into the lab and shows how he adjusts the flexibilities of shafts.

Hard Stepping Irons

Hard stepping irons is when you make club shafts stiffer. It is in the reverse order of soft stepping. The pitching wedge shaft would be moved to the 9-iron head with the 9-iron head being switched over to the 8-iron head and so forth.

Doing this would leave the pitching wedge without a shaft so you would have to buy one after hard stepping. The 3-iron’s shaft would be surplus.

What does hard stepping a shaft mean? It’s a process that helps the shafts become a little stiffer while lowering ball flight after contact. The club lengths will become longer after hard stepping.

📋 Keep in mind: If you wished to keep the original shaft length, you will have to make changes to the shaft’s butt end. 


When considering soft step vs hard step, if you have a set of clubs that you feel are too stiff, it might be worth soft stepping to try and attain better results. If it’s the reverse and you want stiffer clubs, then hard stepping is a good route to go.

Depending on the golfer’s swing it is ultimately their decision on what change to make. It wouldn’t hurt to talk to a club fitter or swing coach about your options. Be sure to comment in the queries.


Does soft stepping add distance?

Yes, soft stepping clubs does give more distance compared to standard clubs. When you soft-step, you’re trimming the shaft and making it less stiff. This makes the club more forgiving. If you hit a forgiving club with an increased sweet spot, the ball will travel further. 

Can you soft step a driver shaft?

Yes, just like any other club a driver shaft can be soft stepped. It will decrease the stiffness of the club and make it more forgiving and easier to swing. Your swing speed will also increase leading to longer drives.

How much does soft stepping change flex?

Soft-stepping changes the flex by a quarter or half a flex depending on how much you cut the shaft. If you’re wanting a little more forgiveness, shave it a quarter inch. If you’re wanting a lot more then shave the shaft by half an inch. 

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Lawrence Smelser has been part of the Golfible writing staff since 2019 and is a freelance golf journalist. Smelser has covered the PGA Tour including the U.S. Masters with He holds a journalism Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M and a Master’s journalism degree from the University of North Texas. Learn more about our team at Golfible on our About Us page.

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