How Important Is Shaft Weight? – Golf Myths Unplugged

Shaft Weight Headline

Are All Irons Shafts the Same?

I spent a fair amount of time in golf retail, and I can tell you there’s one question I was never asked: “What’s the stock shaft on this iron?”

Even among “educated” golfers on the forums, the Want To Buy ads for irons that specify a shaft are vastly outnumbered by those seeking a particular head on any long, round piece of steel.

That’s because all iron shafts are the same, right?  Regardless of the brand, weight, or bend profile, as long as you’re a good player, you can make them work…right?  Actually, no.  If you really care about how your irons perform, you need the right shaft weight, as we found out in this test.


The Myths

Myth #1 – Shaft weight doesn’t matter for irons

Myth #2 – Lighter shafts always create more distance

Myth #3 – Heavier shafts are always more accurate

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How We Tested

For this test, we brought together seven testers.  These players ranged in ability from plus handicaps to mid-teens.  Each player hit seven shots with each of four different steel shafts – the Nippon NS Pro 850 GH (85 grams), 950 GH (95 grams), 1050 GH (105 grams), and 1150 GH (115 grams) – in the appropriate flex with the same iron head of their choosing.  Shafts were tested in a different order by each player.  Every shot was captured on Trackman, and no shots were deleted.

All testing was done at Club Champion.

The Results


You don’t have to study the data for long to realize that picking the iron shaft with the correct weight has a huge impact on performance.  On average, our testers gained 12.8 yards of total distance with their best-fit weight compared to their worst-fit, and one tester gained 21 yards!

The benefits don’t stop at greater distance, either.  Every tester showed significant improvements in accuracy with their best-fit iron shaft.  Our testers were anywhere from 4 to 26 yards closer to their target, on average, with their best-fit shaft.  That can be the difference between a makable birdie putt and a tricky two-putt or the difference between a GIR and a ball in the water.

Finally, playing the shaft with the correct weight improves consistency.  Even with our best players, we saw distance dispersions (distance between their shortest and longest shots) of 20 or 30 yards with badly fit shafts.  With the correct shaft in hand, the gap between the best and worst shot shrunk to less than 10 yards.

Myth 2

We hear this myth across the industry: “Lighter shafts are the guaranteed path to more distance!”  Unfortunately, this isn’t true.  While some of our testers did well with lighter shafts, particularly the 95 gram, not one of our testers posted his longest average with the lightest shaft.  In fact, 3/7 testers recorded their worst total distance with the 85 gram shaft, and two of our players had their best average with the heaviest shaft.

Make no mistake, light weight shafts are a great choice for many players, but they don’t guarantee longer shots.

Myth 3

The “common sense” counterpoint to the idea that light equals long is that heavy shafts lead to straighter shots.  This idea is equally dubious.  Over half of our testers posted their best dispersion range (distance between farthest right and farthest left shots) and average distance to target with the 85 gram shaft.  To further cement this case, two players had their worst dispersion range with the heaviest shaft, and three had the largest distance to target with it.

Tips from the Master

Are there any rules to fitting shaft weight?  None that are set in stone, but, Nick Sherburne, Founder of Club Champion and Master Club Fitter/Builder, offered this:

Golf is a muscle-reactionary sport, so weight plays into how the muscles react and, in turn, how well you hit the ball.  
1) Over the top players probably should have lighter shafts.  They will keep the body from wanting to pull over the top so much.
2) If you hit shots thin, try lighter.  This keeps the muscles from wanting to pull out of the shot.
3) Players who hit shots fat should try heavier shafts to keep the muscles pulling the club up.
4) Hitting shots towards the hosel indicates that the shaft is too heavy causing a swing across the ball from pulling too hard from the top.
5) Faster transitions probably need heavy shafts, slower transitions probably can go lighter.  


The data from this test tells a very clear story: if you care about hitting your irons longer and straighter, picking the correct shaft weight is critical.  Additionally, it shows that there are no simple, one-size-fits-all rules for selecting the right shaft.  There is no substitute for working with a knowledgeable club fitter and builder to create the tools that will allow you to play your best golf.

The Data

Shaft Weight Test Data

Matt Saternus
Latest posts by Matt Saternus (see all)


  1. I went down to Willowbrook and had Nick S, fit me into some graphite shafts in late September 2015. I could only get a few rounds in before the season ended. I have been hitting indoors on a Foresight golf simulator this winter and the results are exciting. I played with steel shafts all my life and as I was getting older, I was losing distance. I felt like I had to try to hit the ball to get any distance instead of swing the club and let it do the work. I have spent all winter working out the hit and getting back to the swing and the graphite shafts at a D1 swing weight have sure helped start to get the old distance back.

  2. I think that this is really interesting. Would you be willing to share more of the data and not just the summary information. I would like to analyze the data see what else it might show.

  3. Raymond Norris

    interesting that some of the tested shafts are marked “R” and some “S”. if these indicate both Regular and Stiff shafts were used, wouldn’t that schew the data a bit ?

    • Matt Saternus


      You really don’t give us much credit, huh? Shaft flex was held constant throughout the test, we just happened to grab different flexes for that photo.



  4. patrick mcclain

    It would be interesting to find out what would happen with the irons being 1/2 inch longer. There are many golfers who use longer iron shafts in today market. I am 6’1″ . I was using graphite shafts but am switching back to a 85 gram steel shaft using the same length as a graphite length. Using a mid size grip to maintain swing weight ( as close a possible).

    • Matt Saternus


      Is there a reason to believe that making all the irons 1/2″ longer would change the results?



  5. Mel Creighton

    What is the best method of determining ideal shaft weight? Thanks. Mel

  6. all very interesting. I love the tests you guys do, especially providing the data for our own extrapolation. I do have a question regarding total club weight vs. shaft weight/MOI. Does switching to a heavy shaft imply the same swing swing weight, just a heavier club? IE is the weight evenly distributed throughout the club and this doesn’t change the same swing weight vs added weight to the head?

    Keep up the good work!

    • Matt Saternus


      I’m unclear as to whether you’re asking about what we did in this test or with club building in general. In our test, we just swapped shafts without any other alterations. This led to slightly higher swing weights with the heavier shafts. If you’re asking generally, it depends on the shaft. Some shafts are counterweighted, some are balanced, some are heavier in the tip.



  7. What irons were being used, or did that vary by tester (e.g. 7 iron, 8 iron)?

  8. Very cool and valud test👍
    Thank you, Andreas Sweden

  9. Thanks for effort making interested data
    My swing speed is at player 3 level, using tiltleist 718 AP3, shaft weight 95g. HCP 17. My translation from player 3 data is that changing to shaft weight 115 will improve the distance but sacarify the accuracy? Changing to 85g shaft will increase accuracy?

    Thanks in advance

    • Matt Saternus


      Those things are possible but far from certain. The primary takeaway should be that every player should be fit to find out what works for them.


  10. Eefjan Breukink

    Hi Matt,
    Interesting data! (also on the swing weight elsewhere)
    I have been looking for an explanation to a puzzling occurrence during a fitting of new irons. I’m still in the process of making a choice and I will decide between the new Pings G425 irons or the JPX 921 forged as they were the best in overall spread and distance (and feel). It so happened that the JPX had a bit less spread (all within 5-6 m) than the Ping, but the weird thing was that while with both irons (was fitted with 7s) I had a carry of 145 m ((160 y), the average clubhead speeds were the only stats that were different (79 mph for the Ping and 84 mph for the JPX).
    According to the specs (if I’m correct), the Ping had a swing weight of D0 , with a regular AWT 2.0 shaft, and the JPX had a swing weight of D1 (DG 105 R shaft, so 3 grams lighter than the Ping shaft).
    I have one more fitting round to go on Tuesday, and I wonder if I should try to get the Ping to swing faster by trying more shafts to see if I get more distance (and maybe even smaller spread), or should settle with the JPX as these seem to fit my swing the best. For me it’s appealing to try the Ping and see what comes out with another shaft, but does that make sense?

    All the best


    • Matt Saternus


      I would try to hit both irons with a more comparable shaft, ideally the same shaft. It’s pretty unusual to see a consistent 5 MPH gap in swing speed between clubs. Seems to me that if you could swing the PING the same speed as the Mizuno, you’d pick up at least a club of distance.


  11. Wayne Mahar

    The “data ” refers to 7 iron carry distance. What lofts were the 7 irons?

    • Matt Saternus


      It varied slightly depending on the head that each tester chose. Each tester got to pick a head they were comfortable with and then used that head for the entire test.


  12. Greetіngs! Very helpful aⅾvice in this particular post!
    It is the little changeѕ that will make the most importаnt changes.
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  13. 18 years ago, I took lessons from a wise older teacher who taught a Canadian Champion. I have a relatively very slow club speed (71 years old and decades of abuse on my back as a military guy and airline pilot). He fit me with a regular steel shaft, D4 weight (very heavy by today’s standards for a guy like me) and cavity backs. Why? Not exactly sure, but he taught me to hit a nice little draw at about 150 yards with a 7 iron and I worked hard on my short game. I think I tended to rush my downswing at times and I believe he felt the relatively heavier shaft would give me a more relaxed rhythm. I agree. Now 20 years later, I’m even slower, but I’m still decently accurate and consistent. I do best now with a DG300 Steel regular for the same reasons as before. That would defy what the Trackman would indicate. Golf is a game of confidence not data, in my opinion. I do much better playing the game of golf off of grass in actual situations than pounding shots out yonder from a mat and a launch monitor to see what works for me. For my game, it’s not how far I can impressivley hit the ball, rather it’s… will the ball go where I want it to….do I have my irons nailed down on azimuth and distance, my distance. I hadn’t played golf for the last 6 years until this summer. I was alarmed just how much growing emphasis there was in those 6 years on how far someone can bomb a drive or hit their 7 iron. I was taught how to be a scorer and scrambler, not a long ball hitter. When I’m playing well, how far I hit the T shot has little to do with how many strokes I need to hole it. On a long course, yes, it does matter. I rarely play long courses anymore and am enjoying the game more than ever. Hitting a nice planned pitch shot to within 2 feet of the cup from 30 yards out is far more satisfying to me than that I can hit it far off the Tee. But that’s just me and what came after decades of playing the game. I don’t need to impress anyone, I just enjoy being a very small part of the history of the game, at as a mid-handicapper.

  14. I am now 77 & had shoulder replacement. My ping 780 with a D3 on my irons, I changed my driver to a Sr shaft & results were great ( average 15-20 yds)
    Should I change all my shafts are just buy a new set of irons?

    • Matt Saternus


      It depends how you feel about your irons. If you love them, get them re-shafted. If you’re open to something new, it’s probably not going to be hugely more expensive to get fit for a new set.



  15. Morton Williams

    So on the data sheet, the green line shows each person did better with that particular gram shaft. The data did not show the age of the individuals. Does the age matter?

  16. I am rеgular visitor, how are you everybody? This post poѕted at this web
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  17. Can you indicate the used flex rating for each player? Curious.

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