Special Joy FreeFlex Driver Shaft Review

Special Joy FreeFlex Driver Shaft

50 Words or Less

The Special Joy FreeFlex driver shaft is lightweight to boost clubhead speed and engineered to deliver accuracy, with a single model intended for all swing speeds.  Surprising results that defy conventional wisdom.

Introduction

When the Autoflex shaft hit the scene a couple of years ago with claims of significantly more driver distance, golfers went into a feeding frenzy.  Time has proven it’s not the be-all and end-all of golf shafts, but as Matt Saternus pointed out in his review [read it HERE], it did offer some advantages.  And now, another Korean company, Special Joy, has chummed the waters with their FreeFlex shaft.

Also based on a lightweight design to boost swing speed, the Special Joy FreeFlex differentiates itself with the concept that “there is only one flex.”  Let that sink in.  One shaft for all swing speeds and all swing dynamics.  I’ll add a caveat to that later, but to evaluate this concept from both ends of the speed spectrum I engaged Jason Heintschel, a fast swinging Master Club Fitter at Club Champion.  The results were shocking.

Looks

In the matte blue carbon version, the Special Joy FreeFlex shaft has a wonderfully subdued presence that my photos don’t do justice.  The large, light blue “FREEFLEX” lettering was covered by the grip, leaving just a modest section of branding and specifications that were installed in the down position.  A graphic towards the tip denotes the spine, which Special Joy recommends being in the up position.

The FreeFlex 38 is also available in glossy blue carbon, hot pink, and a beautiful multi-color watercolor unique to each shaft.  Based on their website and social post photos, I won’t be surprised to see other colors offered in the near future.

Feel

Without the driver head, the shaft seemed rather ordinary, but that changed immediately once the TaylorMade Stealth 2 [full review HERE] head was attached.  The Special Joy FreeFlex shaft may not be the king of wiggle, but it certainly has a seat at the royal table.  Moving from a waggle to a full swing, the shaft began to show its true personality.   My focus quickly shifted from the tip, to the overall smooth feel of the shaft.  The FreeFlex felt inviting – akin to “go ahead and speed it up, I’ve got you covered.”

That invitation was important for Jason whose initial concern was breaking the shaft.  We both commented that the head didn’t feel lost at the top of the backswing – something often experienced when lightweight shafts are paired with lighter weight heads.  Where I felt a smooth transition between the butt and the midsection, Jason, with a faster swing speed, felt the shaft load.  Still active, the shaft offered some stiffness that Jason wasn’t expecting.  The tip of the FreeFlex felt soft but remarkably stable for both of us.

Performance

My swing speed has been down a bit overall due to injury so I was pleased to pick up 2 mph of clubhead speed on average with the Special Joy FreeFlex shaft.  I hit mostly nice draws, but there was a tendency for the ball to stay right of my target centerline.  I’m used to swinging lighter shafts, but the FreeFlex truly required me to maintain a good tempo.  And it was satisfying to post a 82 mph swing that was 100% playable.

Handing the exact same driver setup to Jason, his first swing was truly amazing – striped down the middle.  Hitting a few more balls Jason remarked “the dispersion is impressive.”  And here’s the thing, Jason’s normal clubhead speed is 110-111 mph and he was producing 114, easily “without effort.”

To truly see what the Special Joy FreeFlex shaft could offer him, Jason switched to his TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus head.  After another dozen balls Jason reached his goal of 170 mph ball speed with an impressive 115 clubhead speed.  I just gawked at the 312 yard beauty.

That’s not to say that every swing was peachy.  I had a couple of swings that were way right.  And on more than one occasion, when Jason really went after it, he produced an extreme hook.  The flexibility of the FreeFlex shaft did seem to exaggerate misses when our swings didn’t sync up.     

So how can one shaft perform for “both hard, fast swings and even light, smooth swings”?  Special Joy describes FreeFlex Technology as this: “Our shafts are structurally engineered to account for and effectively balance the four forces that act upon the shaft during a golf swing. They are torque, bend force during the swing, warping moment, and bending torsional moment.”  They don’t give away all the secret sauce, but if you’re into tech speak, their website does offer some titillating details.

I mentioned a caveat in the intro, and that refers to the fact that there are actually two shafts weights available – 38 gram and 45 gram.  The FF38 was the original, single, model.  The FF45 was created to satisfy the mental hurdle faster swingers had of such a lightweight shaft.

Conclusion

I like this statement by Special Joy on the Free Flex Technology:  “Simply, it provides the distance of a lighter and more flexible shaft, while providing the accuracy of a much firmer shaft.”  That said, much like the AutoFlex, I don’t think the Special Joy FreeFlex is going to revolutionize the golf shaft industry.  The $650 price tag alone makes the FreeFlex a considerable investment.

This shaft does, however, offer an intriguing story line – that one shaft, free of the confines of flex designation, can perform for all golfers.  Jason and I proved the basic concept to be true, though I’m also confident that he would agree that the FreeFlex may not be the best fit for every golfer.  The search for more distance is a quest, and the FreeFlex shaft can be another stage on that journey.

Visit Special Joy HERE

Matt Meeker
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13 Comments

  1. Interesting review. Does it have the same limitations like AF in terms on swing weight?

  2. LM from California

    Have you guys checked out the Syncagraphite Zinger from Japan? Also touting single flex for all.

  3. Scott Porter

    I have the multi colored 45 gm in a stealth 2 head and I love the set up. I am right down the middle most every time with only slight dispersion. I intend to put their fairway shaft into action very soon.

  4. Made in Korea like auto flex makes me think this is either a rebranded autoflex or copy cat version which is very well known to happen in overseas factories (see wish.com lol and even the Takomo and Caley irons). Either way there is something to be said for lighter shafts giving you a boost in speed so long as you can control them. Some long drive competitors actually use A or Senior flex shafts to get that extreme loading.

  5. Jonathan Compton

    Hi Matt, Off topic but have you tried out the latest Big Bertha driver, which Matt S reviewed? His info is always valuable, but for the average golfer with lower swing speeds (me) I’m not sure his swing data works for me. Many thanks.

    • Matt Meeker

      I have not Jonathan. Don’t get too hung up on the data chart, his (or any of the staff) analysis of the data and features is much more valuable as insight. I totally understand that it’s nice to align with the swing speed, but for most clubs it’s not critical.

      Thanks for reading.

      – Meeks

  6. Gary Tailby

    Hi Matt

    I’ve got a general question. When quoting shaft weights for Irons what length is generally used?

    Thanks

    Gary

  7. Brenk Johnson

    Great review of the Free Flex driver shaft. One concern I have with switching to a light, “whippy” shaft like Free Flex or Auto Flex is that, once I got used to the feel of the driver shaft, my fairway woods and hybrids would feel weird. Did you experience that at all? Thanks.

    • Thanks Brenk. To me, the driver has always been a different beast from the fairways and hybrids, so I wouldn’t say the FF made them feel weird. Swinging smooth actually helped me hit them better. Regardless, for consistent feel, FF offers models across the set.

      – Meeks

  8. I am gaming the 45 gram in a TSR3. After an initial adjustment period of a couple of rounds I am sold on this shaft. I have picked up 10-20 yds, my consistency has increased and I find the fairway most of the time. Misses are rarely OB and mostly in the first cut of rough. My tempo has improved and I no longer have to swing for the fences. Very skeptical at first but am sold now.
    P.S. – Tried Autoflex and it simply did not work for me. Also, no need to fuss with swing weight as is recommended with Autoflex.

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