The quality of stock shafts (the ones that come standard on a new driver) has improved dramatically over the years. Even so, many PGA Tour pros still rely on high-end aftermarket shafts than can cost upwards of $300. (Hey, they get their sticks for free.) Typically, these models are manufactured in smaller quantities, with more expensive materials than stock shafts. According to Josiah Solberg of Cool Clubs, "while the most expensive model might not be the best for you, many of the higher end retail shafts are made with tighter tolerances and higher quality materials. The result is a shaft that plays truer to the flex marked on the shaft, more stability, and more consistency swing to swing."
So how do you go about picking the right model for your swing? The simple answer: Get fitted by an expert who has access to a launch monitor. You want to focus on finding a model that produces the optimum launch angle for your swing speed that also allows you to hit the ball as consistently straight as possible. "The right shaft for you is going to depend on a few things including swing speed, load, transition, and release point," says Chris Marsh of Hot Stix Golf. "You want to find a shaft that returns the clubhead back to square on a consistent basis. A qualified fitter will find a model that has the right amount of torque, the correct balance point, the proper weight, and even the feel that fits your swing."
As Marsh suggests, you ought to find a fitter in your area that has a selection of stock shafts, and aftermarket shafts, to demo and a launch monitor to measure your launch, spin, dispersion, and overall distance. Soon enough, you'll see and feel which model produces the best results.
WHAT THE PROS PLAY
We thought it would be fun to play "name that shaft" as the PGA Tour kicks off its 2014-2015 season. Curious which model your favorite Tour player has in his driver? Here's a quick look at some of the more popular ones and who's gaming them. Keep in mind that each model is available in a variety of weights that allow them to be fitted to a wide range of players, including you.
Details: Rare "graphitic carbon" material placed in the top third of the shaft slightly counterbalances the shaft to work better with modern oversize driver heads.
Players: Billy Horschel, Pat Perez, Bill Haas, John Senden, Miguel Cabrera, Jimmy Walker, Jeff Ogilvy, Bo Van Pelt, Scott Stallings.
Details: A "combustion chamber" in the core stores energy, which is delivered to the golf ball through a "load injector tip" for maximum power and distance.
Players: Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed
FUJIKURA MOTORE SPEEDER
Details: Triax three-directional woven graphite on the inside layer of the shaft enhances speed and stability.
Players: Matt Kuchar, Ernie Els, Brandt Snedeker, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Boo Weekley
Details: Built with large amounts of carbon fiber along with other proprietary technologies for maximum energy transfer and distance.
Players: Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, KJ Choi, Harris English, Ryan Moore, Scott Brown, Rory Sabbatini
GRAPHITE DESIGN TOUR AD DI
Details: Nanomaterial technology in the tip section provides added feel and control while maintaining stability throughout the swing.
Players: Adam Scott, Martin Kaymer, Hideki Matsuyama, Jonas Blixt, Ryo Ishikawa, Eric Compton, Thorbjorn Oleson
Details: Multi-dimensional "Interlay" technology creates a stiffer mid- and tip section for maximum stability and consistency through impact without a loss of feel.
Players: Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Chris Kirk, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Nick Watney, Jason Dufner
MITSUBISHI FUBUKI J SERIES
Details: Tungsten-infused material produces extreme counterbalanced weighting to provide consistent feel at a variety of shaft lengths. Metal mesh technology provides enhanced stability and consistency.
Players: Phil Mickelson, Matt Every
MITSUBISHI KURO KAGE SILVER TiNi
Details: A TiNi wire placed in the tip section produces lower launch and spin with added stability and energy release through impact.
Players: Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Rory McIlroy.