Steel vs Graphite Shafts for Seniors: Which is Best for You?

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Looking at Steel vs Graphite Shafts, and wondering which is best for you? Then, you’re not alone. Read on, for a detailed review by our golf writer.

Steel vs graphite shafts are vastly different constructions that impact your clubhead speed, launch, and accuracy.

In this post, I reveal the differences between graphite or steel shafts and explain which design is better for seniors.

Graphite shafts feature prominently in every golfer’s bag since your driver, fairway woods, and hybrids are fitted with one. However, many low handicappers switch to steel iron shafts for their weight, stability, and lower launch.

By the end of this article, you will know whether you have the correct setup.

Steel vs Graphite Shafts Overview

Steel Shaft Graphite Shaft
FeelFirmSoft
FeedbackHighMinimal
WeightHeavy Light
FlexStiff Flex
Extra Stiff Flex
Regular Flex
Stiff Flex
Regular Flex
Senior Flex
Ladies Flex
PriceAffordableExpensive
PerformanceLow launch, stability, reduced torqueElevated launch, enhanced whip
Table: Graphite or steel shafts for senior golfers

⛳️ Read Next: 10 Best Driver Shafts for Seniors in 2023 [Expert Review]

What Is The Difference Between Graphite And Steel Shafts?

The primary differences between graphite and steel shafts are their materials, flex, weight, and feel. All these factors impact your clubhead speed, ball speed, launch distance, and accuracy.

Material | Steel vs Graphite Shafts

As the name suggests, steel shafts are constructed from stainless steel, which is durable, stable, and easier to control. Conversely, graphite shafts are built from Crystalline carbon for added flexibility and accelerated speed.

Shaft Flex

Steel golf shafts are constructed in an extra stiff, stiff, and regular shaft flex, better suited to moderate and faster swing speeds. The stiffer flex provides limited whip assistance leading into impact, producing a lower launch and increased control.

Although graphite shafts are also available in stiff and regular flex, they do not feature an extra-stiff profile. In addition, you will find graphite shafts in incredibly flexible senior flex or ladies flex profiles.

In my experience, the more flexible graphite designs are better fitted to medium and slow-swing-speed golfers.

Weight

Steel shafts are far heavier than their graphite shafts, which can weigh seniors down and cause a reduction in clubhead speed.

For example, the regular flex True Temper Dynamic Gold Mid 115 iron shaft weighs 114 grams. Whereas the same flex from the graphite HZRDUS Gen 4 Silver carries a weight of 75 grams.

Golf Club Shaft Feel

Senior golfer, Carol Johnson using her graphite shaft driver. Steel vs graphite shafts
Senior golfer, Carol Johnson using her graphite shaft driver.

The beauty of steel shafts is that they deliver enhanced feedback. When you strike it cleanly, the feeling is pure. However, when you catch the golf ball off-center, it sends vibrations running up the shaft, letting you know about your mistake.

This trait is mainly desired by lower handicappers who demand optimal feel and feedback.

Conversely, graphite shafts are relatively smooth and do well to drown out vibrations for a softer feel. This suits the needs of many seniors searching for a smoother feel and shock-resistant golf shaft.

Whip

Golfers with slower swing speeds require a graphite shaft that produces optimal whip leading into impact. This added assistance boosts energy transfer from the club face to the golf ball for accelerated velocity and a higher launch. 

On the other hand, steel shafts create greater solidity during your swing and through impact for greater control.

Some golfers may find their smash factor improves with steel shafts, giving added control and lack of whip into contact.

Shaft Length

I always find that graphite iron shafts carry a slightly longer total length than steel shafts, which is welcome news for slower swing speeds. On average, I find graphite shafts are approximately half an inch longer than their steel counterparts, which equates to an additional 0.5 mph of club head speed.

In my case, I find my cleanly struck shots travel 1 to 2 yards further with graphite shafts over steel shafts.

Torque

While torque is not always higher on graphite shafts, it is often the case. The higher degree of torque means the shaft twists more during the swing to enable better loading on the backswing and unloading on the downswing. However, this can also cause you to produce an erratic shot to the right of your target.

Accuracy

The flexible and high torque nature of graphite shafts can cause your clubhead to twist under a certain amount of pressure. As a result, I  produce greater accuracy with a lower torque steel shaft because I can control it better and keep it square into contact.

Launch: Graphite vs Steel Shafts

I find the average senior launches graphite shafts higher than stainless steel constructions due to the increased flex and lighter weight.

Although golf shaft manufacturers craft some stainless steel designs to launch high, the reduced flex and weight make it difficult to conjure up sufficient ball speed.

⛳️ Read Next: 10 Best Iron Shafts For Seniors in 2023 + Expert Guide

Distance

Sticking with the flex, speed, and weight theme, I find senior golfers produce more consistent distance using graphite shafts. The reason being their ease of launch, prompting a higher ball flight with adequate carry distance.

The reduced whip of a stainless steel shaft demands accelerated clubhead speed for enhanced energy transfer.

Unfortunately, the seniors I know struggle with this part of the golf swing and lose launch, carry, and total distance.

Final Thoughts | Steel vs Graphite Shafts for Seniors

At the start of this post, I asked the question, graphite vs steel shafts, which is better for seniors, and the answer is clear.

While steel shafts provide increased control and accuracy, they require higher swing speeds for maximum energy transfer at impact.

As a result, lighter, longer, flexible graphite shafts provide senior golfers with the velocity assistance needed for a high launch and long golf shot.

Therefore, when it comes to graphite or steel shafts for senior golfers, graphite shafts are better suited for optimal performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should Beginners Use Steel or Graphite Shafts?

Senior beginners should use graphite shafts for added clubhead speed, flex, and energy transfer. Slow swing speed high handicappers will appreciate the added velocity and stand to generate a higher launch and maximum carry distance with graphite shots.

Are Graphite Shafts Easier to Hit Than Steel?

Yes, graphite shafts are more effortless to hit than steel because of their lighter weight, flexibility, and higher launching nature. This enables slow swing speed senior golfers to achieve a consistent launch and carry distance on all shots.

What is Better, Graphite or Steel Shafts?

Graphite shafts are better than steel shafts for senior golfers with slower swing speeds. Its lighter mass, flexible profile, and optimal whip make it easier for the average senior golfer to get airborne and enjoy a longer carry distance. However, some golfers may prefer the greater control, accuracy, and lower flight of steel shafts. So the decision is yours when deciding between steel and graphite shafts.

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AUTHOR

Matt Callcott-Stevens has lived and breathed golf since he was four. As a junior, he played competitively, until he discovered his talents were better suited to writing about the game. Matt holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing through the Johan Cruyff Institute in Barcelona and has provided golf game improvement tips to seniors and the average golfer for seven years.

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