The Best Iron Shafts: Graphite vs Steel Shaft

Published on 09/05/2023 · 7 min readDoes the world of shafts have your head spinning? Golf Expert Jorge Arteta lays out the best iron shafts that are solid picks for each type of golfer.
Jorge Arteta, Golf Expert
By Golf Expert Jorge Arteta

Photo by Virginia Anderson

There are a lot of golf iron shafts out there. Unfortunately, working through shaft options is challenging for amateur golfers and usually requires golf professionals or fitters to help you find the correct shaft for your swing.

But you can initially help yourself by knowing more about the different types of shafts, the factors that play into them, and the ones more aligned with one’s skill level.

Shaft Basics

When it comes to picking a shaft, some key differentiators to judge the options on are swing speed, shaft flex, and swing weight. A golfer will often have to decide between steel shafts and graphite iron shafts on a deeper level in connection to those factors. The difference between steel and graphite golf shafts can impact trajectory, consistency, launch, spin, and dispersion.

For example, as a golf teaching professional, I see some of my senior students use a graphite iron shaft because it is lightweight, can give the golf ball a high launch, and help with accuracy. However, if they were to use premium, PGA tour-issue golf clubs, they would barely hit the shots because the equipment on tour is much heavier, and the shaft stiffness is much less flexible.

For this article, we will focus on iron shafts only. While driver shafts, fairway wood shafts, hybrid shafts, and wedges could be similar to irons shafts, they will probably be a different material or manufacturer. The right iron shaft will feel nice and easy to hit without extra effort. However, if you're swinging hard to hit the ball, you might have the wrong shaft.

No one shaft fits all. So, let's take a look at the best iron shafts depending on who you are.

Best Shafts for the Advanced Player

Advanced players tend to use either a stiff or extra stiff shaft flex. The torque on the shafts will be low to help keep the ball flight low. The kick point will be higher to keep the ball lower and under control. The shaft will weigh more in grams than other shafts.

1. Aerotech SteelFiber Graphite Shaft

These shafts have more tour wins than any other graphite shaft. They are made of a combined steel and graphite material. Very popular with advanced players, they are made with Aerotech’s unique SteelFiber Technology.

They keep the feeling of steel that golfers have liked for a long time. In addition, the graphite helps reduce injuries to the wrists, elbows, and arms that come from steel shafts.

2. Nippon Modus3 Tour Steel Shaft

The Nippon Modus3 Tour Steel Shaft is quite a shaft. The red print is pleasant and not overbearing. It feels silky through the swing. The launch is a bit high but in a good way.

These are accurate, and my dispersion area was very close together. These work with my golf swing and are my favorite steel shafts. Available in many weights, there just might be one for your swing.

Best Shafts for the Recreational Player

Mid-to-high handicap players tend to use either a regular or stiff flex shaft. The torque on the shafts will be in the medium range for a higher ball flight. The kick point will be mid to low to help the ball go into the air more. The shaft will weigh less than an advanced player in grams than other shafts.

1. Project X Rifle Steel Shaft

Another favorite shaft. Project X is part of a long tradition of suitable, durable shafts. I used to play them when I was learning the game. They are solid and smooth during the swing.

They offer many weight variations, so there should be something for everyone. They tend to be a little stiffer than others, but these might be for you, if you like that — an option to consider for the recreational player.

2. Mitsubishi Tensei AV Blue AM2 Graphite Shaft

This Mitsubishi Tensei AV Blue AM2 Graphite Shaft is for a wide variety of players. I like color combinations. It fits well with many grip styles. It feels heavier than other shafts, but I liked the feedback.

This shaft would not be for an aggressive swinger. It might feel a bit whippy. But for the recreational swinger, I think it offers a lot for the money.

Best Shafts for the Slower Swing or Senior Player

Mid-to-average handicap players tend to use either a regular or senior flex shaft. The torque on the shafts will be in the high range for a high ball flight. The kick point will be mid to low to help the ball go into the air more. The shaft will weigh less than an advanced player in grams than other shafts.

1. Fujikura Vista Pro Graphite Shaft

Slower swing players can use the help of the Fujikura Vista Pro Graphite Shaft to get the ball higher and farther. Fujikura shafts are lightweight and easy to swing. Very forgiving and give feedback after the swing.

Although these shafts might be a bit pricey, they offer an excellent value for what you receive in return. Remember that graphite shafts help minimize wrist, hand, or elbow injuries and are therefore designed to keep you playing with minimal injury. In addition, they are made with multi-materials and help the senior golfer to launch the ball and allow one to have maximum fun playing golf.

2. True Temper Elevate Steel Shaft

True Temper has been in the shaft business for a long time. They offer many kinds of shafts to a wide variety of players. This True Temper Elevate Steel Shaft shaft is designed to help launch the ball high. It’s not entirely made for increasing distance, but it helps the golfer with approach shots.

These will help improve the short game and greenside shots. In addition, the vibration-minimizing technology will help with those mis-hit shots we all tend to have. For those that like steel, this should be a serious contender.

Best Shafts for Female Players

Women players tend to use either a ladies' flex or a regular flex shaft. The torque on the shafts will be in the higher range to help the ball go high. The kick point will be mid to low to help the ball go into the air more. The shaft will weigh less in grams than other shafts.

1. Project X Cypher Black Graphite Shaft

These Project X Cypher Black Graphite Shafts are available for irons and woods, providing a nice smooth transition between clubs to offer the same feel throughout the set. Lightweight and made to launch the ball high, these are designed to help optimize ball flight and distance.

I like the colors of the shaft and the high trajectory and spin it offers. It is definitely a shaft to consider for your dollar’s worth.

2. KBS Max Graphite Shaft

KBS is a solid shaft company within the golf world. They offer many types of shafts for all parts of the bag. These KBS Max Graphite Shafts are lightweight and help slower swingers launch and maximize the golf balls' performance.

The spin, launch, and distance combination are so that you can play your best game. Even though they’re light, they feel solid and boost your confidence. This is another product that should be a viable option for your game.

Conclusion

There are many types of golf shafts in the market. Depending on the kind of player, there are lots of features. For example, do you need help launching the ball high or trying to keep it accurate? Do you like the feel of a lightweight shaft or a heavier one?

We looked at many options that dependable and reputable golf companies create. But the ultimate choice of the right iron shaft comes to you.

Chat with me or one of my fellow Golf Experts here on Curated for free, personalized recommendations on the best shaft for your game. Enjoy the journey and get those birdies!

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