Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped Mailbag, curated by Cleveland/Srixon Golf, an interactive series from GOLF.com in which we answer challenging gear questions.
I have all my s-flex clubs in my bag. Should I play the same flex in all my clubs or mix them up? – Martin J, New York
This is a great question and I think we’ve covered it before over the past few years. However, such information must be repeated, so here it is.
The simple answer is…there isn’t one. The way you swing from club to club is as personal as your signature. You may be an aggressive slinger with the driver but prefer to cut back on woods and hybrids. Or, you might be an easy slingshot with the driver but would rather hit your irons more quickly. Really, it is up to you and yours to decide the best flexible profile for each club. Even if it means having columns variable through the collection.
And for that matter, flex has more to do with how stiff the shaft is. How it bends is one thing, but when and where it bends are also important. Also, two column manufacturers don’t use the exact same column ratings, which can make things a bit complicated.
Let’s walk through it a little bit.
Most shafts are categorized by their flexible classification, which is typically categorized as either lady, large, regular, stiff, super hard and beyond. As mentioned before, it is important to understand that extreme firmness from one brand may be either normal flex or too firm in another.
Shafts are sometimes marked with what’s called frequency rating – the number of times the shafts oscillate when attached to the end of the handle. The lower the revolutions per minute, that is, the frequency, the greater the elasticity of the shaft. The higher the frequency, the stiffer the shaft.
Some equipment fittings like True Spec Golf offer a service called “frequency matching,” where the shafts are aligned by frequency to ensure a smooth transition from one club to the next. Meaning, as your shafts get shorter on shorter clubs, they gradually get stiffer – using frequency matching can help ensure different frequencies are spaced evenly at about 4 CPM.
Herein lies the problem. Looking at shaft flex and/or frequency is a good starting point and is more fair than just going by the name flex, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Other factors that play a role include where the shafts bend, not just how much they bend. Columns with higher flex points on the shaft (towards the grip) produce significantly fewer trajectories than pillars with lower flex points (towards the head). And for what it’s worth, the softer flex shafts tend to twist more on impact, which can help or hurt you depending on what you’re looking at.
Also, the rhythm of the swing plays a big role in determining the right column. You may have a fast swing speed but if you also have a smooth cadence with a long, slow transition from the back swing to the downward swing it is possible to slip off a looser shaft to increase the distance. Or maybe you have a medium to slower swing speed but have a very fast cadence. In this case, a stiffer shaft may work better. The point is that you should consider your cadence with each club along with your swing speed to determine the optimal shaft flexibility(s).
This brings us back to your question. If you have s-flex in your driver, lumber, and irons, but all are different models from different brands, you may already have a large variety in your shaft flexes to start with. This might be fine if you’re comfortable with all your clubs, but it could also be why the driver and/or timbers feel great but your irons aren’t – or vice versa. A great way to solve this is to have your clubs checked by a suitable person and based on your data, adjusting your clubs as needed so that each club feels good in your hands and when you swing – even if it means that some of your clubs have different flexible ratings and/ or frequencies.
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