Understanding the Difference Between Graphite Vs Steel Shafts

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What connects our hands to the club head on all golf clubs makes a big difference in how you play on the golf course. A lot happens in the shaft of your clubs and it is important to know how the golf club shaft interacts with every swing. 

We have answered the question on the difference between graphite vs steel shafts. Our is hope is that this answer can you help take the steps to improve your game. 

To best understand the difference between graphite and steel shafts, we need to learn about the characteristics of each type. The characteristics of a golf shaft are as follows:

  • Durability
  • Weight
  • Torque
  • Flex

Characteristics of Steel Shafts


The steel shaft has been around in the making of golf clubs for a long time. Steel is a tried and true material that is long-lasting and reliable. From a durability perspective, steel shafts are going to provide low flex to your golf clubs because steel is more resilient and strong. This means that your club shafts will last a long time. If you want to stick with the steel shaft, you can always replace the grips and club head without needing to fully replace the club.


There is no question that steel shafts are going to be somewhat heavier than other shafts on a golf club. Expect a steel shaft to weigh anywhere between 90 and 130 grams. The weight of a steel shaft will give you advantages and disadvantages in the performance and feel of the golf club.


As a quick refresher on what torque is for golf shafts, do a quick search on YouTube, Google, or the article we linked to above. Now that you know what torque is, here’s what to expect: The torque on a steel shaft will be lower in a range of 1 to 3 degrees. With lower torque on steel shafts, you can expect less rotation on the shaft with a strong and fast swing. 

Golfers with a slower swing speed may notice that shots have a lower trajectory. If your swing is slower or faster, you can rest assured that torque on a steel shaft will have less of an impact on your swing compared to graphite shafts. 


The amount of flex in a steel shaft relates amount of torque. You can expect less flexibility with a steel shaft. The benefit of less flex with the steel shaft is similar to the benefit of less torque. You are giving yourself the best chance to hit the ball with a higher trajectory for ball flight.

Characteristics of Graphite Shafts

While steel is the only material used to make a steel golf shaft, a graphite shaft is made up of layers of carbon fiber and epoxy resin.


Go to any local golf shop or go visit a golf retailer online and look at their driver selection. One trend you may notice is that virtually all drivers do not have steel shafts. They are all graphite. With almost all shots you take with a driver, the only impact your club makes with anything is the ball. Rarely will the club head touch the ground. If your club head does make contact with the ground, it is either shallow contact or an erroneous swing. 

The durability of graphite shafts is more prone to breakage due to their lightweight and flexible construction. This is why you will see graphite shafts commonly on drivers. The less contact your shaft makes with other objects to more life you will get out of it. 


The weight of graphite shafts is light and promotes a faster swing speed with your clubs. You can expect the weight of a graphite shaft to range between 50 and 85 grams. If you are aiming to promote swing speed in your game, graphite shafts can provide an advantage over other shafts. 

Golfers who are just starting or seeking to improve their game may benefit from the lightweight nature of graphite shafts. Being able to produce more club speed for greater distance while not feeling the “sting” when mis-hitting the ball can be advantageous to a newer player.


A lighter shaft is going to lead to increased torque. Golfers playing with a graphite shaft can expect torque between 1 and 8 degrees. If you opt for a graphite shaft, remember that the faster your swing speed, the higher likelihood that your shots could be affected by the change in direction of your club head.


Much like the increased torque of a graphite shaft, there is more flex. The increase in flex is what helps your swing gain more speed. With the higher amount of flex in the shaft, you will notice that your swing feels smoother with less feedback when making contact with the ground. For some golfers, the lack of good feedback will prevent them from adjusting their swing according to the feel. 

Which Shaft Should I Use?

The type of shaft you should use should vary based on the type of club in your bag. As you decide on the right shafts for your clubs, remember the characteristics of graphite vs steel shafts. Let’s break this down by club type:


As mentioned earlier, virtually all drivers on the market today feature graphite shafts. This is because the swing speed on a lighter shaft will increase. It is a pretty safe bet to use graphite shafts for your driver and even fairway woods. 

One of the drawbacks of graphite shafts is their durability. Unlike other clubs in your bag, your drivers will not be making contact with the ground which will preserve your graphite shaft for a longer period of time. If you found a graphite shaft that you really like, you can even customize the grip and club head to new combinations based on your skill set and goals.


The shaft you decide on can vary based on your skill level. If you are newer to the game of golf, you are likely developing your swing. With a developing swing, you are prone to errors and mishits. Sometimes you will hit the ball fat or thin which can provide uncomfortable feedback through the shaft of the club. To minimize this, consider using graphite shafts for your irons as you are improving your swing with your irons. Remember that graphite shafts will provide a smoother feel. You will sacrifice the feedback of a steel shaft. 


With your wedges primarily used for shorter-range shots close to the green, there is less concern about swing speed and more focus on solid contact with the ball. Keeping the need for well-hit, controlled shots, a steel shaft may be more beneficial for players. The feel and feedback of a steel shaft is better than its graphite counterpart.


Putting on the green is all about precision and control. The type of shaft that your putter has will make less of a difference in your performance with putting. Most players prefer to have a little more weight in their putter. A reasonable amount of weight in your putter will allow you to better control the speed of your putts which is why you will see putters with steel shafts. 


Now that we have highlighted the differences between graphite vs steel shafts, take some time to evaluate your skillset from the tee box to the green. If you find yourself struggling in any aspect of the game, you can find an opportunity for improvement in the shaft of your golf clubs. Visit your local golf shop and see if you can get fitted for clubs to get some advice on what shafts benefit your game most. 

For more ways to improve your game on the golf course, take a look at some of our other tips and guides.

BONUS! Check out this infographic below for a quick summary of the difference between graphite and steel shafts. Feel free to save and share!

graphite vs steel shafts infographic

Written By:

Taylor is the founder of All Purpose Golf and has been an avid golfer for more than a decade. He loves keeping up with the latest trends in golf and is constantly seeking ways to improve his game and wants to make the game of golf accessible to anyone.

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