Choosing the right golf club is an extremely important part of improving how you play the game. If you are able to get golf clubs that work extremely well for your golfing style, you will notice an immediate improvement in your game. Usually beginner golfers don’t put much thought into the clubs they use. Perhaps you have just been using your grandfather’s old clubs that you dug up out of the storeroom, or maybe you bought some cheap clubs at a second-hand sale bazaar. If you ever want to be a serious golfer, you will need to buy clubs for yourself and choose some that will compliment your playing style.
There are several factors that goes into deciding the type of clubs that suit you best. One of the choices you will have to make is choosing between graphite and steel, the two most popular shaft materials. The one you choose can greatly affect your swing (or work with what you have already learned).
To begin with, almost every driver or fairway wood are fitted with graphite shafts, regardless of the golfer’s skill level or gender. These clubs are built and used for ‘maximum distance’ shots thus using a graphite shaft makes absolute sense. So we will only apply the comparison between steel and graphite for irons.
Steel is the cheaper choice of the two. Because of its lower price, some may view it as inferior to graphite. However, this is not true at all. If you have a golfing style that works well with steel clubs, there is no reason to go for the more expensive graphite. Steel is much more durable, so you can expect steel clubs to have a longer lifespan than graphite clubs. It is heavier than graphite; some view this as a negative point, but some prefer to really feel the weight of the club as they swing it. Steel is also quite a bit stiffer than graphite (which has a higher flexibility). This is partially your personal preference, but your pre-developed swinging style may also tell you something that you wouldn’t otherwise know. If you tend to have rather fast swings, you will want to stick with clubs that are stiffer. Steel offers this, but fast swings coupled with heavy clubs can be potentially dangerous, so make sure you always have a secured grip.
Graphite is the other choice, and it is best known for being a lighter and more flexible material. Again, this does not necessarily make it a better choice, since it all depends on what kind of golfing you do. If your swings are a bit slower than average, a flexible graphite club could be the best choice as the flex helps you generate some power that you physically are unable to produce. The flex of a club can be classified into 4 different ratings: Ladies, Regular, Senior, and Extra Stiff. Graphite clubs rarely fall under the Extra Stiff rating. If you feel that you need the extra stiff clubs, you would probably be better off with a steel club.
In general (while not a fixed rule of thumb), most beginners/amateurs tend to use graphite shafts as it’s lighter and the flex helps generate some additional power for them, especially as their swing is probably at an ineffective or unpolished stage. For the pros (or higher skilled golfers), most are happy to go with steel shafts as the stiffness gives them a much better feel during their swing and through impact, and in turn giving them more control over their swing. They do not need to worry about gaining extra power from the flex of the shaft as their swing is at a stage that allows them to generate sufficient power organically.
It’s likely that you are feeling a little bit overwhelmed at making these important choices about your future clubs. This is normal for a beginner, especially since each of the materials has a lot to offer. If you really want to make sure that you make the right choice, you can get in touch with someone who is more experienced in picking out clubs. This might be a seasoned golfer or just a club store employee. Either way, they will be able to give you good advice simply by watching you swing at the ball a few times. The speed of your swing and several other things about your method will give them hints as to what you should choose. But as long as you think hard about your choice and then stick with it in the future, you should be able to choose clubs that are ideal for you, and are made out of a material that feels natural when you swing it.