Benefits of Soft Stepping Irons - How Much Does it Cost?

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The practice of soft stepping irons is as old as the game of golf and the benefits of soft stepping your irons cannot be over emphasized.

While it’s a complicated process to implement, a successful implementation can mean a club that launches the ball higher, is easier to swing, and configured to fit your game perfectly. 

Fortunately, the technicalities can be explained and you can learn it in one sitting. In the following paragraph, our Tell Me More Golf expert will take you through the benefits of soft stepping irons and how to soft step or hard step your irons. 

You’ll also learn whether or not soft stepping will cost you distance and if you really have to soft step your irons. Keep reading!

Soft Stepping Irons: What Is it?

Soft Stepping Irons and The Benefits on Shafts and How Much It Costs

Soft stepping is the process of trimming the shaft on a golf iron below the factory installed length.

When you soft step your shaft, you make them flex more so that they fit your swing range.

When you insert a 5i shaft in a 6i head, you’re essentially soft stepping your 5 iron. 

The shaft will be less stiff and typically result in a higher trajectory. When you soft step, the shaft becomes shorter and the shorter it is, the heavier the clubhead will be. Typically, a 5 iron shaft is designed for a 5 iron head, and so on. So, installing your 5 iron in the 6 iron head will make the shaft weaker and play softer since the clubhead is now heavier than what the shaft was meant for.

How Do You Soft Step Your Irons?

To soft step your iron, you’ll need to install your 2 iron shaft in your 3 iron club head, your 3 iron shaft in the 4 iron club head, and so on until you have your 8 iron shaft in the 9 iron head. The result of soft stepping is that all your clubs (if you soft step the whole set) will now play softer with higher ball flight. 

How Much Would It Cost You to Soft Step

Soft stepping irons in the United States aren’t that expensive. It shouldn’t cost you more than $15 from a reputable club fitter. Obviously, the price isn’t fixed, so this is just a ballpark of the price you should expect when having your irons soft step if you can’t do it yourself.

Why Soft Step Irons?

Here are some of the benefits of soft stepping in detail:


soft stepping irons and hard stepping what it means and customization

Manufacturers have been using soft stepping in irons several years back. Players who want to fiddle with their equipment also make use of soft stepping. If there are no inherent benefits, this practice wouldn’t have continued and you won’t be reading this. 

Most importantly, when you’re soft stepping your iron, your aim is to launch the ball higher from your club. If you’re using a standard club shaft, you might also want to achieve a slight stiffness in the shaft without shifting to a stiff shaft. Soft stepping will do that for you.

Higher Launch

The most obvious benefit of soft stepping your shaft is to achieve a higher ball launch from the club. Soft stepping is going to make the club a bit longer and softer. It’s typically done by using a 3-iron shaft in a 4-iron head, for example, and making the club play 1/3 of the flex softer, leading to higher ball flight.

You can also tip trim to achieve similar results. Instead of using 1″ for regular flex on a 4-iron shaft, you can tip trim using 1/2″. This will make the club play 1/2″ more flexible. You can either use 1/2″ in the shaft length (common with club makers) or go for 1/4″, which is also good. If you’re a tall player, you can opt for 3/4″ increments in the shaft length. Let your personal preference guide you here. Soft stepping is ideal for golfers with slower swing speed, who are struggling with lower ball flight. Soft stepping will help account for a higher ball flight with your swing, thus improving your overall performance.

Easier to Swing

When you soft step your iron, it becomes softer and feels great when you swing with it. This in turn makes it easier to launch the ball off the tee, instilling more confidence in the player.

Golfers who find it difficult to have a lot of power behind their shots will benefit from soft stepping. Since the club is now more flexible and easier to swing, players get better overall control and balance, leading to better contact and more distance.

Customize to Your Taste

Aside from higher launch and ease of swinging, soft stepping allows you to finetune the shaft on your iron to suit your game. That’s why you can soft step once, twice, and even thrice, depending on your needs.

For example, you can decide to have scoring irons for your lower shots and long irons for higher shots, which you can achieve through stepping methods. In other words, you hard-step your scoring irons while you soft-step the long irons.

Custom club fitters and club makers have a similar process known as Frequency Matching Shafts, where they optimize the shaft performance on a set of iron, based on a player’s profile.


Soft Stepping Iron Shafts Twice: Is It Possible?

Soft stepping twice is quite common among players. Soft stepping is simply trimming the shaft below the manufacturer’s standard length. When talking about soft stepping, it’s best to use examples to make things easier to understand. Let’s say you have a 5-iron club and you want to double-soft step. All you need to do is trim the shaft to be like a 3-iron, which will automatically lower the stiffness by half a flex. In order to maintain a uniform progression of flex, you’ll have to make the same adjustment to the other clubs in your golf set.

When you soft step twice, you scrap away up to 3.5 grams (give or take) of shaft weight, which is 1 inch. One of the easier shafts to alter is the KBS Tour Golf Shafts. The manufacturer added the same design for all the flexes on the shaft. So, if you soft step the shaft twice, it’ll only be progressive so the shaft walls will become 1 flex softer and the tip section 1″ longer, creating a higher launching profile. The new, 2x soft stepped version will have a higher launch capability since you now have a longer tip section at equal flex.

Hard Stepping Irons: A Short Guide for Beginners

Hard stepping irons is simply the opposite of soft stepping your golf irons. When you’re hard stepping your shaft, you have to consider the butt end (where it connects to the grip) and the tip of the shaft (which goes into the clubhead). You’ll also be able to choose from taper-tip or parallel tip. 

Parallel Tip Shaft

Parallel tip shaft is one that’s configured by the manufacturer to fit all irons (or woods). Thus, it maintains the same diameter from the tip of the shaft to the rear step in the shaft. You’ll need to cut the shaft from the tip end to obtain the correct flex as well as the butt end for the correct length. 

Taper Tip Shaft

Taper tip shaft, on the other hand, is one that becomes narrow and diminishes from the rear step in the shaft. Manufacturers don’t make this tip to fit all clubs, instead, the shaft needs to be fitted to the appropriate club. For example, a 4 iron shaft will generally fit into a 9 iron clubhead but it’ll play too long since the flex will be too soft. Finally, the correct length can only be obtained by fitting the tip into the hosel of the clubhead and making the cut from the butt end of the shaft.

How to Hard Step Your Irons

To hard step your iron, fit your pitching wedge shaft in your 9-iron (which has the shortest shaft of all numbered iron) club head. Then proceed to add the 9-iron shaft into the 8-iron clubhead, down to the last numbered iron in your golf club set. The 2-club iron is effectively faced out and only the 3-iron shaft remains. You’ll also fit a new shaft on your PW. The result of hard stepping is that all your irons will play a little stiffer and at lower ball flight. The club lengths on all the clubs will also reduce, such as your 4 iron becoming your 5 iron, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions: Price

Does Soft Stepping Golf Irons Cost Me Distance?

By soft stepping your golf irons, you should gain some extra distance, not lose it. Unless something is amiss somewhere. For example, if you double-soft step, you may lose distance, as opposed to soft-stepping once. This is because you’ve now added more spin, albeit unintentionally, which will make the ball balloon out of control. The other thing is that the setup may have introduced more swing weight, leading to a stronger release, increasing ballooning and spin in the ball. If you notice you’re losing distance as a result of soft stepping, you may need to re-shaft to correct any problem that may have occurred during the process. 

What Does Soft Stepping Irons Mean?

Soft stepping irons is a process of adjusting the shaft length on a taper (or parallel) tip shaft by modifying the stiffness of the golf club. This is done by decreasing the shaft on numbered irons throughout the golf set. Examples include putting the shaft of a 3-iron in a 4 iron clubhead, a 5-iron shaft in a 6 iron clubhead, and so on. The result is higher and straighter ball flight. During the 70s and 80s, there were not as many different shafts and flexes available as there are now. What players would do then is to change the shaft that is available. For example, a player playing dynamic gold that’s too soft or dynamic s-shaft that’s too stiff can soft step the dynamic gold or hard step the dynamic s-shaft. However, modern-day graphite shafts, steel shafts, and iron shafts have steps in them to ease soft stepping or hard stepping. 

What Does Soft Stepping An Iron Shaft Do?

When an iron shaft is soft stepped, it becomes softer and easier to play. Soft stepping makes the shaft flex more, allowing it to suit your swing range and scope. You can soft step once or twice. When you soft step once, you’re essentially installing an 8 iron shaft in a 9 iron head, etc. Soft stepping twice means you’re adding a 7 iron shaft in a 9 iron head, for example. You can either do it yourself or order your specification directly from the factory. Since you’ll also be working on the shaft length you need to make sure you cut it to the length that’ll suit your game. You can do that by cutting 0.5″ from the butt end, which is the stiffest part of the shaft. When you do that, the shaft becomes softer, which is another way of saying you’ve soft stepped it. As a general rule, each soft step you do should weaken the shaft for 1/2″ of the flex.

Should I Soft Step My Irons?

Yes, you should soft step your iron. Soft stepping your iron is always a good thing. The main benefit is that it’ll make golf clubs easier to play. There are quite a few other advantages as well. The first one is better feel. When you soft step the shaft, it feels better and more active, which is great if you’re a feel player. You’ll also be able to swing easier with it, especially if you’re a beginner. You could possibly even gain slightly higher ball flight, which will translate to more carry and distance for your game.

How Do You Soft Step A Golf Shaft?

To soft step your shaft, you have to alter the shaft in the iron. You do that by using a 4 iron shaft in a 5 iron, for example, to make the shaft play a bit weaker. Because you’re cutting a bit off the butt end of the shaft, you’re effectively making it a little bit lighter. With such a combo, the shaft will be light and the flex will have a softer feel, making for a softer overall playing profile. You can do the same with a 5 iron shaft in a 6-iron and so on.

Conclusion: Research by

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Soft stepping or hard stepping your irons can help you hit the ball higher, straighter, and gain more distance. 

But you need to learn when to soft step or hard step your iron as doing it the wrong way can lead to losing distance or requiring an overhaul of your entire setup. Fortunately, you don’t have to, thanks to this massive guide from the Tell Me More Golf research team.


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