Have you ever wondered whether golfers still use steel shafts in the woods, specifically the driver? The main difference between steel and graphite shafts is dependent on a number of factors including skill level, swing limitations, ball control, and clubhead speed. Beginners and higher handicappers should focus on finding the right graphite shaft. Experienced low handicappers and professionals should consider a steel shaft for improved ball and spin control. Keep reading as our expert team at Tell Me More Golf explains the difference and lays out who needs graphite and what type of player might benefit from a steel shaft. 

Tiger Woods used a steel-shafted driver during much of his early dominant run. He was able to better control the club and it provided plenty of distance. In fact, he was number 2 in driving distance on tour. Only John Daly was longer and Tiger was playing a steel shaft. 

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Graphite Shaft Irons and Drivers

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Conventional thinking is that iron shafts should be steel, and driver and fairway woods should be graphite. We want to help you find what is best for your game, so let’s put aside conventional thinking for now. Golf shafts have evolved so much over the past decade to the point where graphite shafted irons are no longer only for those with slower clubhead speed

You can now tailor every aspect of your golf gear to help you play your best golf. Graphite iron shafts are making their way into the bags of more and more players on the PGA Tour, and you should take note. Bryson Dechambeau is a notable household name that has made a move to graphite shafts in his irons. His set of irons has a heavier weight and is designed for his skill level, but the principles he used can be applied to you. 

Even though the pros have high swing speeds, they still look for similar characteristics in a club shaft. They want stability and consistency. These are the key elements of a good shaft. In addition, the set of clubs that Bryson is now playing allows him the control that he needs with the added speed he is now generating. 

But even high handicap golfers could benefit from a different shaft material. Given the number of shaft options out there for fast, medium, and slower swing speeds, it may be worth testing out different materials and even a different shaft flex. The type of golf shaft that you play does not matter if it produces the results you are looking for. A proper club fitting is always a good way to start the season even if you are not in the market for new golf clubs.


Steel Or Graphite Shafts For High Handicapper

Steel Shaft Driver vs Graphite Driver Shafts for Better Ping Steel

Most high handicap golfers have slower swing speeds. This generally means that a lighter shaft would be more beneficial. Because now graphite shafts can be built to the same standards as steel, it comes down to personal preference in most cases. 

High handicappers and beginners should certainly consider graphite shafts or a lighter steel shaft while they continue to work on their golf swing and build more speed and stability. Mishits are going to be commonplace for higher handicap golfers, and graphite golf shafts can provide some relief from the vibration of an off-center hit. 

Steel shafts provide unique benefits that should be noted. They have less torque in the head which allows for more accuracy. This is why low handicappers and professionals often turn to steel when looking for more control. True Temper, Nippon, and KBS are three shaft manufacturers that offer reliable steel options. 

The Third Option - Composite Shafts

The options are not limited to just steel and graphite shafts. While steel shafts like True Temper offer stability and graphite shafts like Fujikura offer lighter weight, there is a third option; composite shafts, sometimes called hybrid shafts. These are a combination of materials, usually, graphite wrapped over steel, and offer both strength and playability. Some PGA Tour players like Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker have put composite shafts in their irons with great success. The more golf evolves, we are confident in saying that more players of all skill levels will start using this hybrid type of shaft. With benefits in both categories of accuracy and distance, it could be a great option for more than just the driver in your bag. 

Here are some high quality composite shaft options to help your game:

The debate over graphite vs steel shafts (as well as composite/hybrid shafts) can be answered by a qualified club fitter. When you are looking for new irons or experimenting with different shafts, keep in mind that ball flight and ball speed are factors. If you hit the golf ball very low and do not feel like you get enough speed, then graphite or composite shafts might be perfect for you. Golfers who have enough speed through the ball should consider steel. The right steel shafts offer control without loss of distance.


Are Graphite Shafts Better For Seniors

Seniors should absolutely consider graphite shafts first. Given the quality of today’s graphite shafts, seniors could benefit in more ways than just performance. If you have a condition like arthritis, graphite or composite shafts can significantly dampen the vibration that comes with off-center hits and even clean strikes. 

This advice goes for seniors of all skill levels. As we get older, we lose some flexibility and can have more sensitive joints. The high quality of modern day shafts, as well as the fitting technology we have available, provide for great options as we get older. 

For seniors that are beginning, we would generally recommend graphite instead of steel golf shafts. Nowadays you no longer have to sacrifice stability in your golf clubs because of the quality of the materials and technology.


Go see a club fitter and ask to try out a variety of shafts. Golfers can get so excited to try a new club head, like Taylormade’s new Stealth, that they do not try different types of shafts. When you walk into a store like Club Champion you will see hundreds of shaft and head options on the wall. It only makes sense that you try a variety of combinations to find what works best for you. 

Don’t forget that your goal is consistency and distance. Golf is much more fun when you can get the ball airborne and keep it in play. We are confident in saying that it’s better to put in the time up front to find what works than to grab the first clubs that look good.

Ping Steel Vs Graphite Shafts

Ping is associated with high quality club craftsmanship. They have built a well deserved reputation in irons and woods. In addition to their club quality, they offer several options for steel iron shafts including True Temper, KBS and Nippon. 

Like their competitor, Taylormade, Ping also offers non-steel options from Alta. Alta shafts come from Aldila, which is a company well known for their high quality shaft options. 

Given Ping’s high quality and selection of club and shaft option, you are likely to find the ideal fit for you at Ping. In addition, they have always been leaders in fitting technology so you know you are getting what is best for you. 


Ping certainly has terrific graphite and steel options. But, with so many manufacturers and club options, Tell Me More Golf’s club experts know that there is a fit out there for you. Focus on finding a club that allows you to swing your swing and provides the results that you demand. That might mean a graphite or composite shaft instead of steel.

Frequently Asked Questions: Material

Are graphite shafts better for seniors?

As a general rule, yes, graphite shafts are better for senior golfers. They provide for more speed through the ball and relief from the vibration of mishits. Seniors tend to lose clubhead speed and flexibility and a graphite or composite shaft (or combination of both) could be just what the doctor ordered.

Is graphite or steel better for drivers?

As a general rule, graphite is going to provide better overall performance for golfers of all skill levels. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. For example, if you are struggling with dispersion in your driver, you may want to try a steel shaft. Just keep in mind that going from graphite to steel in a driver can be an adjustment so make that choice carefully. I would stick with graphite unless you can make a strong argument otherwise. 

Which is better graphite or steel shafts?

Both graphite and steel have their rightful place in golf. Graphite technology is continually evolving so there may come a day when graphite can serve more golfers. As players like Bryson Dechambeau move to graphite shafts in their irons, more will continue to follow suit. Find what is best for you and keep an open mind as companies continue to innovate and develop new technologies. 

Should beginners use graphite or steel shafts?

Beginners that are also young and have not finished growing yet should use graphite shafts or a very lite steel shaft. This is because they have not developed all of their muscles yet and they should be focused on proper fundamentals instead of trying to control a club that is too heavy. 

Older beginners should test both steel and graphite. If there is minimal difference in performance, then choose the steel shaft. They are often more budget friendly and will provide consistency as you start your golf journey. 

Do professionals use graphite or steel shafts?

Both. Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau and Brandt Snedeker are three well known PGA Tour players that use graphite or composite shafts. These are also some of the most consistent players on tour because they have found equipment that works for their unique games.

Conclusion: Research by Tellmemoregolf.com

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With so many choices and combinations in golf clubs, turn to the team of experts at Tell Me More Golf for help. Golf equipment is an endless evolution of shaft and clubhead technology and with our help you can keep pace with the constant changes. Remember that consistency is our goal.

When you are testing equipment, keep in mind that you want to be able to get the ball in the air without helping it. That means you need a shaft that flexes and releases to your individual swing characteristics.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
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