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Steel vs graphite iron shafts

Walt S

I am planning on getting the new AP1 irons as well as getting fit for them. My question centers around graphite vs. steel shafts in those irons. I have never played with graphite iron shafts, but reading about them has increased my curiosity about them. Getting fit for the clubs is a no brainer but how do you decide if you need graphite shafts? What works in the fitting room in the brief time you are there, I don't feel is enough time to determine if the graphite shafts will help your game, not help your game, or whatever. I am 65 and play to a 15 hdcp., and currently have steel shafts in my irons. I want to go to regular because I feel that I can't "load-up" the stiff shafts consistently as I used too. Furthermore, the graphite shafts in the AP1 will be the Kuro Kage which I know nothing about, and I guess for that matter, I know nothing about the new steel shaft, BUT at least I know how steel reacts.

Any help from someone using graphite irons or someone who has some knowledge will be much appreciated.

 

Thanks...

22 Replies

  1. Allen L

    Walt, I'm same age and about your handicap.  The steel vs. graphite decision is a tough one and I made a mistake last spring.  I bought a non-Titleist set recommended by a vendor that included hybrids.  I was never able to adjust to the graphite irons, gave them to my wife and she hits them better than her old clubs.  I'd suggest that if you have a partner who plays graphite, or know of a club where you can rent some graphite's, give them a try out on the course.  I now have Titleist irons with steel shafts, regular flex, and I love them.  I also bought a Titleist 913 D2 driver and fairway wood with graphite shafts, while I am hitting solid and finding fairways, I don't get the same accuracy or distance of my ancient steel shafted woods.  Take all this with a grain of salt as I'm not an expert at anything.  See how the fitting session goes and let your expert know about your concern.  Hopefully someone will give you better advice than I have.

  2. Don O

    So many shafts, so little time....

    Off the rack graphites will feel whippier than the same steel shafts on the next display.  They also tend to be A or R flex while the steel shafts will be R or S (please just avoid commenting that A/R/S are not a standard for now...).  And, if including hybrids, the graphite set is the one size fits all for the low speed/high handicapper.  However there is now so much overlap for fitted orders, there is great reason to get fitted.  They have new (exotic) 45 g driver shafts in X-stiff, and steel shafts in 90 g.  Lighter shafts tend to allow a little more speed but can still be stable.  So finding a shaft that feels good and is stable for your swing is not just graphite or steel. 

  3. Luke N

    To help give you some insight, I recently went to the Palmer Cup(a tournament that is features local Pros v local AMs, in Latrobe, PA). Among those in the field was Nathan Smith, a prolific Western PA Amateur, and probably the best in the country that does not want to turn professional. Nathan is known by all who play pro and am events in Western PA. He has played in the Masters four times, and won the mid-Am four times, and also played along side Arnold Palmer in his last Masters. I was curious looking in his bag because as he had cally over-sized head  irons... in graphite, senior flex!! Nathan is in his mid to late 30's, and I couldn't believe that he had senior graphite shafts. The crazy thing about it was he could hit a 4-iron 240 yards. He also has excellent timing. He said that graphite shafts are are light, allowing him to create more club-head speed, which he had been lacking throughout most of his career. That combined with the over-sized heads added even more distance.(similar to the AP1's) He said that he wished he could have made the move earlier in his career. If one of the best Amateurs in the country has moved to graphite senior flex, I think anyone can. Hope this was helpful or at least a little interesting.

    Cheers

    -Luke

  4. Todd T

    So easy to get advice on the 'net, but just see a PGA Pro and you'll be most happy!

  5. Walt S

    Guys, Thanks for all of your replies, naturally I will be going to a pro and get fit, however, I just wanted to hear from someone who has had experience with graphite in their iron shaft and switched from steel and how long of an adjustment period was there. Somehow I can see myself switching from steel to graphite in a driver more so than an iron. The other issue is that if I don't like the graphite shaft, it would be a lot harder to go back to steel just because of the different head weights as I understand it.

    I also doubt that if I went to a pro to get fitted that he would have the current line up of different shafts steel and graphite for the AP1's, so that's why I am reaching out to guys that have used graphite in their irons and their opinion.

  6. Walt S

    Allen L

    Walt, I'm same age and about your handicap.  The steel vs. graphite decision is a tough one and I made a mistake last spring.  I bought a non-Titleist set recommended by a vendor that included hybrids.  I was never able to adjust to the graphite irons, gave them to my wife and she hits them better than her old clubs.  I'd suggest that if you have a partner who plays graphite, or know of a club where you can rent some graphite's, give them a try out on the course.  I now have Titleist irons with steel shafts, regular flex, and I love them.  I also bought a Titleist 913 D2 driver and fairway wood with graphite shafts, while I am hitting solid and finding fairways, I don't get the same accuracy or distance of my ancient steel shafted woods.  Take all this with a grain of salt as I'm not an expert at anything.  See how the fitting session goes and let your expert know about your concern.  Hopefully someone will give you better advice than I have.

    Thanks Alan for responding. I have tried some graphite irons from guys but they just didn't do anything for me in terms of added distance or accuracy and to be honest, they were kind of harsh even if you hit them dead center, but again these were not the Kuro Kage that will be offered in the AP1's.

  7. Tee Time Kev

    Hey Walt

       You have gotten a lot of great info here, and will probely get a bunch more.  Let me throw in my two cents.  I am 58 yo and at one point I had been down to a 9 hcp.  The last few years i have been going up now a 15 hcp.  I have been playing the AP1s with stiff graphite and all I can say is the guys i play with want me to get rid of them! I was going to go from stiff steel to reg steel but went stiff graphite.  and I'm hitting the ball better now then when I was a 9.  Getting chilly here in CT now but I can't wait until next season --- I see my HCP taking a dive again.  Oh yea I think my buddies will be forking over some more $$ along the way.  

  8. Walt S

    Tee Time Kev

    Hey Walt

       You have gotten a lot of great info here, and will probely get a bunch more.  Let me throw in my two cents.  I am 58 yo and at one point I had been down to a 9 hcp.  The last few years i have been going up now a 15 hcp.  I have been playing the AP1s with stiff graphite and all I can say is the guys i play with want me to get rid of them! I was going to go from stiff steel to reg steel but went stiff graphite.  and I'm hitting the ball better now then when I was a 9.  Getting chilly here in CT now but I can't wait until next season --- I see my HCP taking a dive again.  Oh yea I think my buddies will be forking over some more $$ along the way.  

    Thanks for the write up on the graphite shafts. I already ordered and received the AP1 irons and got fitted with a steel reg. flex with a hard step. This is my first time with reg. shafts or even the hard step which I knew nothing about until recently. So far, I am hitting them OK, not great (yet) but OK. I love the feel and looks but they are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch shorter than my previous clubs (Cobra). If anything, they hit maybe a few yards shorter on off center hits and about the same if not a tad longer on center hits. I tried the graphite shafts and I just couldn't swing it as consistently as I could my steel shafts and to me, they felt a bit harsher, maybe it was just me and I should have given them more time instead of just about a dozen hits. Glad they are working out for you though.
  9. Richard K

    I'm 76, handicap 9, driver swing-speed around 85-90. I currently play 712 AP1s with Tour AD graphite shafts in A Flex. I previously used the Nippon 105 in R flex. The graphite shafts enabled me to increase my iron lengths by 10 yds a club, but only in calm conditions. The downside is that I get a very high ball-flight, especially in the 7-PW, that creates ballooning in the strong winds that we experience on our course alongside the North Sea. The move from the R steel to the A graphite was too extreme.

    I've been doing a lot of research and am now considering a move to the 714 AP2s, because of their higher lofts in the long-irons and lower in the short. I'm looking for a shaft that will produce high ball flights in the 4-6 irons and lower ball-flights in the 7-PW.

    Graphite is starting to make an impression on the Tour. A popular choice is the Aero Steelfibre, which is graphite wound with steel wire - I believe that Matt Kuchar is using them in his irons.

    My choice will probably come down to either light-weight steel or graphite. My current favourites are:-

    Nippon Pro 850 GH in R flex - weight 87g, torque 2.1

    Project X graphite 4.5 - weight 91, torque 3

    UST Mamiya 95 F3 - weight 90, torque 4.1

    I'll also try the Kuro Kage in S flex - weight 65, torque 3.4 

    Ideally, I'd like to have a demo 6-iron with each of the shafts to do extensive testing - I dream on!!

  10. Walt S

    This is the mystery of the golf shaft. I'm sure if we all could swing the different shafts that are offered, we would be able to find the right one no question but we need to rely on a club fitter for that purpose and most of them do not have the various offerings that are out there. They also have their favorites that they use either because of cost, availability, or maybe some sort of kick-back. I am still half struggling with my irons because of the hard step and 2* upright which I never played before but was told by my fitter that it was the best combination for my swing. Not being a fitter by any means, I would look at your shafts first before I go to any club changes. Being a 9 hdcp., maybe changing shafts in your 7-pw could get the results you need, if not, the AP2 is a very nice club.
  11. Michael F

    I am 61 and play the AP1 irons with steel shafts. Arthritis has crippled my hands and I am buying the same clubs with graphite. I played graphite irons for 6 previous years and loved them ..... My attempt at steel shafts did not work out. Bottom line, graphite are easier to hit and absord the mishits a lot better

    Mike

  12. CrazyGolfNut

    I am 62 and will be purchasing new AP1's in the spring.  Arthritis has set in over the past couple of years so I may go with graphite.  

  13. jm.thome

    I believe your curiosity is something you need to flesh out. Graphite shafts will be lighter. As we age, swinging a lighter shaft will help with your control, and you will probably find your club head speed will slightly increase. Both are beneficial.

  14. Walt S

    I don't know if this is the right way or not but I am going to buy a single iron (7) with a graphite shaft and have it set up 2* upright like my current irons and see if I get the results that I want or expect. With my steel shafts I had also a +1 hard step but I don't think that you could do that with graphite. With so many graphite shaft options for irons now, it's almost impossible to try everything out, so this will be my trial and error with the standard Kuro Kage TiNi65 offering. The only reason I am hesitant on ordering a set with graphite is that I tried graphite shafts in my current irons before I went with steel and found them being harsh and clunky feeling and sounding. If I don't like the way the new iron feels with the graphite shaft or don't get the results, my investment won't be as much as a new set that I wouldn't enjoy playing.
  15. Don O

    My personal experience is the AD-65's (in the AP1 712) were too limp and the stock DGs were too heavy. It came down to the KK 85 g or the TT XP-95 in the 714 AP1s (the KK 65 felt a lot like the AD-65s). The KK-85 (R-flex) won as it was a tad better in the 6-7 irons, equal from the 8's and down. Since the hybrids are graphite (S+ R-flex), it wasn't a big deal to use graphite. Also, at 65 with some arthritis creeping into my hands, the steel wasn't going to get easier over time.
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