Regular Flex Vs. Senior Flex: What's the difference?
Something that many new golfers have a hard time grasping is the concept of flex and the differences between them. Many believe that a shaft is a shaft and that the real magic behind any golf club is the club head.
Far from it.
Golf shafts are just as important for distance, flight, and accuracy as the club heads. Choosing the right golf shaft with the right flex can mean the difference between victory and failure. In a game where the lowest score wins, and even attempted shots are counted, the last thing you want is to have more bad shots than you can count.
Of the many types of flex that a shaft can come in, there are usually two that make up the majority of clubs, the regular and the senior flex golf shafts. If you are one of those players that know next to nothing about these types of flex, look no further.
In this article, we'll discuss what flex is, why it's important, and the key differences between regular and senior flex golf shafts:
Why Is Flex Important?
Flex (engineering) is the measure of the stiffness of a golf club shaft and relates to how much the golf shaft will bend when a force is applied to it.
A stiffer shaft will bend less, while a more flexible shaft will bend more.
- Ladies' flex shafts are designed for female golfers with slower swing speeds and more flexibility.
- Senior flex golf shafts are designed for golfers in their early 50s or those with slower swing speeds who require a more flexible shaft.
- Regular flex shafts are designed for golfers with average swing speeds and are the most popular amongst all golfers.
- Stiff flex shafts are designed for golfers with higher swing speeds and are intended to provide more control to the golfer.
- Extra stiff flex golf shafts are designed for golfers with the highest swing speeds and the greatest power, providing less flex and more accuracy. It is important to be aware of the flex rating of your shafts because the wrong shaft for your swing speed can negatively impact your performance.
It is recommended that you get fit for the proper flex for your game by a professional club-fitter.
What are the Types of Flex Available?
The flex of shafts is usually categorized into the following:
This is the softest type of flex and is intended to be used by female golfers. This is not to say, however, that it is the only type of golf shaft usable for ladies' clubs. Many women tend to graduate to stiffer types of shafts once they've reached a stronger swing power and faster swing speed.
Senior Flex or A or M
Still very soft, not as soft as a ladies' flex shaft. It is often used in golfing lessons and is commonly seen among beginners, though some amateurs still prefer using a senior golf shaft. golf shaft We'll talk more about this type further down below.
Regular Flex or R
This is the standard type of flex seen in most newly manufactured golf clubs. It is the type of flex that's serviceable, and any player of any skill level can use it comfortably. We'll talk more about regular flex further down below.
Uniflex or U:
This is the level of flexibility that's between a regular flex and a stiff flex. Shafts with this type of flex are often used when a golfer is transitioning from a regular flex to a stiffer type of flex.
- Stiff Flex or S: This is usually used for golfers with a high swing speed, adding more power behind the swing.
- Extra Stiff Flex or XS: This is the type of flex most common among amateur young players who sport a higher-than-average swing speed.
- Extremely Stiff or XXS: This is used by most professional golfers and is the type of golf shaft seen in most drivers.
Despite what many golfers might think, you do not have to have the same type of flex for all your golf clubs.
For instance, drivers are swung much faster than irons and, thus, need a stiffer and longer shaft than you would otherwise need for your irons.
On the other hand, wedges should generally have a softer golf shaft since most manufacturers make their golf shafts intentionally shift. As a golfer, you should also take the initiative to decide which type of flex goes with which type of club.
Finally, of all these types of flexes, 2 is the cause of most confusion among golfers.
Many novices are unaware of the difference between senior golf shafts and regular flex golf shafts and, even more important when a golfer should graduate from one type of flex to the next. Let's talk about this.
What is a Regular Flex Golf Shaft?
Labeled as "R" in most flex charts, regular flex golf shafts are the most common type of golf shaft flex out there today. They are considered the middle ground type of flex that any golfer can use.
The regular flex can be made in either graphite or steel, steel shafts and graphite each having their pros and cons, and is usually considered a men's type of flex.
That being said, there are women with great swing speeds that prefer using regular flex golf shafts for their clubs. Many amateur players also use regular flex since it is the type of stiffness they're most comfortable with.
Conversely, some golfers, such as beginners or senior players, find this type to be too stiff. In cases like this, they tend to favor using senior shafts or softer for their clubs.
Regular flex is also very common for irons and woods but less favored for drivers (for being too soft) or wedges (for being too hard).
Who should use it?
The most common recommendation made by analysts of golf is that the regular flex should be used by players who can achieve distances of 210 to 240 yards with the ball. It is also a good choice for players who have swing speeds between 75 and 84 mph.
Overall, we would recommend this type of flex for medium to high handicappers. It's still too soft to truly be a professional-level shaft, but getting a beginner familiar with using regular flex early on is beneficial long-term.
That being said, the choice of flex is up to you and what's most beneficial for your playing style. If you find that a regular flex is hard to use and inhibits your ability to achieve distance, then you might want to try using senior flex.
Best Regular Flex Drivers
- Callaway Paradym Driver (Best Overall Driver): Known for its high forgiveness and increased ball speed, the Paradym Driver offers a good feel and is suitable for golfers with moderate to high swing speeds. It's a premium driver that provides distance, forgiveness, and feel, available in different head shapes and shaft options.
- TaylorMade Stealth 2 Driver (Great Alternate Driver): This high-performance driver combines distance, forgiveness, and feel with a new carbon fiber construction. It's available in standard and draw-biased head shapes, allowing customization to specific needs.
- TaylorMade SIM 2 Max Driver (Great for Mid Handicappers): Released in 2021, the SIM 2 Max offers optimal aerodynamics, adjustable hosel, and low spin. It's designed for mid-handicappers seeking added velocity, distance, and forgiveness.
What Are Senior Flex Shafts?
There are many reasons that an experienced golfer might give that might deter you from getting a softer shaft. When the shaft is too flexy, it tends to be harder to control and sends the ball flying in different directions.
But there's also the case to be made that a shaft that is too stiff is just as bad. When the flex is too stiff, you might have a harder time trying to drive the ball to greater distances. This is made even more difficult if you're still working on your swing speed.
All this makes the senior flex the next most common type of flex after regular. Often labeled as "A" or "M" on flex charts, senior flex is the type of shaft you would use when you have a slower swing speed than most experienced golfers. Being much softer, many people who use senior flex find that it's easier to achieve farther distances because the bend of the shafts helps carry the ball into the air more efficiently.
While it might not be the most optimal type of flex when trying to achieve accuracy, many players who use senior flex find that their ability to hit into the fairways and green is greatly improved.
The downside to this is that a regular flex shaft and a golfer with a great swing speed will almost always lead to better distance and greater accuracy. Though this is not to say that a senior golf shaft cannot contend, it is usually the type of flex that beginners graduate from or experienced golfers elect to use after a certain age.
Who should use it?
As stated above, a senior flex shaft is the shaft of choice for players that are either starting or getting a little bit on the older side of the spectrum. Some women players have also been known to use a senior flex golf shaft.
These types of players tend to have slower swing speeds, 75-85 mph, and short ball distances, 180-200 yards. This means they need a shaft that can compensate for this. By being softer and bendier, senior flex allows the player to deliver as much energy into the ball as possible despite the decreased amount of momentum.
When cut in the right length, paired with a forgiving club head, and helped by a well-developed swing, senior flex shafts can allow you to compete with stronger and faster players.
Best Senior Flex Drivers
- TaylorMade Stealth Driver: This driver features a 60x carbon twist face and speed pocket technology, maximizing ball speeds and adding extra forgiveness. It's a popular choice among PGA Tour champion golfers like Jim Furyk, Darren Clarke, and Fred Couples.
- Cleveland Launcher XL Driver: This driver offers a large club head with a high MOI, ensuring a high ball flight and consistency in drives. It's a runner-up to the TaylorMade Stealth Driver in terms of distance but offers great forgiveness and playability.
Other Notable Senior Flex Clubs
- Ping G425 Hybrid: This hybrid is known for its performance and adaptability.
- Callaway Rogue ST Max Irons: These irons are designed to provide a balanced combination of speed and control.
- Odyssey White Hot OG 2 Ball Putter: This putter is recognized for its precision and feel.
These clubs are designed to cater to the specific needs of senior golfers, focusing on aspects like forgiveness, speed, and control. They are suitable for mid to high handicap senior golfers looking to improve their game.
How to choose the right type of flex?
So far, we've discussed the differences between senior and regular flex and which type of golfers tend to use them the most. Even then, some golfers might find it hard to categorize themselves along those lines or know for certain which type of flex would suit them.
Let's delve into some of the criteria you should be looking at when deciding the flex of your shafts:
Distances & Swing Speeds
The distance you can achieve and the speed of your swings are the two main criteria you should base your decision on. If you find that either one of those or both is less than ideal, then maybe you should consider either getting a stiffer or softer flex.
For swing speed, if you find that you reach about 70 to 85 miles per hour, then the senior flex golf shaft might be the right choice for you. These are a bit slow by average standards, and a softer flex might help you compensate for this and achieve a similar level of distance to other experienced players.
If you find that swing speed is a little too hard of a metric, then calculating the average distances of your ball might be easier.
- Distances of 170-200 yards achieved with a drive would warrant a senior flex.
- Driver distances of 200-245 yards might mean the regular flex is the one for you.
In both instances, golfers report an increase in the distance once they shift to a more appropriate type of shaft.
There are many apps online that allow you to gauge your swing speed and ball distance for free. Downloading them can let you know easily what type of flex you need, along with any other points for improvement.
When you're custom-fitting your clubs, there's a portion there where they will test your swing speed and ball distance for you. Based on the collected data, they then add the shaft that suits your abilities the most.
It's an easy and hassle-free way to get the clubs tailor-fitted to your needs and avoid doing too much math.
Of course, we cannot remove personal preference from the equation. Some newbies are more comfortable using regular flex, and that goes for some senior players too. Some experienced players never took to regular flex and have all their irons in senior flex shafts.
There's no fixed rule that golfers have to abide by in terms of the flex of their clubs. Use what is most comfortable and helpful for you and your game.
Whether it's senior flex golf shaft or regular, all that matters in the grand scheme of things is that you make the right choices for your long-term performance as a golfer. In that, we hope this article was useful to you in some way.
And that was our article on comparing regular and senior flex. As different as they are, they both aim to do the same thing: improve distance and allow golfers to compete on the levelest playing field possible.