Many people will argue that the shaft is the engine of the club and it makes the difference on performance of a club. In other camps, the clubhead design is the single most important component. Neither is exactly wrong, but think about it a different way. Remember those old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials? The line was something along the lines of “You got your peanut butter on my chocolate. No, you got your chocolate on my peanut butter”. My contention is there are no bad shafts or bad heads there are simply good or bad combinations for certain golfers.
Whenever you conduct scientific testing, you want to eliminate all variables as possible except the one you are testing. For instance, let’s say you want to test out all of the various Apollo steel S-flex irons shafts. In order to do so correctly, you would shaft each one at the same length using the same head design, loft and lie, same balance, etc. Then you would go out and hit each one and see what tendencies each one exhibited. If you are testing for head design, you use the same shaft, flex, length, etc. and see the tendencies of what the clubhead does.
This type of testing is very good to tell certain things about a single component however it does not test all the options possible. Let’s say there are 6 Apollo S-flex steel shafts, but you have 26 different irons and hybrids of the same weight. In this scenario, there are 156 combinations possible. To test all 156 combinations takes a long time, and is an expensive proposition.
But let say you do have that ambition. Chances are you will find the Apollo Hump shaft, with its unique geometry at the tip, has a tendency to keep the ball low and is fade/push biased compared to the other Apollo S-flex offerings using the same head. Now testing the heads using the same shaft, you find the Acer XP 905 Hybrid has a tendency to hit the ball high and with a draw bias. By themselves in the original demo clubs, neither component might be selected because the ball flight might not have been straight nor produced the desired trajectory. However, match the two and someone (yes, like myself) has a club that works quite well. Sometimes certain parameters will cancel themselves out and harmonize with one another.
Finding the right combinations can be a daunting challenge considering all the different combinations and permutations that can occur. Learn as much as you can about each of the components, their traits and tendencies, but don’t forget the bigger picture on how they might be combined. This might also explain why one shaft in one head works so well and the same shaft in another head was disappointing.