Last week’s Blog posting showed you all the multitude of new flex designations that you now see listed in catalogs and on the shafts themselves. In this week’s article, I am going to show you just the opposite situation or when you don’t see any flex designation at all. Plus I will attempt to give a valid explanation as to why manufacturers don’t provide more flex options for certain clubs in the bag.
What flex is a putter shaft anyway? Believe it or not, I don’t get this question asked often and probably the reason why manufacturers don’t label the shaft the same way they do all the other 13 clubs in the bag. The putter is designed to be used primarily on or possibly just off of the putting surface therefore the person putting is not going to put a whole lot of stress on the shaft the same as they would a full swing club. On one hand you want as much accuracy as possible so you would think putter shafts are pretty stout. But on the other hand, you want to have some feel. If you were bored and wanted to find out what flex they are the majority of conventional length putter shafts you would find they fall into the R-flex category.
The majority of popular name brand wedge sets like Cleveland and Titleist have a shaft label that says on them “Wedge” flex. Go ahead and dig around in the bin at your local golf store and try to find another flex. I don’t care if you are a strong young man, member of a ladies league or elderly gentlemen; you’ll all get the “Wedge” flex.
So what exactly is a “Wedge” flex? It is basically a version of the Dynamic Gold steel shaft or a stiff-tipped, heavy weight S flex taper tipped shaft. Year in and year out these wedges sell very well and are sold in only one flex option. So who am I to say it is wrong? I guess we can always get Jesse Ventura to do a Conspiracy Theory episode to uncover the truth. However, you have to realize most of these shafts go into blade style wedges designed for the better player or professional who is more likely to hit S-flex shafts. The “wedge” flex shaft is not going into the matching wedges of a cavity back game improvement set which are offered in multiple flexes.
If people want to play what the pros do, this is one time they can get it the same way. With wedges available in an assortment of lofts, finishes and even bounces, the last thing a manufacturer wants to do is multiple their inventory 5 times by having one each of the five flexes when the formula to offer one flex has worked so far.
If accuracy is what you are looking for the standard “Wedge” flex may be just fine. If you want feel, then consult your local club fitter to possibly put you into a lighter and/or more flexible shaft.
A chipper is technically an iron according to the USGA as they have more than 10º of loft. The stroke used on a chipper is more akin to one you would use for a putter or an abbreviated swing. Therefore you aren’t (or supposed to) put a whole lot of stress on the golf shaft. As a result, the shaft in a pre-assembled chipper will typically end up being R-flex regardless of who uses it with no other options available. But for clubmaker’s they always have that option of making the flex whatever they would like – possibly to match the iron flex in the player’s set.
You might have seen the term “Uniflex” given to a shaft and wondered what it was. It is really an R or fall somewhere in-between an R and S flex shaft when compared to all the flexes. What makes it Uniflex is the manufacturer only gives you one option, hence the term “uni”. Typically you will find these on men’s boxed sets or in certain steel-shafted name brand game improvement irons. In defense of boxed sets, they are generally going to be sold to beginners who are not going to know the difference between purchasing a regular or stiff set of clubs, nor could tell much by hitting them. Or in the case the manufacturer made the shaft halfway between R and S flex, the average strength male golfer may be off at most by half a flex. It certainly saves a manufacturer from inventorying more stock keeping units as well as keeps it simpler to order for the average Joe.
Unless consumers start demanding from manufacturers to start offering more flex options on these categories of clubs or one company does and immediately starts taking market share away from others, don’t expect differently. But at least you are now aware of why manufacturers offer certain clubs in only one flex option.