Do Pros Use Graphite or Steel Shafts? It Depends Which Club (2023 update)

PGA Tour pro Matt Kuchar on golf course with his caddie holding a graphite shaft iron

Wind the clock back 30 years or so and there would have been little point in wondering about whether the top pros use graphite or steel shafts in their clubs as steel was the only show in town.

In modern golf however the question is much more relevant as shaft technology has exploded and pros have investigated ways to generate ever more clubhead speed to hit the ball ever increasing distances by using different shafts.

So to definitively answer the question of whether pros use graphite or steel shafts we took a detailed look at the shafts the top 100 players on the PGA Tour are playing with.

100% of the top PGA Tour pros use graphite shafts in their drivers, woods and hybrids. 12 play graphite shafts in their driving irons with 14 using steel. Matt Kuchar’s Aerotech SteelFiber shafts are the only graphite iron shafts in this group although Abraham Ancer does use composite graphite-on-steel shafts for his irons.

As we can immediately see therefore the question of whether pros use graphite or steel shafts is clearly club dependent and the answer is different based on which type of club you are talking about.

When it comes to graphite vs steel shafts however the topic does not end there as in reality some of the modern golf shafts the pros use include both and other materials in order to try and deliver even better results!

Table of contents

Do Pros Use Graphite or Steel Shafts In Their Drivers?

When former USPGA champion Jimmy Walker decided to use a steel True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shaft in his Titleist TS3 driver at the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge he caused a bit of a stir.

Now you wouldn’t think such a decision would result in any sort of reaction but the reason it got a fair bit of attention was for the simple reason that when it comes to the choice of shafts in their driver the pros are in total agreement.

Our analysis of the top 100 players on the PGA Tour in 2023 showed that all of them choose to use graphite shafts in their drivers and indeed according to Golf.com every PGA Tour player has used a graphite shaft in his driver during competition since 2014.

So when it comes to whether the pros use graphite or steel shafts in their drivers the answer is very clear cut and the reasons for this are as follows.

Steel is a very uniform material and as a result is not very easy to manipulate, particularly at the heavier weights of shafts preferred by the top pros.

By comparison however graphite is much more flexible and can be combined with multiple materials.

Graphite shafts can therefore not only be made much stiffer at lighter weights but also the flex of graphite shafts can be uniquely altered to meet individual pros’ performance and feel requirements.

Add to this graphite’s shock-absorbing properties that help reduce the vibrations transferring to a golfer’s hands and you have a shaft material which offers performance and customisation benefits that pros simply cannot achieve with steel shafts.

So when it comes to graphite vs steel shafts for the pros in their drivers the ship has clearly sailed.

And in case you were wondering what Jimmy Walker ended up doing he switched back to a Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X graphite shaft in his driver very quickly after trying steel again in 2020!

[Note – To see what exact shafts the top 100 PGA Tour players are using in their drivers and other clubs check out our article here.]

Golfing Focus infographic comparison of number of top 100 PGA Tour pros using graphite or steel iron shafts

Do Any Pros Use Graphite Shaft Irons?

When it comes to the graphite vs. steel shaft question along with driver attention is often focused on iron shafts.

And when golfers look at the specific topic of graphite iron shafts they often immediately think of senior players simply because they are often assumed to be only for golfers with slower swing speeds who need something light and more whippy.

But when Rich Beem became the first player to win a major – the USPGA in 2002 – with a set of graphite shafts in his irons and wedges it was questioned whether modern shaft technology had delivered on graphite iron shafts to the extent that the top pros would move away from steel.

Roll the clock forward a couple of decades however, and despite yet more graphite iron shaft technology advances, steel iron shafts remain the clear preference among the bags of the top 100 PGA Tour pros.

99% of the top 100 PGA Tour pros use steel shafts in their irons. Matt Kucher is the exception playing Aerotech SteelFiber i110 shafts in his irons. Abraham Ancer uses a composite of graphite and steel Mitsubishi MMT Taper Iron 105 TX iron shaft while fellow LIV pro Bryson DeChambeau uses LA Golf fully graphite iron shafts.

Bryson DeChambeau and Abraham Ancer are the current biggest supporters of fully graphite or composite graphite and steel iron shafts but it was Matt Kuchar who was probably the biggest name to give them an early thumbs-up as he became an early adopter of Aerotech’s SteelFiber graphite shafts in his irons.

Indeed it was Matt Kuchar who turned 9-time PGA Tour winner Brandt Snedeker onto graphite iron shafts when he borrowed Kuchar’s backup set for an event when Snedeker’s clubs didn’t arrive and played great with them.

Since then Snedeker has stuck with his graphite SteelFiber i95 iron shafts although he has now dropped out the top 100 on the PGA Tour in 2023.

Kuchar meanwhile uses the Aerotech SteelFiber Private Reserve i110 graphite shafts in his Srixon ZX7 Mk II irons from 5-iron to pitching wedge before switching back to steel KBS Tour shafts for his gap, sand and lob wedges.

But when it comes to the pros and their iron shafts there is clearly still an overwhelming preference for steel despite all the advances in graphite iron shaft technology which has taken place over the last number of years.

[Note – To find out what specific irons the best pros are choosing to put these shafts into check out our analysis of what irons the top 100 PGA Tour pros are using in 2023 here.]

True Temper Dynamic Gold golf shaft
True Temper’s Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 iron shaft is the most popular on the PGA Tour.
Check out the latest price on Amazon.

Do Pros Use Graphite or Steel Shafts For Their Fairway Woods and Hybrids?

In the modern game distance is a key factor in success.

And when it comes to the pros a few extra yards on their longest clubs, including fairway woods and hybrids, can mean the difference between hundreds of thousands of dollars of prize money.

Increased swing speed is vital when it comes to distance and graphite shafts play a key role in enabling the world’s top players to maximise the distance they hit the ball.

As a result the reasons why pros prefer graphite shafts in their drivers – namely its flexibility and its ability to be made much stiffer at lighter weights – apply equally to the fairway woods and hybrids they use.

It was therefore no surprise that in 2023 we again found that 100% of the top 100 PGA Tour pros use graphite shafts in their fairway woods and hybrid clubs.

Across the complete PGA Tour field there are though a few outliers.

2012 US Open Champion Webb Simpson for example uses a steel True Temper Dynamic Gold 120 Tour Issue X100 shaft in his 24º Titleist TSR3 hybrid but these are very much exceptions to the general rule that pros almost to a man choose graphite over steel shafts for the longest clubs in the bag.

[Note – Continuing our in-depth analysis of all the clubs the top 100 PGA Tour pros are using you can find out more about the fairway woods they are playing here.]

Do Any PGA Tour Pros Use Steel Shafts In Their Utility Irons?

When it comes to the shaft choices the PGA Tour pros make for their drivers, fairway woods and hybrids graphite shafts have been the overwhelming preference of the best players in the world for a number of years now.

And as we have already also seen that preference flips on its head when it comes to iron shafts with almost all of them choosing steel over graphite.

However the picture starts to get a bit more mixed when you take a look at the utility iron shafts they use and that’s not just in terms of how many individuals are playing graphite shafts and how many are choosing steel shafts.

Aerotech SteelFiber shafts for example, which can lay claim to more professional tour wins than any other graphite iron shaft, are actually a graphite core shaft with steel fibre wrapped around it.

To be clear this ‘steel’ fibre is thinner than a human hair but it highlights well how golf shaft manufacturers are increasingly aiming to exploit graphite’s core flexibility as a material and combine it where they can with the inherent strengths that steel provides.

MMT Graphite shaft side by side with Nippon Modus Steel shaft

Mitsubishi’s Metal Mesh Technology (MMT) shafts are also being designed with the key thought in mind of blending the strength of steel with the flexibility of graphite by adding a small section of metal mesh into the tip section of these shafts (i.e. the few inches attached to the club head) to increase both the weight and stability of the shaft.

2022 Masters Champion and world no.1 Scottie Scheffler meanwhile is using a Nippon Pro Modus3 Hybrid Tour X ‘Graphite on Steel’ shaft in both his Srixon Z U85 utility 3-iron and 4-iron and this is another shaft that aims to integrate the benefits of graphite and steel together.

Now these shafts are still clearly categorized as graphite, because that is the material they are principally made of, but it shows when it comes to utility irons the choice between steel and graphite is much less clear cut than it is with the pros drivers, fairway woods, hybrids and standard irons.

And this is backed up in our detailed analysis of the shafts being used by the top 100 PGA Tour pros in their driving/utility irons which highlights that 12 players chose a graphite shaft with another 14 pros preferring a steel shaft model.

So as we can see when it comes to the graphite versus steel shaft decision in the utility irons of PGA Tour pros there is less consensus than there is with their other longer clubs.

[Note – Yup, you’ve guessed it. We have also done a detailed analysis of the the driving/utility irons being used by the top 100 PGA Tour pros which you can also check out here.]

Do Pros Use Graphite or Steel Shafts In Their Wedges?

As you would expect when it comes to looking at the shafts pros use in their wedges the preferences among the top 100 PGA Tour players very much reflect the choices made with their iron shafts.

And again the best players on the PGA Tour clearly prefer steel shafts compared to graphite shafts when it comes to the shortest clubs in the bag with almost 100% of the top 100 PGA Tour players using steel shafts in their wedges.

Abraham Ancer is again an outlier with choosing a Mitsubishi MMT Taper Iron 105 TX graphite on steel shaft for his pitching wedge but when it comes to his gap, sand and lob wedges even he reverts back to traditional steel shafts choosing True Temper’s Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 Black Onyx model.

Kuchar meanwhile uses the Aerotech SteelFiber i110 graphite shaft in his pitching wedge but again returns to steel KBS Tour shafts for this other shafts.

Brandt Snedeker meanwhile opts for AeroTech SteelFiber i95 shaft in his pitching wedge prior to switching to True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 steel shafts for his gap, sand and lob wedges.

With his continued uses of LA Golf graphite shafts therefore Bryson DeChambeau continues to fly a pretty much lone flag for the use of graphite shafts in irons and wedges in addition to the longest clubs in the bag!

Does Tiger Woods Use Steel or Graphite Shafts?

And what about the shafts the great Tiger Woods uses in his clubs?

Well at the 2023 Masters he continued to stick with the classic True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 steel shaft in his irons – which has been the gold standard of iron shafts for close to 30 years now – from 3-iron to pitching wedge.

A True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 steel shaft was seen in his 56º sand and 60º lob wedge before he, together with almost all his fellow pros, went with graphite shafts in his driver and fairway woods.

The table below lists all the shafts used by Tiger Woods.

TIGER WOODS CLUBSHAFT TYPESHAFT
TaylorMade Stealth Plus DriverGraphiteFujikura Ventus Black 6XCheck eBay
TaylorMade SIM Titanium 3-woodGraphiteMitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TXCheck eBay

View on Amazon
TaylorMade M3 5-woodGraphiteMitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TXCheck eBay

View on Amazon
TaylorMade P-770 (3-iron)SteelTrue Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100Check eBay

View on Amazon
TaylorMade P7TW Irons (4-PW)SteelTrue Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100Check eBay

View on Amazon
TaylorMade MG3 Raw TW Grind Wedges (56º,60º)SteelTrue Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400Check eBay

View on Amazon

Before you go …

Knowing what decisions the top PGA Tour pros are making when it comes to golf shafts is always interesting but with average swingspeeds over 20mph faster than the average amateur golfer (114mph vs. 93.4mph) there is probably more to learn from the iron shafts being used by the best female pros.

Read our next article to find out what iron shafts and irons the best LPGA pros are choosing with their 94mph average swingspeeds …

What Irons and Iron Shafts Do LPGA Players Use?

[Note – Just so you know, and we are upfront as an affiliate program participant, Golfing Focus earns from qualifying purchases made through links on this page.]

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Graeme Hay

Graeme Hay is the owner of GolfingFocus.com. Graeme started playing golf when he was only 4 years old and has loved the game ever since. A single figure golfer all of his adult life and a member of Royal Troon Golf Club he lives in London and still enjoys playing whenever he can with friends and family.

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