While you can easily see what driver or irons the pros are hitting simply from watching them on TV it is much more difficult to work out what shaft flex they are playing with.
So to find out we did a detailed analysis of the flexes of shafts being used by the top 100 PGA Tour pros to see how many pros are using regular or stiff flex, or even extra stiff (X-stiff) or tour extra stiff (TX) shafts in their clubs.
Matthew NeSmith is the only user of a regular+ flex shaft among the top 100 PGA Tour pros and in only his gap, sand and lob wedges. 99% use stiff, extra stiff (X-stiff) or tour extra (TX) stiff flex shafts in all their clubs. Only Brian Harman uses a stiff shaft driver with the others playing X-stiff or TX stiff flex.
When it comes to the flex of shafts the best pros use therefore it is clear that they don’t use shafts that the vast majority of us regular amateurs play with.
Indeed they will often vary the flex of their shafts depending on the type of club.
But when it comes to looking at the shafts various manufacturers produce for the pros it is not always easy to compare like with like as different companies use different numbering and naming conventions to indicate flex shafts.
And some shaft manufacturers even vary their own numbering system across different models of shafts to make it even more confusing!
What Flex of Shaft Do Pros Use? Shorter Clubs Are a Little Softer
Golf shaft manufacturers don’t make it very straightforward to compare shaft flexes.
While some of them use labelling which is easy to understand – regular shafts are ‘R’, stiff shafts are ‘S’, extra stiff shafts are ‘X’, and tour extra stiff shafts are ‘TX’ – others categorise the flex differently and use a numbering system which is not always easy to understand.
True Temper for example uses a numbering system which not only varies between shafts for woods and irons but also varies between different models of shafts they make!
This makes the job of comparing what shafts the different pros use more complicated but whatever the system it is clear the debate for the top pros is not the regular vs. stiff shaft flex one that it is for many amateurs.
Across the driver, wood, hybrid, driving iron, iron and wedge shafts used by the top 100 PGA Tour pros 18.6% are tour extra stiff flex. 49.7% are extra stiff flex with 27.6% being of stiff or wedge flex. 2.1% of the shafts are stiff+ flex while only 0.3% are regular+ flex. None of this group uses a regular shaft in any club.
With close to 70% of all the shafts played by the top 100 PGA Tour pros being either of TX or X-stiff flex, and 99% of them being of stiff flex or stronger, the preferences of most of the best players in the world are clear when it comes to what flex of shaft they use.
As we look in more detail at the flex of shafts they choose in the different club types however we do start to see a more varied picture.
With their drivers for example 55% of the top 100 PGA Tour pros use an extra-stiff shaft with another 44 choosing an even stronger Tour extra stiff or TX flex shaft.
And as we have already noted the only outlier when it comes to flex of driver shaft among this group is the 2023 British Open champion Brian Harman who still uses ‘only’ a stiff shaft in his 9º Titleist TSi2 driver.
This 99% of the top 100 Tour using either extra stiff or Tour extra stiff flex driver shafts in 2023 is also up from the 90% figure we noted when we last did this analysis two years ago.
It therefore seems that the top players’ relentless quest for ever more distance off the tee is impacting on their driver shaft choices.
This preference for very strong flex shafts in the longest clubs in the pros bag is again in evidence when it comes to their fairway woods, hybrids and driving/utility irons.
For fairway woods for example over 95% of the shafts chosen by the top 100 PGA players are TX or X-stiff flex while for hybrids that percentage drops only slightly to 88%.
When it comes to driving or utility irons however the proportion of top 100 pros using X-stiff or TX shafts is back up to 92%.
The remaining players in each of these club categories choose either a stiff or stiff plus (stiff+) flex shafts including Brian Harman once again, Kevin Kisner, Troy Merritt, Luke List and CT Pan.
Not one of this elite group however is using a regular shaft in any of these club types.
As the clubs get shorter however things do start to change slightly.
As we started to look at the flex of shafts the top 100 use in their irons we noticed the shaft flex picture start to ‘soften’ slightly.
11% of the top 100 PGA Tour pros use stiff shafts in their standard irons including Hideki Matsuyama, Corey Connors and Brian Harman. 5% choose stiff+ iron shafts, a flex in-between stiff and extra stiff, although 78% use extra stiff shafts with another 5% choosing extra stiff iron shafts.
Again not one of the top 100 uses regular flex irons shafts.
It is only among the wedge shafts selected by the pros that you finally see the majority of them using ‘softer’ flex shafts.
But as we can see below a healthy number still continue to choose extra stiff shafts even in their wedges.
[Note – To find out whether the pros use graphite or steel shafts check out our great article on this topic here.]
Do Any Pros Use Regular Shafts? Only in Their Wedges!
When it comes to the shafts the best pros use many players will choose shafts made by 3 or even 4 different shaft manufacturers.
The majority also vary the flex of shafts these use across the different club types.
What many amateurs want to know typically is whether any pros use regular or stiff shafts as that is main question the average player is wrestling with when putting together their own set.
As we have already noted however when it comes to the flex of the shafts the top 100 PGA Tour pros use softer flex shafts like ‘regular’ shafts simply don’t figure and one of the main reasons for this swingspeed.
With an average driver swingspeed on the PGA Tour of around 115mph very stiff shafts are required to produce the results the pros want.
Too ‘soft’ and the shaft would simply bend too much based on the ‘load’ the best players apply to the shaft.
When it comes to their wedges however even the the pros start finally to opt more often for slightly softer flex shafts.
That does not mean though that the vast majority opt for anything any less strong than a stiff shaft.
Stiff shafts are the clear preference when it comes to wedge shafts, however compared to the extra stiff and tour extra stiff shafts they prefer in other clubs, 53% of the top 100 PGA Tour pros opt for stiff shafts in their pitching, gap, sand and lob wedges.
And when you remove pitching wedges from the equation the number of this elite group using stiff wedge shafts rises again to 62% highlighting again that the pros choice of flex gets progressively ‘softer’ as their clubs get shorter and more lofted.
Saying that however over 40% of this elite group still use extra stiff shafts in the shortest clubs in their bag and we found Matthew NeSmith as the sole user of regular+ flex shafts in his Cleveland RTX Zipcore Tour Rack gap, sand and lob wedges.
Do All Pros Use Extra Stiff Shafts? In Their Longest Clubs They Do!
When it comes to looking at the flex of shafts the pros use in their clubs discussion often starts with the driver.
Golfers are most often concerned with shaft flex when it comes to the club they can hit the ball furthest with.
And when it comes to driver shafts the preferences of the best players on the PGA Tour are crystal clear.
In 2023 99% of the top 100 PGA Tour pros use either an extra stiff or Tour extra flex driver shaft. 44% choose a Tour extra stiff or TX driver shaft including Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm. 55% use extra stiff shafts including Rory McIlroy while Brian Harman is alone among this elite group in using a stiff driver shaft.
Again as we have already noted not one of the top 100 uses a regular or regular+ shaft in their driver.
And once again the simple reason for this is swing speed.
Shaft flex is in short a measure of how much a shaft will bend under the force of a golf swing with a head attached at the tip end.
As a shaft bends during the loading and downswing, so does the head rotate through the swing.
Choosing the proper flex allows the head to come back to the square position, thereby transferring the maximum amount of energy to the ball at impact.
The speed and frequency of your swing therefore determines what flex you need and one of the key reasons PGA Tour pros are able to achieve an average driving distance of close to 300 yards is because their average driver swingspeed is now over 115mph.
Brandon Matthews meanwhile tops the latest driver swingspeed chart with an incredible average of 126.51mph over the course of the 2023 season.
Such swing speeds create a lot of bend in golf shafts and therefore the pros need a very stiff driver shaft to deliver the best results.
Of the 72 different individual driver shafts being used by the top 100 PGA Tour players made by eight different manufacturers we found Fujikura’s Ventus Black 6X was the most popular extra stiff shaft.
Meanwhile Mitsubishi’s Diamana range of driver shafts were shown to be the most used ‘Tour’ extra stiff flex shafts.
And this requirement for extra stiff shafts is also clearly in evidence in the other clubs the pros are aiming to hit consistently as far as possible – namely their fairway woods and hybrids.
As a general rule all the pros use tour extra stiff or extra stiff flex shafts in their fairway woods and hybrids.
Out of the top 100 PGA Tour pros only Brian Harman uses a stiff shaft in his Titleist TSi2 3-wood and Titleist TS2 5-wood.
And Kevin Kisner’s and Troy Merritt’s choices of a stiff and stiff+ shaft respectively in their hybrids again put then very much in a minority when it comes to the shaft flex choices of the best players on tour for these club types.
And what about the great Tiger Woods?
Well before his latest injury troubles he was also seen to be playing tour extra stiff shafts in his driver and fairway woods at the 2023 Masters.
He did however opt for comparatively ‘softer’ extra stiff shafts in his irons and pitching wedge before switching down flex again to only a stiff flex for his sand and gap wedges.
A complete list of the shaft flexes used by Tiger is shown in the table below.
|TIGER WOODS CLUB||SHAFT FLEX||SHAFT|
|TaylorMade Stealth Plus Driver||Tour X-Stiff||Fujikura Ventus Black 6X||Check eBay|
|TaylorMade SIM Titanium 3-wood||Tour X-Stiff||Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX||Check eBay|
View on Amazon
|TaylorMade M3 5-wood||Tour X-Stiff||Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX||Check eBay|
View on Amazon
|TaylorMade P-770 (3-iron)||X-Stiff||True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100||Check eBay|
View on Amazon
|TaylorMade P7TW Irons (4-PW)||X-Stiff||True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100||Check eBay|
View on Amazon
|TaylorMade MG3 Raw TW Grind Wedges (56º,60º)||Stiff||True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400||Check eBay|
View on Amazon
[Note – To check out the details of the exact shafts being used by the top 100 PGA Tour pros, including the most popular models across all categories of clubs, click here.]
Before you go …
Knowing what flex of shafts the top pros are choosing for their clubs is always interesting and fun to look into.
But with average driver swingspeeds over 20mph faster than the average amateur golfer (115mph 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 …
[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.]
Other great articles related to this topic:
- What Shafts Do Pros Use? Top 100 PGA Tour Player Breakdown
- Do Pros Use Graphite or Steel Shafts? It Depends Which Club
- Do Pros Use Game Improvement Irons? They Also Want Forgiveness!
- What Clubs Do Pro Golfers Use? Top 100 PGA Tour Player Guide
- What Clubs do LPGA players use?
- Most Popular Driver on LPGA Tour?
- How Far Do Pro Golfers Hit Each Club? A 2022 Guide