Graphite Or Steel Irons - Which Is Best?

Graphite Or Steel Irons

There is a continuous debate amongst golfers as to which is better graphite or steel shaft irons. The differences are basic and at first glance seem to be a matter of skill level. Graphite is for high to mid level handicap players and steel is for lower mid level and low handicap player but that is just on the surface. The reality is much more complex.

In your grandfather's day all golf irons were made of solid steel and you dealt with it at whatever level you were at. This made learning how to play well, getting any game improvement with the help of your club very difficult. At the time there were two types of golfers, pros and amateurs. The divide in between the two levels was great and empty. The reason was that solid steel irons were and are very difficult to learn how to use and get the best performance from because they are largely unforgiving and require extreme precision to get the best performance from.

With technological advances came the ability to make shafts from lighter weight materials that were just as strong and sturdy as steel. The lighter weight made carrying around large sets of clubs more enjoyable and also made them easier to use individually. The side benefits of a lightweight shaft that was softer and flexible became apparent quickly.

Graphite shafts bend. It is nearly imperceptible to the naked eye but when swung with force graphite shafts have a give that produces a whipping action upon contact with the ball. This gives graphite shafts more power for players with less power from their own swing. Golfers with weak shoulder or upper arm strength greatly benefit from the help of graphite's flexibility.

The softness of graphite also makes the irons more forgiving. Mishits do not sting the hands or shake your insides. This is a great benefit for mid to high handicap players still seeking that elusive perfect shot. There are many levels of flex available in graphite irons and the speed with which a golfer swings determines which level they should go for. The more powerful their own swing the less flex is needed to help with the power. The more consistency they have in stable contact and control the less flex they need to eliminate the vibrations of mishits.

Generally speaking older players, women, and beginning men should go for the most flexibility they can get while mid level handicappers to lower handicap players will be better served with less flexibility. Pro level players and players entering the lower handicap areas may wish to look at making the switch to steel shafts.

Steel shafts are not forgiving and used mostly by low handicap players because while they will rock your guts when you hit wrong having fewer mishits means that won't happen all that often and the vibrations when a mishit does occur helps them to understand their problem areas better. A very powerful golfer with a well-tuned swing benefits from steel more because they simply do not need extra speed put on the ball from the iron. They also prefer steel more often because they want to make their own decisions about how hard a ball is hit so they can create more complex fades, drops and slices. While not impossible those types of shots are more difficult with a graphite iron that will make it harder to change the power of your swing.

As it seems from the above the initial statement that graphite is for higher handicap players and steel is solely for low level players seems like an accurate statement. The reason it isn't quite that easy is that manufacturers like Ping, TaylorMade and Nike and others are always working hard to make improvements to both sides of the coin to the point that there is a shady gray area between the two now. The big difference that graphite has made to the golfing industry is that wide gap between amateurs and professionals. Graphite has allowed mid to high handicap players stride with pride on the golf course and produce very respectable games while they learn and improve. Many of the clubs produced today are made specifically to improve handicaps and get more distance and control using graphite irons.

For more information on graphite and steel irons and how each individual type might work best for you check out the reviews here on this site. What works best is an individual preference that depends on ability and your approach to your game.