A steel iron shaft is a heavy construction. This is challenging for the average slow-swing-speed golfer to optimize clubhead speed and control.
In this post, I reveal the 6 best graphite iron shafts for 2023 and explain how these lighter, flexible shafts help your launch, accuracy, and distance.
I have pulled out all the stops to cover the top picks for every swing speed and gender to help you identify the best option for your game. Plus, I’ll demystify the jargon surrounding shafts to improve your understanding of kick point, torque, and flex and how it relates to your launch and shape.
What to Look for in a Good Graphite Iron Shaft
Golfers often prefer graphite shafts for their lighter mass over their steel counterparts. However, despite their lower weight, some are heavier than others. In my experience, the average golfer deals best with lighter constructions.
For example, a 70-gram, regular flex graphite shaft is light enough to generate adequate swing speed but not balloon my shots.
Conversely, low handicappers and pros with fast swing speeds prefer the heavier, stiffer shafts as it increases their control and the stability of their golf club.
The flex of your golf shaft is vital as it impacts mass, club head speed, and your shot dispersion. A simple way to determine your desired flex is by assessing your swing speed. Faster swing speeds typically suit a stiff or extra stiff flex, while the average golfer requires added flex for more spring into the ball.
As an average golfer, I recommend acquiring adequate flex in your shafts to receive the added whip assistance into impact. This boosts the flexibility of your clubface, improves energy transfer, and increases ball speed for a high and long launch.
I suggest fitting nothing stiffer than a regular shaft to your irons. However, if the standard flex launches too high and causes you to balloon shots, move on to stiffer flex shafts. I have provided a table below, which offers a guide to the best flex for your game based on your 6-iron swing speed.
6 Iron Swing Speed vs Shaft Flex
|Swing Speed Name||Swing Speed (MPH)||Shaft Flex|
|Super Fast||> 92||Extra Stiff|
|Fast||84 – 91||Stiff|
|Moderate||75 – 83||Regular|
|Slow||65 – 75||Senior|
|Very Slow||< 65||Ladies|
Alternatively, you can use our handy shaft flex calculator here.
Mid to Low Kick Point
The average golfer requires a mid to high-iron launch for consistent airtime, carry distance, and a softer landing. If the launch is too low, slower swingers will struggle to get the ball airborne and lose length.
If you want to execute a mid-to-high launch, your shaft must contain a mid-to-low kick point. When your kick point is high, it provides restricted whip into the ball at impact resulting in a reduced energy transfer and ball speed for slower swingers.
Low to Mid Torque
Torque determines how resistant to twisting your shaft is during the swing and has a bearing on your shot dispersion. Golf shafts with high torque are more likely to rotate during the swing and offer a higher degree of whip into the ball at contact. This improves energy transfer and ball speed for slower swingers.
However, the excess twist can also force your clubhead open at impact and cause your ball to finish right of the target. That is why I suggest a mid-torque shaft that offers stability and flex.
The torque of a golf shaft ranges from under 2 to 5 degrees. The lower the number, the less twist your golf shaft delivers during the swing.
Related: Bookmark our review on the best high launching iron shafts for consistent flight and carry distance.
6 Best Graphite Iron Shafts
1. True Temper Project X Catalyst 60 – Overall Best Graphite Iron Shafts
- Produces a mid-launch for improved control
- Designed for a moderate tempo
- Generates medium spin
- Incredibly stable
- Prompted clean turf interaction
- Not suited to slower swing speeds
The True Temper Project X Catalyst 60 offers the best graphite shafts for 2023 thanks to their mid-launch, medium spin, stability, and higher torque. During testing, the lighter, flexible design prompted accelerated clubhead speed for added power on the downswing.
Its high 4.5-degree torque setup caused my ball to curve right on mishits. But, when I struck it cleanly and straight, the mid-kick point promoted medium ball flight for a gradual descent into the green. While the landing was not as soft as I like, I did welcome the added roll and extra yards gained on the turf on long approach shots.
The medium trajectory produced by the Catalyst 60 suits moderate-swing speed golfers seeking to prevent ballooned shots. You will enjoy greater control with these shafts for increased carry distance over flexible, higher-launching designs.
Finally, their Iso-6 Material Technology did wonders for my turf interaction from the fairway and rough. I felt the sole glide over the turf smoother than steel shafts.
2. UST Mamiya Recoil 460 ESX – Best Value Graphite Iron Shafts
- Excellent value for money
- Launches high
- Built for mid to high-swing speeds
- Boosts energy transfer
- Premium finish
- The high launch may cause some golfers to balloon shots
- The higher torque can make it challenging to square the clubface at impact
The composite materials used in a graphite golf shaft are expensive and render these units more pricey than their steel counterparts. However, there are still excellent value-for-money options like the UST Mamiya Recoil 460 ESX, which gave me stability, speed, and distance with my graphite irons.
I’ll start with the stability during my swing and into impact, which was outstanding. The Enhanced Stability (ESX) technology created a stiffer mid and butt, with a soft tip for improved control and a high launch.
In addition, the moderately high 4.7-degree torque created ample twist and flex during the swing for faster club speed. However, the expertly crafted mid and butt stabilized my irons.
Next, the Recoil Technology excelled during testing to help me boost energy transfer and spring into impact. As a result, I produced rampant ball velocity for a high launch and maximum carry distance. Finally, the Ion (IP) plating delivered a premium, attractive finish to admire at address.
3. Fujikura Pro Series 65i – Best For Slow Swing Speed
- Built for slow swing speeds
- Encourages optimal accuracy
- Produces a medium launch for controlled flight
- Increases power on the downswing
- Premium finish
- Not sold in a complete set
- The lower torque design may cause a hook on mistimed shots
Seniors and ladies with slower swing speeds require a lighter shaft that is easy to let loose and enhances power without relinquishing control. In my experience, the Fujikura Pro Series 65i seniors flex does that and provides a softer feel and increased distance and accuracy.
Fujikura employed their High-Density Compact Core (HDCC), which features an 18-gram composite core to create your desired swing weight. This allowed the engineers to balance the feel and control without hampering flex and power on the downswing.
In addition, I found the presence of High Modulus Carbon Fiber a blessing, thanks to its whip and premium construction. It helped the shaft release rapidly, leading into contact for increased spring and faster ball speed before returning to its initial shape.
The Fujikura Pro Series 65i possesses a super low degree of torque for a flexible shaft suited to slower swing speeds. However, the lack of twisting during my swing simplified the task of keeping the clubface square at impact for straighter flight.
4. Mitsubishi Taper MMT 125 – Best For High Swing Speed
- Generates a mid to low launch
- Enhances control
- Optimal feedback on all strikes
- Built with premium materials
- Stiff flex suits high swing speed
- The lower launch is not made for slower swings
- Extremely expensive
Faster swing-speed golfers predominantly operate with lower handicaps and demand a stiff, responsive, and precisely tuned shaft that delivers impeccable feedback. The Mitsubishi Taper MMT 125 is crafted with high-quality materials for enhanced durability, stability, and control during your swing.
Mitsubishi added their Metal Mesh Technology (MMT) to braid strands of 304 Stainless Steel together for greater density and stability. In addition, this shaft sports a super low degree of torque, which results in a minimal twist, best suited for players with fast swings.
The high kick point was a challenge for my moderately slow swing speed as I battled to get the ball airborne. However, the lower ball flight is what the doctor ordered for fast swings requiring reduced launch and enhanced control.
Despite being labeled MMT 125 shafts, they weigh an average of 124 grams which is heavy for the average golfer. However, this enhances the steadiness of the rod for superior golfers who need little assistance squaring the clubface at impact.
5. KBS PGI Players 100 – Best For Super Fast Swing Speed
- Extra stiff flex
- Super low torque for limited twisting
- Generates low ball flight for more control
- Encourages exceptional playability
- Provides optimal stability throughout the swing
- The PGI Players 100 shaft is not suited to mid or slower swing speeds
- Premium price tag
Tour professionals or competitive amateurs prefer extra stiff and heavier golf shafts built for improved stability. The Extra Stiff KBS PGI Players shafts weigh 100 grams and boast a minimal helping of torque for added steadiness and consistency in each shot.
KBS employed a mid to high kick point on the PGI Players 100, which gives fast swings the piercing trajectory they desire. The lower launch has further bolstered the shaft’s 2.4-degree torque construction to limit face twist and spring.
Although I struggled to generate meaningful clubhead speed and launch, the PGI Players 100 was not built for me. The reduced flex helps our faster counterparts produce low shots, compared to ballooning their ball and losing control and distance experienced with lighter flexible shafts.
In addition, the added control provided by the shaft enables golfers to get the club head into the necessary position for a draw, fade, or straight shot. The playability allowed by this club further increases control and allows better players to attack the flag on approach.
6. Fujikura Pro Series 75i – Best For Senior Men
- Optimal flex for slow swing speeds
- Mid to high launch
- Boosts power on the downswing
- Soft feel
- Resists twisting
- Some seniors may struggle for consistency with the mid-launch
- The 75i seniors flex is not suited to fast swing speed
Older golfers are best off with a light, senior flex graphite shaft that accelerates clubhead speed and encourages a high launch. The Fujikura Pro Series 75i consists of premium materials, delivers ample whip into impact, and is light and easy to swing.
The 74-gram shaft carries a senior flex and mid-kick point to produce a mid-to-high launch with moderate spin. While some seniors may prefer a higher launching construction, I feel most veterans will welcome modest airtime and added roll after landing.
While some seniors may detest the lower 3.1-degree torque, I find it helps with accuracy and stability. In my case, it helped me keep the clubface square to the ball at impact, which was excellent for maintaining velocity and spin.
Fujikura engineers added their famed HDCC component, which enhanced my control and feel of every iron. In addition, I felt it did well to stamp out vibration and soften the feel on my palms.
Lastly, the High Modulus Carbon Fiber materials encouraged increased bend for optimal release and whip into impact. Slower swing speeds will appreciate the improved energy transfer and subsequent rapid ball speed.