What Is 'Torque,' and Is It Important in Choosing the Right Shaft?

Is torque something the average golfer needs to care about in choosing clubs?

Paul Peterson of the USA tees off on the 11th hole during the second round of the USB Hong Kong Open
Warren Little / Getty Images

"Torque" is a property of golf shafts that describes how much the shaft is prone to twisting during the golf swing. All shafts, steel and graphite, exhibit torque, which is measured in degrees. A high-torque shaft will twist more than a low-torque shaft.

Put another way, some shafts resist twisting better than others. A shaft with a lower torque rating means the shaft better resists twisting; a shaft with a higher torque rating means the shaft is more prone to twisting (all other things being equal).

A golfer's swing, and the clubhead attached to the end of the shaft, exert forces on the shaft that lead to twisting. This twisting is simply a part of the swing.

Is shaft torque something that average golfers need to care about in choosing golf clubs? We'll get into that more below, but:

  • a strong golfer who uses shafts with too high a torque rating might produce shots that leak to the fade side;
  • a smooth swinger who uses shafts with too low a torque rating might find the impact feel dissatisfying and the trajectory of the shot too low.

But for most golfers, Tom Wishon, golf club designer and founder of Tom Wishon Golf Technology, told us, "... torque will never be a factor to worry about in the shaft fitting." And those golfers who do need to consider torque only need to consider it in relation to graphite shafts, not steel shafts.

We asked Wishon some questions about torque in golf shafts and what golfers need to know about its effects. What follows are Wishon's answers to those questions, as he wrote them for us:

How Does Torque in Steel Shafts Compare to That in Graphite Shafts?

In steel shafts, because the type of steel material is the same throughout the entire shaft, the torque exists in a very narrow range of degrees, one that is much more narrow than in graphite shafts.

Graphite shafts can be and often are made with a wide variety of different graphite fiber strength, stiffness and position on the shaft. This allows the torque in graphite shafts to range from as high as 7 or 8 degrees to as low as 1 degree, while in steel this range is only from a little more than 2 degrees to a little under 4 degrees.

Therefore, torque is not a factor to worry about in the selection of a steel shaft, but it is a point to keep in mind for some golfers when selecting a graphite shaft.

What Are the Fitting Ramifications of Torque With Graphite Shafts?

Fortunately, the fitting ramifications of torque even in graphite shafts is not that severe. Simply stated, it means that if you are a big strong, powerful person with an aggressive swing tempo and a late release, you never want the torque in a graphite shaft to be any higher than 4 to 4.5 degrees. Otherwise, your strength and downswing force may cause the clubhead to twist the shaft, causing the clubface to be more open at impact, and resulting in a shot that hangs or fades to the right of your target (for a right-handed golfer).

Conversely, if you have a very smooth, rhythmic swing without a very aggressive downswing move, you do not want to use graphite shafts with the torque below 3.5 degrees or else the impact feel of the shot can be stiff, harsh and unsolid, and the height of the shot may be too low.

What's the Bottom Line on Torque in Golf Shafts?

So for most golfers, as long the torque of a graphite shaft is between 3.5 and 5.5 degrees - which is the case for the vast majority of graphite shafts today - the golfer will be OK and torque will never be a factor to worry about in the shaft fitting.

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