Cutting Golf Shafts: Which End to Trim and the Effects on Shots

Woman holding golf clubs of different shaft lengths
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Did you know that almost all golf shafts are cut down to size before being installed in golf clubs? It's part of the manufacturing and club-building process for new clubs.

But some golfers, the do-it-yourself types, cut down golf shafts, too, to make their clubs shorter in order to better fit a particular swing, whether in terms of length, swingweight, flex or other playing characteristics.

What effect does trimming the shaft have on a golf club?

And is the cutting done from the grip-end or the clubhead-end of the shaft?

To answer these questions, we spoke with prominent golf club designer and builder Tom Wishon, founder of Tom Wishon Golf Technology.

"When golf shafts are manufactured and shipped to clubmakers and clubmaking companies, they are in what is called a raw, uncut form," Wishon explained. "From this form, the clubmakers have to cut the shaft, often from both the tip and grip ends, to properly install it into each clubhead."

Cutting Golf Shafts and the Effect on Flex

All golf shafts taper; that is, their circumference is greater at the grip end than at the tip end. That means that the grip end is the strongest part of the shaft and the tip end the weakest.

And that means that cutting the shaft on one end vs. the other has different effects on the shaft flex. Wishon states:

"Cutting more of the tip will have the effect of getting rid of some of the weaker end of the shaft which, in turn, makes the shaft play and feel more stiff.

"Cutting more of the grip end will still stiffen the shaft a little bit, but only because in doing so you make the shaft shorter, and not nearly as much as when trimming more from the tip end."

But it's impossible to state an across-the-board estimate of just how much the flex changes due to cutting, because that's something individual to each shaft and the shaft's original design.

"There are some shafts in which trimming an additional one inch from the tip will change the stiffness barely at all," Wishon says, "while in other shaft designs a 1-inch additional cut from the tip end will increase the stiffness quite noticeably."

Trimming Shafts to Improve Accuracy: Cut from Grip End

"If the goal in making the clubs shorter in length is a desire to gain an improvement in accuracy, the reduction in length should be made from the grip end only," Wishon said.

To do that, the DIY golfer will have to:

  1. Remove the existing grip.
  2. With steel shafts, use a tubing cutter to trim the shaft; with graphite shafts, shorten using a hacksaw.
  3. Re-install a grip on the newly shortened shaft.
  4. And, most importantly, Wishon says, "add weight to the clubhead in some manner to restore the swingweight feel of the club."

Explaining No. 4, Wishon says: "If clubs are shortened and no weight is added back to the clubhead, the chances of the length reduction having the desired effect are somewhere between slim and none.

Of course, you don't have to trim the shaft to shorten a club for the sake of accuracy — you could just order new shafts in the desired length. If you are not able or willing to install new shafts yourself, check with local pro shops to find a club fitter.