Having dealt with the head sufficiently in detail for all practical purposes let us now turn our attention to the shaft, which is, perhaps, the most important part of the whole club. A poor head on a good shaft makes a much better club than a good head on a poor shaft. It is safe to say that the majority of shafts as ordinarily turned out are not by any means first class, and it is harder to get a good one than a good head.
For one really good one you will find ten indifferent ones, some of which indeed are absolutely impossible. The only remedy is to get your clubs from a reputable maker, or select the shafts yourself.
On the whole, hickory is the best wood, and since this seems to be an accepted fact we will not trouble ourselves to discuss the relative merits of others which are sometimes used, with more or less success.
Of the different grades of hickory the clear white is probably the best. In selecting a shaft see that the grain runs as straight as possible throughout the entire length, and that the shaft recovers its straight-ness quickly when subjected to pressure. It is better, perhaps, to be very stiff, as it can then be worked down, and unnecessary weight be thus disposed of without affecting the desired spring or suppleness, or running any risk of its becoming warped. A shaft which stays bent when pressure is exerted lacks driving power. If it springs back to its original shape and at the same time is straight grained, it is pretty sure to be a good one. Get one that fits both requirements. The trouble with the majority of shafts which are turned out is that the wood has not been properly seasoned and they soon lose their shape. The lighter it is in weight, combined with stiffness, the better.' We are dealing now, remember, with shafts in the rough, although all that has been said applies largely to the finished article. Of course it is patent, in referring to the weight, that this has reference to the shaft before it is fixed to the head. Therefore, we say that a really good shaft should be light, while possessing at the same time the other qualities Shafts mentioned. It is a somewhat singular, and, at first sight, rather anomalous, fact that a heavy shaft on, say, a seven-and-a-half-ounce head will make the club feel lighter than a lighter shaft on the same head. It is all a matter of balance.
A wobbly shaft is not recommended for any player. The really good one has a steely sort of spring, which is somewhat rare to find. The spring should be felt throughout the entire length, but in a greater degree towards the head. Very frequently one will be apparently dead, without any responsiveness, when fitted to the head. Such a one may often be made just right by thinning it off slightly under the grip.
The man with a very fast swing will find it more conducive to accuracy to use a somewhat stiffer shaft than the player with less freedom. With a limber shaft in the hands of the rapid swinger the hands will arrive at the ball before the head, and slicing and pulling will probably result. In a matter of this kind it can only be left to the individual to work out his own salvation, and ascertain for himself the degree of suppleness needed, keeping in mind the general principles referred to. The balance of the club is largely governed by the length and character of the shaft. It may safely be said that a seven-and-a-half-ounce head will feel lighter on a shaft forty-three and a half to forty-four and a half inches long as measured from the sole of the club if gripped at forty-two or forty-three inches than the same head will feel on a shaft forty-two or forty-three inches long when the latter is gripped at the end. Just what the length should be must be left to the player's own judgment. Some short men play with long clubs, while others affect very short ones, and the same is true of tall men, yet the actual results are approximately the same. From forty-one to forty-four inches, as measured from the extreme end to the sole of the club, appears to be the general range.
What has already been stated regarding the care of heads applies with equal force to shafts. They should occasionally be oiled, and should be kept in a dry, cool place.