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According to the Rules of Golf, a golf shaft should flex and perform the same in all directions. However this assumes that manufacturers can make 100% symmetrical shafts every time, which in practice rarely happens.
Current limitations in steel or graphite shaft manufacturing inevitably introduce a certain degree of asymmetry. Steel shafts may suffer from a slight bend, variable differences in wall thickness or some other material inconsistency.
Graphite shafts may also be slightly bent, with other inconsistencies arising from overlapping seams, varying wall thickness and the presence of voids (tiny air pockets) within the composite material.
As a result of this, virtually every shaft on the market right now demonstrates a variable amount of asymmetry, which can significantly affect club performance. You may recognise some of the symptoms of a mis-aligned shaft in your own game.
Symptoms of a mis-aligned golf shaft include:
Poor shots resulting from an apparently good swing.
Inconsistent ball striking.
Chronic accuracy problems.
A different feel between clubs within the same set.
Having to manipulate the club to keep shots on line.
The frustration of not being able to hit a club after you’ve bought it, even although you could hit the supposedly identical club well at a demo day.
Unpleasant post-impact vibration up the shaft.
By properly aligning the shaft in the clubhead, such problems can be avoided. The R & A and the USGA legitimised shaft alignment in 1999. Since then it has been reported that over 70% of the US Tour players now play with aligned shafts. In doing so they are seeking more consistent ball striking, maximum distance and better shot dispersion. You would be advised to follow their example.
Bear in mind that the position of the manufacturer’s logo on the shaft cannot be relied upon to indicate the correct shaft orientation. In most instances the logo is screen printed onto the shaft in a random fashion. In order to determine the best alignment position for a shaft, its individual spine and oscillation characteristics have to be tested using specialist equipment.