Lots of golfers look to their equipment when trying to assign blame for the shortcomings on their scorecard. This is not entirely unwarranted, however, since clubs are surprisingly complex and can affect distance and control of shots considerably. The golf club shaft is an oft-overlooked component of a club and picking the right one can help you shed strokes. Parallel and taper tip golf shafts are one of the finer distinctions between shafts but are nonetheless worth examining when making your next club purchase.
Differences between Tip Shapes
Parallel and taper tip shafts differ more in manufacture than club feel. Essentially, a taper tip shaft narrows all the way through the shaft from butt to tip, while a parallel tip narrows through most of the shaft, but ends with a tip with consistent diameter. Taper tips are the traditional shape, having been employed since the 1800s, but are expensive to make. This is because they cannot be tip-trimmed, which means that manufacturers must make individual shafts for each club in a set. Parallel tips avoid this problem, allowing manufacturers to cut down substantially on costs by using the same shaft mold for all the clubs in a set.
The vast majority of clubs manufactured today have parallel-tipped shafts. What’s more, even many of today’s taper-tipped shafts are really just parallel tips that have been squeezed down to conform to a tapered club head. True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts are probably the only truly tapered shafts that are commonly available. Graphite shafts, which are rapidly gaining widespread use among both elite and amateur golfers, rarely use tapered shafts. So the simple fact of what’s out in the market may make tapered shafts an unlikely option for most golfers.
The main purported advantage of a tapered-tip shaft is that it allows the shaft maker to maintain consistent weight distribution for clubs of different lengths in a set, since each shaft is made to spec for each club. However, tapered-tip shafts cannot be tip-trimmed, while parallel-tips can. Thus parallel-tip shafts allow fine tuning by the club maker, since tip-trimming allows adjustments of flex and frequency to suit the buyer. The bottom line is that taper-tip shafts may only really be advantageous to tour professionals who are able to go directly to shaft manufacturers for custom-manufactured shafts. For the rest of us, custom-trimmed parallel-tip shafts are the next best thing.
There are several other factors that have a much greater degree of influence on your clubs’ feel and performance than tip shape. Deciding on steel or graphite, amount of flex, and weight are all factors that should come before tip shape for all but the most advanced professionals. Your club head may also dictate the shaft shape that you are able to use.
Calvin Harris is a certified climbing instructor, licensed attorney, real estate agent and writer based in Texas. He has worked in a variety of fields, including law, construction, energy and government.