Your putter shaft will usually
be made of steel.
The putter, unlike the driver, will be fitted with a steel shaft. This is because you don't want the flex and torque that graphite offers.
Despite the availability of other materials such as fibreglass, aluminium, and graphite, putter manufacturers for the past 80 years have stuck to using steel.
This is because steel optimizes the efficient release of energy without sacrificing accuracy.
Prior to 1935 the dominant material was hickory. However, a few years earlier in 1929 the Royal and Ancient legalised the use of steel shafts in clubs.
Hickory gradually gave way to the heavier - but more consistent and stronger - steel shaft and this preference for steel remains the status quo for putters.
In the early 1970s shaft technology shifted from steel to the use of graphite because of its lightweight and strength characteristics.
Today shaft innovation for clubs other than the putter continues to push the envelope. Most drivers, fairway metals, and hybrids are now fitted with some form of composite shaft.
The properties of steel versus graphite largely determine which type of shaft is best for a club. Graphite is up to 50 per cent lighter than steel and has increased flex for greater club head speed.
However, this comes at a cost of reduced accuracy due to its greater torque or twisting under load.
Steel on the other hand has less flex and lower torque and is preferred for clubs where accuracy over distance is at a premium.
Another advantage of steel is its versatility in that it can be straight or it can be bent into different shapes to allow for an offset of the shaft without the need for a hosel.
It is designed to help you develop and promote a deliberate and repeatable putting stroke. Only if you use a smooth putting action will you be able to keep the putter head in line with the grip and prevent it from snagging.
Most putter shafts have minimum flex and weigh just over 100 grams although heavier shafts are available.
TrueTemper putter shafts are 122 grams at 38 inches, or about 3.2 grams per inch.
For example, a typical putter of 34 inches will have a 33.5 inch shaft with a shaft weight of 107.2 grams (33.5 inches x 3.2 grams).
Try putting with a flexible shaft used in a training aid such as the Whippy TempoMaster putter and see how difficult it is to control.
When a putter has to be shortened, the shaft is cut at the butt end. This changes the swingweight and stiffens the shaft marginally. However, it is possible to recreate the same swingweight and feel by adding weight to the putter head.
Alternatively your putter can be internally modified by inserting weights within the shaft.
The swingweight of your putter can then be adjusted by moving the chosen weight up or down. This allows you to make your putter feel head-heavy or head-light depending on your preference.
If you are like 99 per cent of golfers, you will know virtually nothing about your putter shaft. As long as it has been properly fitted, and the feel of your putter is to your liking, just accept that a steel shaft is probably your best choice.
1 = Putting - The Game Within the Game (HarperCollins Publishers)
2 = Whippy TempoMaster Putter (golfaroundtheworld.com)
3 = Balance Certified Golf (Golfweek Magazine)