Soft Stepping (and Hard Stepping) – What You Need To Know

Soft stepping and hard stepping is a way of changing the flex of the club’s shaft, which will help you obtain an in-between flex. This can change the way the ball flies.

No matter if you have a taper or parallel-tipped shafts, hard and soft stepping will work the same way.

Depending on your desires, you can make a regular shaft feel a bit firmer, while you can make a stiff shaft feel softer.

In the years I’ve spent as a golfer, I have realized not many novices know how to complete hard and soft stepping, or when to use these methods. This is why I have decided to share what I’ve learned and to help someone who might need advice or two.

If soft and hard stepping is something that interests you, you’re on the right spot! Let’s begin.

What Are Parallel & Taper-Tip Shafts?

The shaft has two ends: the butt end (the end onto which you fit the grip) and the tip (the end that fits into the club-head). The tip itself comes in two forms, parallel and taper-tip.

The parallel-tip shaft has the same diameter all the way from the tip to the last step down. This is so that one shaft can be made to fit all possible irons, and one shaft can, in return, fit all possible woods.

To ensure you have the right flex when you use a parallel-tipped shaft, the shaft should be cut from the end of the tip at the right point. This will help you achieve the correct flex. Then, you can cut the shaft from the butt end and achieve the length you desire.

On the other hand, the taper-tip shaft tapers down from the shaft’s last step. People make these shafts to fit the appropriate length and flex. In other words, one shaft fits one club, so you have to make sure you have combined the right pieces.

For example, you could fit a 3 iron shaft into an 8 iron club, but it would be too long and play very soft. To get that perfect length you want of a taper-tipped shaft, you should cut the club from the butt end, but first, fit the tip end into the club head holes.

How Much Does Soft Stepping Change Flex?

As you’ve already guessed, while hard stepping makes club shafts somewhat more sturdy, soft stepping makes them more flexible. This is useful if you think your flex is quite stiff and want to change that.

So, soft stepping enables the flex to be softer and more flexible – but how much?

While it wouldn’t make a huge difference, it’s still rather helpful. A soft stepped stiff flex shaft is most likely to feel somewhere in between a stiff and regular flex, which is still much better than having a too stiff flex.

Benefits Of Soft Stepping Irons

While not for everyone and for every match, there are some advantages to soft stepping golf shafts. Three of the most important ones are:

  • It allows the ball to fly higher
  • Less stiff flex equals easier swings
  • If you’re a player with a slower swing speed, you can get better results after soft stepping

Soft Stepping A Set Of Irons

Soft stepping iron shafts and making the club more flexible is a durable process. With it, you can fit the 3 iron shaft into the 4 iron head, the 4 iron one could be fitted into the 5 iron head, etc.

The only thing left would be the additional pitching wedge shaft, but the 9 iron shaft will replace it, so you can discard it.

When you’re soft stepping, you’re making the clubs longer. Pitching wedge shaft becomes as long as 9 iron, 9 iron becomes as long as 8 iron, and so on. If you want to keep the original club length, you’ll have to make some adjustments to the butt shaft end.

Hard Stepping A Set Of Irons

On the other hand, hard stepping irons is the process of making your club shaft stiffer. You can fit the pitching wedge shaft into the 9 iron head, the 9 iron shaft into the 8 iron, and so forth. The pitching wedge, however, would require a new shaft, while the 3 iron shaft would be the leftover one.

The hard stepping would produce a somewhat lower ball flight, and the club shafts would end up being a bit stiffer than they originally were.

One thing you should keep in mind is that when you’re hard stepping, you’re decreasing the length of the club. This means that the 3 iron becomes as long as 4 iron, 4 iron becomes as long as 5 iron, and so on.

Tip Sizes Explained

The tip size, or the tip diameter, is, in fact, a measurement of the shaft’s circumference at its tip. The standard requires you to express it in inches.

Overall, there are four different tip sizes:

  • .335
  • .350
  • .355
  • .370

Some other measurements exist, such as the Wilson overfit shaft or the fat shaft, which measures in at .500. However, the four sizes mentioned above are the most common ones.

Typically, the smaller sizes (.335 and .350) are used on wood clubs, while the bigger two (.355 and .370) are reserved for irons. However, that is not mandatory, as manufacturers love to experiment a bit with sizes and combinations.

Choosing the right tip size is entirely up to you and your preferences. The tip won’t influence the game too much, but for soft stepping, you should always know what tip size your club is.


Soft stepping is a way of making your stiff shafts a bit more flexible. While it won’t have the same effects as buying a more flexible club, it can still make a fine difference and help you with your game.

Soft stepping can help the ball fly higher and it’s great for slower players who prefer having a more flexible iron shaft.

Just remember, both hard and soft stepping influence the club’s length, and this is something you need to be wary of. If you’d like a more flexible club that is the same length, you should be ready to do some additional modifications.