KBS is renowned as one of the premier golf shaft brands and have made their name in steel shafts. However following on from the first KBS graphite shaft which was the Tour Hybrid, they now launch two shafts including a TGI Tour graphite shaft for irons, so I met with R&D Director Kim Braly at the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show to find out more.
Hi Kim. Good to see you again. You've got a couple of new shafts this year so what's this one here?
Hi Martin. First we have the $-taper which is actually a steel shaft that comes in chrome as well as this PVD finish and this is the shaft that we developed late last year.
The $-Taper is similar to the C-Taper in that it doesn't spin, but it feels good. The C-Taper is a shaft that if you don't load it, it really can feel quite woody for a lot of players. The $-Taper shaft is mid-launch, so it gets up but it spins so low that it's dispersion is just so tight it's unbelievable.
When I design shafts, generally what I try to do in order to get optimum distance is in each section of say four inches, the next four is the same exact amount of reduction in stiffness as the one before.
All the way up and down the shaft we have the exact amount of reduction in stiffness in each section, but now of course it's getting stiffer.
So that allows the shaft to load and unload more efficiently and that's what it's all about. It's about efficiency and not only for the stronger players.
Originally I thought it was just going to be a stronger player shaft, but it hasn't turned out that way because with today's heads they get the ball in the air pretty good and they tend to have quite a bit of spin. It seems like the game improvement heads, even though they are game improvement, they have plenty of spin and in that case these guys are hitting the ball quite a bit longer with this shaft, just because of that.
You know, and another thing about spin is, the more spin you have, the greater the possibility of having a greater amount of dispersion. So, that's what this $-Taper shaft is all about - trying to reduce spin and feel good, which is a real tough thing.
So it's really for those high-speed or higher spin players?
Initially that's what I thought. But we're seeing a lot of people that don't have very much club head speed with these big heads that they get it up and have a high launch and low spin with the $-Taper, so they're hitting it further than they've ever hit it.
And so it's not necessarily only high speed players and because of that we're going to have to come up with some much lighter weights than we have.
OK, so the PVD $-Taper kind of looks like a graphite shaft, but this TGI Tour iron shaft actually is a graphite shaft. How did that come about?
OK, here's what we did. I had some ideas about this and for quite a few years I've been kind of thinking about going into some hybrids. One time we used to sell steel shafts 2 through pitching wedge. Well, we don't sell 2 irons anymore.
I wanted to get into graphite for that reason and I had a few ideas that I could apply to the graphite that I use with steel. So a couple of the formulas, actually two of the formulas are kind of a base of what I do, I was able to apply to the graphite.
And one of the real, real reasons why we developed this product is that when you get below 90 grams in steel, you lose the stability.
The only way to get it stable enough just to make it big, is increase the Outer Diameter (OD). The OD is the number one contributing factor to the stiffness. Not by a little bit, but by a lot. But by the time you make it stable so it just doesn't go all over, it doesn't feel good.
So therefore you've been able to take the weight down but keep the stability and the feel, is that right?
Exactly. And like I said I was able to apply some formulas that I use. Again the dispersion in the shaft that's compared to other shafts in the same weight category - it's a joke! I don't have to have people tell me my shaft when somebody shows me the dispersion charts. I've done enough work with it now that I can pick the TGI Tour out right away because it's always the tightest, I mean it's always so much tighter than the others it looks like the tests were rigged!
So have you got the TGI Tour in a variety of weights?
Yes, it comes in 50, 60, 70 and 80 grams in the parallel tips, which is the bulk of what we sell and then into the tapers we have it at 90, 100 and 110 grams.
Now the 100 and 110 are shafts that are for somebody with some speed. Then the 90 blends in to the parallels which are in terms of frequency a lot weaker, but it's what the average person who's playing graphite needs.
Thanks for taking us through it Kim, good luck with the shaft this year.
Thank you very much! I enjoy this stuff man...