Back in July, Kim Braly told us he designs his KBS shafts for the best players in the world, and from there, he extends the line to cover golfers of any level. To wit, we have the KBS Tour, Tour-V, Tour 105, Tour 90, C-Taper, C-Taper Lite, $-Taper, $-Taper Lite, and, well, you get the idea.
Two years ago, KBS introduced its first graphite shaft, the Tour Hybrid Graphite Prototype, and from that moment, the countdown has been on for a KBS driver and fairway wood shaft. In the interim, KBS has given us the TGI and MAX graphite irons shafts, as well as KBS-branded putter shafts. Shaftnicks have been waiting for Braly to round out the offering with a driver shaft. Today, the wait is over.
Meet the KBS TD Graphite.
Finishing the Canvas
“One of the things my Dad taught me growing up is that if you’re not going forward, you’re going backward,” Braly told MyGolfSpy in an exclusive interview this past summer. You would think, with metalwoods being the only hole left in the KBS fitting canvas and with such a lucrative aftermarket, we’d have seen something from KBS a little earlier, but to borrow a phrase from an old TV commercial, KBS will sell no wine before it’s time.
“I don’t want a me-too product. I want the best damn thing out there,” Braly told us. “What we do is while in development, we compare our products to the best products in the marketplace and make sure that in terms of spin, launch, all the different parameters, that we come in first place, and that’s when I’m ready to launch it.”
Today’s announcement of the TD Graphite (TD stands for Tour Driven) is a soft-launch – you can find it on the KBS website, but ordering and tech info is password-protected, presumably for fitters to pre-order. KBS is following its blueprint of bringing the shaft to the Tour first, introducing it at Houston last week. When KBS launched the Tour Hybrid Prototype shaft, it was put into play almost immediately by several Tour pros and was actually in the winner’s circle its very first week.
We haven’t seen or tested samples of the new TD Graphites yet, but what we do know is KBS categorizes the line as a mid-launch, low-spin shaft designed to maximize spin and launch angles for a wide variety of swing speeds. There are 15 offerings in the TD graphite lineup, ranging from a higher launching 46-gram Senior/Ladies flex model to a lower launching 81-gram Tour-X model.
The lineup features a mid-shaft balance point and – as you’d expect – tips that increase in stiffness as the shafts get stiffer to bring dynamic loft down. According to KBS, the entire shaft line will play both lighter and stiffer than other shafts on the market.
A New Way To Fit
With the new TD Graphite shafts, KBS is rolling out what it’s calling the KBS Category Swing Speed System to fit players into shafts based on swing speed alone. Braly is no fan of the industry-standard A-R-S-X-Tour designation for shafts but admits that’s the way the market is. The TD Graphites are broken down into five categories and are designated A-R-S-X-Tour, but each category has three different weight options. KBS is still putting the finishing touches on the program, so details are closely guarded. The plan is to be able to fit golfers into a specific shaft based on swing speed, as each shaft is optimized for launch angle and spin.
In our conversation last summer, Braly said he was designed his graphite iron shafts – the MAX and the TGI – based on years of fitting data. “I was able to determine the optimum stiffness for a person that swinging an 85-gram shaft, a 75-gram shaft, or a 65, 55, or a 45,” he says. “Basically, I did it by searching this data and was able to eliminate things to the point where I had a really, really good understanding of – at certain weights – what is the optimum stiffness and what is the swing speed that relates to that.”
For those of us used to launch monitor fittings and trying a variety of shafts to find the holy grail of launch and spin, choosing a shaft based solely on swing speed may sound like a crazy shortcut. Braly, however, is deeply committed to fitting, data, and innovation. Braly and his father invented, among other things, frequency matching and the Tour Van. The company recently opened a public fitting studio in Carlsbad featuring the full line of KBS shafts and every major OEM clubhead. So, a certain amount of wait-and-see is warranted. We’ll reserve judgment until more info comes out, and we get to try the TD Graphites out for ourselves.
The new KBS TD Graphite shafts will be available in January and will retail at $325.00.