Invariably, when we talk about additions to Graphite Design’s flagship Tour AD shaft lineup, we have to cover both what the shaft is and what it isn’t.
As far as what the Tour AD XC is: it’s a modernization of the company’s popular Tour AD BB offering. Given that Graphite Design launched the AD BB all the way back in 2012, it seems reasonable, if not logical, that the XC would replace the BB entirely.
A replacement, however, is exactly what the AD XC isn’t.
Despite being a little long in the tooth by golf equipment standards, the seven (and counting) -year-old shaft remains popular with fitters. So much so that the AD BB is the No. 4 selling shaft in the Graphite Design lineup. When fitters (a shaft manufacturer’s primary customers) are comfortable with a shaft, trust a shaft, and are selling quite a few of them, it’s not the best business move to take something away from them, especially when it’s just as easy to give them another option.
A Modernized Tour AD BB
Graphite Design describes the Tour AD XC as a modernized Tour AD BB. That description implies that XC is less about reinventing and more about incorporating material advancements into a good product to make it better. In this case, the biggest upgrade is the inclusion of TORAYCA M40X carbon fiber pre-preg in the mid through tip section of the shaft. At the risk of wading too deep into the shaft material weeds, the selling point for M40X is that it offers both high modulus and high-tensile strength. Something like T1100G, for example, has exceptionally high-tensile strength but low- to moderate-tensile modulus. M40X is a bit of a best of both worlds’ solution.
Ultimately, material stories boil down to strength vs. weight. In the case of the AD XC, M40X allowed Graphite Design to make a shaft that’s stronger and still shave a few grams of weight. Because of the strength of the M40X material, fewer plies are needed which should eliminate what golfers often describe as a “boardy” feel. The tip section is reinforced with T1100g to provide the low- mid-spin characteristics. The combination of materials along with the bend profile provides what Graphite Design describes a shaft that’s easier to load and transfers more energy to the ball.
While speed is almost invariably a part of every golf equipment story, the company says golfers report tighter dispersion as well. As always, your mileage may vary.
Tour AD XC Lineup
The Graphite Design Tour AD XC is available in a wide range of weights and flexes. That includes everything from a 47-gram model in R2 flex (Lite/Senior) to an 85-gram X-Stiff version. In addition to the sub-50g offering, the XC is also available in a 58-gram X-Flex and what Graphite Design labels Tour X-Stiff in 67.g and 76.5-gram versions. The Tour X is intended for golfers who swing above 110 miles an hour. Its inclusion in the lineup speaks to the increase in clubhead speed among professional and elite amateur golfers.
Tour AD XC Data and Comparisons
To make our shaft coverage more meaningful (and useful) to our readers, we’ve partnered with Cool Clubs, one of the leading custom fitting companies in golf, to bring you shaft reviews powered by its Shaft Simulation System (S3). In case you missed it, check out our story detailing why we believe S3 provides the best insights into shaft performance.
“S3 Technologies utilizes the most advanced shaft testing technology in the industry. The Shaft Simulation System (S3), which was developed in 2013, is a fully automated, all-in-one shaft profiling machine. In a matter of minutes, the S3 determines the following shaft specs: Straightness, Consistency Profile, EI Profile, CPM Analysis, and Torque. While some of the aforementioned specs can be obtained from shaft manufacturers, a lack of industry standards prevents that data from being used for accurate apples-to-apples comparisons. S3 Technologies solves this challenge by testing all of our products in-house using the S3. This gives S3 Technologies a unique and in-depth understanding of the quality and performance of the industry’s shafts.”
Not only does Cools Clubs S3 system give us standardized quantitative information about the shaft(s) being reviewed, the data we share will provide you with a much better sense of how those shafts compare with similarly spec’d offerings on the market today.
Using S3 data, we’ll be providing a comparison of the Graphite Design Tour AD XC to the AD BB and AD IZ. Comparisons are based on stiff flex shafts in the 60-gram range. Because measurement tools vary across the shaft industry, the S3 numbers may not align with data published by the manufacturer. By using S3 values, we are able to standardize values across all of our shaft reviews.
As a quick refresher, the gray line extended to the edge of the graphic depicts what’s defined as a neutral shaft in the Cool Clubs S3 database. In simple terms, it can be thought of as the true definition of mid-launch.
As you can see, the XC and BB straddle our neutral line. By comparison, the AD IZ, which can be thought of as a modernized AD DI, offers appreciably higher launch. Both the AD BB and XC should be considered mid-launch profiles. However, with the T1100 reinforced tip, the XC is expected to provide mid-low spin.
The EI chart speaks to the similarity in Graphite Design offerings. The comparatively soft midsection, as evidenced by the sloping shape of the profile, is a signature of the Graphite Design engineering philosophy.
As you can see, within the S3 system, the XC is characterized by an ever-so-slightly stiffer handle and tip sections, relative to the AD BB. This suggests a shaft that is overall just a bit stiffer than the BB. While the AD IZ is a bit stiffer in the handle section, the softer tip provides a higher launch.
The zone stiffness breakdown is a bit like zooming in on sections of the previous chart. What’s notable here is that despite variations in butt and tip EI, the mid-sections of all three shafts offer virtually identical stiffness. As previously mentioned, you’ll find this true for many of Graphite Design’s offerings. The most significant differences in the profiles are found at either end of the shaft.
One of the most significant differences between made for/stock OEM and aftermarket shafts is found in the torque numbers. Many aftermarket offerings, like the AD XC, are billed as low torque, which means the tip section of the shaft is more resistant to twisting than a higher torque alternative. As with other fitting variables, lower torque isn’t inherently better. Higher torque works for some golfers, while low torque is beneficial to others – particularly more aggressive swingers.
With torque values below 3, all of the shafts included in our comparison can be considered low torque. Torsional stiffness can play a role in accuracy, which could partially explain why Graphite Design reports tighter dispersion with the XC.
In line with the general theme of this story, the XC has evolved slightly from the AD BB, but the change in torque is far from massive.
With the AD XC, Graphite Design has shifted the balance point slightly towards the tip section of the shaft. Bottom line, it’s not what we would describe as a counter-balanced offering. It’s likely better suited to golfers who prefer a heavier swing weight or, I suppose you could say, like to feel the head during the swing.
As you may recall from our Golf Geeks Story on Shaft Performance, a higher balance point allows for more head weight without drastically impacting the swingweight. For golfers seeking more distance (admittedly often at the expense of accuracy), this allows drivers to be built to longer playing lengths.
From the Cool Clubs Fitting Team
Graphite Design has introduced its new Tour AD model for 2020, called the XC, which stands for Xtra Carry. The XC shaft is offered in five different weight classes: 40, 50, 60, 70, and 80. Flexes range from R1 to TX. We will focus on the XC 60 S model and compare it to the Tour AD BB-6 S and Tour AD IZ-6S.
While lighter in weight and softer in overall frequency than both the Tour AD BB-6 S and the Tour AD IZ-6 S, the Tour AD XC-6 S still launches lower. This lighter weight and slight softness in the Tour AD XC-6 S can help some players load the club more efficiently. With the various materials Graphite Design has used in the Tour AD XC-6 shaft, including M40X and T1100 carbon fiber pre-preg, players may feel like the shaft is more stable and that they’re able to control ball flight nicely. It’s a great option for those who want a mid-launch/mid-low spin shaft in the lower end of the 60- to 70-gram weight range.
As we’ve said, Graphite Design’s offerings tend to be more alike than different. When looking for similar shafts in the S3 database, these are the shafts we identified as most similar to the AD XC.
- Graphite Design Tour AD BB-6 (see above)
- Graphite Design Tour AD GT-6 (stiffer butt section, softer tip, slightly lower torque)
Tour AD XC Pricing and Availability
The Graphite Design Tour AD XC shaft is available through custom club fitters and other authorized Graphite Design resellers. MSRP is $500 though your actual street price should be a bit under $400.
For more information on the Tour AD XC and other Graphite Design Shafts, visit ProsChoiceGolfShafts.com.