At the upper echelons of golf, almost every equipment variable is known, measured and evaluated. Ask a touring pro about the shafts he uses in his irons and he’ll not only tell you the manufacturer and the stiffness, he’ll also know how long each shaft is, how many grams each one weighs, and what the bend profile is.
Ask most recreational golfers about the shafts in their golf clubs and they’ll probably be able to tell you whether they are steel or graphite, and if the flex is Stiff or Regular. Besides that, while the shaft is obviously important, most golfers don’t know which shaft is best for them or what the differences are between the hundreds of golf club shafts on the market.
The pros do know, and while some are paid to use or endorse specific shafts, a growing number of touring pros are quietly using KBS shafts in their irons. KBS claims over 150 professionals use their product, though their website doesn’t identify them or say if they are PGA, LPGA, Champions Tour or Web.com players. (They do have pictures showing Rickie Fowler hitting an iron with a KBS shaft.)
The site also talks anonymously about top ranked players using their shafts.
— KBS Golf Shafts (@KBSGolfShafts) May 13, 2016
KBS shafts are also in many amateurs’ bags. KBS, the short name for Kim Braly Signature Tour Shafts, is one of the industry standards in shafts for irons and wedges, providing the factory shafts for many of the iron sets made by most of the major club manufacturers worldwide.
Kim Braly learned club making from his father and has been in the forefront of golf club shaft innovation since he was one of the founders of Precision Shaft Corporation in the 1980s; he patented Frequency Matching for graphite and developed both the RIFLE and Project X shafts. He established KBS in 2007.
Braly says on You Tube that the design philosophy behind his shafts is that golfers should use as stiff of a shaft as they can. “The stiffer the shaft you can control, or load, the better your dispersion is going to be.”
Dispersion, or direction, is the key to playing consistent golf.
“You know,” Braly says, “it’s not about how good your good shots are; your good shots are good. It’s about how good the less than pure shots are.”
Of course, to some golfers, especially non-professionals, distance is as important as direction. There again, Braly says, stiffer is better. “The stiffest shaft you can load is also going to cause the best distance.”
Your swing speed is the main factor in determining “the stiffest shaft you can load.” If your swing speed is under 85 mph, a Senior flex is probably best; up to 95 is usually a Regular flex; up to 110, Stiff is probably the choice while above that swing speed, you likely can load up on an Extra Stiff, or Tour shaft.
“…it’s not about how good your good shots are; your good shots are good. It’s about how good the less than pure shots are.”
– Kim Braly
As far as steel shafts vs. graphite, Braly says most players should go with steel shafts in their irons. “Graphite is for woods, for people who may have an ailment that prevents them, or who just don’t generate very much club head speed.”
And if you’re in the market for some new clubs, Braly has some advice. “It’s all about fitting. Fitting is an art. We thought it was all about science, [but] it has to feel right to the golfer.”
(KBS currently makes 10 styles of shafts for irons, plus custom shafts, and five shafts for wedges. KBS shafts can be found in irons made by Adams, Callaway, Cleveland, Cobra, Ping, Titleist, Wilson Staff and a number of other manufacturers. The shafts are also available for club makers through kbsgolfshafts.com and on many sites that sell golf club components.)
You can watch interviews with Kim Braly on You Tube at:
And follow him on Twitter at @KBSGolfShafts.