Interested in golf shafts, this site is a comprehensive collection of golf shaft reviews. It contains both objective measurements and subjective opinions of fitters and club testers. The reviewers are full time golf club fitters, most rated by Golf Digest in 2015 as the top 100 Clubfitters in the USA.
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Fujikura offers a Tour Spec version of most model. The Speeder Evolution Tour Spec model is different enough from the Speeder 757 that it deserved a separate review. This shaft is one of the standard option in the 2015 TaylorMade R15 driver. It is manufactured by Sino in China unlike the Speeder which is made in Japan.
The radial consistency averaged 98.5% with a 1.4% standard deviation. No issue with rotating hosels and no benefit from alignment with these shafts. The Evolution Tour Spec is slightly stiffer in the tip and softer in the butt than the same flex Speeder Evolution. This creates a propensity to launch and spin lower that the Evolution designs.
Lets explore this. The tables on this site show tip to butt ratios. That is the stiffness of the tip of the shaft divided by the stiffness of the butt. This ratio is used by many club makers and some shaft companies to forecast launch of a shaft. It is one of many indicators we can use to forecast launch propensity. The stiffer the tip in relation to the butt, the maximum bend point of the shaft is higher on the shaft. Hence, the lower the propensity of that shaft to loft and spin the ball.
Three point EI measurements of successive zones of the shaft make it possible to virtually bend the shaft mathematically. This illustration demonstrates this for the Speeder Evolution Tour Spec shafts. In this illustration the EI profiles are used to bend the shafts with both loading at the tip and loading at the butt. You can see how EI profiles translate into the bending of a loaded shaft. The intersection of the tip loaded and butt loaded profiles are another classical indication of launch propensity. The closer that intersection is to the tip, the higher launch and spin propensity of the shaft.
However it is not that easy to forecast how a shaft will launch in your hands. In this illustration the softest of the Speeder Evolution Tour Spec, the 661S to the 757X are subjected to progressively heavier loads. You can see how much more the 661S bends than the 757X. And, how the intersection of the two curves moves under load. The launch of a shaft is a function of how you load it.
The objective of the professional fitter is to find that combination of shaft profile, weight and stiffness that creates the tightest impact pattern, centered on the club face. Then to the degree possible, fine tune your launch with close variations of profile, weight and flex. Doing so is enhanced by how much your fitter understands the golf shafts he is using.
The Fujikura Speeder 757 was my introduction to premium driver shafts many years ago. The Speeder brand name disappeared for many years. It was brought back a few years ago as the Motore Speeder, a complex matrix of 26 shafts, featuring 3 launch designs, each in an array of weight and flex. In late 2013 the Speeder brand was reintroduced with 8 shafts, numbered like the original Speeder. The Fujikura Speeder Evolution came to the golfing public in 2015. It is designed to handle the heavier driver heads we are now seeing. As you can see in this illustration, the tip is stiffer and there is a tip-mid stiffness adjustment as part of the design update.
Like all of the Speeder models from Fujikura the profiles are consistent throughout the model. As the weight increases so does the stiffness. The Speeder 474 R2 weighs 48 grams uncut. The weights and stiffness ascend from a 4″ deflection yielding 5.8 lbs for the 474R2, and 8.6 lbs for the 79 gram 757X. The raw shafts are 47″ long, not the typical 46″.
The manufacturing labels on the butts of the shafts all indicate made in Japan. This is reflected in the radial consistency of 98.8% with a 0.6% standard deviation. The Fujikura Evolution review samples were all tour quality and can be installed with no regard for alignment, they are consistently round.
The Speeder Evolution is a classical design, mid soft in relation to a stiffer butt and tip.This design is a good fit for the majority of golfers. We can see the research done on the 3D ENSO system shaping the butt to create softer handles.
An interesting aspect of these shafts stood out during hoop stiffness testing. A significant ‘bump’ of hoop stiffness in the high midsection of the shaft. If you look at the EI curves you will see this is where the shaft is quickly descending in stiffness. At that point, an ultra high modulus hoop ply was added to preserve shaft stability.
Hoop stiffness is a function of wall thickness. near the tip, where the wall of the shaft are thick, the hoop strength is high. This graphic shows hoop deflection measurements. The less deflection, the stiffer that area of the shaft is. This is hoop stiffness, not bend stiffness. Hoop stiffness relates to the shaft ovalizing. The lower the number, the less oval deformation I measured. So, the dips you see are increases in hoop stiffness. The design objective in the Fujikura Speeder Evolution is to create shaft stability, and hence feel, in the section of the shaft where to majority of the load related bending occurs. What you see is the result of engineered wall thickness and high density pitch fiber pregreg in the hoop orientation stabilizing the mid/butt region of the shaft.
An interesting discussion on another golf forum contained this comment, “This is the answer to all the “profile is profile” theorists – whose claim is that if I match bend pattern, weight, balance point and frequency then my $12 shaft is the same as your $175 shaft. Torque progression and distribution aren’t as handy to quantify but are essential elements in any high-performance design, and aren’t to be had for peanuts.” We see in the Speeder Evolution design what this writer was talking about. A highly evolved design using the latest high density fibers, fiber orientation and wall thickness control to create a performance enhancing golf shaft.
Many of you have probably seen a KBS Tour 105 shaft in stock TaylorMade RSi 1 and RSi2 irons. As of the date this review was published this shaft is not available in the USA after market, the review samples were shipped from the KBS factory in Taiwan.
The KBS Tour 105 used in the TaylorMade RSi’s are parallel shafts. A taper version will soon be available to club makers in the USA. For those that are not club makers and are not familiar with the terms parallel and taper let me explain. This illustrations shows the bore in the hosel of a club head. Some heads, like the RSi1 and RSi2 have parallel bores. The hole in which the shaft is inserted has parallel sides. They are typically 0.370″ diameter. They are designed for parallel tip shafts. Heads designed for constant weight taper tip shafts have a tapered bore. The bottom of the hole is 0.355″ diameter and slowly increases in diameter.
Taper tip shafts are sold in sets. Each shaft in the set is specifically designed for a particular iron, 3i, 4i, 5i, etc. The shaft lengths in the set are in 1/2″ increments and typically weigh the same despite being different lengths. The stiffness of the shafts is set by the designer. The shafts are butt trimmed by the club maker to get to the lengths needed for you set. Parallel shafts are sold individually, one length for the entire set. They are tip trimmed by the club maker to create stiffness for the different irons then butt trimmed to create the lengths needed for the set. Because they are trimmed from both ends, the shaft weight gets lighter as it gets shorter.
The balance of sets made with constant weight tapers and parallels is different. You should not attach a value judgement to that fact. But you should realize that if you are accustomed to the balance of one design, changing designs will affect your game despite the fact that the swing weights will be the same. If you want to learn more about this it is explained in greater depth in the technical article, Parallel and Constant Weight Iron Shafts.
Now that you have a basic understanding of Parallel shafts, lets take a look at the KBS Tour 105 parallels.
As you can see, the KBS Tour 105 Parallel is slightly flighted as are most sets made from parallel shafts. For many, this is a good thing, the shaft adds to the loft of the club, giving a little lift to the longer irons in your bag. The KBS Tour 105 comes in two flexes.
The quality as measured by shaft to shaft consistency and radial consistency is excellent. Alignment of these shafts adds nothing to their playability. You should have no concern that the quality of the shafts in that off the rack set KBS Tour 105’s in your TaylorMade RSi 1’s or 2’s are in any way to blame for your missed greens.
What you might notice is that there is very little difference in weight between the R and S models. This shaft might be referred to as having a “dynamic” design.
The difference between the R and S flex is the length of the tip of the shafts. The first step on the R is 10″ from the tip while the first step on the S is 9″ from the tip. The stiffness difference is not great, as seen in the 5 lb deflection rating. But the flighting will be, with the shorter tip S launching lower. This illustration shows how the R flex, with 1″ removed from the tip is much the same as the S flex. This design is common to what we know as ‘Dynamic’ shafts. The nominal 105 gram weight of this shaft is a great fit for many amateur recreational golfers.
The after market addition to the KBS Tour line of shafts, the 105 constant weight tapers is coming soon. Stay tuned, 105 grams is a great weight and will be a great compliment to the CTaper light in a fitting system matrix of shafts.
The Graphite Design Tour AD Hybrid is the second hybrid shaft released in 2015. It follows the YS Reloaded, the YS has long been one of my favorites. The Tour AD HY is the fourth version of the Tour AD hybrids, but it is the first I have reviewed. Like most, my primary focus is driver shafts, then iron shafts. The hybrid in recent years is seen as an extension of the iron set. The early hybrids, were too long and did not gap properly into most golfers bags. Over the last few years the trend has moved toward shorter shafts lengths and a view toward integrating the gapping of the set from the longest irons you can hit well into hybrids. Most sets I build recently contain 2 or more hybrid style heads, both traditional hybrids as well as driving irons.
When do you take that step, breaking away from your iron set and blending in a hot faced driving iron or launch enhancing hybrid head? Its a simple answer actually. When you see your gaps collapse its time to get the next longest club built in a way to maintain consistent gapping between clubs. And there are many ways to do that which extend beyond the scope of this reviews. One aspect of getting more club head speed and higher launch is changing to a lighter, higher launching shaft. This is where we enter to world of hybrid shafts.
Higher launch is easy, make the tip softer. All to often, especially in stock shafts, this comes with higher tip torque. I have been playing exotic carbon fiber, low tip torque shafts for a very, very long time. The problem in this realm is the gag reflex I get from most golfers when they learn that a great hybrid shaft can be more than what they typically see hybrid clubs sold for. The Graphite Design Tour AD HY is one of those exotics, retailing at $175 uninstalled. Is it worth it? Time after time, when I finish the fitting objective I am working on with a client I hand them my hybrid and ask them to try it. And time after time, the reaction is the same, the OMG moment. Then sticker shock.
A properly fit, high quality hybrid shaft is a long term investment. You might change heads as head technology evolves, but that properly fit hybrid shaft stays with you and moves into the next head. In my bag, that pair of hybrid shafts have been with me for going on 8 years.
What is special about a great hybrid shaft? Three aspects, high launch propensity, tip stability and weight. I will discuss each of these as it relates to the Graphite Design Tour AD HY measurements shown here. Before I explain the graphics, a few notes, the radial consistency of the Graphite Design Tour AD HY averaged 99.1% with a 0.5% standard deviation. The shaft is round and can be used in rotating hosels. The EI profiles are consistent with variations in weight and flex, making them easy to fit. You simply find the weight and flex that fits, you do not have to be concerned that a different weight or flex is a different bend profile. These are first class shafts with consistent quality.
Launch Propensity Launch contributes to gap collapse at the long end of the iron set. The ball gets on the ground to soon and potential distance is lost. The solution is to add loft to the head or use a shaft with a higher launch propensity. The EI curve and the tip to butt ratio indicate launch propensity of a shaft. The higher the tip to butt ratio, the stiffness of the tip divided by the stiffness of the butt, the lower the change in stiffness from butt to tip. Think of this as the difference between the stiffness of the tip and the stiffness of the butt of the shaft. Generally, the larger this ratio, the more the shaft will contribute to launch. A 50% ratio will launch higher than a 60% ratio. Where that loss occurs can be seen on the EI curve. If the loss is closer to the tip, the launch propensity is higher. The Graphite Design Tour AD HY is a higher launching design. And resembles the very popular Tour AD DI driver shaft. The loss of stiffness is smooth to around 12″ from the tip, where it gets stiffer.
Look at the tip torque numbers in the charts on this site. When you look at steel iron shafts, even light weight shafts like the KBS CTaper Lite, you will see very low tip torque numbers. Steel shaft tip torques, which I measure at 17″ from the tip, are generally in the 1.0 to 1.5 range. Ultra light steel, like the Nippon Zelos7 has tip torque of 2.4 in its lightest, softest model. In my experience, the great hybrid shafts have low torque tips. And the Graphite Design Tour AD HY, with tip torques below 2.0 qualify on that scale. They will deliver the head where you direct it. They will keep toe rotation under control as you approach impact. I had no problems creating tight dispersion clusters when I tested the 95g S.
Torque, the resistance to twisting of the shaft, is largely determined at the tip of the shaft. The lowest my torque measuring instrument can get is 17″ from the tip. I proceed in 5″ increments up the shaft. What I have seen, after measuring countless shafts, it that the torque gradually increases up the shaft. The difference in overall torque is largely determined by torque at the tip of the shaft. And it is here that quality is defined in carbon fiber shafts designed for high launch. The closer to the tip of the shaft you put the point of maximum deflection, the higher the ball will launch. However, creating a soft tip that does not twist is not easy. Doing so requires thin high strength materials. The thin materials allow for orientation of some of the fibers in bias (angled) plies and hoop (perpendicular to length) plies. These angled fiber orientations resists twisting. When the tip resists twisting, the head is delivered as consistent as you are capable of delivering it, and the ball goes straight. If the tip easily twists, the head will be out of control and the ball goes into the woods.
Club head speed is a major factor in distance. As your clubs get longer, speed is expected to increase. If this is not happening, the distance gaps collapse. Weight is a huge factor in creating speed, if you cannot control the weight you cannot swing fast. Energy = Mass x Velocity Squared. Club head speed creates distance. To the degree that a decrease in weight increases your swing speed the ball will go farther. When we change from our standard irons to hybrids, the shaft weights drop. That drop in total weight of the club contributes to speed and distance. However, shaft stiffness is a function of weight. If we give up adequate stiffness with light weight we gain distance at the expense of dispersion. There is a compromise. The weight of the Graphite Design Tour AD HY ranges from 63 to 92 grams. If you are playing 105 – 115 gram steel in your irons, you can get an adequate weight reduction with the 95’s and still maintain enough stiffness to control dispersion. And if you cannot control the 95 gram version of the Tour AD HY when you swing hard, you should be playing light weight steel in your hybrids or driving irons.
The Graphite Design Tour AD HY gets the three aspects of a great hybrid shaft, launch, tip stability and weight right. With my effortless 82 mph swing on a 39″ long 19 degree hybrid I was hitting green size groupings at 185 yards with the 95S. That was not the perfect head loft for my speed, but was a good test of the stability of this shaft. I play 110 gram iron shafts, the change in club weight due to the shaft in my bag is 15 grams. Adequate for me to get the gapping I need.
While the range of profiles we see in carbon fiber driver shafts is diverse, the range of designs in the Hybrid shafts is much more homogeneous. There are a few exceptions, but a great number of designs are close matches to the two Graphite Design Hybrids I have now reviewed. The YS+ which is now the YS Reloaded and the Tour AD HY have very similar bend profiles. The YS+ has always been one of my favorites. Looking at the bend profiles, the differences are indeed subtle. The tip to butt rations indicate the HY will launch higher than the YS. And my testing confirmed this. Spin on the YS was significantly lower than the HY even considering the degree of launch difference. That was created by the higher point on the YS shaft where the maximum loss of stiffness occurs. As you look at EI bend profiles and see a long stiff tip on the YS, you are seeing a shaft that create less spin. That may or may not be a good thing. If you are looking for drop and stop shots, high spin is a good thing. If you are looking for bounce and roll, it is not. If you are looking for a hybrid to properly fit your game, find a fitter that understands the differences between shafts and is equipped with a range of options for you to test.
This discussion about Graphite Design Tour AD shafts occurred at the PGA Merchandise show, January, 2015. To see more video like this visit the DevotedGolfer Youtube Channel.
The Project X LZ, or loading zone shaft features a linear soft zone in the middle of the shaft which is visibly reinforced with bias wraps to maintain torsional stability. This 2014 composite driver shaft from True Temper, released under the Project X brand, is made in limited numbers in the USA facility in San Diego California. I am told only 60 or 70 can be made in any given day with current staffing.
This is an interesting option now being offered by a few companies. The general golfing public has access to the shafts that are made in the tour department for the tour players. Most graphite shafts are hand rolled. As such, the care taken by the person putting the shaft together is reflected in the quality and consistency of the finished shaft. Almost every company has some highly skilled wrappers that make their prototypes. And very often, when these people are not making protos, they are making the shafts that go to the professional tour vans. These shafts are not necessarily better than the shafts made in the volume production shops, but they are free of the shaft to shaft inconsistencies found in the factory produced product. And I have seen some inconsistencies that are hard to believe from the high volume, low cost foundries, but that is another story.
The concept of the Load Zone was to create a soft midsection in the shaft. Mid soft shafts are among the most popular shaft in my fitting experience. No shaft company likes to hear a section of their shafts being discussed as soft. If you make the tip stiff and the butt stiff, the mid is soft in relation to those other two zones. In the Project X Loading Zone shaft, the soft mid section is reinforced by a material called flex lock. That is graphite fiber oriented on an angle from the length of the shaft, commonly refereed to as bias or hoop plies. This stabilizes the torque in this zone. A full discussion of the design is shown in the videoed discussion I had with Don Brown, the True Temper graphite shaft product development manager.
Radial integrity averaged 99% with a 0.6 standard deviation. These shafts can be oriented in any direction in rotating hosels. The Loading Zone shafts are counterweighted, with high balance points. A good match to the bling heavy driver heads that dominate the 2014-15 market. The GJ torque profiles were linear. The soft mid zones, stabilized with the flex lock material did not exhibit a significant drop in torque from the zones closer to the butt of the Project X Loading Zone Shafts. As shown in the averaged EI profiles, the shafts could be sorted into three distinct design groups. Sorted by flex, not illustrated, the position of the loading zone is centered across the 50, 60 and 70 g versions. Sorted by weight, the loading zone moves toward the tip and gets shorter as the stiffness increases. This is very interesting matrix of shafts for the fitter working with a client that fits into a mid soft design driver shaft. it illustrates the importance of working with a fitter that ‘knows’ the EI profiles of the shafts he works with.
This is an interview shot at the 2015 PGA merchandise show in Orlando. Don Brown is the Graphite Shaft Product Development Manger for True Temper Sports. The discussion of the Loading Zone Shafts gets technical. Many readers of this site tell me they do not understand some of the graphics and discussions in my reviews. What you see in this video is a discussion using the terms you see on this shaft review site. Enjoy!
Project X Hand Crafted Loading Zone Driver Shafts
The images to the left are FlightScope acceleration charts. FlightScope radar tracks the clubhead as well as the golf ball. The head is picked up about 45 inches from impact. The FlightScope operator is presented with a large array of information to use in the club fitting process. I pay close attention to the stability and repeatably of the acceleration chart. We can see the hump in the chart, release, shifting further away from impact as the weight of the shaft increases. The combination of increased stiffness from the additional weight and the weight induced change in release manifested into a change in launch angle. The table below shows how this influenced ball flight.
Weight of the shaft and weight of the club head are key components of golf club fitting. Your sweet spot, the weight that creates the most stable speed and path can only be found by a fitter equipped with shafts and heads in various weights.
In this and future reviews we will be looking at deflection of the shaft derived from the EI profile. By looking at tip loading we see how the shaft bends from the weight of the head magnified by its speed and acceleration. The butt loading deflection shows how the shaft bends from the force applied at the handle. The 50 gram shafts are significantly easier to load from the butt. The 60 and 70 have much the same butt loading character, differing more at the tip, where the 70 gram shafts, designed for higher speeds have more tip stiffness and a lower launching propensity.