KBS $-Taper Golf Shaft Review

KBS $-Taper Golf Shaft Review

By Russ Ryden, Fit2Score, A Dallas Fort Worth Club Fitter & Club Maker
The Golf Center at the Highlands, Carrollton Texas

STaper Image

Before the KBS $-Taper became available to the public, it had two tour wins. Cameron Smith at the Zurich Classic and Si Woo Kim at the Players. The release to club builders was delayed as KBS tried to new label application process. Eventually, they gave up and cut it loose with the current label process.

This shaft used a different step design from prior KBS shafts. The steps are longer, almost to the point of being hard to see. The discussion of the $-Taper starts at the 8:45 mark in this video shot at the 2017 PGA Merchandise show. Kim describes his objective for this shaft, a variation of the KBS tour that reduces spin. As soon as I finish writing this review I will put tips on the review samples to test the shaft. 

As I measured the $-Taper I had an expectation of what I expected to see, that was not the case.

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Russ

Do not assume you will react to this profile exactly as I did. We are all different and react to shafts and heads uniquely. I must play the 110 gram R flex because I cannot effectively swing a heavier shaft. However, 10 yards is something I need at my age and getting it without adding to roll out is something I will gladly put in my bag. Find a fitter that has added he KBS $-Taper to his fitting cart and test them yourself.

Golf Shaft Stiffness

Understanding Golf Shaft Stiffness

By Russ Ryden, Fit2Score, A Dallas Fort Worth Club Fitter & Club Maker
The Golf Center at the Highlands, Carrollton Texas

How stiff is this golf shaft? That question is on the mind of anyone who has ever been curious about their golf clubs. Club makers have been trying to answer that question for a long as I can remember.

GWorksDBI am told the first tool commonly used was a deflection board. The butt of the shaft is clamped, a weight is hung on the tip and the amount the shaft bent was used to rate the shafts stiffness. This was and still is, an excellent way to rate shafts. The problem was that none of the shaft companies used the same board. Shaft sales and marketing created a letter system, LARSX, Ladies, Amateur, Regular, Stiff, X-Stiff. Brunswick shaft company patented a numbering system 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, etc. The golfer was and still is confused about these numbers. The club making community made their own attempt at creating a standard. To date, the only standard is confusion.

I began my journey to understand the golf shaft about 15 years ago. I now have a database containing measurements of about 3000 different shafts. For those that are looking for a simple basis for comparing shafts I have adapted a method recommended to me by Jeff Meyer, Area Under the EI curve. Jeff has spent most of his life in the golf shaft business. The idea came to him when he was the shaft guru at Acushnet Golf.

As you watch this animation, you will understand the concept.

areaillustrated_650

The best ideas are often the simplest. Area under the EI curve is easy to compute once you have the inch by inch measurement. You add them up. To compensate for shafts of different lengths you divide the sum by the length of the shaft measured. To create a simple index, I divided that number by a common factor to create an easy to compare 2 digit stiffness index.

The recent reviews presented here at Golf Shaft Reviews, give a stiffness index for each shaft measured.

One of my friends, a fellow fitter who has been working with EI graphs since the very first day I began measuring them asked why I would reduce the elegance of the EI profiles to a single number. My answer, if you are going to use a number to try to understand shaft stiffness, be it LARSX or 4.0, 5.0, 6.0 7.0. area under the EI curve is a better number. It indicates all of the shaft, not just a single point. Is it the best way we now have available? No. Knowing the shape of the EI curve and its relationship to other shafts is the best way we now have available. But without knowing and studying the EI profiles of the 3000 shafts I have already measured, it is better than the alternatives. And given that the measurements were all taken the same way with the same instrument, it transcends manufactures, models and weights.

Lets lets look at some of the other ways shaft stiffness is presented and marketed.

Shaft Frequency

The concept of using shaft oscillation frequency was discussed in the 1968 book, “Search for the Perfect Swing” by Alastair Cochran and John Stobbs. “Search for the Perfect Swing” is one of the first explorations of golf technology. In Appendix I a formula for frequency is shown as a function that included “E=an elastic property of the material of the shaft” and “I=a quantity which depends on the precise cross-section of the shaft and which represents its ability to resist bending”. As you read this article you will realize the authors were saying frequency might be useful, but the complexity of the calculation was not likely to make frequency an easy way to define golf shaft stiffness.

GWlaserCPMDr. Joe Braly introduced club makers to using the rate of oscillation of a shaft (frequency) to understand its stiffness. In the 80’s he did research on the PGA tour. He used a frequency instrument to measure the shafts used by the tour players. From this research, he developed a formula for the stiffness of ratio of the different irons in the set. The ratio he found was 4.3 CPM (cycles per minute) per one half inch of length of club.

FrequencyStrainGaugeInspired by the research done by the Braly’s, a club makers organization, the PCS, endorsed and taught frequency based club making to its many, many members. it was a time when shaft design was not as complex as it currently is and when frequency instruments were one of the few tools available to club makers for measuring shaft stiffness.

The PCS recognized that frequency measurements were affected by clamp pressure, clamp length, weight and the actual instrument being used. They established a standard primarily focused on one of the instruments. Software knows as “The Equalizer”  was sold to PCS members. It came with a calibration stick that was used to standardize the readings to a common denominator across instruments. During its dominance as a club makers organization the PCS did not promote discussion of alternative shaft stiffness systems. Nor did it inform its membership that the shaft designers and manufacturers primarily used EI for understanding shaft stiffness.

Let’s take a look at an EI chart of three shafts with the same frequency.Each of these shafts has a frequency of 354 on my instrument. I use a pneumatic clamp, clamped 7″ from the butt of the shafts. These are 6 iron shafts and were measured with a 261 gram 6 iron head. Seven inches, the Fujikura standard, is still used by some club manufacturers and shaft companies.

CPMSameEIDifferent As you can plainly see, these three shafts which have exactly the same frequency are quite different when viewed with EI analysis. Tom Wishon, then at GolfSmith, recognized that butt frequency alone did not work. He measured frequency at several points down the shaft while sorting a box of iron shafts for a set he was building for a PGA tour pro. That evolved into a system of measuring the shaft with a frequency instrument at different point down the shaft. With that, the term ‘shaft profiling’ was born. That system was flawed in more ways than I want to discuss here. It gave very crude charts of stiffness down the shaft when compared to EI charts. If you want to understand the relationship and the difficulty of using frequency to estimate EI read page 205 of Cochran & Stobb that I referred to at the beginning of this section.

Shaft frequency is not of much use in evaluating shaft stiffness. The problem for club makers and fitters who recognized the importance of shaft profiling was that there was not an affordable EI instrument until I designed and manufactured one. They used the frequency instruments they had. As with all technologies, instruments and expertise evolves. Frequency profiling and frequency rating of shaft stiffness were an attempt by club builders to reverse engineer shaft knowledge not shared by the shaft companies. Affordable EI instruments have closed the knowledge gap between the shaft engineer and the club fitter.

Shaft Stiffness Labels – LARSX

Most shafts have a stiffness label. These labels are referred to as LARSX by club makers, Ladies, Amateur, Regular, Stiff, X-Stiff. As we all know, there is no standard for assigning stiffness between manufacturers. But what you may not realize is that there is no standard for assigning these labels to different products made by the same manufacturer. Let’s look at three different KBS shafts all labeled S flex.

MFGstiffAs you can see, the KBS 120 gram Tour and C-Taper have very similar stiffness at the butt. The 110 gram C-Taper Lite also labeled S flex is much softer throughout the shaft. This is quite common. KBS shafts were at hand when I was measuring and creating charts for this article, they are not unique in this practice, all shaft companies do this. To make any sense out of shaft company labels you must recognize that LARSX refers to shaft stiffness of that particular model and weight, It does not apply to shafts of different models or weights.

What you might have started to notice here is that Jeff Meyer’s system, area under the EI curve, as a single metric rating system, actually makes some sense.

Shaft Stiffness Labels – 4.0 ~ 4.5 ~ 5.0 ~ 5.5 ~ 6.0 ~ 6.5 ~ 7.0

The Rifle shaft produced by FM precision/Brunswick/Royal Precision (different names, same company) introduced and patented a numeric stiffness rating system. It was a detailed system for relating swing speed to shaft stiffness. Using shafts that were both weight and frequency sorted in the factory, the club maker made iron shaft sets by matching swing speed to shaft stiffness. It was revolutionary in its day. The first systematic attempt at shaft fitting. There are many club makers that still use the Rifle system or variations of it.

The Royal Precision shaft company was purchased by True Temper and with that purchase was the numeric stiffness rating patent. Here is a look at how that system is currently applied.

MFGnumbers1

Two shafts, the Project X and the Project X LZ are both labeled 6.0. The EI measurement clearly shows these shafts have different stiffness. Once again, we see that stiffness labels on shafts show the difference in shaft stiffness within models not between models.

Now, let’s loop back to butt frequency and add another shaft to this chart.

MFGnumbers2

The frequency of these three shafts is Project X 5.0 = 350, Project X 6.0 = 363 and Project X LZ 6.0 = 349. Notice how the Project X 5.0 and the Project X LZ 6.0 are similar in the butt area, having the same butt frequency. They are quite different in the mid zone. And once again, take note of the EI area rating of these two shafts.

Conclusion

Back to the question posed in the opening sentence of this article, How stiff is this golf shaft? The  systems we have to rate golf shaft stiffness do not work across brands or even across models within brands. Most experienced club fitters use their experience to understand golf shaft stiffness. Many use some systematic method, most often frequency, to rate the shafts they work with. Then with that rating in mind, they test golfers performance and reaction to various shafts. A sense of what works and does not work develops through experience and is indexed by the shaft labels or their shaft stiffness rating method. The current key to understanding shaft fitting is experience. Years of experience. Because there was no current system that accurately indexes the stiffness of the golf shaft.

Now, thanks to Jeff Meyer, there is.

UST Recoil Parallel Iron Shafts

UST Recoil Parallel Iron Golf Shaft Review

By Russ Ryden, Fit2Score, A Dallas Fort Worth Club Fitter & Club Maker
The Golf Center at the Highlands, Carrollton Texas

RecoilParallelImageWhen the UST Recoil Iron shaft was first introduced I was enthralled by the concept of hoop deformation storing and then releasing energy. Hoop deformation was not part of the discussion in the club fitting organizations I belonged to. There was no publically documented procedure in the golf shaft business for measuring it. I was given some hints by another shaft company and set out on a long discovery process to measure it. Eventually it redefined how I calculated golf shaft EI by adding a correction for hoop deformation in the 3 point measuring process. This did not happen overnight. The journey lasted a little over a year, hoop deformation measurements are now an integral part of my understanding of the golf shaft. While I am forever grateful to UST Mamiya for bringing this to my attention, I did not find anything extraordinary about the hoop strength of the Recoil shafts. Generally it is a function of wall thickness, fiber orientation and layup strategy.

I recently obtained a limited range of UST Recoil shafts, including the Recoil 450, Recoil 460, Recoil 660, Recoil 670 and Recoil 680. Before we look at the numbers I realized in a conversation with a shaft company executive a few weeks ago that I was remiss in explaining my rating of shaft stiffness, EI Area. An article on the metric has been posted.. The concept was presented to me by Jeff Meyers who was the shaft guru at Titleist for about 20 years. By using area under the curve, each measurement of the shaft, from tip to butt is given equal weight in the stiffness rating. Jeff found it preferable over frequency to predict how golfers would report their impression of shaft stiffness. Frequency is heavily weighted toward the butt, overlooking the remainder of the shafts. As you read the charts on this site, your can compare overall stiffness of shafts by looking at the EI Area number in the tables. 

To read this review, you must register . 

Show that you enjoy learning about golf shafts with our special, off season annual subscription of $10. Ten dollars is less than the cost of a sleeve of premium golf balls or a bucket of range balls. Your support will keep Golf Shaft Reviews going and growing. This website is the only comprehensive information source about golf shafts available to the public. I do not receive compensation from the shaft companies nor clutter the site with ads.

Information provided at registration will NEVER be shared with ANYONE. To be notified of new reviews, follow DevotedGolfer on facebook.

Enjoy and Good Golf,
Russ

Rifle Parallel Iron Shaft Review

True Temper Rifle Parallel Iron Shaft Review

By Russ Ryden, Fit2Score, A Dallas Fort Worth Club Fitter & Club Maker
The Golf Center at the Highlands, Carrollton Texas

TTRifle_LabelTrue Temper reintroduced the Rifle Iron Shaft in 2017. it is a parallel shaft which a True Temper Performance Fitting Certified Club Maker can trim to exacting stiffness. The Rifle shaft has a long history in the golf business and was once a popular shaft on the PGA tour.

Performance Fitting Center Club Makers are educated and trained by True Temper. They are knowledgeable about True Temper’s proprietary technologies and how they can improve each golfer’s game. Performance Fitting Centers offer True Temper’s full line of catalog products in addition to products exclusive to Performance Fitting Centers.

RPRifle_LabelWhen I was new to club making I attended what was then a weekend seminar to become a Rifle Certified Clubmaker. I learned the history of the research done by Dr. Joe Braly. That research pioneered the effort that is ongoing today to find a synergy between the golfer and the golf shaft. Quoting from my Rifle training manual, “The conventional process of determining shaft flex strictly by weight does not recognise a number of other variable that can stand in the way of producing a correctly matched set of clubs.”  I am not certain that we yet fully understand that synergy. But, the research that resulted in the Rifle fitting system was a pioneering step in the history of club fitting. I know a number of golf pros that still speak fondly of their Rifle shafts sets of old.

Lets explore the Rifle fitting process and compare the Royal Precision Rifle to the True Temper Rifle. 

To read this review, you must register . 

Show that you enjoy learning about golf shafts with our special, off season annual subscription of $10. Ten dollars is less than the cost of a sleeve of premium golf balls or a bucket of range balls. Your support will keep Golf Shaft Reviews going and growing. This website is the only comprehensive information source about golf shafts available to the public. I do not receive compensation from the shaft companies nor clutter the site with ads.

Information provided at registration will NEVER be shared with ANYONE. To be notified of new reviews, follow DevotedGolfer on facebook.

Enjoy and Good Golf,
Russ

Nippon Modus3 120 & Modus3 130 Golf Shaft Review

NIPPON N.S.PRO MODUS3 120 & MODUS3 130 Golf Shaft Review

By Russ Ryden, Fit2Score, A Dallas Fort Worth Club Fitter & Club Maker
The Golf Center at the Highlands, Carrollton Texas

Modus3Image

Sergio Garcia took his first major title playing the Modus3 130 X in his irons. Unlike carbon fiber shafts which change every few years, steel shafts remain available for a long time. They do not get replaced every other year with a new model. New models get added, but the successful designs stay on the market for years. This review of the Modus3 Tour 120 and Modus3 Tour 130 was first published in 2013. I updated it with charts from the current measuring standards. I have fit countless golfers into the Modus2 120. Recently, I was given a head only account by Mizuno and added the 120 and 130 to my fitting cart. I can now fit a shaft I know well, economically, into Mizuno heads. Within days of adding it to my Mizuno cart it is a winner it producing tight dispersion patterns.

After several years of PGA tour testing, the Nippon N.S.Pro MODUS3 was made available to the golfing public in 2010.  In 2013, a second version was moved from the tour to the public.  There are some unique properties to these designs.  One of which is the use of a spring steel alloy.  Rather than me tell the story, Here is a video I shot early in my video journalism days that tells the Nippon N.S.Pro Modus3 story. Lee Oyer, the PGA Tour Representative for Nippon is one of the great fitters in golf. His fitting skills are praised by his fellow tour fitters.

The Modus3 profile shows a quick loss of stiffness near the butt and a long stiff tip. It is made from a different grade of steel. It is in the bags of several PGA tour pros and has accumulated a lot of wins since it was first introduced in 2010.  It is light, installed weight is around 104 grams.  This is where the game is headed and Nippon has developed light weight high performance shafts using materials from their parent companies automotive experience. Here is a look at the linear and radial profiles of the original N.S.Pro Modus3 Tour 120 and the N.S.Pro Modus3 Tour 130 introduced to the public in 2013.

The technical discussion, measurements and testing results are available only to registered readers

At the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show Demo day, DevotedGolfer.tv editor John Taylor discussed the Modus3 with Hiro Fukuda of NHK Intex Corporation/Nippon Shafts.

In this interview Hiro Fukuda mentions control of wall thickness to shape the stiffness profile of the shafts.  This illustration from the Nippon 2013 product catalog illustrates what he is talking about. Modus_Walls In a uniform material, steel being a uniform material as opposed to carbon fiber, wall thickness and shaft diameter create the bend profile of the golf shaft. By looking at these images and comparing them to the EI profiles, you can see how wall shape translates to bend profile. Those of us that are affiliated with the Fit2Score EI profile knowledge base like to see manufacturers using EI profiles to explain shafts in their publications.  It validates our system when our graphic images closely match those created by the shaft company engineers.

Callaway HZRDUS T800 Driver Shaft Review

Callaway HZRDUS T800 Driver Shaft Review

By Russ Ryden, Fit2Score, A Dallas Fort Worth Club Fitter & Club Maker
The Golf Center at the Highlands, Carrollton Texas

CallawayT800
My primary focus is premium after market shafts, yet I am always asked about the stock shafts installed drivers. The Callaway HZRDUS looks very much like the $400+ shaft used on tour, it is not. The notations are ever more subtle The stock Callaway HZRDUS is labeled T800, the tour and aftermarket shaft is the HZRDUS T1100. I recently measured a pull out, let’s look at how they differ.

To read this review, you must register . 

Show that you enjoy learning about golf shafts with our special, off season annual subscription of $10. Ten dollars is less than the cost of a sleeve of premium golf balls or a bucket of range balls. Your support will keep Golf Shaft Reviews going and growing. This website is the only comprehensive information source about golf shafts available to the public. I do not receive compensation from the shaft companies nor clutter the site with ads.

Information provided at registration will NEVER be shared with ANYONE. To be notified of new reviews, follow DevotedGolfer on facebook.

Enjoy and Good Golf,
Russ