KBS Shafts succeeding on pro circuits
Friday, March 14, 2014
It is not often that one shaft manufacturer receives a rave review from another shaft company, but what the heck, shaft wizards Kim Braly and Gawain Robertson are buddies.
"Except for (True Temper) Dynamic Gold," said Robertson, co-founder of Accra Golf Shafts, "just about every iron shaft on the PGA Tour was designed by Kim. He really is amazing."
Braly designed Rifle and Project X shafts before creating the KBS brand. Considering there was no such thing as a KBS shaft before 2008, Braly's achievements with his most recent shafts are staggering.
Looking at the official survey results from the major professional tours for the last six years, it's a matter of record: more than 100 victories for KBS, including the Open Championship in 2012 (Ernie Els) and 2013 (Phil Mickelson), the Masters in 2013 (Adam Scott), the U.S. Open in 2013 (Justin Rose), plus the Senior PGA Championship and U.S. Senior Open (both in 2013 by Kenny Perry).
"It has been unbelievable," Braly said. "This thing has come on much, much, muck quicker than I anticipated. I knew we'd be successful, but I didn't know it would happen this fast."
All this from a guy without a college degree who has been consumed for decades by the search for the perfect golf shaft.
"I attended plenty of (college) classes," said the 58-year-old Braly of his stint at Wake Forest, "but I wanted the knowledge, not the degree.
"I learned about the stiffness of tubular products by studying flag poles, ship masts, fishing poles, things like that. There was literally nothing on golf clubs. It wasn't a science at all."
There can be no discussion of Braly without mentioning his father, Dr. Joe Braly. The father-son duo helped turn the study of golf shafts into a science.
In his lifetime, Joe Braly has been an engineer, aviator and veterinarian. He remains a golf nut and avid supporter of his son's lifelong golf endeavors. The elder Braly invented the Console wedge, with an aerodynamic sole that acted much like a wing. The younger Braly was in grade school at the time.
A few years later they were testing clubs and shafts on a robot owned by Wilson Golf when the precocious son proclaimed, "Hey, Dad, there's something wrong with these shafts."
The shafts didn't match. This led to the invention of frequency matching shafts.
"My dad invented frequency matching," Kim acknowledged. "I was the guy who did the shaft design. He left that to me."
Designing golf shafts may seem like a weighty project for someone in his early 20s, but it seemed like the natural thing to do for a young man consumed with the game.
"I thought I was the world's best golfer," Kim said, "but it didn't quite work out that way."
What did work out was the strategy employed by the Bralys:
"We did our research on Tour," Kim said. "We followed the Tour around. We would have the best players in the world hit these various shafts."
In 1977 they formed a company, Precision Shafts, and patented a frequency analyzer. Soon their FM (Frequency Matched) Precision rose in popularity on the PGA Tour. Precision was sold to Brunswick Corp. in 1986, the primary supplier of their FM shafts. The Bralys went to work for Brunswick, and soon thereafter Kim invented the Rifle shaft.
In 1996, Brunswick sold Precision to a group of private investors. The Bralys stayed with the company, and Kim created Project X.
In 2006 shaft giant True Temper purchased the company, and Kim was on his own. In partnership with a shaft manufacturer called FST Shafts, he formed KBS in 2007.
Here is a rundown of eight KBS steel iron shafts. Weights are listed for taper-tip shafts. Better players often prefer taper-tip, although many KBS shafts are available in parallel tip as well.
- C-Taper: Low spin, low launch for advanced players. Taper tip, 110-130 grams.
- C-Taper Lite: Mid-high launch, firm tip, soft butt section. Features a constant taper design. Taper tip, 105-115 grams.
- Tour: The original KBS shaft with a mid trajectory. Taper tip, 110-130 grams.
- Tour-V: For players who prefer a lighter weight with less ball spin. Features tight shot dispersion. Taper tip, 100-120 grams.
- Tour-V Wedge: Piercing ball flight with a lower-mid trajectory. Taper tip, 125 grams.
- Tour 90: The lightest KBS shaft. High trajectory, additional spin. Taper tip, 95-102 grams.
- Wedge: Similar feel to KBS Tour. Firm tip, 110-130 grams.
- Hi-Rev: Mid trajectory with increased spin rate on short-range shots. Features an active tip section to provide maximum ball spin. Taper tip, 115-135 grams.