After my chat last year with Kim Braly, KBS Director of R&D and Tour Operations about the KBS wedge specific shaft and it was good to meet again at the 2016 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando to talk about the new KBS Tour FLT shaft.
Hi Kim. You’ve brought out the KBS Tour FLT flighted shaft, so can you describe what it does please?
Yes, the KBS Tour FLT is an exciting product. It’s a split design meaning it will help the long irons go a degree and a half or so higher and the short irons are going to go a degree lower than with regular shafts.
It is a flighted product somewhat similar to the old Rifle flighted product which I developed as well. The biggest difference is that this is a constant weighted product with all of the shafts being 130g, whereas the Rifle was a descending weight product.
So why have you decided to bring a flighted product out?
Well, a lot of players have trouble getting the long irons into the air like they would like to and on the other side of it some players have difficulty in flighting the short irons a little bit lower when they want to, so in both those areas these shafts make it easier to do that.
Is there any reason the weight is constant rather than variable so they get heavier as you go to the short clubs?
Yes, because I wanted to keep the flex within the same range. With shafts that have the weight variation you end up going from the long irons that are an R flex or even a little bit weaker to an X shaft in the wedge. With constant weight you also keep the flex constant.
So, as the weight varies in the shaft, it impacts on the flex?
With descending weight shafts, how can they make a set they say is still all the way through then?
They can’t – how can you do that when you are going 3 or 4 grams lighter or heavier depending on which direction you are going in?
So is the flex determined by the weight or by the thickness of the walls of the shaft?
Both. But as you change the weight through the set, the flex changes like I said, with the long irons being in the low R’s through to the wedges that are an X.
So the KBS Tour FLT is for those players who need that flight advantage in both the long and short irons?
Yes, but it has nothing to do with your level of play. Ernie Els played the flighted rifle shaft and he will play this when he knows it’s available.
Originally the flighted Rifle was designed in order to keep the scoring clubs a little bit lower because a lot of people said the rifle shafts went higher. I wanted to address that, but it turned out that the main reason most people liked it, including a guy like Ernie, is because people saw how easy it made to get long irons into the air.
And it was everybody! It was one of those things you design with a specific thing in mind and it works out great for something different than what you were originally trying to achieve.
What is it in the design and manufacturing that changes the flight?
It’s the steps. The butt section on the long irons is shorter than the butt section on the short irons so the steps start higher up on the long irons and lower than a 7 iron the steps are actually lower. The steps have the same pattern but they differ in where they start and finish.
How long has the KBS Tour FLT been in the making and what is your typical lead time with R&D?
It’s hard to say there isn’t a typical time. I’ve been designing shafts my whole life you could say the R&D for this shaft has been going on for years. This one has taken longer than most as when I originally looked at flighted shafts I didn’t know if there was a need for them at the time and that was probably 15 or 17 years ago. The design was specifically to allow players to get the flight they would desire a little bit easier.
And the Tour FLT shafts are for everybody rather than aimed at a certain type of golfer?
No it’s a broad range and we are going to have it in five shaft options of X, S+, S, R and R+, so it can suit all golfers who are looking for that ability to hit the long irons a little bit higher and the short irons a little bit lower.
Would the aim for this to get is as stock shaft eventually?
It’s a brand new shaft so we’ve just introduced it, so it will be a stock shaft in 2017.
Is this the main shaft you offer now or do you still have the other shafts in the range as well?
Oh yeah we still have the other shafts. Our whole philosophy is about fitting and there is nobody who believes in fitting and the need for it more than I do so we haven’t discontinued any of our products. All of our products are designed for a specific segment of the market and if we eliminated one of our products we would eliminate a segment of the market that the shaft was designed for.