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Review: Graphite Design Tour AD GP Shafts

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Pros: The stiffest of Graphite Design’s Tour AD shafts. Compared to similar shafts, the GP is impressively smooth and stable. Available in a wide range of weights (50-80 grams) and flexes (R2-X).

Cons: Like other Tour AD shafts, the MSRP is $500.

Who it’s for: Golfers who prefer tip-stiff shafts, as well as those looking to reduce launch and spin. The highly stable design can also suit golfers who want to tighten their dispersion, particularly if their miss is a hook.

The Review

GD_Logo

At the top levels of the game, golfers are getting stronger. It’s easy to see on the PGA Tour, where the game’s brightest young stars are regularly generating club head speeds in excess of 120 mph. It’s even more noticeable at top college and junior golf events, as fields are filled with golfers who are stronger and more technically sound than ever before.

In response, golf equipment manufacturers have evolved their product lines. Especially with metal woods, it has meant lower-spinning clubheads, and to complement them, stiffer, more energy-efficient shaft designs.

Tour_AD_Rings

Graphite Design new Tour AD GP shafts are intended to suit a wide range of golfers, as they’re offered in a variety of weights (50-80 grams) and flexes (R2-X) to fit a broad scope of golfers. Compared to previous shaft models from the company, however, the GP line (which stands for “Greatest Performance”) will optimize stronger golfers, as well as those who perform best with extremely stable shafts.

Like other new Tour AD models, they’re constructed with the company’s 50T carbon-fiber material, which gives them the smooth feel for which Graphite Design’s shafts are known. In the tip section of the shaft, however, the GP shafts use Torayca’s new T1100G carbon-fiber pre-preg with NanoAlloy technology, which gives the shafts a tip stiffness that are only rivaled by the company’s Tour AD M9003 shafts.

Graphite_Design_Profiles

Graphite Design’s representatives warned me the GP shafts “may feel more on the firmer side,” and would not play like the Graphite Design shafts I used in the past. Design platforms and robot testing are one thing, but golf is played by humans — not engineering software and robots. I wanted to know exactly how different the new shaft would perform compared to Graphite Design’s most popular shaft of all time, the Tour AD-DI.

Tour_AD_1

To find out, I took the GP shaft to the Launch Pad at Carl’s Golfland in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., where I tested it against the Tour AD-DI in the most apples-to-apples comparison possible. Both shafts were built to my specifications, 7X (tipped 1 inch) at a finished length of 45.5 inches in a TaylorMade M1 430 (10.5 degrees set to 8.5 degrees).

The numbers below may look quite similar, but please read on, because the feedback and trajectory biases were not.

The Numbers

GraphiteDesignShafts

Tipped 1 inch, the GP was one of the stiffest shafts I have ever used, and felt considerably more stable than the Tour AD-DI that I’ve played in the past.

As you can see, I swung the GP slightly faster (0.8 mph), but the extremely stiff-tipped design caused me to release the clubhead sooner in a effort to hit a straight shot. You can see that in my Attack Angle, which increased from -1.4 degrees to 0.2 degrees. As a result of my manipulation, I also contacted my drives higher on the face with the GP, which lowered my ball speed, increased my launch angle and decreased my spin rate due to gear effect.

I talked to Graphite Design about my results, and company representatives weren’t surprised. According to their PGA Tour rep, the GP shafts are so stable that golfers are not tipping them in their drivers. Since the average tipping on Tour for a driver is 1 inch, that speaks to the GP’s robustness.

Tour_AD_GP_1

I also tried a GP 8X (tipped 1.5 inches) at 43 inches in my TaylorMade M1 fairway wood, and the shaft played entirely too stiff. My release was earlier, which caused my spin numbers to rise above appropriate levels, and my miss tended to be high and to the right. According to Graphite Design, golfers who are using GP shafts in their 3 wood are tipping them no more than 0.5 inches, and my results were typical of a shaft that was overtipped. The GP shafts have to be commended for their smooth feel, however, as well as their tight dispersion, despite my overtipping.

There’s no question that in the correct flex and tipping, the GP would have loaded and unloaded more efficiently than the AD-DI. That would have created all-around better launch conditions. Of course, results are going to vary from golfer to golfer depending on swing and style. That’s why the most important message from this review is to not try to emulate the specs of Tour player, but to be fit for the shaft that works best for your game.

Tour AD GP Flexes

Tour_AD_GP_Specs

If you’re a stronger golfer, or one who’s looking to tighten up your dispersion — especially if your miss is a hook — the GP is likely a good option for your game. And if you’re coming from another Graphite Design shaft, you’ll likely find the performance characteristics of the Tour AD GP to be noticeably, and impressively different.

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Jeff Huffman

    Aug 17, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    This Shaft is solid and stable but incremental more than the DI6. I play Stiff w no tipping. I was concerned about the reviews. My CH speed is in the lower 1/2 of the 96 to 105 range. From the first range swings this Shaft naturally hit a draw which surely is not too Stiff. I was able to move the ball both ways easily and distance was good. Thank you GD another happy customer.

  2. 299yards

    May 17, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    This review would have been helpful if you used the right specs (ik its obvi). Not only were you not able to load the shaft correctly, ur numbers/results throws everything off of the gp. more spin with gp than di? who would want that haha

  3. Dale Doback

    Apr 28, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    According to the bend profile of this shaft any tip trimming done actually makes the shaft tip area play softer which speaks volumes to the stoutness of the shaft that with your speed Zak, and the amount you tipped the shafts that it still played to stiff.

  4. 2Short

    Jan 24, 2016 at 4:59 am

    Surprised it didn’t get 5 stars, or at least 4.5

  5. JJ

    Jan 24, 2016 at 4:47 am

    what about dispersion Zak? Thats the whole point of a shaft as stiff as this!

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Jan 24, 2016 at 10:22 am

      The dispersion was very extremely tight, JJ. It’s the most stable shaft I’ve ever tested from GD.

  6. Chirpmaster

    Jan 23, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Epic FAIL! Way to turn $1000 in shafts into tomato stakes.

  7. matt

    Jan 23, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    A good review would have been completely stock vs stock, then perhaps throwing in numbers from your current tipped gamer. The only thing I can take away is don’t heavily tip a brand new shaft you’ve never tried before.

  8. emb

    Jan 22, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    the reason tour players aren’t tipping this shaft isn’t because its too stiff, its because the profile of this shaft makes it play softer when tipped due to an increasingly stiff tip section. When tipped you are removing a piece of the stiffest portion of the shaft. It’s been recommended by club builders to only tip this shaft when trying to make it play softer.

    • OP

      Feb 12, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      That is total BS emb. Don’t listen to those guys okay. GD and many of the new shaftmakers who are copying the innovation of experienced materials experts, make a prolonged tip section so the shafts are more versatile and can be used in all woods. Understand, anytime you tip a tapered shaft (and they are all tapered, even fishing rods) it gets stiffer–PERIOD. Even if you tipped past the prolonged tip section and got into the taper where the walls get thinner, the hoop strength makes it get stiffer. Tipping shafts has never been an exact science so go at it incrementally–remember you can’t put any tip back. lol

      • Dale Doback

        Apr 28, 2016 at 6:16 pm

        emb is correct. try looking looking at the shaft bend profile before commenting

  9. SouthbayZ

    Jan 22, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    You’re one of those people that salts their food before even trying it, aren’t ya?

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Equipment

Review: Miura MC-501

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Pros: The most forgiving blade you’ll ever hit. Miura has made what seems like the hugest oxymoron in golf clubs that we club buyers have been dreaming of!

Cons: The Miura MC 501s are only offered to right-handed golfers. My lefty friends again are going to have to wait and hope that Miura will bring this superior work of golf art to life.

Bottom Line: The Miura MC-501, the newest weapon from Miura golf in their blade line, is the newest weapon for more than just the better golfer. If you’ve been loving the look of Miura blades and have felt that you just weren’t good enough to play them, this might be the model you’ve been waiting to try. All the superior looks Miura has been famous for, the butter-soft feel and a touch of forgiveness in an amazing package!

Overview

Miura has famously made some of the most gorgeous irons ever produced in the world. Their muscle back blades have garnered cult status and many of the better players have always gravitated towards their designs. They have made cavity back irons but the models that have drawn the most attention from all skill levels are the muscle backs. Unfortunately those muscle backs weren’t for everyone but the very low handicaps.

The MC-501 is the muscle back model that was made to change that. It is the longest heel to toe blade model they’ve ever made. Through engineering they’ve repositioned 20 grams of weight to the sole, which not only made the sole wider but moved the center of gravity to allow ease in getting a higher trajectory. The MC-501 also incorporates Yoshitaka Miura’s iconic Y-grind sole that blunts and softens the club head’s leading edge and improves turf interaction.

Precision forged from S25C carbon steel in Miura’s factory in Himeji, these clubs were developed under the most stringent and fastidious craftsmen that you could only wish were making your set.

The MC-501 is are available from authorized Miura dealers/fitters worldwide. They carry a suggested retail price of $260 a club, though the prices may vary with different shaft options.

Clubs tested

  • Miura MC-501 iron set
  • 4-iron through pitching wedge
  • KBS CT95 shafts/Japan Exclusive Model, Black Finish
  • Elite Y360SV grips from Japan

Entire set custom fit and built at Miura Authorized Fitting Center, Aloha Golf Center Las Vegas.

Performance

My initial test with the MC-501s put an immediate smile on my face. My favorite muscle back and club line from Miura has always been the MB-001. There were a few shortcomings in the MB-001, but the looks and feel always made me forget them. The MC-501 seemed to address the shortcomings of the MB-001 perfectly — particularly in the missed shots. Users whose misses tend to be thin will find the movement of weight toward the sole generously allows them a bit of forgiveness and help in trajectory usually lost than other traditionally shaped muscle backs.

Users who want to work the ball will also find the MC-501s play similarly to the MB-001s despite that added forgiveness. I had to work them a little harder but I was able to move the ball either left or right with no issues. They were a little more similar in playability to the CB-57 line than the MB-001.

The Yoshitaka Miura Y Grind sole allows the usual clean strike at impact and great interaction with the turf. There is no digging and it gives a very positive thump sound to your shots. This sole grind also helps to thin the look of the wider sole. Probably the widest sole offered on any Miura muscle back. Although wide, the MC-501 never played clunky, as you might expect upon an initial look, they instead played just like all the other pure Miura blades.

The long irons were where the MC-501s particularly shined. I have never hit a Miura muscle back 4-iron with such ease. Naturally, the design of the head afforded much more forgiveness in launch, yet I was still able to knock down shots when I needed to. The MC-501, being longer heel-to-toe than any other Miura muscle back, also assist it in having much greater forgiveness in the long irons.

The short irons were definitely precision tools. From PW to 7-iron, the distance with them were consistent and playability perfect. There were no hot spots on the face and Miura’s pure forging made solid shots particularly delightful. I marveled at how accurately these clubs hit their distances once you dialed them in. This is a feature I have not been able to replicate in the filled hollow head irons from many other brands.

Forgiveness was much greater in the MC-501 versus other muscle backs from Miura like the Tournament Blade, MB-001 or Baby Blades. This was immediately obvious upon using them. The loss in yardage with thin shots was lessened, and the trajectory was much more consistent due to the design of the head.

Looks and Feel

The MC-501s have a look all of their own in the Miura lineup. The X-like design on the back almost makes you feel like they have superhero qualities! They will definitely take some getting used to if you’re a long-time user of Miura blades, but for those who aren’t as familiar, the look may appear as an exciting change to the standard muscle back.

The beautiful satin finish, which Miura has come to be the standard bearer of, appeals so much to my senses. Miura clubs are one of the few lines that I can sit and just stare at the head, marveling at the beauty that was once just a raw piece of steel. Miura’s ability to produce golf art is something many club companies strive to meet, but some miserably fail at.

The black Miura logo and name prominently in the main middle muscle of the head and a simple MC-501 stamped towards a toe just continues the classy look of Miura. There’s no need for screw heads, fancy colored paint fill, decals, and other fluff. This is just a pure Japanese forged golf club at its highest level.

For what Miura has touted as its most forgiving iron, the top line at address does not make you feel like you’re playing some huge cavity back. It’s as thin as you would expect a Miura muscle back to be. For blade lovers, and past Miura blade users, the top line will not disappoint you. The toe on the MC-501 appears more square than past muscle backs. I personally like a rounder toe, but the squareness does give a look of a bigger face — something that might please those who want a bit of a more forgiving look. The squared toe and shape of the head frames the ball well, and its easy to align the clubs.

The MC-501 design transitions very well through the set. When you line them up on a wall and look at the heads as they transition from the short to the long irons, the shapes blend perfectly. I think Miura is one of the finest makers when it comes to the transitioning of irons in their sets.

The MC-501 is a joyful feeling in your hands. Once you hit a pure strike with them, that clean, pure feeling of the ball striking the face will take your breath away. I don’t know what they put in the steel in Himeji, Japan, but I’ve yet to feel any other brand of club that makes me smile so much after hitting its clubs. The MC-501 in my humble opinion is one extremely fine feeling line of clubs.

The Takeaway

Katsuhiro Miura’s philosophy is one of not just making a new club to come out with something new, but to improve on what the company already offers. The MC-501 is the amalgamation of all his past irons and the top of their club evolutionary chain. With its eye-catching looks, superior feel, and added forgiveness, the MC-501 is a great gateway club for people wanting to try their first Miura club.

The MC-501 is also the club for current Miura muscle back users who would appreciate more forgiveness in their current set and are just not ready to move to full on cavity back irons. I, for one, am getting older and it has occurred to me to switch over to more forgiving shapes and jacked up lofts. The MC-501 is the club that will keep me playing a few more years in the designs I love to look at!

 

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Accessory Reviews

Top-3 men’s golf polos at the 2018 PGA Fashion Show in Vegas

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GolfWRX’s fashion expert Jordan Madley picks her top-3 favorite men’s polo shirts from the recent 2018 PGA Fashion Show in Las Vegas. Enjoy the video below!

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Equipment

Review: Ping Sigma 2 Putters (TG2 Video)

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Equipment expert Brian Knudson and Editor Andrew Tursky discuss their opinions of the Ping Sigma 2 putter line, along with the new technologies, in this episode of Two Guys Talking Golf (TG2). Enjoy the video review below, and click here for more photos and the full write-up on the new designs.

Click here for photos and tech.

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