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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.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 2Short

    Jan 24, 2016 at 4:59 am

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

  4. 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.

  5. Chirpmaster

    Jan 23, 2016 at 9:49 pm

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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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Apparel Reviews

Brooks Koepka’s Winning Outfit: 2018 U.S. Open

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Brooks Koepka played like he dressed on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills for the final round of the U.S. Open; his outfit was athletic, well put together, boring with a bit of flash (those shoes!!), and most importantly, it got the job done.

See the golf clubs and shafts Brooks used to win.

A great representative of the new age of golf, Koepka has the frame of a baseball player, and he’s not afraid to accentuate it with tight-fitting polos and an athletic look. For Sunday, he chose a white-on-gray-on-gray look that was understated, but clean — just like his scorecard. He really made the Nike Golf Tour Premiere PE shoes, with hits of electric orange, the star. Check out the details on his full outfit below.

Brooks Koepka’s Winning Outfit

  • Hat: Nike AeroBill Classic99
  • Shirt: Nike Zonal Cooling polo
  • Belt: Nike Stretch Woven
  • Pants: Nike Flex
  • Shoes: Nike Golf Tour Premiere PE
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Apparel Reviews

Dustin Johnson’s Winning Outfit: 2018 FedEx St. Jude Classic

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Dustin Johnson won the 2018 FedEx St. Jude Classic by 6 shots — and he holed out on the 72nd hole for eagle as the cherry on top.

You can check out the clubs he used to win here, but this article is all about his outfit.

Per usual, DJ went with the white-on-navy-on-navy-navy look that he wears often, especially on winning Sundays. Also, according to Adidas, it’s the first time that a Primeknit shoe has won on the PGA Tour, so there’s that.

Let’s dive into his full outfit…

Dustin’s Winning Outfit

  • Hat: TaylorMade New Era Tour 9Fifty (White)
  • Polo: Ultimate365 Heather Polo (Collegiate Navy)
  • Belt: 3-Stripes Perforated Reversible
  • Pants: Ultimate365 Flat Front (Navy)
  • Shoes: Tour 360Knit (Grey/Real Purple)
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Apparel Reviews

Modern classics: Catching up with Holderness & Bourne

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If you haven’t heard of Holderness & Bourne, well, for one thing, you’ve missed a couple of our gift guides. We’ve lauded the Rye, New York-based apparel manufacturer on more than one occasion for making some of the best polos in the business.

H&B, not surprisingly the product of two men named (Alex) Holderness and (John) Bourne, is quickly establishing a reputation for classic styles in tailored fits using modern materials. In addition to both performance and cotton polos, Holderness & Bourne makes sweaters, vests, bags, and other accessories.

I spoke with Alex Holderness about the company’s growth and what’s next.

BA: We first spoke a couple of years ago, but things have really taken off since then. Tell me about the growth.

AH: It’s been a great few years for us. We’ve basically tripled the past few years. We’re now stocking more than 150 clubs around the country and some great clubs abroad as well. We’re seeing traction for the brand; we’re seeing momentum. A lot of people like the concept of the brand, which is classic style with a more modern approach to fabrics and fit…and it’s working, so we’re trying to grow carefully based on that.

BA: What did establishing traction look like for you?

AH: It’s been steady all along. There wasn’t a point where the tide turned and things started to get good when they weren’t good before. But it is tough to get traction in green grass, and we feel very fortunate that we were based in New York…early in the history of the brand, we landed Winged Foot…Greenwich Country Club and a few others in the area really early on…So we were very lucky…because traction in green grass for brands like us is driven by perception, so if you can align yourself as a brand with the better clubs and public facilities around the country it can be very favorable. A lot of times, it results in people…calling us, because they’ve heard it [our apparel] did very well at Winged Foot or some other club. So that’s our general approach to green grass.

We’re not snobs about it by any means. It’s not like we have some grand strategy to only stock the top 100 clubs. But we care a lot about making premium products and being a premium brand. As a results of that, we are a natural fit for higher-end facilities, whether they’re public or private. We’re not going to ever be the cheapest brand in the shop, and we’re not going to be on clearance for 70 percent off…we’re very careful about what we’re building, and as a result of that, having these relationships with facilities around the country has been really helpful for us…and it’s helped us generate momentum in terms of getting inbound inquiries.

But it has taken a while. We’re four years into this thing, and it’s a day-by-day, year-by-year process..It’s not like we went out and raised $5 million in investor capital. We didn’t go out and try to be an overnight success…and get into every club. We only raised a small amount of capital, and we’re trying to kind of bootstrap: make great product, sell it, then use those proceeds to broaden our assortment. We want to add additional categories and get into more clubs every year, but it takes time.

BA: Can you talk a bit about your core consumer and how you’re appealing to him in ways that maybe other brands weren’t?

AH: My business partner John and I are both guys in our late 30s, married with kids and all that, but young enough to want a cleaner, more modern fit without sacrificing the classic look. We just knew that the combination of fit and style that we had in mind would resonate with plenty of guys, because we started out looking at this whole thing from the customer’s perspective. We also wanted to put some real soul into the brand, creating something very authentic within golf, because we didn’t always feel we were getting that as customers buying golf apparel in the past.

BA: Can you talk a little bit about the balance between e-commerce sales and green grass?

AH: Green grass has been the focus for us so far, but it’s a nice overall split. I think these days any relatively new brand needs to have a website where their customers can reach them directly, but for us the relationships we have with the clubs and public facilities that stock our brand are certainly just as important. Those places are the real stewards of the game and golf culture, and our brand has proven to be a strong fit for them.

BA: You’ve been pretty selective in your marketing and messaging…can you talk about that?

AH: We’re just kind of old school about it. We don’t care to shout about the brand or pay a bunch of money for marketing and PR. Our thinking has always been that if we focus on designing and manufacturing excellent products and get them into the right people’s hands, the brand will grow nicely as people tell their friends about the brand. We also put a huge emphasis on customer service for that same reason. We want people to have an excellent experience with us, even if that involves solving a problem for them, and that approach has been a good one so far.

BA: Talk about Roberto Castro wearing your wares, as it were…

AH: We are really proud to have Roberto onboard as a brand ambassador, and he’s become a great friend of ours as well. He found out about us a couple years ago by reading a piece about new golf brands on the blog Red Clay Soul, and reached out. We weren’t looking to sponsor tour players, but we got to know him and realized that he is the perfect guy to have out there representing the brand. He’s a big family guy, humble and low-key, and he just let’s his game do the talking, all of which we admire. And the guy has got tons of game. He made it into the field at the U.S. Open again this year, so we’re headed out to Shinnecock next week to cheer him on.

BA: Speaking of the Tour, apparel is in an interesting and dynamic place, isn’t it?

AH: Definitely. We think it’s great that there are a number of new brands out there pushing things forward, and it’s not a winner-take-all market. Things are certainly competitive, but brands both within and beyond golf are becoming more niche, which helps customers find the ones that specifically work for them. We don’t really pay a lot of attention to the apparel game on tour specifically, to be honest. We care just as much what’s going on out on the mid-am scene, where a lot of guys who obviously aren’t getting paid choose to wear our stuff simply because they like it better.

BA: Beyond deliberate growth, what’s on the horizon for H&B?

AH: We’re now stocking more than 150 pro shops around the country (and abroad – Sunningdale in England and Toronto Golf Club up in Canada have picked up the line), so we are excited about that momentum. For 2019, we’ve got big plans to expand our apparel collection, with a broader range of shirt fabrics and styles, some very cool layering pieces, and more premium accessories such as belts, hats, and bags. As designers, we really feel like we’re just getting started.

BA: Thanks, Alex.

You can find Holderness & Bourne on the web here.

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