Pros: Four distinct driver shaft profiles are available in a wide range of flexes. Paderson’s filament-wound construction (used in three profiles) offers a unique feel. By premium shaft standards, these are a bargain at $199 each.
Cons: Limited weight options.
Who They’re For: Anyone can play a Paderson shaft.
Buying a golf shaft is like buying a new pair of running shoes. If the shoes don’t fit your foot, it doesn’t matter how good their technology is. You’re going to run slower, and you’re not going to be as comfortable as you could be.
A golf shaft is the same way. If it doesn’t fit your swing, you’re not going to hit shots as far or straight as you could. A mismatched shaft won’t give you blisters like mismatched shoes, but it will wear on your confidence. For golfers, that’s arguably even more painful. So the challenge for premium shaft makers like Paderson, which is targeting both professional and average golfers, is two-fold. The company has to create several types of shafts in an effort to fit as many golfers as possible, but also include technology that has its shafts stand apart from its competition.
While not a household name now, Paderson has the traits of a shaft company that could be. That’s thanks to its filament-wound manufacturing technique, which is used in three out of the four driver shafts the company produces. It’s unique to the industry, and also used in the company’s fairway wood, hybrid/utility and iron shafts. To learn more about Paderson’s claims and technologies, you can read this in-depth Q&A we did with company CEO Jason Horodezky. For the purposes of this review, however, I’ll do my best to explain the company’s technologies as simply as possible.
Most graphite shafts are made from several sheets of carbon fiber and resin, a glue that holds the fibers together. To create a shaft, these sheets, called “pre-preg,” are wrapped tightly around a steel rod called a “mandrel,” which sets a shaft’s geometry. Different types of pre-preg have different characteristics, and sometimes exotic materials are used to change those characteristics, which generally drive up the cost. It’s the thickness, stiffness, torsional qualities and orientation of the materials used that determine the weight, stiffness and bend profile of each shaft. Once the wrapping process is complete, the shafts are put in a special oven, where the sheets are laminated, or melded together, to create a graphite tube. The shafts are then sanded smooth and painted, creating the finished product.
Paderson’s shafts are formed on a mandrel, too, but the filament-wound process used for three of the driver shafts tested (KG860, KG860TP and the upper part of KG972) is much different. They are, in essence, “braided” from two continuous strands of carbon fiber and kevlar, which the company says allows its shaft to not only be more consistent, but create superior energy transfer when compared to other shafts. Paderson says it can actually “pre-load” tension in its shafts, harnessing the energy of the vibrations created during the swing to increase ball speed.
According to the company, one of its four driver shaft models will work for any golfer, as they’re available in a variety of flexes ranging from Ladies to XX-Stiff. Unlike many shafts on the market, however, golfers can’t pick the weight and flex of Paderson shafts independently. Each flex is constructed with a specific weight the company says optimizes ball flight, so weight options depend on shaft model and flex.
Bolstering Paderson’s consistency claims is that the filament-wound process does not require its shafts to be sanded, so the texture seen on its shafts is not cosmetic, but rather the actual appearance of a shaft’s fibers, sealed with a layer of clear-coat.
Paderson also makes shafts that aren’t fully filament-wound, and claims its lamination technique is superior to typical processes. Its KG972 shaft, for example, uses a filament-wound upper portion and a laminated lower portion. The company’s Amorphous shaft, on the other hand, is 100 percent laminated. What’s different about Paderson’s lamination process, according to the company, is that it uses vacuum-curing, a temperature-controlled process that pulls resin through the shaft to minimize resin content, which allows for more fine-tuned designs.
Intrigued? So was I, so I put Paderson’s shafts to the test.
The Testing Data
I sent my launch monitor and swing profile information to Paderson, which in turn sent me four of its latest shaft models to test. My results are above, but I feel that the numbers don’t tell the whole story. For that reason, I’ve included an individual write up about each shaft below.
Testing Procedure: I took the four Paderson shafts, as well as my gamer shaft I was fit for in the fall of 2015, to Carl’s Golfland in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. I tested all five shafts at its Launch Pad custom-fitting facility on Trackman. I used a TaylorMade M2 driver (9.5 degrees, set to neutral) and each of the shafts tested measured 45.5 inches.
KINETIXX Kevlar Green 860TP
Right now, the graphite shaft market is trending toward the tip-stiff, low-torque designs shafts that are regularly finding the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour. If those shafts have worked successfully for you, then the 860TP could be the Paderson shaft that fits you best. It is the lowest in torque of any Paderson driver shaft, and has also has the stiffest tip section. That makes it a good fit for golfers with an aggressive transition, or those who tend to hook the ball.
I tested all the Paderson shafts in a D40 flex, which equates to an X-flex, and more than the others, the 860TP felt very stout and stable. I was impressed with how smooth and balanced it felt for a high bend-point shaft, though.
With the 860TP, I had the highest average swing speed, which gave it the greatest potential for maximum distance. I struggled to find the center of the face, however, which is why I didn’t generate as much ball speed with it. The shaft did create the highest launch angle, and like all the Paderson shafts, it outperformed my gamer, a low-torque, tip-stiff 70X shaft that was most similar to the 860TP.
KINETIXX Kevlar Green 860
The Kevlar Green 860 is Paderson’s “baseline” shaft. It fits the widest segment of the golfing population as a whole, and suited my swing better than the 860TP due to its slightly softer tip section and higher torque. I liked the way it felt, and as you can see in the dispersion graphic above, I hit it the most consistently.
My angle of attack was also the most up, or positive, with the 860, which helped me create the longest total distances with the shaft. If I was playing in a tournament tomorrow, this is the shaft I would play.
KINETIXX Kevlar Green 972
To me, the the KG972 is Paderson’s most interesting shaft, with a filament-wound upper half and a laminated lower half. The multi-construction approach gives the shaft a slightly higher balance point than Paderson’s other driver shafts, or “counterbalancing” effect. It tends to fit golfers with a smooth transition, according to the company, and felt extremely easy to swing in testing.
While the 972 created the fastest ball speeds and longest carry distance, its comparatively softer-tip design didn’t suit my swing. I felt a lot of “kick” at the bottom, and I felt as though it had more draw bias than the others.
KINETIXX VMT Vacuum Cured KVMT870
The 870 has gained traction in the long-drive community. It’s a fully laminated shaft, and does not use the company’s filament-wound technology.
The 870 has a dual kickpoint, according to Paderson, which causes the shaft to bend low in the butt and high in the tip to improve energy transfers for certain players. At 66 grams, it was also 5-10 grams lighter than the other Paderson shafts I tested. The 870 felt more active than all but the 972, however, and I preferred the heavier weight and more stable feel of the 860 and 860TP shafts.
At $199 each, Paderson’s shafts are more affordable than most premium shafts, and my testing showed that one of the company’s shafts has the potential to meet, or in my case exceed the performance of your current shaft. If one of Paderson’s shafts suits your swing, and one likely will, it deserves serious consideration — even among shafts that cost hundreds more.
2018 GolfWRX Men’s Spring Fashion Shoot
As promised by our Resident Fashion Consultant Jordan Madley in the 2018 Women’s Spring fashion shoot, below is some much-needed fashion love for the guys.
GolfWRX was on location in Las Vegas at the UNLV college campus where our Director of Content Johnny Wunder went full Zoolander to model the following golf apparel companies:
Also, many thanks to the folks at the UNLV PGA Golf Management program for hosting us!
We look forward to any and all feedback, and your thoughts about the apparel we chose to feature.
Golf polos with bold patterns: A quick chat with Bad Birdie golf
Founded in 2017, Los Angeles-based Bad Birdie golf produces some of the most eye-popping polos ever seen on a fairway.
The company’s brazen ambition to “make the most savage golf polos in the world” and its boisterous presence on social media belies an attention to detail and careful pattern curation. It’s easy to make loud, obnoxious clothing. It’s more challenging to produce something that’s at once bold, stylish, appropriately fitted and of high quality. But that is what Jason Richardson’s company has tried to do since entering the market.
I spoke with Richardson about his eye-catching wares.
Before we get into your Bad Birdie offerings, tell me your take on the state of golf wear when you decided to enter the market?
JR: I went shopping for a polo for an upcoming tournament and was hoping to find something a little flashier/fun. I got bummed out when I realized most of the golf polos were generally the same colors/patterns. Solid pastels or stripes weren’t necessarily what I was going for, so I did some research online.
After looking at anything I could find, I realized that most golf polos are almost identical to each other. The only thing that’s really different is the branding or tech fabric. There’s a couple brands making a few edgier patterns but they still have a middle-aged, Tommy Bahama feel that’s not necessarily relevant to the younger golfer.
So building on that, what was the opportunity you saw?
JR: I saw an opportunity to make polos for the younger/trendier/bolder golfer whose style doesn’t fit into the traditional golf trends of pastels and stripes. We have a saying we use on some of our ads: “Your dad called and wants his polo back.” Most young/millennial guys who love golf are having to get their apparel from the same place their dad does. Bad Birdie sees an opportunity to fix that.
Cool. What’s your background in golf?
JR: I’ve worked in golf for a lot of my life. I started caddying when I was 12 at Forest Highlands in Flagstaff, AZ, during the summers, so learned the game while working. During high school, I worked for an eBay store that sold golf shafts that were left over from all the club fitters in Scottsdale. After college and before starting Bad Birdie I worked in advertising.
What’s Bad Birdie’s competitive advantage?
JR: There’s no other brands making performance golf polos with styles like we do. Our team is in their 20s and early 30s so we’re right in our target demographic and have a great network of friends/golfers we can bounce ideas off of. Being based in Los Angeles doesn’t hurt either, as we see a lot of the new fashion trends first.
Who’s your target consumer, and what has the response been like?
JR: 18-35-year-old males (and their significant others who buy Bad Birdie as gifts). The number one customer email we get is guys telling us how surprised they were by the number of compliments they got while wearing their Bad Birdie. Love getting those.
Any upcoming releases, plans we should know about?
JR: We have some new polos dropping in July you’ll want to keep an eye out for.
Who’s the best-dressed golfer on the PGA Tour?
JR: Until someone is wearing a Bad Birdie it’s tough to say.
Check out Bad Birdie’s wares here, or check them out @badbirdiegolf on Twitter.
I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went
Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.
Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.
It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.
The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.
But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.
Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.
“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”
“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.
On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.
The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.
We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.
Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)
Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.
Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.
But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.
Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.
Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.
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