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Review: KBS Tour FLT Shafts

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Pros: FLT shafts use a flighted design, which helps golfers launch their long irons higher and with more spin. The FLT short-iron shafts provide a more penetrating trajectory for more control.

Cons: FLT shaft flexes correspond with weight, so golfers may not be able to match their desired shaft weight with their desired flex.

Who They’re For: Golfers who need more spin or more launch from their long irons to optimize their trajectory. Everyone from beginners to PGA Tour players can use the shafts effectively, but they’ll be most popular with golfers with moderate-to-slow swing speeds, or any golfer who generates low-spin launch conditions.

Overview

Selecting the proper iron shafts is one of the most important equipment decisions golfers make. It’s an issue of quantity. Most golfers carry about 7-8 irons in their bag, so if they choose the wrong iron shaft, they’ve made the game harder than it needs to be with half or more of their clubs.

The good news is that there’s a wider selection of quality iron shafts than there has ever been, with recent growth in models that are designed to help golfers hit their iron shots higher and farther, while still maintaining PGA Tour-quality consistency and feel.

KBS is one of the leading steel shaft manufacturers, and already offered a wide variety of models prior to its newest shaft launch. Company representatives felt KBS was lacking a product for a particular segment of golfers, however, so it developed its new FLT shafts.

KBS_FLT

FLT shafts ($31.95 each) have a flighted design, which helps certain golfers optimize the performance of each iron their bag. The long irons shafts have progressively softer tip sections, which helps golfers increase their launch angle and spin rates with those clubs. For the right golfer, the design will help them hit their iron shots farther, and stop shots on the green more quickly. In the short irons, where height and spin are easier for golfers to generate, the FLT shafts are stiffer, which creates the flatter trajectory most golfers prefer with their scoring clubs. The crossover point between the higher-launching long irons and lower-launching short irons is the 7 iron.

Like all KBS shafts, FLT models have a constant weight, which means that long iron shafts and short iron shafts will be roughly the same weight through the set. Shaft weight is dependent on flex, however, as softer-flex models are lighter than stiffer-flex models. So if you’re looking for a really heavy, regular-flex shaft or a really light, extra-stiff-flex shaft, these aren’t for you.

FLT Specs

KBS_FLT_Shaft_Specs

Keep in mind that KBS shafts do not have reinforced tip sections like many other iron shafts, which gives them a slightly higher balance point and can decrease swing weight by 1-2 points. I personally like the feel of KBS shafts and their slightly higher balance point, but some golfers won’t.

The Test

For this review, I tested the new FLT shafts head to head against KBS Tour shafts of the same flex and weight (130X) in 4 irons, 6 irons and pitching wedges. Each of the shafts were installed in Callaway’s Apex Pro ’16 irons, and were built to my specifications (standard grips, standard length, 1-degree strong lofts, 1-degree flat lie angles).

KBSTour130Shafts

I performed my testing at the Launch Pad at Carl’s Golfland in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., where I hit the 4 irons, 6 irons and pitching wedges on Trackman IV with premium golf balls. I hit 3-6 solid shots with each iron, and then removed the outliers from the final data in an attempt to compare only the most similar strikes. Results were normalized.

As you can see from the data, there was a significant difference in the flight of the 4 irons with the two different shafts, but less of a difference with the 6 irons and pitching wedges.

Apex_Pro_Test_heads

As expected, the FLT shafts caused 4 iron shots to launch higher (0.8 degrees) and with more spin (729 rpm) than the KBS Tour shafts. I’m not a low-spin player, which is one of the target audiences for this shaft, so the added launch and spin of the FLT shafts caused my 4 iron shots to fly shorter. Golfers who launch their irons too low or with too little spin, however, will likely see a distance increase when using the FLT shafts.

As I moved closer to the short end of the set, the two shafts started to perform more similarly. Theoretically, the 6 iron shots with the FLT shafts should have launched slightly higher and spun more than 6 iron shots with the KBS Tour shafts, but I actually saw a slightly lower launch angle (0.5 degrees) with the FLT. The spin was higher, though, by 211 rpm. With the pitching wedges, the results were again quite similar. The FLT launched 0.9 degrees higher, but actually spun 271 rpm less than the KBS Tour shafts.

Takeaways

KBS_Tour_KBS_FLT

Stepping back from the numbers, I was impressed with how similar the feel was between the KBS Tour and FLT shafts. Yes, I could feel that the FLT shafts were more active in the tip with the 4 irons, but they felt nearly the same in the 6 irons. By the time I got to the pitching wedges, the two shafts were indistinguishable. The KBS Tour is considered one of the better-feeling iron shafts currently available, so KBS’ ability to replicate that feel in the FLT will be a plus for the majority of interested golfers.

Looking more broadly, trends in shaft design tends to go hand-in-hand with trends in club head design, and the FLT shafts are no exception. Equipment manufacturers continue to strengthen the lofts of their distance irons; they have to in order balance the launch equation, as their faster ball speeds create a higher launch angle and more spin.

While the improvements to iron design have allowed golfers to hit their mid and short irons farther, many golfers continue to struggle to hit their long irons high enough or consistently enough for them to be effective. And based on my testing results, it’s clear that the FLT shafts can make long irons more playable for certain golfers, and maybe even keep long irons in a golfer’s bag that might otherwise be kicked out for higher-flying hybrids or fairway woods.

As always, I recommend that golfers get properly fit for iron shafts, which means visiting a reputable club fitter in your area. So if you’re in the market for new irons or iron shafts, you can get started by going through KBS’ Online Fit System, which upon completion lists KBS-certified dealers in your area.

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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.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. 300 Yard Pro

    Jun 27, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    KBS are yesterdays news.

  2. Canadian Smizzle

    Jun 26, 2016 at 10:11 am

    I use a set of flighted shafts (project x). And i love them. Definetely helps my 4i get up more. I always hit a low ball so i like the extra launch and spin.

  3. Jim

    Jun 26, 2016 at 7:52 am

    So basically the same what a joke.

    • Scotty Johnson

      Jun 26, 2016 at 9:02 am

      How is it a joke? Seems logical….updated version of the old rifle flighted…..instead of decending weight it’s constant weight. With KBS signature feel a stability and step pattern…And I’m sure the bent tip jokes will be coming at some point. But I’ve enjoyed the set I have especially with my PXG irons.

      • Jim

        Jun 27, 2016 at 7:12 am

        Look at the real life numbers for the 6 iron and pw.6 iron was meant to go higher and pw lower but both didnt.
        Thats why its a joke.

        • Scotty Johnson

          Jun 27, 2016 at 11:31 am

          From the description it’s designed for people who have issues launching the ball with longer irons and lower with the shorter irons. Obviously the writer isn’t the target audience and stated that. So your ignorance is the joke and why it’s important to get fit. Instead of being a know it all like yourself.

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Apparel Reviews

On the course? Off the course? Adidas’ new adicross line has you covered

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Furthering golfwear’s trend toward the more casual and versatile in a big way, Adidas today unveiled a new line extension: Adicross.

Urban inspired. Decidedly non-traditional. The Adicross line (styled “adicross”) leverages Adidas’ clothing and footwear styles from other arenas and reimagines them for wear on the fairway. Available December 1, the line brings Anorak jackets, henleys, hoodies, joggers, and even an Oxford to the golf course.

And before you clutch your saddle shoes in terror, remember, this is a line extension targeting a particular segment of the golfing population, not a total change of course for the entire Adidas Golf brand. If you’re wondering who represents the segment in question, think Erik Anders Lang: filmmaker, irrepressible golf enthusiast, and host of Skratch TV’s Adventures in Golf.

Lang hosted a launch event in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District warehouse space where he sat down with Adidas execs and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for a chat about the new line. He praised the performance aspects of the five-pocket pant and the footwear styles, in particular.

As for golf’s top-ranked player, regarding the Adicross line, DJ told us the line is much more in keeping with stuff he’d actually wear than the baggy shirts and khakis that were the uniform of golf when he started out on tour.

“This is a line that I’ll wear all the time,” Johnson said. “I can wear it to the course and then go meet some buddies for lunch, and I’m not a walking poster for golf.”

From the Stretch-Woven Oxford, to the jogger pant, to the Adicross Bounce footwear, every item Dustin Johnson wears in picture below is intended for both on- and off-course wear.

“Adicross is the lifestyle brand that golfers everywhere have been waiting for,” said the world No. 1. “This is something that I’ll wear when I’m traveling to a tournament, practicing at home, or even headed to the gym.”

The aforementioned versatility of the Adicross line is very much a function of the materials: No-show sweat wicking technology, nylon-spandex blends (featured in the five-pocket pant and short), Primeknit (featured in Icon Polo and Jacket). These are clothes that are ready to wear to the office, but stretch, are light enough, and offer enough comfort to play 18 holes in.

“We wanted to challenge ourselves to design a line that would aid in helping athletes in their game, their life and in their world,” said Chad Alasantro, senior designer, men’s apparel at adidas Golf. “adicross is a perfect blend of hidden technology, fused with a creative aesthetic.”

 

The Adicross line also boldly brings street-inspired footwear to the golf course, retooling Adidas’ ultrapopular Bounce design to support the foot and grip the turf during the golf swing (and resist water during dew-sweeping early morning rounds)

“Adicross was designed as a result of the feedback we were hearing from our core consumer,” said Dylan Moore, Creative Director, Adidas Golf. “Like everyone else, golfers live in a complex, busy world with many diverse interests. They expect more from less and demand performance out of what they wear.”

The centerpiece Bounce features an ergonomic fit, offset wrapped saddle with multiple eyelet rows for customizable lacing, and a non-marking adiwear rubber spikeless outsole that features 181 strategically-placed lugs for a green-friendly grip.

The Bounce will be released in January, and additional styles will follow in February.

Regarding said “additional styles,” you can spot a few in this promo video. 

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Accessory Reviews

Choose Your Tartan: Enter now to win a Sunfish Tartan headcover

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Sunfish, well known for its stylish headcover designs, is offering up free Tartan-style headcovers to five GolfWRX Members. All you have to do to apply is become a GolfWRX member, if you’re not already, and then reply in the forum thread with your favorite the Tartan pattern.

TartanPatternsSunfish

The five winners will receive a free headcover in the pattern that they select. Winners will be selected on Friday, so don’t wait.

Click here to enter into the giveaway and pick your favorite style.

Reminder: Commenting on this post WILL NOT enter you into the giveaway.

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Equipment

Member Reviews: Callaway Steelhead XR Fairway Woods

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One of the many benefits of being a GolfWRX Forum Member is exclusive access to Giveaways and Testing Threads. In this Testing Thread, we selected six members to test a Callaway Steelhead XR fairway wood built to their specs.

CallawaySteelheadXRwoods-1021x580

The Steelhead XR has a club face made of steel for that familiar Steelhead feel. The crowns are made from J-36 carbon fiber to lower center of gravity and move it more forward; that will help it produce lower spin like the original designs that sold 2.3 million units. According to Callaway, the crowns weigh just 6 grams — that’s 20 grams lighter than Callaway’s XR ’16 fairway wood crowns.

Full Tech Story: Callaway upgrades a classic, introduces Steelhead XR fairway woods

The Steelhead XR fairways also have a Hyper Speed Face Cup that produces more ball speed across the face, and Speed Step technology, or the raised portions on the crown, that were first introduced in Callaway XR ’16 metalwoods. They improve aerodynamics to help golfers produce higher swing speeds.

Each member completed a detailed analysis and rating of the club. You can see the full reviews here. Below, we pull quotes from the reviews to give you a feel for what this choice group of WRXers had to say. The responses have been minimally edited for brevity and style. Thanks to all of those involved in the testing!

lutomrSC

  • Club Tested: Callaway Steelhead XR (13.5 degrees)
  • Shaft Tested: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue 65X

“I like almost everything about how this club looks. The color combination of the dark blue against the steel face gives a nice contract. I really like how the carbon fiber looks under the blue paint.”

“At times the ball appeared to have a little too much spin and would tend to climb to a height that would be above my current gamer off the tee. It would tend to go further because of the stronger loft, however, usually about 5-7 yards. Perhaps a different shaft could help the spin, but it would need testing. The Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue 65 Graphite X-flex is a great stock option. It has a good feel and a weight that I prefer, and I think it can keep up with higher swing speeds without issue.”

SDickenson642

  • Club Tested: Callaway Steelhead XR 4+ (16 degrees)
  • Shaft Tested: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue 65X

“The appearance of the Steelhead is amazing. The shape is perfect for my eye, as I prefer a smaller profile down by the ball in fairway woods. The face is pretty deep compared to my [Cobra] Fly-Z+ I’ve been playing for three years now. The sound is amazing off the head. I never had the privilege of playing the original Steelhead fairways, but it does remind me of the original woods I played as a kid, which I think where Tommy Armour 845’s.”

“With the deeper face of the Steelhead XR, I thought I would have issues launching the ball from the deck on par 5s, but I did not see any issue. Turf interaction with the Steelhead was great. I was able to try multiple lies from the fairway, rough, and even a bunker. From the fairway I could easily control it and actually get the ball up in the air enough and with enough spin to hold greens.”

MillerLowLife

  • Club Tested: Callaway Steelhead XR 4+ (16 degrees)

“The top of this club looks awesome at address. I really liked the look of the crown that is a dark blue and shows the carbon fiber underneath. That, coupled with the silver steel face, makes it easy to frame the ball. This is a steel club so the sound and feel will be a sharper metal sound that’s accustomed to the old Steelheads. Has great swing weight and feel. Felt really easy to hit this in the tee box, fairway, or rough.”

“I really enjoyed the versatility of the 4+ with the shorter playing length, heavier swing weight, and flatter lie angle. For me, it felt like a bomber off the tee box, but it was still something I could use to get me out of less-than-ideal lies outside of the fairway —  something I wouldn’t think about with my current gamer.”

Hackster

  • Club Tested: Callaway Steelhead XR 4+ (16 degrees)

“This club is all business. Longer than my 3-wood, flies higher and able to work the ball left and right. On the tee, the ball jumps forward when it hits fairway. Does not lose much distance on off-center hits.”

“Long off the fairway, just put on cruise control and fire away. I struggle in the rough with any fairway wood, so not much to compare to — that’s what hybrids are for. Love this club. Had concerns where it would fit in the bag, but easily able to replace my 14.5-degree 3-wood with the 4+. Much more versatile than my current 3-wood and longer.”

drifliboy

  • Club Tested: Callaway Steelhead XR 3+ (13.5 degrees)

“This club with the lower loft of the 3+ worked well for me off the tee. It was close to my driver on distance. It seemed to launch quickly and then maintain its height. It did not balloon for me. It also really seemed to want to go straight, a couple of times shots almost seemed to correct a little in the air, particularly if I had pushed it. This club at this loft is pretty much a driver replacement for me.”

“If you are looking for a very classy fairway wood that is solid, long, with some forgiveness and doesn’t look like it was developed by a “mad” scientist, this club should be on your short list. It works well off the tee and turf. Please test and get fitted for the right loft and flex. I think this club provides most golfers with very good options that should be considered if they are looking to upgrade any of their woods.”

Discussion: Read the full responses here.

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