Graphite Design Tour AD BB Shaft Review
By Todd Hibbert, GolfWRX Moderator
I had not been in a Graphite Design driver shaft for years, really back to the YS-6 variants. Discovered years ago that I do better with high launch, low spin characteristics of shafts like the Matrix Altus so I stayed in that category for years now.
Easyyy had been singing the praises of the Graphite Design Tour AD DI for many months, so when I had the opportunity I requested one in my i20 driver. Near perfect combination for me. I can control the height of my ball into the wind, and this setup is as long as anything I’ve hit. Excellence.
HipCheck, our resident equipment tempter, asked if I’d review GD’s latest offering — the Tour AD BB. Sure, why not? I thought it’d be a good opportunity to compare the two. So I installed one in an i20 head with the same specs so we’d be looking at apple to apples: 6S 9.5*, 45″, D3. ( 6S refers to weight & flex, meaning 60 gram range Stiff. The AD BB is offered in various flexes in weights from 55 grams up to 85 grams, so they have you covered.)
The difference between the two shafts was quite evident to my eye on the range. Ball flight was a bit lower, spin was up a skosh. The magnitude of the changes was on the level of a tweak more than a wholesale change. This is a good thing, because the DI is a performer. As far as feel, I can tell there’s a difference but it’s so small as to make it difficult to describe. DoyaknowwhatImean? I could reach for adjectives to label the difference in feel, but that would be disingenuous. All of which is a good thing because I’ve grown accustomed to Graphite Design’s characteristic communication of loading the shaft. I can describe what I mean by feeling a shaft load: borrow your friend’s driver that has a stock shaft one flex or more below what you play — that’s the feel, just to a much lesser extent.
On the course, for me, I’m presented with an unanticipated problem in this comparison. The i20 head is a lower spinning/launching head than comparably marked current drivers. As I’m watching my ball flight on the course I’m coming to the realization that the high launch/low spin characteristics of the AD-DI are just barely keeping me in that 9.5* loft. Changing over to the Blue Bullet, my average ballflight is a tad lower than optimal for me. Too low ball fight hits the ground too early, and we know that the ground scrubs off speed a lot faster than air does — hence, shorter overall distance. So I’m not getting the apples to apples comparison I hoped for. I really need a 10* or 10.5* with this shaft. My bad.
Enter my buddy Tom. Tom is part of my regular Friday group. He’s a middle linebacker built, short-swinging, hands-way-ahead-at-impact shaft bender. He puts a lot more spin on his ball than I do, especially on his misses. Tom picks a driver & keeps it, based solely on performance. His current driver is Ping’s venerable Rapture V2 with the Diamana Blue in Stiff. This is a great combination for comparison: great head, great shaft.
First try, Tom hits a baby cut line drive that rolls to a stop just shy of 300 yards as measured by my SkyCaddie SGX’s Ball Mark feature. His eyes get as big as saucers with a wide grin spreading across his face, “Wow, he he, I could get used to this!” We’re typically neck & neck on length — I beat him on optimized spin, center hits with a draw; he bests me on swingspeed & when his spin is down. But today, Tom’s fades are 20+ yards past me. All day. I’m pissed.
I grab the AD-BB a few times for more comparison drives, and each time my little draw turns into a little lower fade. I’m not sure why, perhaps the BB driver’s face is a bit more closed(?). My feeling is that it’s the difference in the shafts, but that doesn’t necessarily make sense. I’m not any shorter with the BB, I’m just not any longer either. Committing to a fade and adjust my setup accordingly, I feel I’d get better results. But that’s a the polar opposite of what I’m trying to accomplish with my swing these days. Again, my bad.
For the next three rounds, I’m watching Tom bust these Blue Bullet bulletts out well past his gamer. The Diamana Blue has met its match. The V2 is no mo’. We might have stumbled onto a match made in heaven, i20/Ad-BB. And I’m getting poorer.
One thing I can always count on from Tom is the random push cut drive that puts him wayyyy right, often OB. The greatequalizer. Well, no more. The AD-BB has turned his wild rights into mild right. OBs are now in play, way rights are now right rough. Why? Less evil spin on those misses. This is costing me one or two freebie holes a round.
Tom begs to take i20/Blue Bullet on his trip to Kiawah. I relent, happy to take a week off from teebox humiliation. He calls me while out there, but I ignore the calls letting them go to voicemail. I knew it had to be a Guess how far I hit it … ? call. Delete message.
I finally hear the stories upon his return. 1) He’s outdriving a pro buddy of his, who’s asking to take a closer look at that driver, and 2) He drives the green on a 345 yard Par 4 out there! Had to be a mighty gust of wind(?) … or a bounce off a sprinkler head(?) … Tom just grins. I’ve created a monster.
So what do I take away from this?
- First, the quality of the Tour AD-DI is maintained in the Tour AD-BB without doubt.
- Second, matched to the player/head/loft this Blue Bullet is indeed a bullett blaster.
- Third, hitting one to three clubs more into greens can be costly.
Might be time for me to pony up for my own i20/AD-BB in 10.5* to see if I can win some of my money back.