Kim Braly Signature (KBS) Tour Shafts was formed in 2008 by Kim Braly, who has had a lifelong career in golf club and golf shaft design. The company has achieved a leading position in the custom fit market for steel shafts and its shafts are used by several professionals on the US PGA Tour, without endorsement. Here Kim Braly tells Glyn Pritchard about KBS’ position in the golf industry and how he sees the market developing.
What trends do you see in shafts used on tour?
Almost all tour pros now use steel shafts. The only ones that use graphite shafts either have some kind of ailment or are looking for more distance. Steel is a homogenous material so it has the same characteristics and strength in all directions whereas graphite has strength in only one direction. This makes it difficult to manufacture consistently and even when perfect it is subject to vibration and twist. There’s also a gradual trend towards lower weights.
You have launched two additional shafts, the Tour-V and the C-Taper Lite. What is the reason for this?
I look at our product line as a canvass and basically aim to fill the blank spots. The CT-Taper Lite was launched in response to demand from fitters because their customers had seen the CT-Taper used on tour and wanted the same stiff shaft, but in a lighter weight.
The Tour-V is designed in 100, 110 and 120 gram weights for the better players that want a mid launch with low spin and penetrating flight. It’s an alternative to graphite.
Do KBS shafts suit all golfers or are they really intended for pros and single figure handicappers?
We launched in 2008 with KBS Tour, a shaft that suits most players. It gets the ball into the air faster and higher because it produces a more efficient transfer of energy. A lot of players make the comment that they have “got my yardage back”. We then introduced the C-Taper generating less spin and a lower launch angle for players that want to get the ‘feel’ back into their game.
KBS C-Taper Lite will now be the stock shaft supplied with MPH5 Mizuno irons. Are you moving away from the custom shaft market?
We won the contract to supply shafts for the Mizuno MPH5 series because they are aimed at the better player. We are already the number one custom fit shaft with Mizuno and in fact we hold that position with most club manufacturers. Over half of Mizuno sales are custom fit and that’s a growing trend across the market.
What would you says are the main differentiators between KBS shafts and your competitor?
The main differentiator is that KBS is a system not a shaft. On tour we go from 90 to 135 grams in five gram increments. Within our system, there is a configuration to meet the needs of every player, from professionals to amateurs. We see the market moving more to custom fit with lighter weights and our system is built around custom fitting in green grass outlets.