If you haven’t tried a Graphite Design shaft in a while or at all, or have been sitting on the fence after watch the pros tee it up from Graphite Design shafts, now might be the opportunity to pull the trigger to see if one of these models won’t bring higher performance to your game.
If you watch golf on TV you probably noticed a lot of professionals (both men and women) not only playing Graphite Design branded shafts, but also winning with regularity. The shafts you see them play with the most are the ultra-premium Tour AD models from Japan and you can easily tell by their distinctive cosmetics. But did you know they make quite a few other premium shafts for under $100?
The “classic” Graphite Design YS-Series
There are very few graphite shafts that have the longevity and success the Graphite Design YS-Series has had. When those shafts debuted over a decade ago, they became the winningest shafts on tour for the first two years. Since then they have been staples in clubmaking shops, OEM upgrade options as well as became the prototypical shaft for other companies to emulate and design after. What made the YS-Series so popular? I strongly believe it was rare combination of a smooth feeling shaft with the sensation of control; these are low torque shafts without feeling like a board.
The YS+ Series wood shafts are available in the two most popular weight categories (60 and 70 gram). For you techno-geeks like me, let’s provide you with some comparative data. Using our new shaft profiler, we are able measure the deflection or stiffness along the length of the shaft so you get more of a complete picture of how the shaft flexes. The following chart shows the deflection of the two S-flex shafts with the left side showing the tip end and the right side is the butt. More flex is indicated when the line is higher on the chart. (Note: Hireko’s Dynamic Shaft Fitting Index (DSFI) found at the end of the article).
As you can see, these two shafts nearly have the same profile meaning you could potentially use the 60g model in a driver and 70g model in your fairway woods and have a very similar feel. The biggest difference (aside from weight) comes at the tip section where the YS-7+ (shown in red) is slightly stiffer and you will notice a subsequently lower ball flight.
Graphite Design G-Series Red
Introduced only a few years ago, the G-Series is designed to fit a wide range of golfers and picking up where the YS+ series left off. These use Graphite Design’s proprietary X-Directional Technology (XDT). This is a fancy term for laying up the fiber layers in multi-directional patterns along various parts of the shaft. To put this all in perspective, a low cost graphite shaft will have longitudinal or 0º plies coupled with opposing 45º angle to control torque. But as you can see from this cut-away, there are several more directional plies systematically aligned along the structure to provide the feel and performance of a more balanced shaft. When graphite shafts are painted all sorts of beautiful colors, the general public really can’t see what’s going on to justify the cost, which is a byproduct of the material and material layup and that is what makes a higher-performance shaft.
The G-Series Red are available in weights that run the gamut, from shafts cut and assembled into a club that run in the 40 gram range all the way to the 80 gram range. We tested the more popular weights and here is a glimpse of how their deflection compare amongst each of the S-flex shafts.
This is important lesson on shaft fitting. These were all S-flex shafts in each of the weight classifications, yet the deflection curves, or a measure of how stiff the shaft is, don’t all fall on top of one another. But look closely. They all have the same signature profile or shape of the curve and that is why they all have the DNA of the family.
As you decrease in weight, the deflections become greater exhibiting a higher degree of flexibility. That is the green line (G60) is slightly more flexible than the purple line (G70). The G50 (red line) is even more flexible and the G40 (blue line) is the most flexible of all. This all makes sense because as we have less weight, there is less material to prevent deflection. This is why even though they are in the same family; the G40 has the highest launch angle and spin. As you drop down in weight, trajectory and spin decrease making this a very versatile line.
Most people that are familiar with Graphite Design most likely have had experience with the YS-6+. The following chart shows the deflection differences between the YS-6+ and the G Series Red 60. The G-Series Red has the stiffer tip to mid-section and the reason why this is described and mid-launching and mid spin shaft compared with the YS-6+ which is mid-high launch and mid spin.
Graphite Design G-Series Silver
New this year was an introduction to the Silver series, which was designed to launch the ball lower and with slightly less spin than the G Series Red. This gives clubmakers another option when fitting their customers to optimize launch and spin if a customer is set upon a particular head and loft and you need to lower ball flight based on launch monitor data. Even if you only had the G-Series Red in your fitting cart, you can confidently suggest the Silver to lower the trajectory some without drastically changing feel. Here is the deflection comparison between the two. If you have a hard time seeing the chart, the Silver is the one in green.
Graphite Design G-Series Hybrid
While these may not be painted red or silver, the hybrid version still uses the same XDT technology as the G-Series woods do. They come in three different weight ranges (75, 85 and 95). Again, as weight decreases, expect the trajectory and spin to increase in the same given flex. The 75 and 85 gram models could even be paired with the YS-series. The extended lengths are optimal for many of the lighter and lower lofted hybrids (up to #6). I am not sure I would suggest these for a full set of hybrids down to the wedges like some of our models we offer as you might be better off using the iron shafts for those.
Graphite Design G-Series Irons
Companion shafts, the G-Series irons are available in 3 different weight categories to match the hybrids. These are very affordable and all have the same signature deflection profile. As you step up in weight, you will see a lower launch angle as a result.
In addition, here is the DSFI data that we produce for our annual Shaft Fitting Addendumso you can compare them to other shafts we have tested. We also included the lower cost, entry level G-Tech series based on numerous requests.
Hopefully we have shown you there is a lot of technology and options in fitting for under $100 a shaft. If you haven’t tried a Graphite Design shaft in a while or at all, or have been sitting on the fence after watch the pros tee it up from Graphite Design shafts, now might be the opportunity to pull the trigger to see if one of these models won’t bring higher performance to your game.