Technology and its effect on how we play Golf changes every day. One of the biggest changes in Golf in recent years is the golf ball. You may have heard the phrase, “high-launch, low spin,” used to describe the more optimal flight conditions of today’s golf balls and shot shapes. The golf ball just doesn’t spin as much as they did just a few short years ago. They mostly want to go straight as a result, which is generally a good thing for most of us. So, this leaves us with the question, “If the optimal flight is high, with low spin, how do I achieve such a ball flight?” Well, you’re probably going to want to seek out the assistance of a shaft the will allow you to hit it high and spin less. Graphite Design has two such shafts that will help you get that high, boring shot-shape you desire for those fickle fairway woods and hybrids. Their new Purple Ice fairway shaft and YS-Hybrid+ hybrid shafts are here to help while giving us that silky feel Graphite Design is known for.
I don’t know about you, but a 3 wood can be one of the more difficult clubs for me to hit well. It seems if I get it to launch high enough off the deck, it then spins too much into a headwind and shots come up short. When I finally put a good swing on my 3 wood, I want to see some positive results! The Graphite Design Purple Ice fairway shaft is a shaft you will want to consider if this scenario sounds all too familiar. I tested the Purple Ice 85 gram fairway shaft in a Titleist 906F2 15-degree fairway wood. I was hitting this club well, but I needed a little more height to my shots without getting into the “ballooning” situation. On paper, the Purple Ice 85 fairway sounded ideal: Mid-kickpoint, 85 grams, and 2.6 degrees of torque. Furthermore, its raw length is only 44 inches. This is ideal for fairway applications. Most shafts that are meant for driver applications are around 46 inches raw length. By the time you tip the shaft and butt cut it to length to go into a fairway wood, you’ve lost a lot of the shaft’s weight. That 85-gram shaft might only weigh around 75 grams after the cutting is done. The Purple Ice fairway played very true to its intended weight, which I really liked, considering I typically use a 75 gram driver shaft.
The Purple Ice 85 fairway plays very true to flex. Graphite Design has a fitting page on their website that helps you in determining which flex to go with based on swing speed. I have always had good luck choosing the correct flex going by these charts. I choose the stiff flex based on my swing speed, and my club fitter had no problems getting it to flex to my desired S300 frequency. The consistency with which the Graphite Design shafts always play for me seems to speak volumes about the materials they use and their manufacturing tolerances. The end result is a shaft with excellent feel, as is the case with the Purple Ice fairway. It is very smooth, and stays with me throughout the swing. I can feel a perceptible “kick” at impact, but due to its low-torque design, never seems to get loose or be prone to hooking.
The Purple Ice shafts have been known for some time for their high launch and low spin ball flight characteristics. The updated fairway version remains true to the trademark feel and flight of the original Purple Ice, but with the added bonus of a truer-weight shaft for fairway applications. My resulting ball flight when couple with the Titleist 906F2 head is a mid-high launch with a very flat down range carry. I am able to achieve the shot height I desire with this shaft, while at the same time keeping the ball flight strong and not prone to any “ballooning.” I had noticed World number two professional Jim Furyk was using this combination at recent Tour stops. Seems he was on to something, as this combination certainly delivers ample distance and accuracy. Just be certain to work with a club fitter to get the tipping right for this shaft, and you will likely be very impressed with its performance as I was.
The YS-Hybrid+ will be very familiar to some. Not that it is not a new product, but rather, that it captures the trademark characteristics of the YS+ series of shafts that continue to be popular with both Touring professionals and amateurs alike. Hybrids, to me, should do a few things better than the long irons they replace. After all- that’s kind of the idea. I like to see a hybrid launch higher than the corresponding long iron, while maintaining lower levels of spin to allow the ball flight to remain strong downrange. The YS-Hybrid+ allowed me to achieve just such a ball flight with my hybrid. In this instance, the test club head was the Bridgestone J33 18-degree utility wood. The ball flight was once again a very optimal mid-high trajectory, and it did not suffer from ballooning in the least. Downrange flight was once again very strong, yet it was not so hot as to not be able to get the ball to stop on the green on par 5’s for example.
The YS+ series shafts are known for their silky smooth demeanor and consistent flex. The YS-Hybrid+ is no different. Again, using Graphite Design’s web site as a resource for determining the appropriate flex, I ended up choosing an X flex for the YS-Hybrid+. My club fitter then tipped the shaft just enough to get it to play to my customary S300 frequency. The result is a shaft that is easy enough to load, but does not overpower easily. Those with quicker tempos may find it to get away from them a little, but for more moderate tempo swings, just like the other YS+ wood shafts, the YS-Hybrid+ is ideal. At 86 grams and a raw length of 42 inches, once again, this shaft plays true to its intended weight. Another nice feature is the availability of different tip diameters of .350, .355, and .370 inches. You can likely find the size you need; given the fact manufacturers unfortunately don’t all use the same diameter hosels for their club heads. The most common size seems to be .370”, but my Bridgestone uses a .355”, and I was happy this option was available for a seamless install.
The Graphite Design Purple Ice Fairway and YS-Hybrid+ shafts both delivered that high launch, low spin flight characteristic that is so ideal for today’s game. Applying the trademark flex and feel of the series of Graphite Design shafts they are modeled after, they give you the added benefit of staying true to weight when installed in the shorter length fairway woods and hybrid clubs for which they are designed. The silky smooth Graphite Design feel and quality materials make these shafts a natural extension of their already Tour-proven line of shafts. If building a new fairway or hybrid club, or looking to maximize performance through a re-shaft as I did, these shafts are ideal for elevating your fairway game.