Director Research & Development / Tour Operations
KBS Golf Shafts
Throughout his career, Kim Braly has made significant contributions to the golf industry and continues to do so as the Director of Research and Development and Tour Operations at KBS. Kim’s lifelong passion for golf and the professional tour have resulted in numerous accomplishments, including those as an amateur player. Kim’s father, is largely recognized as a pioneer among golf club designers.
Dr. Braly’s popular designs were the Console Sand wedge and the DynaPhase golf clubs — the first mass produced clubs made with titanium. Kim worked alongside his father and concentrated primarily on golf club design and shaft technology. Kim and his father sought out the best golfers in the world to validate their designs and assist in the development of new product. Together, Kim and Dr. Braly formed one of the first-ever Tour vans on the PGA TOUR. During this time, the Braly’s engineered innovative golf shaft technologies, co-authored patents on Frequency Matching® and designed new products for manufacturers and touring professionals.
In the 1980’s, Kim was responsible for developing and running production for proprietary steel shafts that were supplied to several of the major club head manufacturers. While at Royal Precision, Kim patented Frequency Matching for graphite and created two revolutionary stepless steel shaft designs: the RIFLE ® Golf Shaft and Project X ® Golf Shaft.
Kim Braly Signature (KBS) Tour Shafts was formed in early 2008 and has rapidly become the fastest growing steel shaft brand in the industry. In a relatively short time, KBS shafts have been adopted by top PGA Tour professionals and the custom department of every major manufacturer. Combining FST’s state-of-the-art manufacturing with Kim’s empirical knowledge, the KBS Tour Series offers original performance options that have been proven in independent robot testing, on the PGA Tour, and by the passionate community of golfers globally.
MY GOLF STORY —
I grew up primarily on the east coast, outside of Philadelphia, PA and I clearly remember when I was living and traveling and studying abroad when my father called me and said it was time to stop contemplating my life and come on home and go to work.
Now, I am sure a lot of people have had this happen to them in some form or manner during their younger years, but the interaction with my father early on, and his drive in establishing the base knowledge needed to be successful in life and the golf industry, created the foundation for me to learn from that I still think upon to this day.
What’s the most rewarding aspect in what you do?
Watching people pursue their passion, especially within golf is the exclamation point on that. Getting to help and push forward the game of golf and development in what we do here at KBS is the icing on the cake for the amazing life I get to lead. It’s truly a blessing — loving how and what I do. I’m not just trying to develop product, I’m trying to develop great product.
How much misinformation is in the market space and how can ordinary golfers guard against it when making shaft choices?
Misinformation — our industry has no standards, Get fit! I can’t stress this enough and have based a lot of what we do at KBS research and development wise in being fit. We currently have a shaft for every single player of every ability. Growing and fitting the game is a huge goal for us moving forward.
So — to answer the question, yes, a lot of misinformation. A lot of hearsay and bad advice is not the key to progressing the industry or golfers in general. I fear we may never be able to muzzle the “fake golf news” we hear a lot. But the remedy to that is fitting, and knowledge which proves to be true.
Estimate the number of golfers not fitted properly — what number would you say?
Over 80 percent. I based this on the number of shafts soled and where they go in steel. Meaning, I see the incorrect shaft they have per their game / swing and have seen this over time with so many players. The aftermarket is the only growth area in our industry and it is driven by fitting so there is plenty of opportunity and I fully expect this to continue to grow. I can’t stress enough how important fitting is for all types of players. Without this we will have a number of non-properly fit golfers.
How often should golfers get fitted for shafts?
Obviously, when buying new clubs. But also, when they feel like the complete package — shafts, heads, etc, is not helping their game. The numbers say every four years to be fit or make a change, which isn’t that far off. Golfers that play quite a bit would do it a little more often and probably should. New technology is changing the game on the fly and being able to have a front row seat for that makes it exciting for people to fix what they don’t like.
Set make-up is a big topic. It’s been said most golfers should not play with an iron 38 or more inches in length and 24 or less degrees in loft. What’s your take on that?
It’s player specific, more about speed than ability in my opinion. So regardless of loft or inches to shaft, I am an old school true believer that it’s still player specific. Especially with the stuff I see on tour every week and through the fittings I do. The golf equipment will not be specific to any one player so the statement of “you can’t or shouldn’t use this is always frustrating.
Although when saying “most golfers” I would agree that making it easy to get the ball in the air as possible, your setup does that. Getting fit eliminates a lot of these misconceptions and statements that may not be provable.
Early on — you and your Dad were pioneers in going with a van to various tour stops. What was that like and how did that experience set a lasting impression for you in the years to follow?
Surreal. I was young and it felt like I was dropped in the middle of those I admired most. There were no other vans / trucks — anything the first few years. My dad and I had the same credentials as the players and when my Dad started traveling the Tour, he needed me to help explain what we can do — what our limits were, those types of things. He was the type of guy that didn’t like you not having an answer — and it better be correct.
Overall, it was much different time. Then guys had a beer after they were done and in general way more fun and completely different than what is experienced today. The biggest thing is the relationships made. Those have been the most rewarding. I’m lucky enough to be doing it for so long — way longer than I had ever dreamed.
FST has quickly garnered a high quality reputation in the products it produces. How rigorous is the quality control process?
It’s really about doing it right the first time. At Brunswick / Rifle where I use to work and at True Temper today the machinery is from the 1940’s-1950’s draw benches, heat treatment and so on, At KBS (FST) the machinery was designed in the past 20 years specifically to make nothing but golf shafts utilizing technology that is state of the art today allowing for much tighter tolerances and a much lower reject rate. The product is a premium product for a reason due to the testing and manufacturing that’s done to make sure when you buy KBS, your getting the best.
You’ve been around golf for quite some time – what’s your biggest pet peeve?
Misunderstandings passed down as truth by the OEM’S (original equipment manufacturer) as well as the custom shops. There’s also the lack of standards. The old way of ‘golf thinking” is being changed rapidly and for a good reason. I enjoy new rules of thought and creativity in the game of golf. I think we are finally getting past some of the stigmas in the game that has held us back in a sense for many years.
You’ve work with plenty of golfers over the years — when assessing their games and club needs what is the first thing you generally notice?
It’s a process. The first thing is simply their ability to get a base line of where to start. With that you can take their equipment to any level needed. That’s the exciting part of what I do. Assessing someone on any level than getting them into a golf club and equipment to help them succeed.
Finish the sentence — Kim Braly is —
A guy who has devoted his life to the enjoyment and promotion of our great game of golf, and I am humbled and proud to still being able to contribute.
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