Els switches to Adams XTD Tour irons

by   |   February 12, 2014
Ernie Els prototype Adams XTD irons

When well-known golfers make a move to a new equipment sponsor, prototype clubs often follow.

Take, for example, the recent signings of Rickie Fowler by Cobra-Puma Golf and Rory McIlroy by Nike Golf. In his first year with Cobra, the company made Fowler a set of prototype muscleback irons that he played during the 2012 season. A learning process between Fowler and the engineering team ensued, which saw the company create a set of AMP Cell Pro irons for 2013 that went into the company’s catalogue, as well as in Fowler’s bag.

Last year, McIlroy spent the majority of the season tinkering with prototype versions of the company’s VR_S Covert Tour driver. Those efforts between McIlroy and the Nike team are evident in the design of Nike’s new Covert 2.0 driver, which McIlroy has been using since last fall.

This week at the Northern Trust Open, recent Adams Golf signing Ernie Els was spotted with a set of Adams XTD Tour irons, which will be a surprise to many golf equipment enthusiasts. The XTD’s are best categorized as game-improvement irons, and different in just about every way from the Callaway Razr X Muscleback irons Els used as a member of Callaway’s Tour Staff.

Unlike the Callaway musclebacks, one-piece irons that are forged from 1020 carbon steel, the XTD irons are a much larger two-piece design with 450 stainless steel faces and 17-4 stainless steel cast bodies. The bodies and faces are connected with Adams’ “Cross Cavity,” which moves the center of gravity of the clubs more rearward for added forgiveness. The design also includes a “Pressure Piston,” a structure that is mechanically lodged between the faces and cross cavities to improve the sound and feel of the irons.

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Above: Adams’ XTD irons (left) and Els’ prototype version, which have a custom satin nickel chrome-plated finish. Click on the photos to enlarge them. 

Els’ prototype irons are slightly different, but still have all the technology offered in the retail XTD irons. They’re about 10 percent smaller, with less offset, particularly in the long irons, and are milled from 17-4 stainless steel. But just as in the off-the-rack XTD irons, the faces are brazed to the iron bodies. That allows for the thin faces that make way for the company’s Cut-Thru slot on the irons’ soles, which gives the irons the higher launch and added ball speed Els wanted.

Mike Fox, director of global product marketing for Adams, said listening to the feedback from players like Els is part of the decision-making process that helps the company create new models. Right now, only the four-time major champion can get a set of XTD Tour irons. But history has shown that an Els-inspired Adams iron could be in the works and in the hands of average Joe’s sooner rather than later.

About

Zak is the Managing Editor of GolfWRX.com. He and his team cover golf's most important stories. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz.


61 Comments

  1. JimM

    March 4, 2014 at 8:55 am

    In my humble opinion, if you were to spotweld a treble hook to the toe of these XTD clubs, it would make a very nice muskie lure!

  2. Evan

    March 3, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Iron Technology? You mean a good quality chunk of steel molded into a club head and refined to exact standards of weight, loft, lie? Yep, that’s all an iron ever was and ever will be. How about we try to improve those quality control standards TM/ Adams.

    • Evan

      March 3, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      Also, the distance marketing has gotten out of hand. Who wants a thin face and trampoline effect on an iron? The why you have 11 of them in the bag, for varying and precise distances. Thin face will only make the distance more inconsistent on mishits, especially for high handicappers. Hit one bad, just short of the green. Catch one flush, fly it over the green! Just more proof that Taylormade is wearing a clown’s nose and not interested in making golfers better.

  3. Joe

    February 24, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Might be uglier than Cobra Bio Cell irons. Now that is ugly!

  4. Tony Lynam

    February 24, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    The wedges look pretty good and Adams has struggled in that department.

  5. Tom

    February 22, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Well they seem to be working for Ernie. Maybe some of you yahoo’s should rethink your earlier statements.

    • Alex

      March 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      I was told by an Adams rep that Big E is playing a forged version of these that cost Adams about $3,000 to make. Made a lot of sense to me..

  6. Oldplayer

    February 18, 2014 at 6:09 am

    Just too ugly to contemplate playing. There are other thin faced, well performing, good feeling and forgiving GI irons to choose from instead. Callaway Apex for example. Unlike contracted pros who are there to promote new releases, and ironically Ernie is not playing the retail version (probably couldn’t come at those)but an iron that bears the same name but is not that similar, us amateurs can have a good performing GI iron AND a good looking bag.

  7. Oldplayer

    February 18, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Just too ugly to contemplate playing. There are other thin faced, good feeling, forgiving GI irons out there that look great. Callaway apex for example. Unlike contracted pros who are there to promote new releases, (these are not that similar to the retail version BTW. Ernie probably couldn’t come at those) us amateurs can have performance and a good looking bag.

  8. leftright

    February 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    I swore I would never play Ping’s in 1982. I bought a brand new (fitted) set in 1984, last year before grooves became issue and still have them, 1/4″ over, blue dots, original KT shafts. I played them for 10 years and were the best irons I ever had by far.

  9. Locode

    February 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    ugly overall, but a nice top look is all that matters to the player. that and results.
    remember when Corey Pavin used those horrendous Cleveland irons to win the US Open?

    • Dave

      February 17, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      the VASs!

  10. Jack Nash

    February 17, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Kinda looks like the old Burner Tours with the new slot technology.

  11. Jason

    February 17, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Remind me of Aliens from 10yrs ago, these are damn ugly.

  12. Mike

    February 17, 2014 at 11:46 am

    DRRROID!

  13. god awful

    February 15, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    these are the most hideous irons i have ever seen.

  14. Steve Robertson

    February 14, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Rumor has it these iron have the hottest face on the market. I will definitely be giving these a “shot” pun intended..

    • Tanner Johnson

      February 14, 2014 at 11:12 am

      i love the smooth satin finish on these! I see on the website they are Black PVD, will these be be offered in Satin? or is it for tour only? Nice work Adams!

      TJ

      • Dylan Marshall

        February 27, 2014 at 9:13 pm

        This is the tour model. It isn’t supposed to be released until closer to July.

  15. Jeff

    February 14, 2014 at 8:37 am

    I’m sick of these professionals playing “game improvement” irons. I’m also sick of amateurs playing these irons. How about this novel idea….get better and don’t count on a club to make you better.

    • Ryan

      February 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      Still playing with hickory sticks and persimmons? Gutta percha? Then shut up.

    • Jack Nash

      February 17, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      How about using what you can to better your game. The more people that can do that the fewer courses will close because people just give up. The fewer courses that close the cheaper it is for you. Would hate to hear you complain about the cost of a round of golf.

      • Ande

        February 18, 2014 at 1:26 pm

        I guess firefighters should also use the same gears they use to and the horses and wagons to go with it. Lol. Why not use old (as in technology) tires and learn how to drive.

    • Joe

      February 24, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      You are joking right?

  16. pk20152

    February 14, 2014 at 6:28 am

    fugly club

  17. Joe

    February 13, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Wow. Ugly duckling award will be announced early this year.

  18. gdb99

    February 13, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    I don’t care what they look like or how they play. My irons are set for the year.

    My question is: how is the caddie going to keep them clean in the back cavity?

    • Double Mocha Man

      February 14, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      Caddie carries compressed air.

  19. Greg

    February 13, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Just seems odd to go from his previous clubs to these. Adams has some wonderful forged irons to choose from in the forged xtds, CMBs, CB3s and A12 pros that are middle ground. I love Adams and play cavity backs but the retail XTDs are not an attractive club.

    • Alex

      March 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      He is playing a forged version of this club that is not being released to the public. They want him playing these to sell more to the public..

  20. Ty

    February 13, 2014 at 10:12 am

    I know it’s a bit of an “apples to oranges” comparison, but sort of reminds me of the old Triumph TR7/TR8. Ugly as heck to look at, but you couldn’t see how ugly it was sitting in the car…and it drove great. Ernie’s iron looks pretty good from above…not so much from the back. Wonder what the longer irons look like from above.

  21. Pingback: Els med XTD Tour proto | Golfbloggen

  22. Patrick

    February 13, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Would be interested to see how they perform. Huge fan of Adam’s hybrid lineup but never played a set of their irons. Might just have to give them a shot if they hit the shelves.

  23. Jim

    February 13, 2014 at 8:01 am

    He’s not the first. Remember when Kenny Perry switched to Adams? He’s playing retail Redline irons now, which are similar game improvement clubs. Must be something in the water over at Adams. As someone said above, easier to hit is easier to hit for anyone.

    • MCoz

      February 17, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      Kenny Perry has played off-set clubs with GI designs for the past 10+ years at least.
      The key to this club is how does it look at address and how does it perform.
      As for cleaning the club, it is not any more difficult to keep the face and sole clean than any other. As for the back, I don’t see Ernie burying the club in the mud in anger which then would require one to have to clean the detail on the back of the club!

  24. Ryan

    February 13, 2014 at 3:46 am

    All these purist comments are stupid. It’s how the club looks BEHIND the ball . At ADDRESS. Not that ego s&$( of how they look in the bag. Golfwrx = tour pro poseurs..

    • Rob

      February 13, 2014 at 2:54 pm

      The most truth in any post here. But, now you must be banned from WRX for bringing reality into WRX…

  25. P

    February 13, 2014 at 3:18 am

    Nice! His one look way better than the retail ones though. I wish I could hit it

  26. jeff

    February 12, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Some of you people are so funny…. you would rather have a pretty bag and an ugly scorecard than who cares what it looks like and a low score. If Ernie sees value in playing them…. you should toas I doubt anyone ccommenting on here hits it more solid than Ernie does with his speed and launch conditons

    • roger

      February 12, 2014 at 11:11 pm

      Ugly Bag owner here !
      Show me the improvement ! Thats all that matters
      Like my Adams A7 hybrids!A Lot!!!

    • the dude

      February 13, 2014 at 7:59 am

      ya…. and i’m sure he’s gonna love these shovels from the rough to….most people including tour pros like how they feel and perform on the range….and not in real conditions. I’mm gonna be following his proximity to the hole this season as he games these “money grab” irons….i’ll bet he bails on them soon

      • Jay

        February 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm

        Perhaps you should instruct the tour pro’s on the way they should be evaluating their equipment – seems like you know the proper way??

  27. Scott

    February 12, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see this trend to more game improvement irons with other tour players. Easier to hit is easier to hit, even scratch golfers with muscle backs baffle me.

    • the dude

      February 13, 2014 at 8:04 am

      it’s obvious that you are a high handicapper…….thanks for sharing..

      • Forsbrand

        February 13, 2014 at 9:32 am

        How horrific! I wouldn’t dig a hole with these clubs, can’t believe Els is going to attempt to use them! Say it’s not so Ernie, perhaps we could give Tiger Ernie’s set heaven knows he needs them…….and wait for the Tiger Cavalry to respond……………

        • Justin

          February 13, 2014 at 11:30 am

          I love how everyone on the forums here is a Tour pro suddenly! Lol, I’m close to scratch (4-5 handicap) and am happy to use cavity back irons (RBladez tours). The feel is good enough for me, I can work the ball when I want to. So I hope everyone that is commenting about how horrible they seem (especially from address) is playing forged MB’s. Personally I agree with Scott, If you compare the amount of players playing MB irons from ten years ago to the amount playing anything else, that number has been shrinking.

        • getitclose

          March 11, 2014 at 9:50 pm

          Heavens knows you need a muzzle!

      • Johnn

        February 13, 2014 at 6:12 pm

        well please post your swing and scores and show us some justification for seemingly knowing all.

  28. Mike

    February 12, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Wow. First the XTD, now this. I’m a huge Adams fan. Seeing these has me already looking for a backup set of CMB’s to have when mine wear out. Duds IMO.

  29. Double Mocha Man

    February 12, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    I don’t care if the back of my irons look like a Yugo or a Kia grill. If they work, they work. I’ll play a guy with beautiful irons in his bag for money, any day. (Though I need to see his swing first)

    • Josh

      February 26, 2014 at 10:43 am

      That last part made me laugh. Thanks for that!

  30. Dennis Clark

    February 12, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    4 majors, 3 different equipment companies! Get a feeling it really doesn’t matter?

  31. Al

    February 12, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    These look worse than the new Big Bertha Alpha. All these companies are just focused on gimmicks instead of just making good quality golf clubs. I think each one of these companies need to take a good look at what Titleist and Mizuno are doing and get back to just making good golf clubs because these are ridiculous.

    • DC

      February 14, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      Have you seen the JPX EZ? Never thought Mizuno would join the “gimmick” club.

  32. LorenRobertsFan

    February 12, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    I guess he liked the forgiveness in these. Surprised he switched from the XTD forged

  33. The dude

    February 12, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Geeeesh……Els gettin ready for the champions tour?

  34. paul

    February 12, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Looks 5\10 desire to hit them 10/10.

  35. Does

    February 12, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    whew – I’m an advocate of liking your irons look in the bag – You can’t hit ‘em if you can’t look at ‘em. I can’t look at these.

  36. Richard

    February 12, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Not bad. Not the prettiest irons, but would be very interested in hitting them if they come to retail.

  37. Tyler

    February 12, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Yuck..

    • Randy

      March 11, 2014 at 11:45 am

      I can’t believe all the fancy stuff on the backside makes any difference compared to a more generic looking cavity back. If you compare an old ping and these, your score would be the same. Just a fancy marketing ploy. I also think that slot on the bottom would get packed with dirt.

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