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Els switches to Adams XTD Tour irons

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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.

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

64 Comments

64 Comments

  1. Lee H.

    May 10, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Although these came out roughly in July 2014…I just got scored a new set off ebay for under $200…Few dealers are selling them for that price or less. Gonna give it a shot. 110g KBS Shaft, so it seems to have a good shaft in it. I got it in regular flex as stiff would be too much for me. But I’ll play them with confidence going into it, so I’ll make them work. The slightly smaller face and less offset, but yet forgiving, is what interested me in them.

  2. JimM

    Mar 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!

  3. Evan

    Mar 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

      Mar 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.

    • Robert James

      Oct 24, 2014 at 4:33 am

      Hit these and you’ll eat your words. Talk about a chunk of steel. Look no farther than the ping G20 and big bertha to name a few. Adams does it with technology where others just strengthen lofts and lengthen shafts.

  4. Joe

    Feb 24, 2014 at 8:48 pm

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

  5. Tony Lynam

    Feb 24, 2014 at 8:44 pm

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

  6. Tom

    Feb 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

      Mar 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..

  7. Oldplayer

    Feb 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.

  8. Oldplayer

    Feb 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.

    • Robert James

      Oct 24, 2014 at 4:37 am

      Yeah. 400 more and lofts that are much stronger. Has anyone honestly hit the xtd iron? I thought like you until I took a chance and now I wouldn’t change back!

  9. leftright

    Feb 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.

  10. Locode

    Feb 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?

  11. Jack Nash

    Feb 17, 2014 at 12:26 pm

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

  12. Jason

    Feb 17, 2014 at 12:09 pm

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

  13. Mike

    Feb 17, 2014 at 11:46 am

    DRRROID!

  14. god awful

    Feb 15, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    these are the most hideous irons i have ever seen.

  15. Steve Robertson

    Feb 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

      Feb 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

        Feb 27, 2014 at 9:13 pm

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

  16. Jeff

    Feb 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

      Feb 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm

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

    • Jack Nash

      Feb 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

        Feb 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

      Feb 24, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      You are joking right?

  17. pk20152

    Feb 14, 2014 at 6:28 am

    fugly club

  18. Joe

    Feb 13, 2014 at 11:08 pm

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

  19. gdb99

    Feb 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?

  20. Greg

    Feb 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

      Mar 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..

  21. Ty

    Feb 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.

  22. Pingback: Els med XTD Tour proto | Golfbloggen

  23. Patrick

    Feb 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.

  24. Jim

    Feb 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

      Feb 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!

  25. Ryan

    Feb 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

      Feb 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…

  26. P

    Feb 13, 2014 at 3:18 am

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

  27. jeff

    Feb 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

      Feb 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

      Feb 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

        Feb 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??

  28. Scott

    Feb 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

      Feb 13, 2014 at 8:04 am

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

      • Forsbrand

        Feb 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

          Feb 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

          Mar 11, 2014 at 9:50 pm

          Heavens knows you need a muzzle!

      • Johnn

        Feb 13, 2014 at 6:12 pm

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

  29. Mike

    Feb 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.

  30. Double Mocha Man

    Feb 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

      Feb 26, 2014 at 10:43 am

      That last part made me laugh. Thanks for that!

  31. Dennis Clark

    Feb 12, 2014 at 9:19 pm

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

  32. Al

    Feb 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

      Feb 14, 2014 at 1:23 pm

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

  33. LorenRobertsFan

    Feb 12, 2014 at 8:44 pm

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

  34. The dude

    Feb 12, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Geeeesh……Els gettin ready for the champions tour?

  35. paul

    Feb 12, 2014 at 7:58 pm

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

  36. Does

    Feb 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.

  37. Richard

    Feb 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.

  38. Tyler

    Feb 12, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Yuck..

    • Randy

      Mar 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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pga tour

Gary Woodland WITB 2018

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Equipment is accurate as of the 2018 Honda Classic (2/19/2018).

Driver: TaylorMade M3 440 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Acra Tour-Z RPG

Fairway Woods: TaylorMade M2 2017 (15 degrees)
Shafts: Accra Tour-Zx 4100

Driving Iron: Titleist 716 T-MB (2)
Shaft: KBS Tour C-Taper 130 X

Irons: Titleist 716 MB (4-9)
Shafts: KBS Tour C-Taper Limited Edition Black PVD 130 X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (48-10F, 52-08F, 56-10S), Callaway Mack Daddy PM Grind (60-10)
Shafts: KBS Tour C-Taper Limited X (48), KBS Hi-Rev Black PVD S-Flex (52, 56, 60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T 009
Grip: Scotty Cameron Pistol

Golf Ball: Bridgestone Tour B X

Related:

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Woodland’s clubs. 

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Equipment

Cobra launches King Forged Tec Black and King Black Utility irons

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We first spotted Cobra’s new King Forged Tec Black irons (in both One-length and variable length) and King Black Utility irons (in both One-length and variable length) at the 2018 PGA Show. The company wasn’t dishing out any information related to the clubs at that time, however, electing to await for the official launch to provide details.

Well, Cobra officially launched the clubs on Tuesday, so we now have all of the tech info, specs and more.

Read below for all of the details, and click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the clubs in our forums.

King Forged Tec Black irons

Cobra first launched its Forged Tec irons in 2015; “Tec” stands for Technology Enhanced Cavity. They used five different materials in the club head to produce an iron with more forgiveness and distance.

The 2018 Forged Tec irons have gotten a material upgrade with a new Forged 4140 Stainless Steel face, allowing them to be made thinner and produce greater ball speeds across the face. They also have the new “dimonized” black finish that appeared on the company’s King Forged MB/CB irons in the past (and the irons that Rickie Fowler uses). Cobra says the finish is more durable than any black finish on the market.

“The handsome new Dimonized Black Metal (DBM) Matte Finish boasts the industry’s most durable satin black finish ever, reducing glare and providing extreme wear resistance while maintaining the look and feel of a classic forged iron,” Cobra said in a press release.

Additionally, the irons have tungsten weights to lower CG (center of gravity), and move CG more toward the center of the face, and they have carbon fiber medallions to dampen vibrations for a softer feel.

Forged Tec Black One Length

At the 2018 PGA Show, Cobra representatives said that One-length irons represent at least 60 percent of all its iron sales. Yea, wow. So it’s no wonder why Cobra is coming out with Forged Tec Black One-length irons in addition to its variable length offering.

The one-length irons sets match the weight and length of the 7 iron throughout the set, and have progressive tungsten weighting to achieve different launch characteristics — that means the longer irons will launch a bit higher, and the shorter irons a bit lower. New in this set is also progressive lie angle configurations; the longer irons will have a more upright lie angle, while the shorter irons will have a bit flatter lie angle.

The goal here is to allow golfers to take one swing no matter what the number says on the sole of their irons, but still produce desired results.

Both of the Forged Tec Black irons come equipped with Cobra Connect (powered by Arccos) in the butt end of the grips so golfers can retrieve data on every shot they hit during a round of golf or practice session. Golfers who purchase a set of these irons will also receive enough Arccos sensors to put in the remaining clubs in their bag, as well.

The irons come stock with steel True Temper AMT Tour White shafts, with a powder-coated black finish to match the black club heads, or graphite UST Recoil ES SmacWrap shafts. The 7-piece sets (5-PW, GW) sell for $1,099 in steel or $1199 in graphite, and will hit retail on April 6.

King Utility Black irons

Cobra also announced the launch of its King Utility Black irons, including variable length and one-length options.

They’re each made with Cobra’s familiar PwrShell face technology, which adds stability around the perimeter to make the clubs more forgiving while also allowing the faces to be constructed thinner. The faces use forged 455 high-strength stainless steel inserts to optimize ball speed across the face. Also for greater ball speeds, they have full, hollow-body constructions, and they have Tungsten toe weights (67-73 grams in the variable length irons and 90-94 grams in the shorter, one-length irons). For more precision and consistent spin, they have CNC milled faces and grooves.

The utility irons are also adjustable, with +/- one degree of adjustability using their MyFly8 hosel.

They have black PVD coats to achieve their black finishes, rather than the dimonized finish of the Forged Tec irons. Like the Forged Tec irons, however, they come equipped with Cobra Connect in the grips.

The Utility Black irons hit retail on April 6, and will sell for $219 in graphite and $199 in steel. The variable length heads will be available in 3 (18-21 degrees) and 4 (21-24 degrees) irons, while the One-length irons are available in 3 (18-21 degrees), 4 (21-24 degrees) and 5 (24-27 degrees) irons. Each come stock with steel true Temper AMT Tour White shafts with black powder coating, or graphite UST Recoil ES SmacWrap shafts.

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Cobra’s new irons here

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The Elder and Younger 2-Ball, #teamkiradech, and a very boring wedge on the Honda Classic range

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course  in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. And there was plenty to see on the range Monday.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, making his first U.S. start since the 2016 Web.com Finals, was in his glory. We got WITB looks at (the very yellow bag) of Brandt Snedeker, Gary Woodland, and Chesson Hadley, too.

Here are a few of the best shots from t-minus three days until tournament time.

Chesson Hadley is gaming this superb, decade-old, lead tape-laden, Odyssey 2-Ball.

We also spotted Odyssey’s latest 2-Ball offering, the Exo Two-Ball. No word on whether Mr. Hadley is upgrading…

Kiradech Aphibarnrat’s putter cover is everything you’d expect (and perhaps more).

The leader of #teamkiradech also has his emoji self embroidered on the back of his shirt. This would only be made better if emoji Kiradech also had an embroidered emoji on his shirt.

Chesson Hadley is also gaming one of Vokey’s new SM7 wedges with a bit of weight removed in a very boring fashion.

As if there weren’t enough yellow in this picture… Banana Snedeker?

All joking aside, you gotta love Snedeker gaming a Tourstage X 5-wood.

…with this wear mark, no less.

Laundry service for Bronson Burgoon, please?

Chad Campbell loves three things: UNLV, shaving cream, and Arnold Palmer. The Palmer-Barbasol thing makes sense, as the King reportedly abhorred facial hair on professional golfers (really).

A lovely assortment of Piretti covers. It’s probably frowned upon as a professional to walk away with this whole bag, but tempting nevertheless…

Ditto: Bettinardi.

Check out all our photos from the 2018 Honda Classic below!

Monday’s Photos

Special Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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