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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.

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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

Andrew “Beef” Johnston WITB 2017

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Equipment is accurate as of the 2017 RSM Classic (11/14/17).

Driver: Titleist 917D2 (9.5 Degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei Orange 70TX

3 Wood: Titleist 917F3 (15 Degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei Orange 80TX

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H2 (19 Degrees)
Shafts: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage 90HY TX

Driving Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB 2 & 3 Iron (17 & 20 Degrees)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 Tour Issue

Irons: Titleist 718 MB (3-9)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 Tour Issue

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (46-10F, 50-08F, 54-10S)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue

Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T Super Rat I GSS Inlay
Grip: Scotty Cameron Standard Pistol

Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T Newport 2
Grip: Scotty Cameron Standard Cord Pistol

Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T Super Rat II GSS Inlay
Grip: Scotty Cameron Standard Cord Pistol

WITB Notes: Beef was testing a variety of putters ahead of The RSM Classic. We will update this post when his choice is confirmed. 

Related:

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

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Equipment

The hottest blade irons in golf right now

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As we’ve written before, the decision to put a new driver in the bag is usually obvious. Better numbers at testing, perceptibly longer distance, and as long as your bank account allows, you have your new gamer.

The iron switch, however, is a trickier beast. Comfort with the variety of shots one needs to hit is key. Confidence from one’s long irons through the higher lofts is critical. Thus, even the greatest enthusiasm for a new iron release isn’t always followed by a mass exodus to gaming said irons. This is doubly true at the professional level, where the tools are critical to a player’s livelihood.

That said, the combination of forum chatter, GolfWRX member enthusiasm, and what we’re spotting in our WITB photos from tour stops are a reliable indicator of the hottest irons in the game.

And judging by the response to our recent Instagram post, we’re confident that these four models are the hottest blade irons in golf right now.

Callaway Apex MB

Buzz built steadily for the Apex MB iron when we first spotted them in Tour players’ bags at the beginning of 2017. The irons are the product of direct feedback from the company’s Tour staffers, according to Luke Williams, Director of Product and Brand Management at Callaway. Forged from 1025 Carbon Steel, these irons have the shortest blade lengths, the thinnest soles and the smallest overall heads in the vast line of Callaway irons. They’re designed for maximum workability, and for tour-desired turf interaction.

Related: Callaway (finally) launches new Apex MB and X Forged irons

Mizuno MP-18

The pioneers of Grain-Flow Forging, Mizuno went back to its roots with the MP-18 iron model. A throwback to the great muscle backs in the company’s history, Mizuno was shooting for the look of an iron that could have been forged a century ago. Shorter blade length, cambered top line, sharp, compact wedges, all combined with the most minimal badging make the MP-18 an instant classic that set the GolfWRX forums afire.

Related: Mizuno brings the MP family closer together

TaylorMade P730

TaylorMade’s P730, particularly in its prototype incarnations, made quite a splash on the PGA Tour. Building on the heritage of the TP-MB irons, P730 was developed in collaboration with the very best players in the world. The 1025 carbon steel irons irons feature a smaller profile and crisper lines than the MB series irons. The combination of the clean look and a deep rear groove have players drooling. Discussing working with Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose to design the P730, TM’s Senior Director of Irons, Tomo Bystedt said, “What these players need is a very low-inertia club that they can [manipulate] easily, almost like a surgeon’s scalpel.” Behold the scalpel.

Related: Taylormade expands forged offerings with P730 and P790

Titleist 718 MB

“For the purist there is no substitute for a one-piece, muscle back iron. The 718 MB is the modern choice for those desiring a traditional forged look and feel,” says Titleist in the 718 MB marketing materials.

It’s hard to argue with that statement from the “appearance of a classic forged iron” standpoint. Purists appreciate that the 718 MB maintains Titleist’s traditional lofts (the 6-iron is 31 degrees, the pitching-wedge is 47 degrees), thin top-line, minimal offset, and limited badging. In short, if it ain’t broke…

Related: Titleist’s 718 irons offer endless possibilities.

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Whats in the Bag

Austin Cook’s Winning WITB: The 2017 RSM Classic

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Driver: Ping G400 LST (8.5 Degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 661 Evolution TX-Flex

3 Wood: Ping G400 Stretch (13 Degrees)
Shaft: Fujifuke Motore Speeder VC 7.2 TX-Flex

Hybrid: Ping G400 3 Hybrid (19 Degrees)
Shaft: Matrix Ozik Altus Tour H8 91X

Hybrid: Ping G400 4 Hybrid (22 Degrees)
Shaft: Matrix Ozik Altus Tour H8 91 X

Irons: Ping S55 Orange Dot (5-PW)
Shafts: KBS Tour S-Flex

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 SS (50-12, 56-12), Ping Glide 2.0 WS (60)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue

Putter: Ping Sigma G Tyne 
Grip: SuperStroke Mid-Slim 2.0

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1

5095fce33e880406a172796becbc64f8 6900daf1b0d2a2751ffa5557ac3865f7 2340677acd0b3c6d0f53ae8fa46c2024 80f602716821fd9518f148951913c9c0 4df372aac347ad61f031f519a1fd1edb 48039d9dfced6272ba047b51e6265d03 6fecf1d551cb1559587f1f17392ba7c8 0519679f5fdaaae2ffbaf2d97c0def72 5445ea5d9987cddfda04efba5d2f1efd

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