Pros: The XTD is hot. Volcanic. Radioactive, one might say. Even mishits seem to careen off the face and down the fairway, straighter than most. The adjustability of the club is about all you need—a degree and a half in either direction, with base lofts of nine, 10.5 and 12 degrees available.
Cons: While the technological reason for Adams’ Cut-Thru Slo feature is sensible, it is a bit odd looking down at a long rectangular sloping channel cut into the crown of the driver.
Bottom Line: If you hit a lot of drives in the center of the clubface, this driver is for you. If you hit some out on the toe, this driver is for you. If you hit a lot of drives, as Johnny Miller would say, “a groove low,” this driver is for you. The XTD is long, forgiving and adjustable enough to fit the caprice of your own swing.
Quick, name the top golf club manufacturers!
I don’t expect you to shout aloud (if you did, though, that’s 100 percent cool), but if you did, chances are your exclamation sounded something like “Taylor-Calla-Title-Cobra-Ping-Nike!” And that’s fine—they are the titans in golf club manufacturing, design, marketing and sale, and Adams Golf has not reached the popularity level of golf’s largest equipment manufacturers in the last 20 years. The company did loose the innovative Tight Lies fairway woods on the golf world back in 1996 (and revive them this year), but save for their well-regarded hybrids, they have struggled to attain the name recogniztion of the big boys.
Their new XTD line of clubs, which comes in the wake of their sale to TaylorMade-Adidas golf, may just start to turn the tide and establish Adams as a more top-of-mind golf equipment player. That line starts with the XTD driver.
Like almost all drivers these days, the XTD head measures 460cc . It comes standard with a high-end Matrix 6Q3 “Red Tie” shaft, though custom-orders can certainly provide other shafts for the consumer. It is available in three lofts: 9, 10.5 and 12 degrees (12 degree available only for righties); the hosel of the club is set up so that players can add or subtract up to a degree and a half of loft, dialing in the correct setup for their swings. The stock grip for the XTD driver is made by premium Japanese grip maker Iomic.
Every single XTD driver head endures four separate rounds of testing to ensure quality control and maximum USGA-legal spring effect.
In short, the Adams XTD stands up to its billing as having a scorching-hot titanium face. The Cut-Thru Slot feature—channels cut into both the crown and sole of the club—works to stabilize the face through impact, producing boring tee shots that find the fairway very often. Players who have trouble squaring up the clubface at impact will be soothed by adjusting the clubface closed (and thereby increasing the loft) to promote more of a draw.
As primarily a feel player, I wanted to get some on-course time in with the XTD before going straight to a launch monitor. After two swings with the XTD, I was giddy at the noticeable springiness of the face, even on imperfect contact. My stock ballflight is a fade, and I tend to lose tee shots to the left (I am left-handed), but I was immediately pleased to see even mediocre swings produce drives in the left side of the fairway, rather than deep into the left rough, once I adjusted the face angle of the XTD a little bit closed.
I visited my local PGA Tour Superstore in Myrtle Beach, S.C., to use their launch monitor to test the ball speed, launch angle and spin of the XTD against my current driver, an 8-degree PING i15 with an RT Technologies “ZEUS” shaft. I have always liked the combination, but have felt at times that I could use a little more loft.
The XTD solved my loft problem immediately. I found my drives exceeding the height attained with my normal “gamer” with the XTD. I try to hit the ball on the upswing, but I now felt I didn’t have to overdo it to send the ball flying with the XTD. Also, I can hit the XTD off the deck.
In terms of raw average numbers, the comparison is somewhat deceiving (ball speed/launch angle/spin):
PING i15: 159 mph / 12.4 deg / 2,250 rpm
Adams XTD: 157 mph / 12.7 deg / 2,387 rpm
These results would seem to equate the two drivers, but the complicating factor is that the shaft in my PING is 46.5 inches, while the XTD rings in at 45 inches. The reason long drivers (and some shorter hitters like me) favor longer driver lengths is to gain a bit of distance, even if it means sacrificing a little accuracy. In this way, the XTD is the superior club because it delivered equal results but at a shorter, more manageable driver length. Anecdotally, the positive difference in accuracy has been noticeable, and there has been no loss of distance whatsoever.
Looks and Feel
Going from a traditional-looking modern driver to the XTD may take some getting used to. The Cut-Thru Slot feature on the crown is not insignificant, but after a few long, straight drives, it becomes easier and easier to deal with.
Click to enlarge images above
Feel- and sound-wise, the XTD is solid. To compare once again to my PING i15, the pitch of the sound of a good strike is noticeably lower: a “WHECK” rather than a “WHINK” sound. While muted, it certainly doesn’t sound “dead.”
The feel, as usual, mirrors the sound of the XTD. The sensation of the ball jumping off the club is less sharpened than with some clubs, and feels “bigger” than others without being overwhelming.
If you decided that 2014 would be a year for a new driver, you owe it to yourself to check out the Adams XTD as you investigate what is admittedly a very strong field of contenders for your bag. While other companies’ names may rise higher in your mind, you would be ignoring one of the best if you do not give the XTD a try. From the effectiveness of the Cut-Thru Slot to the high level of quality control in which Adams engages, this driver is a very good one across the board.