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.

Overview

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.

adams golf xtd driver

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. 

2014 adams golf xtd driver review

See the discussion and gallery of the full Adams XTD line in the forums

Performance

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.

adams golf XTD driver

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.

2014 adams golf xtd driver review

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.

See the discussion and gallery of the full Adams XTD line in the forums

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.

2014 adams golf xtd driver reviewadams golf xtd driver

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.

adams golf 2014

The Takeaway

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.

Learn more from Adams GolfBuy Now on Amazon

See the discussion and gallery of the full Adams XTD line in the forums

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Tim grew up outside of Hartford, Conn., playing most of his formative golf at Hop Meadow Country Club in the town of Simsbury. He played golf for four years at Washington & Lee University (Division-III) and now lives in Pawleys Island, S.C., and works in nearby Myrtle Beach in advertising. He's not too bad on Bermuda greens, for a Yankee. A lifelong golf addict, he cares about all facets of the game of golf, from equipment to course architecture to PGA Tour news to his own streaky short game.

50 COMMENTS

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  1. Been playing with this driver for two rounds. My ball has seen places they have never seen before. My mishits are about the same as my regular TM Burner. When I do catch on the screws, the ball ends up 20 to 30 yards down the fairway. I am able to find my mishits because they are not off somewhere in deep rough or bushes. When struck, the ball seems to carry the same distance down the fairway, BUT when I get to where I think the ball is, I have to walk another 20 to 30 yards further. So, the specs on this club in terms of ball speed and spin may be similar, however, the ball off the XTD rolls much farther!

  2. Tried one at demo days on the range. I am not a spec guy, just looking for results. After a couple of nice hits with the 12 degree head on a stiff, nice looking grey shaft, the pro changed to a 10.5 club head with same adjustments and after a few hitting more balls, he was taking my order! I had just played 18 holes so my impression of ball flight, direction, and feel with my current TM driver was still fresh. I am a 16.5 handicapper with limited time to practice and but not a impulsive buyer. This club made an immediate positive impression that I can pull out a bag and hit well in the expected direction with little effort is a “gotta have”

  3. Have not tried the driver yet, but if it is anything like my 14 degree Tight Lies 3 wood, they will have to pry it from my cold dead hands. Best 3 wood ever, including the original Tight Lies.

  4. I tried one of these at the Boston Golf Expo in February. I’m not an incredibly fast swinger but found the stiff option much better feeling. Bottom line: good sound, VERY stable feeling (something about it made it easy to bring it back into slot on the downswing and square it at impact), shots were good from center, toe or high on the face.

    …I haven’t compared too many other current drivers to say this is better or worse, but dang it felt very nice to me.

    By the way…are any manufacturers making drivers LESS than 460cc anymore? Do we need another Slotline Hammer?!

  5. First was the 9.5 stiff which played like a SX and launched very low like a 8.5 with a rock solid brick like feel that was difficult.
    Next was a 10.5 Reg with the spine at 3 0 Clock that did play ok and drive straight, however it was still launching low/mid. I gave up and went to the Ping i25 10.5 stiff and have my launch up and longer drives….yes longer!
    I like the XTD 3 wood of the deck, still giving the hybrid a chance but my xcg6 is better.
    To me the XTD Driver is a modified R1 with the Adams speed slot, and the SLDR/Jetspeed weight in the middle.
    Basically it hits straight like the R1 and launches very low, The speed slot is there to gain ball speed at the cost of a thicker brick like feeling face in the center. The forward weighting I don’t care for anymore and am going back to rear weighted higher MOI drivers.
    I think this driver is a collection of different technologies that are yet to be determined if they should all exist together in the one head.
    If your SS is +110 and you hit a high ball this club is ideal

  6. Low spin. LOW SPIN. “LOW SPIN!!!”

    Really… THIS is the new standard in driver performance? Let’s get serious. If you’re one of the rare golfers who’s spinning the ball too much, by all means either look at a ‘low spin’ driver or change shafts but the majority of golfers actually NEED spin to keep the ball in the air so it carries so be careful what you wish for. Hitting a driver that doesn’t create enough spin results in tee balls that take off and quickly fall out of the sky. And you don’t really want that, do you?

    And since the USGA set the C.O.R. limit at .83 YEARS ago, will somebody tell me how you think that this year’s “latest and greatest, hottest and most advanced” driver is actually longer than the one already in your bag?

    • If you are not getting the ball up in the air enough, more spin is not the answer. More loft is. That old-school rising ball after takeoff being eliminated is one of the big reasons why modern drivers are much longer than the older, smaller headed variety. Low launch, high spin creates a shot that starts low, rises, and then lands soft with no roll. the energy is not used efficiently in this instance. please go study some physics.

  7. This:

    “Taylor-Calla-Title-Cobra-Ping-Nike!”

    Ha. Nike belongs on this list about as much as Northwestern or Ram. Nike is a not a Golf Company but a HYPE company. Nike belongs right next to Nickent in a plain old sporting goods store. The only people playing Nike are newbies and those who are PAID to play Nike.

    • I’m not one to brand bash too hard for no good reason but I completely agree with your Nike comments. Their irons and wedges are decent, maybe even good, but the rest of the lineup has never seen my bag.

    • What are you smoking? I play the VRII forged Pro combo irons and they are the best irons I have ever hit and I’ve hit them all. I also just switched from a Titleist 910 D3 driver to the Nike VRS Covert 2.0 and it is night and day better. The only complaint is the newer wedges. The original VR wedge was the best wedge I ever hit but the grooves do not comply anymore and the would shred a ball to peices in a few holes. If they had that wedge with the new grooves it would be awesome. From what I hear the putters are great and skid less than any putter made but I have never tried them. Sticking with my Scotty. My handicap has gone from 10 to 3 since hitting the Nike irons and I just recently broke par for the 1st time. Like Tiger and Rory are going to play inferior equipment. Tiger just needs some Vokey’s and his old Scotty putter in his bag. Same goes for Rory.

  8. I have hit every driver out this year, the privileges of working in a shop and this thing is the best by far. lowest spinning head of any i’ve hit, even SLDR to you tmag honks. Great shaft and grip combo as well. Adams really went all in on this one. It is a little funky looking but ive already ordered mine and it will be replacing my RFX with ADDI7 combo the second it comes in.

    • SLDR – Overrated

      So Justin Rose ‘Lofts up’ with the SLDR driver and achieves the worst driving stats since 2002, and with higher spin than in the past years.

      Stuart Cink ‘Lofts Up’ and has worse stats than several years ago.

      Dustin Johnson ‘Lofts Up’ and achieves identical numbers to 2008 and worse than previous seasons.

      Jason Day ‘Lofts Up’ and achieves his worst driving stats since turning pro and 10 yards less.

      Get the idea?

      Rohan

        • Hi Wilson, his stats are the same as 2012 when he was using the Nike VR Pro STR8-FIT (11.5°), which is the same loft as his SLDR. Same launch, ballspeed, spin etc = Same results. He was actually spinning the ball less with Nike in 2013 than with SLDR and carrying the ball further with the Nike, but simply getting more roll in 2014 based on course conditions, as his spin is higher in 2014.

  9. I have a Adams xtd 10.5 with the stock 6Q3 shaft in regular. I dialed back the loft to 9.5 to make it 1 degree open. I live in Tampa and we have a shop that digitally measures loft and the XTD was .1 off stock. That is tremendous because I have checked Taylors, Titleist and Callaway’s and have “never” found one stock better than .3 from it’s stated loft. These clubs are mass produced but the XTD is guaranteeing you .830 COR and a quality head and loft with a high end shaft. I average 101 on my driver swings and the regular is pretty stout on the Matrix shaft. It is also 65grams stock. Adams has entered the “boutique” arena with the XTD charging standard prices for a club that is “better” than the others. I agree, the COR is maxed out, ball speed for balls, maxed out but this driver launches high with roll. I gained 5 yards of carry and much more roll over my stage 2 tour with aftermarket Fubuki 63 tour which I thought could not be beat. By the way, it took 5 adapters to find one that would give me 10 degrees -+ .1 for the Stage 2 tour. The heads are all far off in loft, as much as .5.6 a degree. Golf fans, this is why the one you demo and the one you order are “never” the same. As much as we say we don’t, we always adapt to the club, not vice versa, not unless your are a touring pro like Bubba who slaves out the Ping guys for the right lefthanded stuff. By the way I am lefthanded and know for a fact LH stuff does not get the degree of attention RH stuff does.

  10. I expect that I’d get used to the slot; but I might want to dial it down in loft (and make it more open) than otherwise, just because the slot makes my eye think it is more closed than it actually is.

  11. What is the best?
    In order to compare apples to apples, you have to equip the heads with the same shafts.
    Generally the shaft is what makes the difference between clubs.
    Get past;
    Color of clubs
    Color of shafts
    Shape of heads
    Use what is best for you.
    B.

    • Generally, the shaft won’t make that much difference. The clubhead is what actually hits the ball. That is the most important part. If shafts mattered that much wouldn’t I just put a “better shaft” in my 975J each season instead of getting something new?

      • Wow….really?
        The shaft is the engine of your driver and is at least as important as the head. Marry the right shaft *for you* on a good head with the right grip *for you* and it’s magical. Anything else is called “off the shelf”…

  12. Hey all: Nice review and yes there are allot of good looking and performing drivers available this year. As for the slot on top It didn’t need to get bigger than it was on previous Adams models ,but after seeing the new tight lies fwd at a local sports store it didn’t seem as distracting or as big looking as it does online. thanks

  13. Just bought this and can not wait for the snow to melt to give it a try.
    I plan a pairing this driver with an Aldila R.I.P Beta, just love the feel of those shafts.
    I have found since Adams has been purchased from TM that they are branding themselves with more subtle looks but higher build characteristics. Who needs a giant marketing machine to sell your products, let your products sell themselves with quality and performance.

  14. There’s nothing but glowing praise here in terms of “Performance”–enough to make me give this driver a second look–so why only 4.5 stars for that particular category? What is it lacking, or what other driver(s) perform better?

    • Bogey, to my way of thinking, at least, a 5 for “performance” for any club is going to be very unlikely. There are a lot of very good and great clubs out there–the XTD driver is one of them, I found. A “perfect” club would be reviewed by me, at least, with more effusive words.

  15. Glad to see Adams Golf getting some respect.
    I think Adams has been under-rated for some time now.

    Also like the dark finish. It seems that companies are listening in on the forums and going with the matte black finishes on their drivers more and more.

    Almost every company is putting out a good driver nowadays. It’s just a matter of trying them out on a Trackman or Flightscope and seeing your results, finding that right shaft and loft and face angle combo.

  16. Just got mine shipped to me today with an attas elements proto shaft. Can’t wait to hit it! For now I’ll have it in my bag and stare at it when I dream of warmer days

  17. I currently play all Adams woods, and love their products. I’m not a fan of how bulgy & rounded the club is from address but the slot usually isn’t a factor that distracts me. The Red Tie & iomic grip are a nice touch!

  18. As ugly as this thing may be it is one of the better performing drivers this year…and I get a chance to hit and see others hit them all. If you have issues with the ball going left, this is the club for you. It is so hard to hit the ball left it’s almost unbelievable. Do yourself a favor and at least give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

  19. Have yet to try the driver but I was hitting the hybrid lastnight, at first I did not like it but once I settled down and just smoothed the 3 iron hybrid out to 230 repeatedly its differently given me a lot to think about as there are now 3 hybrids on my want list (i25, X2 Hot Pro and now the XTD). I may just hit the driver this week to see what its like.

  20. I think the XTD will be one of those over achiever under loved Drivers this year. As for the slot, I actually found it very helpful in making sure the club face was square to the target line at address.

  21. I demo the XTD Driver last Saturday.
    Very impressed with the results
    I got about 13 extra yards in carry vs my driver Adams Super Speedline LS (245 vs 232).
    Settings were adjust to 11.5 degree loft.
    XTD driver is a beast plain and simple(hot face is the big reason)
    As a lefty I am very please with the drivers Adams has put on the market for the last two years.

  22. I just can’t get by the slot on the top. The rest of the club looks pretty good, but then you look at the top and yikes. Just could never play this club, it would be too distracting.

    • Dont agree; wouldn’t bother me at all, might even serve as an alignment aid for me. The shape of Adams driver faces are second to none. Still love my 9015D, which still might be second to none!

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