Pros: A forged blade-type iron with a little bit of a size advantage for extra forgiveness. Tungsten weighting offers excellent feel, and the presence of KBS C-Taper shafts and Iomic grips as standard options reinforces the XTD Forged’s status as a “player’s iron.”
Cons: All the highfalutin standard features do make a set pretty pricy ($1100 MSRP). Also, the irons are in a middle ground between “player’s blade” and “player’s cavity back,” which might be awkward to some.
Bottom Line: The XTD Forged irons hit the forged iron “sweet spot” splendidly, combining the workability and feel of blades with the enhanced forgiveness of cavity backs, thanks to the Cut-Thru Slot.
Adams Golf has long been regarded as principally a maker of good hybrids and fairway woods, from the original Tight Lies on down to 2014’s brand-new PRO hybrid, but they are coming up in the world in terms of drivers (more on that here) and, yes, irons.
Enter the XTD Forged irons, which blend the traditional size, shape and feel of blade and “player’s cavity back” irons with the more technology-forward trend that has emerged in the last couple years of golf equipment development. Adams took the basic head shape and thickness of a blade, enlarged it somewhat and added the two recognizable technological features: tungsten weighting and what Adams calls a “Cut-Thru Slot.”
The general idea of the Cut-Thru Slot is that that space just behind the clubface — be it for a driver, fairway wood, hybrid or iron — creates a “floating face,” which enlarges the sweet spot, even on a traditionally less-forgiving sort of club such as a forged iron. The feature also helps lower the center of gravity, which produces higher-launching shots that generally do not suffer from runaway spin numbers.
The aforementioned tungsten weights also sit on the sole of the XTD Forged irons and work together with the Cut-Thru Slot to optimize each iron’s center of gravity which, once again, helps produce desirable launch and ball speed.
Adams XTD 4 iron pictured above
It should also be noted that the XTD Irons ($1099) come standard with the popular KBS C-Taper shafts and high-end Iomic grips. The irons are also available with Aldila’s RIP Tour 115-gram graphite shafts in R, S and X flexes for $1199.
For no upcharge, golfers can add Adams’ popular Dhy 3 or 4 hybrids, which can be substituted in the place of an XTD Forged 3 or 4 iron.
There is palpable synergy among all facets of the XTD Forged irons. As a result, they constitute a set ideally suited to a player who may have reservations about playing “true blades” but still wants as much of the two best features of blades as possible: clear feel on different qualities of contact and wide shotmaking potential. High draws, low fades and all shots in between can be coaxed out of these irons by the skilled player.
Click the images above to enlarge
Shots produced by the irons pass the eye test handily: I noticed somewhat higher launch and good, stable ball flight when hitting shots with them both on the range and on the course. Even the long irons, when struck solidly, held firm greens. If I needed to hit a punch shot, the irons were equal to the task.
The good aesthetics of shots I hit with these irons was, happily, confirmed by the numbers they produced when I tested them on a launch monitor at Myrtle Beach’s PGA Tour Superstore location:
Ball speed / launch angle / spin rate / distance
8 iron: 111 mph / 19.4 deg / 7,055 rpm / 159 yds
5 iron: 126 mph / 12.2 deg / 4851 rpm / 200 yds
The Cut-Thru Slot and tungsten weighting in these irons were especially noticeable on shots with the longer irons. Slight misses on the heel and toe yielded little in the way of lost distance, as did shots where I made slightly thin contact.
Photo above is a raw XTD head showing the multi piece construction with floating face and tungsten inserts to lower the center of gravity.
Looks and Feel
Many club manufacturers stay very traditional when it comes to forged cavity back and blade irons. But seeing as Adams put a bit more technology into XTD Forged series, they are decidedly more modern looking. This is not to say they are gaudy or ugly, but they will certainly never be confused with your dad’s old Hogan Apexes or Wilson Button Backs.
For starters, the clubhead has a somewhat matte finish, where most players’ irons — blades and cavity backs — tend to have chrome or satin finishes. The C-Taper shafts echo the look of the heads: matte steel rather than chrome or satin, which is modern and stylish without being ostentatious.
The XTD Forged clubheads are a little larger than those of many other irons in its peer group, but not so much so that they look boxy. Their amount of offset is closer to that of forged cavity back irons than true blades. The topline is thicker than one would expect from a true blade, but again, certainly not more so than most forged cavity back irons.
The top lines of the XTD Forged irons strikes a balance between thin and thick.
Feel-wise, there are no negative surprises with the XTD Forged irons. If you hit a shot solid, you will know it and you will love it. If not, well, that’s forged irons for you. Good players would not have it any other way; feedback in irons is important, after all. These irons will not unduly muffle contact on any part of the face. If you love the sensation and slightly higher-pitched “click” of contact with forged irons, you will enjoy the XTD Forged.
With the XTD Forged irons, Adams continues to establish itself as a major player in the irons category for lower handicappers. If you want to reap the agreed-upon benefits of forged irons — trim clubheads, easily discernible feel, shot workability — but are not ready to take the plunge into full-on blades, these irons deserve your serious consideration.
The XTD Forged irons come standard with one of the most popular steel shafts in golf, as well as high-end Iomic grips, which contribute to a higher price tag. However, the harmony of those big-ticket features produces a product that is worth a higher tariff for the ambitious golfer.