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Barney Adams introduces himself as a GolfWRX Contributor

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Hello GolfWRX readers. Let me introduce myself, as I’m about to write a series of columns for the site. The initial effort will be a six-part series on the drop in participation and what can be done. After that columns will reflect comments directed by you, the readers.

My name is Barney Adams and as I understand it many of you are younger, avid golfers. So why would you be interested in reading anything from a relic like me who doesn’t use any of today’s social media?

Well, to start, I used to be you. Only now I have a lot more experience, so you can ask me whatever you want about the game or equipment and you’ll get a straight answer. Back in the persimmon and balata days I was a decent player; a 2-to-3 handicap for many years. I was never considered professional material (not because of a lack of time, but because of a lack of talent), however, I did get on the occasional streak, have broken 70 dozens of times and have a tournament registered low of 64 (with a double bogey, I might add, which I remember vividly some 40 years later).

Later when I got into the club business, I worked as a club fitter down range from Hank Haney and his teaching staff. This was when I was trying to develop my own line of clubs and the hands-on experience was invaluable. In those days prudent observation would have me going broke any day, so as a back-up plan I studied teaching methods. Fortunately, I got lucky with a club I designed called the Tight Lies and it provided a platform for Adams Golf to become a real company. Along the way I have repaired clubs, picked up eight patents on designs and came up with some good ideas: some that I’d rather forget. I still have a shirt with embedded epoxy as a keepsake from my assembly days.

I provide all this personal data not to try and impress anyone or reflect upon days gone by, but because I hope it opens the door so you will ask questions that I’ll attempt to answer publicly. I’m not affiliated with any golf company, and you can be assured you’ll get straight answers. That’s the type of dialogue that’s important to me.

My first six columns will be a series on declining amateur participation in golf. For those of us who love the game and want to see it flourish, this is a serious issue. I first started writing about this three years ago and it wasn’t a subject some in the industry wanted openly discussed. There is an old saying that I first heard when I was working in the Silicon Valley decades ago:

“You can always tell the pioneers. They are the ones with arrows in their backs.”

Now that I’m 75, I’m far more concerned about the status of my aching back than some golf twit who doesn’t think it’s proper to discuss the players leaving the game. The erosion has continued and today it’s become a popular issue for discussion. So what I’ve done is trace the pattern, offer insight as to why its happening and propose a definitive solution.

You may notice the occasional attempt at humor and that I’m an equal opportunity offender.

So here my email: [email protected]. You might want to table any questions until the series has run its course, but if you’d rather send them now I’ll hold onto them and respond as soon as I can.

I’m very interested to see where this goes, and am looking forward to your feedback and questions. Thank you in advance for reading and your support of this game I love so much.

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Barney Adams is the founder of Adams Golf and the inventor of the iconic "Tight Lies" fairway wood. He served as Chairman of the Board for Adams until 2012, when the company was purchased by TaylorMade-Adidas. Adams is one of golf's most distinguished entrepreneurs, receiving honors such as Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 1999 and the 2010 Ernie Sabayrac Award for lifetime contribution to the golf industry by the PGA of America. His journey in the golf industry started as as a club fitter, however, and has the epoxy filled shirts as a testimony to his days as an assembler. Have an equipment question? Adams holds seven patents on club design and has conducted research on every club in the bag. He welcomes your equipment questions through email at [email protected] Adams is now retired from the golf equipment industry, but his passion for the game endures through his writing. He is the author of "The WOW Factor," a book published in 2008 that offers an insider's view of the golf industry and business advice to entrepreneurs, and he continues to contribute articles to outlets like GolfWRX that offer his solutions to grow the game of golf.

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. tbowles411

    Jun 23, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Well, this is just cool. Think I can stop in on my next trip to Dallas in a month? 🙂

  2. Ken

    Jun 17, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Welcome to the Golfwrx site!!! I have always respected your insight and look forward to all of your future columns.

    I’ve been a long-time Adams user. Started as most with the Tight Lies FW’s, but I’ve always loved Adams irons. Over the years I’ve played the GT Performance, GT Tour, GT Ultimate, and now the Adams CMB. Really looking forward to your input.

  3. Clarkson Golf Alumni

    Jun 16, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    I played golf at your alma mater, Clarkson University. The one thing I’ve always wanted to ask is why Adams Golf was not involved at all with our golf program. We used Ogio bags and later Ping. No players on the team used any Adams clubs. It wasn’t that we didn’t like your equipment, it was the fact that Adams was one of the manufacturers that we didn’t get a discount from. My teammates and I presumed you would have wanted us to have Adams/Clarkson golf shirts and Adams/Clarkson bags rather than other manufacturers. Like all our golf equipment, we didn’t expect it for free, but the fact we didn’t even receive a discount was puzzling. I frequent the golfwrx forums and now that you are posting, I had to ask.

    Thanks.

    • Barney adama

      Jun 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      Years ago there was a problem with my old Fraternity. I called the office of the then President to see if I could get any details. A spokesman told me to go away. I asked again saying I was just curious and was told to go away that the school wasn’t interested in anything I had to say. I then asked them to mark my file ” deceased ” that was President Brown. Now the school has Tony Collins a great guy. Of course now I can’t do anything because I have no affiliation.

  4. RG

    Jun 16, 2014 at 4:00 am

    Mr. Adams,
    Thank you! Your clubs have given me joy and confidence in abundance through the years. I can’t wait for your articles and insights. Swing away!!

  5. LB

    Jun 14, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    This is fantastic, can’t wait to read what you have to say. And congrats on a stellar career. Your company was churning out remarkably performing clubs in every category which is a credit to your leadership.

    Tee it forward I agree is a misnomer. If you are left with long irons into every approach shot you need to move up, plain and simple. My biggest issue with slow play is those that don’t recognize it or don’t care, when every group is backed up and they make no effort to get going.

    Outside of that, the game is what it always has been. There’s simply less time to get away in 2014.

  6. Greg Hunter

    Jun 14, 2014 at 12:54 am

    That’s awesome to have someone with the background and street knowledge. It will be cool to ask questions!

  7. makaveli

    Jun 13, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Welcome to the best golf site ever Barney.

  8. paul

    Jun 13, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Welcome Mr. Adams. I loved my first set of golf clubs, a set of Adams I picked up on a garage sale. In regards to growing the game, I think it is not going to happen for a while. The bubble burst, now things are going back to normal. Where I live in Canada golf is still thriving. The reason is because our local economy is strong, and even trades people make enough money to go play. We also have time because courses around here were built a long time ago and only one or two are crazy long. The big problem is our culture doesn’t share the values that are built into the core of golf, and that’s why more people don’t play.

  9. John Wunder

    Jun 13, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Simply Amazing. This site never ceases to surprise me!

    Welcome Mr. Adams!

  10. Dave Davis

    Jun 13, 2014 at 7:40 am

    As a fitness contributing writer I Welcome you Barney, looking forward to your additions. I know i will have questions as an aspiring golfer trying to improve my game.

  11. 4pillars

    Jun 13, 2014 at 6:05 am

    Barney

    As a very successful designer of Hybrids how do you feel they should be hit off the deck

    hit down like an iron, or a sweeping action like a wood.

    I see advice from different coaches on this and wondered how you designed them to be hit.

    Thanks

  12. Jim Gilbreath

    Jun 13, 2014 at 12:29 am

    I am very pleased that Barney Adams will be a regular contributor, especially with the topic of the first six. I have read a lot of his writing in the past 2 years. I am a big fan of Tee It Forward, and have promoted that as much as possible at my home club, and with some success. We are also participating in the PGA of America’s Family Tee program, but it’s hard to get people to move up that far.

  13. Tommy

    Jun 12, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Welcome to the WRX community Mr. Adams. When I was 11 years old I had a go-to club, an Adams Tight Lies 5 wood, it was my favorite club and used it for everything. I cannot wait to hear your knowledge about the future of golf.

  14. EF

    Jun 12, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    I’m going to try to say this nicely because you seem like a nice guy. But if your first article has anything to do with teeing it forward, 15″ cups, only playing 9 holes at a time, slowing the greens down to 3 on the stimp meter or generally not following any of the rules of golf, I won’t be reading any further in the series. Those topics have been absolutely brutalized to death at this point. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on on those issues, they are at minimum completely belabored at this point. But I’m just getting a feeling that article 1 will be something about teeing it forward. And if that’s the case, there’s already about a hundred such articles already on this site.

    You know a really good idea for an article on declining participation? How about peeling back the layers from the items I noted above and taking a real look at it. Want an even better idea? How about an article on whether it really matters to the future of the game whether it grows.

    • John

      Jun 13, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      How can they be “brutalized to death” when it still takes five hours to play 18?
      I’d hold your fire a little bit until the man has an opportunity to actually write something. There may be more layer peeling than you think.

    • Barney adama

      Jun 14, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      Hit like a 5 iron

    • Barney adama

      Jun 14, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      A) I’m not really a nice guy I’m much too blunt. b) teeing it forward is a misnomer which I will explain , I don’t favor anything that breaks the rules. As to taking a hard look and whether it matters ; read on.

  15. Reid

    Jun 12, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    It’s so awesome to see you here Mr Adams. I’ve been a fan of yours since day one with the Tight Lies. I think your innovation to the game is something that many of the newer/younger golfers don’t realize when they pick up a hybrid and fairway wood. Although the brand may not be Adams, the innovations you developed so long ago are shared so many times over throughout the equipment lines. Welcome and Aloha!

  16. Ken

    Jun 12, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Welcome, sir. This is the kind of thing that truly adds value to WRX. I find this preferable to some guy asking whether I play better in black or khaki. Looking forward to your columns.

    Ken
    Adams in the bag

  17. Sean

    Jun 12, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Welcome! I’m a big proponent of teeing it forward Barney, and have talked about it extensively, unfortunately not many agree. I think if more people did tee it forward they would enjoy the game more. Perhaps one of the reasons people do leave the game is frustration? If so, teeing it forward may be one way to keep them around. 🙂

  18. Tom Stickney

    Jun 12, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Awesome guy; met him in palm desert several times…always friendly! Welcome.

  19. Clem

    Jun 12, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Barney I’m looking forward to your comments and insights into the game of golf. As well as what can be done to increase the participation of young and older players to this great game.

  20. John Muir

    Jun 12, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Excited to hear this news, Barney. You were a subscriber to my golf equipment newsletter some time ago and I always appreciated your input/notes to me.

    John Muir

  21. Jason Hat

    Jun 12, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Looking forward to reading your articles. Thanks for your time here.

  22. Chuck

    Jun 12, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Barney thank you for taking the time to write and for sharing your invaluable knowledge.

    I hope you’ll answer this question at some point in the series: Why not rollback the USGA’s testing specs on golf balls?

    It doesn’t seem to me to be much of a threat to the golf CLUB business. We’re all great lovers of golf clubs and technology on this site. Some of us are great lovers of classic golf course architecture. I know of virtually nobody, apart from Wally Uihlein and the people he pays, who are particular fans of golf BALLS.

    Is it not conceivable, that if golf ball specs were significantly altered, that the change might well result in a boost to equipment sales, as players adjusted their club choices to better match new balls?

    As for general distance gains for recreational players, the data seems inconclusive. Some experts claim that technology (that has unquestionably revolutionized elite-level golf) has done little to change recreational golf. Other experts claim that technology (THEIR technology, most often) is significant and essential to growing the game. Do you take a side? If so, what’s your evidence?

    • John

      Jun 13, 2014 at 1:56 am

      Great question, and great idea. I am not looking forward to 8,000 yard courses, and neither is the water table. Too much land, resources etc. When Bubba hit a gap wedge into 13 at Augusta, I just thought something has to be done. I also agree that the club manufacturers wouldn’t lose anything with a ball rollback, they might even gain as the original poster pointed out as people adjusted their set ups for playing golf instead of bombing golf.
      The ball is ruining the game.

    • Barney adama

      Jun 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Will address golf balls in a future column.

  23. Steve Barry

    Jun 12, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Welcome to the site Barney, I’m sure you’ll have a ton of great info to add with coming from such experience. Looking forward to your additions!

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What really makes a wedge work?

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Having been in the wedge business for over thirty years now, and having focused my entire life’s work on how to make wedges work better, one of my biggest frustrations is how under-informed most golfers are about wedges in general, and how misinformed most are about the elements of a wedge that really affect performance.

That under-informed and misinformed “double whammy” helps make the wedge category to be the least dynamic of the entire golf equipment industry. Consider this if you will. Golfers carry only one driver and only one putter, but an average of three wedges. BUT – and it’s a big “but” – every year, unit sales of both drivers and putters are more than double the unit sales of wedges.
So why is that?

Over those thirty-plus years, I have conducted numerous surveys of golfers to ask that very question, and I’ve complemented that statistical insight with hundreds of one-on-one interviews with golfers of all skill levels. My key takeaways are:

  • Most golfers have not had a track record of improved performance with new wedges that mirror their positive experience with a new driver or putter.
  • A large percentage of golfers consider their wedge play to be one of the weaker parts of their games.
  • And most golfers do not really understand that wedge play is the most challenging aspect of golf.
  • On that last point, I wrote a post almost two years ago addressing this very subject, “Why Wedge Mastery Is So Elusive” (read it here).

So now let’s dive into what really makes a wedge work. In essence, wedges are not that much different from all the other clubs in our bags. The three key elements that make any club do what it does are:

  • The distribution of mass around the clubhead
  • The shaft characteristics
  • The specifications for weight, shaft length and lie angle

Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up.

For any golf club to perform to its optimum for a given golfer, these three key measurements must be correct. Shaft length and lie angle work together to help that golfer deliver the clubhead to the ball as accurately as possible time and again. If either spec is off even a little bit, quality contact will be sacrificed. The overall weight of the club is much more critical than the mystical “swing weight”, and I’ve always believed that in wedges, that overall weight should be slightly heavier than the set-match 9-iron, but not dramatically so.

We encounter so many golfers who have migrated to light steel or graphite shafts in their irons, but are still trying to play off-the-rack wedges with their heavy stiff steel shafts that complete prohibit the making of a consistent swing evolution from their short irons to their wedges.

That leads to the consistent observation that so many golfers completely ignore the shaft specifics in their wedges, even after undergoing a custom fitting of their irons to try to get the right shaft to optimize performance through the set. The fact is, to optimize performance your wedges need to be pretty consistent with your irons in shaft weight, material and flex.

Now it’s time to dive into the design of a wedge head, expanding on what I wrote in that post of two years ago (please go back to that link and read it again!)

The wedge “wizards” would have you believe that the only things that matter in wedge design are “grooves and grinds.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Grooves can only do so much, and their primary purpose is the same as the tread on your tires – to channel away moisture and matter to allow more of the clubface to contact the ball. In our robotic testing of Edison Forged wedges – on a dry ball – the complete absence of grooves only reduced spin by 15 percent! But, when you add moisture and/or matter, that changes dramatically.

Understand the USGA hasn’t changed the Rules of Golf that govern groove geometry in over 12 years, and every company serious about their wedge product pushes those rules to the limit. There is no story here!
For years, I have consistently taken umbrage to the constant drivel about “grinds.” The fact is that you will encounter every kind of lie and turf imaginable during the life of your wedges, and unless you are an elite tour-caliber player, it is unlikely you can discern the difference from one specialized grind to another.

Almost all wedge sole designs are pretty darn good, once you learn how to use the bounce to your advantage, but that’s a post for another time.

Now, the clubhead.

Very simply, what makes any golf club work – and wedges are no different – is the way mass is distributed around the clubhead. Period.

All modern drivers are about the same, with subtle nuanced differences from brand to brand. Likewise, there are only about four distinctly different kinds of irons: Single piece tour blades, modern distance blades with internal technologies, game improvement designs with accented perimeter weighting and whatever a “super game improvement iron” is. Fairways, hybrids, even putters are sold primarily by touting the design parameters of the clubhead.

So, why not wedges?]

This has gotten long, so next week I’ll dive into “The anatomy of a wedge head.”

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: 2023 PGA Merchandise Show recap

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All the new interesting things we enjoyed and appreciated.

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Opinion & Analysis

2023 Ras Al Khaimah Championship: Betting Tips & Selections

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The conclusion to last week’s Dubai Desert Classic was almost perfection.

The scant amount of viewers on a Monday morning would have been treated to a surely scripted play-off between world number one Rory McIlroy and his LIV nemesis Patrick Reed, bar that damned 13-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole. It was, of course, a fitting start to the year for the world number one, and an ending that the week deserved after ‘Tee Gate to Tree Gate,’.

With our main man, Lucas Herbert, playing some sublime golf in behind and finishing strongly in third despite the absence of luck on the Saturday greens, it showed the DP World Tour in a cracking light.

It’s a shame this week doesn’t.

We move from the quality of Dubai to a standard DPWT field and, while favourite Adrian Meronk is improving fast and now up to 52nd in the rankings, the long,wide, forgiving nature of Al Hamra makes this nothing more than a bosh-it, find it, hit it, putt it, competition. Links-like it may be, but with no wind forecast, this won’t hit anywhere near the heights of the previous two weeks.

Previous DPWT winners here – Ryan Fox and Nicolai Hojgaard – suggest length is the one factor that separates the medalists from the also-rans and is the key factor behind high-level tee-to-green numbers, certainly rather than accuracy.

There isn’t really any option but to look at the handful of true links players at the top and it’s only narrowly that Victor Perez gets the vote.

Splitting last year’s winners (for there were two Al Hamra events in 2022) Ryan Fox and Nicolai Hojgaard is tough but I’ve always felt the Frenchman is capable of a higher level of play and he is the selection in front of favourite Meronk, even if they both have similar course and recent form.

I rarely get him right – backing him twice over the last six months – even if he has won two titles in the space of seven months.

Still, this is another day for the Frenchman (and me) and for a winner of the Dunhill Links, the Dutch Open and three weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, he may actually be overpriced at 16/1.

It’s tough to find any better ‘standard level’ links form lines than beating the likes of Matt Southgate, Joakim Lagergren, Tommy Fleetwood, Tom Lewis and pals in Scotland, and beating Fox in a play-off at Bernadus Golf. However, he was at it again at Yas Links, leaving behind the names Min Woo Lee, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren and Tyrrell Hatton – all synonymous with the test he faces this week, on the same paspalum greens and with opposition of higher class than three-quarters of this week’s field.

Perez looks to have produced evidence that a golfer is at their peak at 30-years of age producing an outstanding bunker shot to win his latest trophy, with a sound coming off the club reminiscent of his play at Wentworth in 2020, when splitting Hatton and Patrick Reed.

Watch Perez trophy-winning shot here!

Although this is his first outing here on the DPWT, he has a seventh and second place from two outings on the Challenge Tour and he is in the right form to take those figures one better.

Third for total driving over the last six months, Perez ranks in the top-10 for ball-striking over the same period (11th over three months) and arrives here in confident mood, telling reporters:

“I’m looking forward to playing at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship for the first time. I got the season off to a great start at the Hero Cup followed by my first Rolex Series win in Abu Dhabi, so this is a great chance to keep the momentum going and secure more Race to Dubai and Ryder Cup points,” before adding:

“I’m playing great golf at the moment, and I’m hoping it continues in Ras Al Khaimah.”

Perez is a confident selection, but back him up with another proven rip-it merchant in Callum Shinkwin, who has come in a few points since the market opened but justifies the move after an excellent top five in Dubai.

First thing we know about the three-time winner is he hits it a mile, ranking in the top-10 for off-the-tee ten times since the start of the 2022 season, including being in the top three in the two events 12 months ago. That itself is worth noting, as are his best efforts away from the victories- at Fairmont, the Dunhill Links and last week in Dubai, all with pointers to this week’s test.

There was nothing wrong with mid-20 finishes here last year, the first just a couple of days after destroying the course in a fun Texas Scramble pairs, and he will surely take comfort in lying up there with Rory McIlroy last Monday, matching those final two birdies.

Another around that ‘magic’ age, this is a course that will give Shinks every opportunity to play shorter irons into the targets and, with last week’s top-10 ranking for putting, this may be the time to go with the Moor Park magician.

I can’t see a shock result here this week – the top lot have perfect conditions in which to show their class – but I’ll be looking at the top-10/20 markets for the following:

Tapio Pulkkanen – Trilby-wearing Finn that hits the ball a country mile. Trouble is, half the time he does not know in which direction it’s travelling. Here, with accuracy not a factor, he can take inspiration from last season’s seventh place in the first of the back-to-back events, when a three-over back-nine cost him a place in the medals.

20th just seven days later shows he can play the track, whilst best efforts over the last 12 months include a third place at the Czech Masters, 10th at the Dunhill Links and third in Portugal, again all events with a leaning to the type he’ll take part in this week. Given his tied-second in Prague a year earlier, we can surmise he repeats form at tracks that suit.

It isn’t impossible he suddenly finds his form on tour, and with an inkling he’ll ‘do a JB Hansen’ and go crackers for a spell. This would seem the perfect place to start.

Julien Guerrier – Third at Hillside and Celtic Manor last season show the former winner of The Amateur Championship (at Royal St. George’s) still has what it takes to compete at this slightly lower level. Add top-15 finishes at Denmark, Spain, Germany and Mauritius – all with front-rank putting stats – and it’s easy to see the two-time Challenge Tour winner having some effect in the top-20 market.

A sixth and eighth-placed finish at the Rocco Forte in Sicily behind Lagergren and Alvaro Quiros (both who turn up when they sniff links from a mile away) reads well, and his repeat performances at his home country, Portugal, Spain and Prague show he performs where he has good memories.

With four outings here, split between the Challenge Tour and the DPWT, the Frenchman can continue an improving course record of 19/13/9.

Jack Senior – I’m convinced that 34-year-old Senior is a better player than his current ranking outside of the top-500 in the world, and although it has been a while since his win at Galgorm Castle in 2019, he has racked up top-10 finishes at Gran Canaria, the Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club (behind Min Woo Lee, Thomas Detry and Matt Fitzpatrick), Mallorca and on the Spanish mainland.

Back at Galgorm, he was tied-13th last year, a repeat result that sits nicely with his 23rd in Mallorca, and top-20s in Prague and Denmark, courses already highlighted as associates to Al Hamra.

I’m happy to ignore last week’s missed cut as it was his first outing since October, and he’s of enough interest back on a course on which he has a sixth, 11th and 19th place finish in three tries at the lower level.

I’m expecting one of the top eight or 10 to prove too good, but these events often throw up names on a surprise leaderboard, and it will take just one hotter-than-normal week with the putter for that to happen.

Recommended Bets:

Victor Perez – WIN

Callum Shinkwin – WIN/TOP-5

Julien Guerrier – TOP-10 TOP-20

Tapio Pulkkanen – TOP-10 TOP-20

Jack Senior – TOP-10 TOP-20

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