Short of only the TaylorMade Rocketballz, this year's Adams Fast 12 fairway woods are some of the most hyped in the business. They have feature after feature designed specifically to give golfers the most distance, not only on-center strikes but on off-center hits as well. It remains to be seen if their sale to TaylorMade-Adidas helps or hurts the company, but in recent years Adams has been putting out some of the best woods in golf, and this year seems to be no different.
With features such as second-generation Velocity Slot Technology (which includes a slot within a slot), Speed Coat design of the shaft, and Speedline aerodynamic design, Adams is not short on innovation. Adams is calling the Fast 12 fairways woods their "longest and most forgiving" yet, and are even claiming that Kenny Perry gained 35 yards. They say that the improved slot enhances launch conditions for more carry and greater distance.
This is a lot of hype for a company that has made it's marketing staple over the last decade "number one hybrid of the Champions Tour." Read on to see if they can back it up.
Design and Technology
When Adams introduced the Speedline series of woods a few years ago, they promised increased distance through improved aerodynamics. Though I've loved their drivers, the Speedline shape never quite fit fairways woods, and for a few years Adams made fairways metals that were oddly proportioned.
That changed last year. With the Speedline technology toned down, Adams began using what they call Velocity Slot Technology. Nike was the first major company to introduce something like this, when their Compression Channel was introduced a few years back, but Adams was the initial OEM to put this technology on both the sole and the crown of the clubhead. This is supposed improve performance on shots hit on both the top and bottom of the club face, making this the hottest fairway wood Adams has ever made.
This year they've turned that up a notch, with the introduction of a slot within a slot. Similar to the dimple-in-dimple design of some current golf balls (namely, those made by Top-Flite and Bridgestone), Adams' research indicates that, due to the technology, the Fast 12 is an 11% improvement over last year and a 22% improvement over a fairway wood without a Velocity Slot.
The Graffaloy ProLaunch Blue shaft is also designed to be faster than ever. Again derived from the dimples of a golf ball, Speed Coat is a roughened coating on the exterior of the shaft. When a golf ball flies through the air, a small space pocket of turbulence trails the ball. Simplistically speaking, dimples on a golf ball focus that turbulence directly behind the golf ball. Speed Coat is supposed to do the same thing.
You'll notice that absent from this is any mention of center of gravity, moment of intertia, or sole plates. Adams has put all of their production into the technology behind the Velocity Slot, hoping that the face and shaft will be the keys to long distance and straight ball flight.
The first time I saw pictures of the Fast 12 online I was extremely disappointed, and while I've come around some, I am still not enamored with the design. The entire club is matte; the head, the shaft; even the grip continues the "roughed up" look.
The sole of the club and the face are black with silver and blue accents, the crown is silver. I was initially worried about reflections off the bright crown, but the matte finish quashes that worry. Thankfully you don't have to look at the sole when you are actually hitting the ball, because it's not a particularly elegant design. I love the jet black, lacquered look of clubs like the Titleist 910F, but the matte finish makes this look like a boring grey.
When you look down at the club at address, it sets up nicely behind the ball. While I was initially worried that the slot on the crown would only serve to as an annoyance, it's actually a good tool to align the face.
Though the face does indeed have bounce and roll, the black finish makes it look very angular, and you get the allusion of increased loft. It makes the club look like a mid-iron, and for a club with a large head and a long shaft, that inspired a lot of confidence. Though the clubhead is noticeable larger than fairways woods of old, it retains the unmistakable look of a wood.
It's not "classic" in the sense that you could call a Titleist classic, but it's familiar shape tends to blend into the background upon address, and in my experience you don't notice the color after a while.
Like many of the new generation of fairway metals on the market, the Speedline Fast 12 is made for the tee box. Similar to clubs like the Rocketballz, the Nike VR_S, and the Cobra Amp, the Fast 12 gives up a little something for maximum distance from the tee Luckily, with the influx of hybrids that perform as well from the rough and the fairway as they do from the tee, that might not be much of a problem.
The first thing you'll notice when you sit the club behind the ball is the sheer size of this fairway wood. The shaft is very long, and the head is sizable. These both took a bit of time to get used to, but they effectively offset each other. (The long shaft makes it a bit tougher to hit square, the large face makes off-center hits come off a bit more fast.) From the tee box, the best approach I developed is to just treat it like a driver. Tee it high and let it fly.
The feel is spectacular. It's very driver-like, not something you would be looking for in a Titleist, but in a distance-oriented Adams, it works. Though Adams has made a few titanium fairway woods, this one is steel, and the large clubhead gives off a very appealing "thwack" sound, especially when the ball is teed up.
I obviously cannot say for sure it is because of the Velocity Slots, but the face is hot. It is, plain and simple, among the hottest I've ever played. The ProLaunch Blue is a very stable shaft, just begging for you do go after it. It plays, if anything, slightly stiffer than I expected it to, but that fits the profile of this club.
As I've mentioned, the Fast 12 is right at home from the tee box, but the hairier your lie gets the tougher it becomes to hit. The long shaft and large head are perfectly suited to shape the ball all over the place from the tee, but I found it troublesome to work the ball from the fairway, and workability was nonexistent from the rough.
I'm generally good at putting a bit of sidespin on the ball, but it's tough to impart draw spin from the short grass. Similar to hitting a driver off the deck, I found it easier to come slightly over the top and hit a fade. I rarely play a fairway wood from the rough (instead opting for my 2-hybrid), but for the sake of science I bit the bullet and tried a few with the Fast 12. The deep face actually made the club plenty easy from tall grass, but the shaft is simply too big and contact was too unpredictable. I was able to hoist the ball into the air surprisingly well, but that was also part of the problem.
This club simply will not hit low shots. Try and try as I may, I couldn't hit much of a knockdown. From most lies this isn't a problem, and it gave my ball a bit more bite when I was going for the green, but from the rough I found new and spectacular ways to hit overhanging trees. If you struggle to get the ball in that air that can be a good thing, but as someone who occasionally battles ballooning the ball, that was a drawback for me. I can only imagine what it would have been like with a livelier shaft.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, despite its size this club is extremely light. That leads to tremendous distance (I easily got 12 more yards off the tee than my aging Titleist 906F), but it only adds to the Fast 12's rough woes.
The Fast 12 fairway wood comes with a Graffaloy ProLaunch Blue shaft. Though not quite as long as some other fairway woods on the market, this shaft is very long, bordering on what you would have found in a driver a dozen years ago.
It also comes with the Adams Tour Elite Plus grip, which is, in my opinion, one of the best stock grips you will find. The head cover is a breeze to take off but the structured upper section makes putting it back on a bit trickier.
The Speedline Fast 12 fairway woods retail at $200. That's a pretty good price compared to other fairway woods with similar technology, some of which go for $250 or $300.
Club Face Loft Length Lie Swing Weight Head Flexes ---- ---- ---- ------ --- ------------ ----- ------ 3+W Square 13.5° 44.5" 58° D2 R R,S,X 3W Square 15° 43" 58° D2 R,L R,S,X 5W Square 17° 42.5" 58.5° D2 R,L R,S,X 3W Draw 15° 43" 58° D2 R,L A,R,S,X 5W Draw 17° 42.5" 58.5° D2 R,L A,R,S,X 7W Draw 19° 42" 58.5° D2 R A,R,S,X
Though golf clubs are usually categorized by the character profile they fit (low-, mid-, or high-handicapper), the Adams Speedline Fast 12 fairway woods do not fit that description. If you're looking for something that can get you out of tough situations and pick the ball from tight lies, look elsewhere. If you are looking to keep the ball under the wind and bend it like Bubba, again, this might not be the club for you.
But if you need something to hit the ball mammoth distances, a club to replace your driver on a day when your swing is a little wonky, and a club that gets the ball in the air, look no further. Adams has built a fairway wood that is very stable through the shot, one that rockets the ball off the face, and one that retails for a very fair price. It's among the best of this new age of driver-fairway wood mixtures, and I intend on keeping it in my bag for some time.