About a year ago, TaylorMade-adidas Golf announced that they had acquired Adams Golf for roughly $70 million, a large sum of money but a price that the most profitable company in golf was willing to fork over. Adams had purchased the putter makers Yes! a few years prior, and between the two they held a sizable sum of patents, all of which TaylorMade now controls.
Adams has become TM's little brother; a place for the big boys to take risks, test things out, and share in the mutual spoils. TaylorMade has worked to integrate aerodynamics from Adams, and, as the crowns of this Super S line of woods show, Adams has integrated some of TM's technology into their own clubs.
The Super S fairway woods are along the lines with what Adams has been cranking out for a few years now (including the Fast 12s that I reviewed last year), but the hybrids are a bit of a departure. Adams held onto a more iron-like hybrid design much longer than most OEMs, but they too have transitioned to a more fairway wood-like sole and crown design.
Has Adams managed to balance their own traditional design with the influence of TaylorMade? Read on to find out.
Design and Technology
The technology incorporated into the Super S fairway woods and hybrids is threefold: first, a refined crown slot, second, a Cut-Thru sole slot, and third, a matte white crown with easier to aim alignment designs.
The crown slot is nothing new, both TaylorMade and Adams have been incorporating it in their designs for several years now. While they advertised second-generation Velocity Slot Technology in last year's Fast 12, the slit in the crown of the Super S fairways and hybrids has been refined. They've gone the TaylorMade route, essentially, using a thinner, deeper slot that extends farther towards the heel and toe of the clubface. From an engineering standpoint I was rather perplexed with the wider, more square slot on last year's model, so the refinement is certainly welcome.
The Cut-Thru sole features the same refinement from last year's model, with Adams going towards an thinner, more TaylorMade-like design. Adams' selling point here is that the characteristic time has been increased to 230 µs, which is inching towards the USGA limit. If you didn't know what characteristic time is you're not alone, I had heard of the term but had to look up the exact definition. It's basically part of the way the USGA measures the spring-like effect of a clubface. After placing the club in a pendulum, the face is struck against a metal sphere, and the time of impact is recorded. A longer characteristic time means a longer impact, and more spring-like effect. The USGA's effective maximum is 257 µs.
Adams says that 230 µs is a value they usually see in drivers, which I'll take their word for, but I have absolutely no basis for comparison.
Anyway, speaking of RocketBallz, the crown on the Super S woods and hybrids might remind you of big brother TM's 2013 woods. The toe end of the club has two grey rounded lines, which intersect the word "Speedline" on the heel side of the fairway woods and "Super" for the hybrids, written in red. This forms a triangle that Adams says is supposed to aid in alignment. The crown is the same matte white finish found on TaylorMade woods, and the face is painted a contrasting jet black. Adams says that this makes the club look bigger than it actually is, which should serve to increase confidence.
I have only one problem with this (and allow me to nerd out a little bit): There's an annoying lack of consistency. Both the fairway and hybrid have the name, "Super S." In addition, the fairways fall under Adams' "Speedline" brand, while the hybrids are part of the "Idea" lineup. I get that. But what I don't get is the labelling of the crowns. The fairways have the "Speedline" script, while the hybrids say "Super" (scroll down a bit to see for yourself what I'm saying). For symmetry's sake, either both should say "Speeline," or the hybrid should say "Idea." Right?
The first thing you'll notice about both the fairway woods and the hybrids is the size. These are 2013-sized clubs. The fairway woods are meant to be more at home from the tee box, as are the hybrids, so Adams have extended both clubs towards the rear.
The crown is a matte white color, as I mentioned above, and appears to be pretty much exactly the type of finish that TaylorMade has been using lately. As I said in my review of the Nike VR_S Covert drivers, I'm not a fan of that white matte finish on drivers. It makes really exacerbates the "titanium balloon on a stick" look, and with a club that's already 460cc, that's not something I want to look down at.
With these shorter clubs, however, that's not as much of a problem. Adams says that the color is meant to make them look bigger than they actually are and, boy, does it ever. When I reviewed the Fast 12 last year I was worried that going from a smaller Titleist 906F to a larger clubhead would make it difficult to make solid contact off the deck, and I hold that same apprehension with these clubs. My worries proved to be unfounded with the Fast 12, but that club had a silver clubface, a wider crown slot, and no visible graphics. The Super S fairway is actually nine cubic centimenters smaller than the Fast 12, but it sure does not look it.
Going in, I was even more worried about the hybrid. I've been using the same Mizuno MX700 hybrid for the last four or so years, and while that clubhead isn't anything like the old Fli-Hi hybrids, the sole is much smaller than that of the Super S. The model I received is 17 degrees, which looks more like an early-2000s 7-wood than anything.
The sole and face of both the fairway wood and hybrid is a matte black, with silver and red accents, which does provide a nice contrast against the white face. The middle section is fashioned to look like a sole plate, though it is the same steel material that the entire clubheads are crafted from (and not a more dense metal like tungsten).
Upon hitting these clubs for the first time, I noticed a few oddities. First, the hybird's shaft was rather short, shorter in fact that the stock shaft from my Mizuno MX700 (not exactly a company known for long clubs). The shaft was hardly longer than that on my 3-iron. Second, both the hybrid and the fairway woods hit the ball low.
Both seemed strange. Now that Adams is a part of TaylorMade, I assumed that the shafts would be extra long, especially since the Super S is the higher-handicap line of clubs in comparison to the Super LS. I'll get to the ramifications in a moment.
The height thing was slightly more strange. Last year I switched from a small-headed Titleist fairway wood to the Adams Fast 12, and I did that because I very rarely hit the 3-wood off the deck. The Fast 12's larger clubface provided a bit more room for error off the tee.
In comparison, the Super S wood and hybrid have both clearly been built to hit the ball high. The head of the fairway wood is shallower and extends farther back than the head of the Fast 12, and yet the ball simply didn't launch as high.
That's not to say I lost distance, at least with the fairway wood. It didn't carry as far because of the lower launch, but the roll I got more than made up for that. This was fine, maybe even advantageous, on tee shots. The booming trajectory was great. From the fairway though, I wasn't quite as impressed. The thing I liked most about the Fast 12 was that there wasn't a huge compromise; that is, I could hit the ball high enough off that fairway that the ball landed softly. The Super S, however, isn't as easy to get to stop on the green.
That wasn't quite as apparent with the hybrid, but the difficulties with getting air under the ball and getting it to stop were still there. With the hybrid I did in fact lose a few yards.
There's one other thing I should get to here, and that's the lack of adjustability. It's 2013, and if you're still making fairway woods and hybrids without hosel adjustability, you're behind the times, even at these price points. It doesn't have to be full-on R1 craziness with the three points of adjustability, but even a simple open/neutral/closed adjuster would have been welcome.
The fairway woods come with a Matrix Radix S - 60 shaft, while the hybrids are equipped with Matrix Kujoh 75 shafts. Other than the length weirdness, I liked both shafts. They felt maybe ever so slightly soft, but I did always feel like I could load then up for a little extra power. They are all available in a-flex, regular, stiff, and x-flex.
Both clubs come with strange headcovers. I liked the hybrid cover some because it had a sock (most hybrid headcovers don't have them, and tend to fall off easily), but the fairway wood cover was downright dreadful. It is white and black, and is closer to a straight cylinder than a traditional headcover. It has no sock and (like the cover for the hybrid) is not angled to fit the clubhead. It fell off constantly, swallowed up the alignment stakes and irons in my bag, and didn't provide adequate protection for the club.
This is obviously not something that should factor into the buying decision, but the Fast 12's headcover was awesome last year, and I'm very disappointed that they felt the need to change anything.
Both clubs come with the Adams Tour Elite grips, which are some of the nicest stock grips I've ever used. Most models are available for righties and lefties.
Adams Speedline Super S Fairway Woods
Club Loft Lie Length ---- ---- --- ------ 3+W 13.5˚ 58.5˚ 43.5" 3W 15˚ 58.5˚ 43" 5W 18˚ 58.5˚ 42.5"
Adams Idea Super S Hybrids
Club Loft Lie Length ---- ---- --- ------ 1H 15˚ 56˚ 41.5" 2H 17˚ 56.5˚ 40.75" 3H 19˚ 57˚ 40" 4H 22˚ 57.5˚ 39.25" 5H 25˚ 58˚ 38.5" 6H 28˚ 58.5˚ 37.875"
I like both of these clubs, I really do. Adams has never been a company that will blow you away with flashy marketing and exaggerated claims, and for that I can't fault them. But sometimes exaggerated claims have a grain of truth to them.
TaylorMade-Adidas has positioned Adams Golf as their sort of "little brother" brand, a place where they can experiment, test out innovation, and keep costs down. And I can appreciate that, but you get what you pay for. You're not getting the full RocketBallz experience (nor should you expect it), but you are getting something very nice at a solid price.
Adams has long been near the top of the industry in the worlds of hybrids and fairway woods, and while neither Super S models blew me away, you would be doing yourself a strong disservice to overlook either models.