By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Images courtesy of Adams Golf
PLANO, TX – It’s only natural – when you do good work, you want to be acknowledged.
Lack of recognition was the dilemma facing Adams Golf when conceptualizing its new Pro Hybrid, the company’s latest offering in the ultra-competitive hybrid club category. The Plano, Texas-based Adams is widely known for being the hybrid most preferred by professionals – but still struggles for appreciation alongside the “big boys” in golf club manufacturing.
“We’ve been the #1 hybrid on Tour for almost ten years now,” commented Michael Fox, Adams’ Director of Global Product Manufacturing. “As of 2013, we had the #1 position on the top ten Tours in the world. On the PGA Tour, we’re pushing 50% in terms of the hybrids that are in play.”
Considering Adams has only six staff players (now including Ernie Els), that’s a pretty significant stat.
Club counts show Adams having from 40-60 hybrids in play on the PGA Tour in any given week, but with 20-30 different models represented. In other words, there isn’t one dominant club there, though the brand is strong throughout.
TaylorMade has its SLDR driver, which is the number one driver on Tour and Titleist has the Pro V1/Pro V1X golf ball, the highest played ball on Tour. Adams needed one model of hybrid that would help it break through on the recognition front.
“Everyone knows Adams is the #1 hybrid on Tour, but we’re not yet the #1 hybrid in the marketplace. So the challenge for us was pretty simple: we needed to create the clear, dominant #1 model of hybrid for the PGA Tour – but the trick was that it also needed to work for everybody else, too,” Fox said.
“The line that ‘what wins on Sunday sells on Monday’ is as accurate as anything and it’s been true for a long time. We’re getting plenty of guys to play our clubs and we’re winning lots of tournaments, but the problem is no one knows what to buy in the stores. More so, no one knows what to support when someone goes in looking for a hybrid,” Fox added.
In response, Adams developed a number of prototypes and submitted them to players on the PGA Tour. In the middle of last year (2013), Adams’ Tour reps said the Pro was the “winner.” The company then tested the same model with its player testing group (zero to fifteen handicaps) – and the Pro came out as the longest, highest-launching, most accurate steel hybrid Adams has ever offered.
Bingo. The Pro would be the number one model on Tour, and it also helps everyone else.
“We decided to call it the Pro Hybrid – not because it’s only for better players, but so that people will realize it’s the #1 model on Tour. And when anyone looks at it, it’s not small, it’s not intimidating… It’s really an easy to hit, nice size hybrid,” Fox elaborated.
The characteristics that allow the Pro Hybrid to work so well for all types of players is upside-down technology, which the company has patented. As a result, Adams is the only manufacturer able to build a product bigger on the bottom of the golf club than on the top.
(Note: Fox says everyone else must use what is typically called the “Warbird” design, after the Callaway Warbird – which means it’s very small at the bottom.)
Why does it matter? Players tend to hit hybrids towards the bottom of the golf club.
Tour players like hybrids because that’s where they hit the ball… it’s a little of an anti-left club for them. It’s a club they can work much better as well. For average golfers, the upside-down design gives them more surface area towards the bottom of the club -- but it likewise lowers the center-of-gravity and makes it much easier to hit.
So why switch to hybrids in the first place? Hybrids were originally introduced to substitute for difficult-to-hit long irons, but they’re also moving into the domain of fairway woods.
“For the last several years, we’ve seen a trend of hybrids getting much more fairway-wood like,” Fox explained. “And it’s not because that’s what consumers are asking for; it’s in the search for distance.”
“The bigger you make the golf club, the more surface area you have and the more weight you can move. The bigger you can make the face, the more trampoline effect you’ll get. And the search for an extra yard, two yards, three yards… is making their hybrids bigger and bigger to try and win that distance battle.”
The end result of the “growth” of hybrids is they become harder to hit because they’re essentially just becoming mini-fairway woods.
To buck the trend, Adams uses velocity slot technology, which allows its hybrids to get the same increased distance without expanding the head size.
“We have one of the smaller hybrids in the marketplace – one of the few that’s under 100 cc’s,” Fox said. “But with our slot technology it’s almost as fast as a driver, so we don’t have to go big to get the distance everyone’s searching for.”
“Ours are much more of what I’d call a traditional hybrid, which is, they’re pretty darn smack right in the middle of irons and fairway woods.”
So the Pro is smaller than a fairway wood, and easier to hit. But it’s also bigger than a long-iron… and still is more forgiving.
It’s because the upside-down shaping moves the center-of-gravity off the face and produces a gear effect. That means you get a higher moment-of-inertia (MOI), making it more stable than a long iron. The lower center-of-gravity allows players to more easily get the ball airborne, a major benefit for those who have trouble with launching.
What about workability?
“One of the biggest issues with hybrids is that typically golfers struggle to hit it under trees, knock it down, keep it low... But with ours, we only put the slot cut through on the sole of the golf club, and by putting the slot cut through just on the sole, it gives you the difference,” Fox lectured.
“And on the crown, we actually just have a slot there -- but don’t cut it through -- so it doesn’t create too much increased launch angle. We’re able to control the launch angle so you still can make it very workable.”
Yes indeed, but the Pro Hybrid is not adjustable, at least by the consumer. There is a removable weight on the bottom of the club, but it’s for custom fitters to tweak when choosing a shaft. The weight offers the ability to change the swing weight if a certain shaft is chosen – it’s a custom feature primarily for the Tour, Fox said.
For our part, we didn’t find any adjustment was needed on the Pro Hybrid. We tried ours at 18 degrees, which would essentially replace a five-wood in the bag – a club to use from the tee on long par threes and tight longer holes when accuracy is at a premium.
The Pro performed well in all circumstances, and quickly became a favorite in our group. Particularly noteworthy was how easy it was to hit from a variety of lies – including fairway bunkers -- and also how friendly it is off the tee.
It’s one of those confidence clubs you’ll learn to lean on in a tough spot – something you can pull from the bag and know you won’t have to swing out of your shoes to get it to perform.
In a day and age when golf clubs are relying more and more on technology, the Pro Hybrid has much to offer.
The bottom line is clubs like the Pro Hybrid make the game more fun. It won’t completely displace long-irons for the purists, but for pros and recreational golfers alike, you just can’t ignore this type of performance.
The Adams Pro Hybrid is definitely worth trying if you’re looking to substitute something new in your bag – or merely upgrade to the top hybrid on the professional Tours. That’s just the type of recognition that Adams Golf is looking for.
Adams Pro Hybrid
Inquire at your higher-end golf retailers and club pro shops. Available in right and left hand (at 18, 20 and 23 degrees, in 16 and 26 right-hand only) with an Aldila Tour Red shaft.
Adams Golf now offers Yes! Putters in addition to a full range of metal woods, hybrids, irons and wedges.
Check out more information about Adams Golf products at: www.adamsgolf.com
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