Adams sits in an interesting position in the world of golf equipment. Heralded by gear geeks as one of the most successful companies when it comes to producing one solid product after another for low handicappers, Adams features a full line of clubs. But to the general public, Adams has been pigeon-holed as a maker of game improvement sets featuring lots of hybrids.
Recently purchased by TaylorMade, which says it will use the Adams brand to build its reach with older golfers, fans of the Adams gear aimed at better players fear we're near the end of the road.
The past few seasons have seen multiple players irons from Adams, ranging from super demanding to super forgiving. The release of the CMB irons was much ballyhooed, particularly because they come stock with the KBS C-Taper shafts, a shaft that generated as much buzz as an iron shaft has in years.
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I was especially excited to put them into play as they promised to be the blend of forgiving players iron that has proven to be a growing segment but one with a big range on the demanding to playable spectrum.
ADAMS CMB REVIEW AT A GLANCE
- Ideal blend of precision and feedback, with the forgiveness a low handicap player can appreciate
- Soft feel at impact, particularly on flush shots
- Stock KBS C-Taper shafts
- Gorgeous classic look at address
- C-Taper shafts may take some getting used to
- On particularly quick greens, high spin causes shots to back up significantly
In the long quest for the perfect blend of playability, feel and forgiveness, the Adams CMB irons have proven worthy of accolades for this 3 handicap.
Adams CMB Playing Review, The Details
The nickel-chrome satin finish might not have a physical relationship to the feel at impact, but from the minute you pick these irons up, there's a "soft" feel to them. There's nothing harsh about the look, no glare, and a beautiful thin top line and a head that appears small and workable.
The KBS C-Taper steel shafts have a brushed finish, giving them the look of graphite, as opposed to the traditional shiny irons shafts we've known for years.
By hiding its forgiveness features, the CMB maintains a look of a compact players iron, without the punishing performance of a muscleback blade.
As pretty as they are to look at, it's the performance of the CMB irons that allows them to stand apart from others in this category. Never have I hit an iron that holds its line the way these do. From the minute the ball leaves the face, it's apparent if you've hit a good shot or not. Gone are the days that a baby draw turns into a sweeping hook the last 30 yards. Forget the ball falling out the sky well short, a victim of the wind. These irons produce laser beam shots, swing after swing.
From a workability standpoint, I've actually found that these irons are at their best when playing a straight ball with just a very minor turn either way. Where they shine is in the ability to control the height of the shot. The stock trajectory is about the same as the Dynamic Gold shafts I've long-played, but the ball just seems so much stronger in flight, holding its line beautifully. Keeping the ball low is relatively easy, all the way down to low punch shots that never pop up into the trouble you're trying to stay under. When needed, flying the ball high is no issue, and amazingly, I've found very little yardage differences between the different ball flights.
Yardages on the CMBs have proved to be very consistent, which I chalk up in part to that powerful ball flight. The wind seems to have little effect and ballooning has not been an issue at all. I find these irons to be about half a club shorter than my previous irons, but that's likely to finding that the best contact and shaft load comes with a more controlled swing. My set came with the C-Taper X shafts, which I feared was slightly on the stiff side since reports say they are slightly stiffer than DGX-100s. But instead of amping up the swing, these perform best with a nice balanced tempo and the weight and characteristics of these shafts-iron combo make it so easy to deliver a controlled strike time after time.
When it comes to forgiveness, I find my primary miss is off the toe and thin. Several times I caught myself grumbling after hitting a shot I expected to come up 20-30 yards short, only to find it on the edge of the green when all is said and done. Unlike more demanding irons, the long irons in this set play well, and I've found the the 4 and 5 irons hit and stop, and won't release off the back of the green.
The only drawback I have found from a performance standpoint is nearly uncontrollable spin during two rounds on specifically fast greens. The solution was to play one extra club and swing smoothly, taking spin off. Once I got the hang of that shot, it was very reassuring to know I could stop the ball on a dime. Once this adjustment is made, it becomes a positive, because the mix of driving, boring trajectory suggests lower spin, but there's no adverse affect on holding greens.
Feel is always the most difficult aspect of a review to put into words. An adjective I've used before but works here is "deep." At impact, the feel is deep and soft, and powerful. Some golfers prefer a snappy, lively feel at contact, but I prefer the ball the feel muted on a solid shot, and that's what I get from the CMBs. As important as the feel is on good swings, the CMBs provide active feedback on a miss. I can hit 10 shots and tell you where on each swing the ball contacted the face. To me, this is the biggest differentiation between a players iron and a game improvement model. For the most part, your poor shots will finish about the same, but on a set of oversized irons, you won't get better by understanding where you're missing the face.
The CMBs come stock with Golf Pride New Decade White Out grips, which is another nice upgrade. If given my choice, I prefer Lamkin cord grips, but these Golf Pride were a nice surprise. Previous versions of the New Decades were not high on my list, but the latest evolution provide nice feel and grip.
For the past two seasons, I have struggled to find the perfect blend of precision and forgiveness. I played some oversized irons that helped me hit lots and lots of greens, but were very rarely producing birdie putts. I also played some very demanding irons that would produce several fantastic shots a round, but would routinely leave me struggling to get up and down after a mishit.
The Adams CMB irons with KBS C-Taper shafts, through five rounds have consistently produced. As my playing time and practice has been reduced, it's amazing to see how well I've been able to play with the CMBs. They are a phenomenal blend of precise and forgiving. As a 3 handicap, I would have told you at the start of the season that my iron play was the weakest part of my game, with only 1-2 makable birdie putts in a round. In each of my last three rounds, I've had 3-4 birdie putts within 5 feet, and too many in the 10-25 foot range to count. Good iron play begets good iron play, and confidence in the irons takes pressure off the tee game and in turn makes the short game all the better. With these set of irons in my bag, I look forward to seeing my scores not only drop, but become more consistently lower.
According to Adams:
The incredible look and feel achieved through the multi-material construction and design of the Idea CMB Irons raises the bar for the future of the players' iron category. The good looks are striking, the feel amazing, and the performance is world-class. The unique placement of tungsten weight plugs will minimize twisting at impact so that mis-hits feel better and fly more accurately. The CMB Irons appeal to the best golfers in the world and can be played by skilled amateurs that need additional forgiveness through technology and design.
Performance Advantage Through Multi-Material Design
- Forged 1025 carbon steel body provides exceptional feel.
- Unique tungsten weight inserts strategically placed low in the toe to position the center of gravity in the exact center of the scorelines.
- This creates enhanced feel and minimal twisting at impact.
- Two-piece, laser plasma-welded forged construction.
- Nickel-chrome satin finish gives these irons a unique and better player look.
3-way cambered sole improves turf interaction.
Triple-milled (face, grooves & cavity) improves the scoreline design.
Progressive performance provides consistent forgiveness and ball flight control from long irons to scoring clubs.
Editor's Note: Philip Irons is a contributor to the Subpar Golf Blog and he wrote this review.