Adams, well known as a leader in the hybrid market, has been building a reputation among golf equipment junkies as one of the sleepers among driver and fairway wood manufacturers (not to mention, high quality players' irons, but that's for another time). Adams has build its brand around speed, first in its successful Speedline line of drivers followed by its Fast 10 offering. New for 2012, Adams has expanded the premise of faster is better, with the Fast 12 line of fairway woods.
The piece of technology Adams is selling hard is the Velocity Slot. According to the company, "with an improved slot design along with a larger sweet spot and better launch conditions, the Fast12 fairway wood delivers unsurpassed forgiveness across the entire face along with more ball speed for increased distance. It's a superior fairway wood with unmatched performance."
What else is Adams promising from its Fast 12 fairway woods?
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Adams' longest and most forgiving fairway wood ever.
Easy playability from all lies (both tee and ground). Draw and standard models available.
- Higher launch without impacting spin rate.
New Graffaloy ProLaunch Blue with Speed Coat Technology.
Adams Fast 12 Playing Review
Those are lofty promises from Adams, so we put Fast 12, 15-degree 3 wood through the paces. The sample club (provided by Adams for testing) came with a stock Graffaloy ProLaunch Blue X shaft based on swing data given to Adams. For reference's sake, my driver swing speed measures around 112-115, I play to a mid-single digit handicap and my tendency is to be steep into the ball causing ballooning, and my common miss is a hook.
The only word I can use when hitting this club pure is explosive. Compared to my current fairway wood, a Tour Edge Exotics titanium head which I never thought about replacing because it's so long and straight, the Fast 12 launches like a rocket.
This club has proven to be very easy to hit off the fairway and rough, and is especially forgiving on off center hits.
The silver paint job is attractive and helps eliminate glare and reflections that can be distracting on a sunny day.
- The stock shaft is a tad light, and the club has a lighter feel overall. This helps emphasize speed throughout the swing, but takes some adjustment if you're used to a heavier fairway wood.
While my tendency is to miss left, this club sits open at address, which I like, but I've found that it's easy to let the face open too much and hit some monumental balloons out to the right.
Very high launch of this club, combined with a high launch shaft might prove too difficult to manage in windy conditions.
Bottom Line: I've been a fan of Adams since my first 9032ls Speedline driver and currently play their hybrids. The Fast 12 fairway wood offering is definitely challenging my old reliable 3 wood with a much upgraded exotic shaft, because the Fast 12 is especially easy to hit off the fairway. It's as long as any fairway wood I've hit, and more forgiving than previous clubs I've had in the bag. My primary concern is how high the ball launches, which would likely be solved with a heavier, stiffer tipped shaft, but how that would work with the speed-first design remains a question.
Look: The Fast 12 features a silver painted crown that eliminates glare. It might not appeal to a purist, especially because of the velocity slot on top, but I had no problem adjusting to it. The stock grip, Tour Elite Plus, is a nice offering and provides a good alternative to the typical Tour Velvet many companies use. As someone who prefers a corded grip, I've found the Tour Elite Plus more than acceptable for grip and a balanced, firm feel.
Performance: Long and forgiving is what Adams promises, and my experience is that this fairway wood is both long and forgiving. However, what it offers in distance and forgiveness, it lacks workability, as the design of the club lends itself to straightening the ball out. My typical draw needs to be quite exaggerated to move it right to left, and any attempt at a fade runs the risk of an open-faced, ballooning Elephant's Butt (high and stinky).
The idea of length on a fairway wood is an interesting question, because for the most part, accuracy is the most important aspect when selecting to hit less than driver off the tee. In this case, the Fast 12 excels because it takes a really poor swing to send it well off line. But if you're trying to work the ball around a dog leg, or trying to flight the ball lower – stinger-style – I've had little success. Your mileage may vary, but to my eye, this club launched too high, although I have to admit, even playing in the wind, the distance hasn't suffered.
Playing off the fairway and rough is where the Fast 12 really shines, as turf interaction is beautiful and the height that I'm concerned with off the tee makes for soft landing shots into a green or on a layup shot.
Feel: You know that "woooooshhhhhh" sound that follows a really pure shot? The Fast 12 delivers that sound regularly. It also provides the feedback to let you know where on the face you hit the ball. This, in turn, raised my eyebrows a number of times, when I thought I'd caught it on the heel or toe, only to see it right itself in flight and end up long and in line with my target.
One major adjustment I need to make is to the weight of the club and the feeling I get of not knowing where the clubhead is throughout the swing. That's a product of switching from a shaft that's 20 grams heavier but also fits with Adams' model of encouraging clubhead speed.
Conclusion: I went into this review thinking it had no shot to knock my tried and true out of the bag. Fairway woods are some of the most personal, cherished and clung to clubs because they provide a crutch when the driver's flying sideways or when you absolutely must find a fairway. In my experience, they're also by far the most difficult club to fall in love with, because we hold them to such an exacting standard. We want them to fly long, but more importantly we need them to be accurate. Not only must they work well off the tee, but we need something that's easy to hit off the fairway.
After an extensive playing test, at the driving range and on the golf course, I will continue to give the Fast 12 the chance to capture a permanent place in my bag. I might need to tweak the shaft to bring the flight down a bit, but its combination of forgiveness and distance PLUS the ease with which I can hit it off the deck makes it a prized club to have in the bag.