“No single driver we’ve tested this year comes close to matching the Adams 9064LS as far as the opinions of our testers are concerned!”
Adams 9064LS – Speedline Technology is back in black
You may recall that earlier this year we put Adams’ Speedline Fast 10 Driver through our test process. In fact, the Speedline Fast 10 was the first club we put through the new review process we implemented earlier this year. Looking back through the drivers we’ve tested since then, I think it’s fair to say that the Fast 10 has held up pretty well against the competition.
Adams isn’t one of those companies that frequently releases multiple drivers in a single golf season. The all black 9064LS features the 4th generation of Adams Speedline technology, which utilizes aerodynamics to reduce drag, and increase clubhead speed.
I’m not going to rehash too much of the technical stuff about the 9064LS. To a large extent we covered it when we previewed the 9064LS back in May, and realistically, the underlying technology hasn’t changed significantly since our review of the Adams’ Speedline Fast 10 Driver. Adams would like you to know that the 9064LS has a deeper face, reduces spin by 15%, and like most new drivers on the market today offers up to 15 more yards off the tee.
I’ve probably hit every driver Adams has released over the last several years, and have come to the conclusion that I’m probably not an Adams guy, well at least I wasn’t before. While it’s safe to say there’s never been single one that I absolutely hated, it’s just as accurate to say that there wasn’t a single one that I really loved either. While many of our testers thought highly of the Fast 10, the truth is that I wasn’t one of them. When that review was complete, I came out of it thinking that the Fast 10 was probably just another driver that would get lost in the shuffle as the season progressed. That was at least 10 drivers ago, and while in hindsight I don’t think I appreciated it as much as should of, I think we more or less got the review right. So as much as I like it when new clubs show up for testing, when UPS dropped of the 9064LS, I wasn’t nearly as excited as I otherwise might have been. But read on and find out why I am a whole lot more excited now.
Adams 9064LS Technical Specifications
- Available Loft: 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5°
- Length: 45.5″
- Volume: 460cc
- Swing Weight: D3
- Stock Shafts: Aldila RIP (Alpha and Gamma models available)
What We Tested, and How We Tested It
Adams Golf sent us a sample of the 9064LS with the following specifications:
- Loft: 9.5°
- Shaft: Aldila RIP Gamma
- Flex: Stiff
- Grip: Adams/Golf Pride Performance Velvet
Like we often do when we receive a new club, we tested the specifications against the manufacturers stated specs. I then taped the crown and sole with Ghost Tape to protect the clubs during our testing process and finally, we have golfers hit the product, and share their thoughts on how the 9064LS compares to what they currently play as well as the other drivers they’ve tested this season.
All performance testing was done using PGA TOUR Simulators, powered by 3Trak, from aboutGolf. Testing took place at Tark’s Indoor Golf Club; a state-of-the-art golf training, club fitting and repair facility located in Saratoga Springs, NY. Recent upgrades to the software that powers the simulators have given us the capability to provide even more swing data than we have in previous reviews, so even more detail in our next round of reviews.
When I review a club, I almost always swing it over the course of 3 or 4 sessions before I sit down to do my testing. Most of the time I don’t notice any significant difference between my first session and the final session where I collect my data. Rarely do my first impressions fail me, but I do it because I believe that as the primary tester, I should spend a reasonable amount of time with a club in order to provide the most complete perspective that I reasonably can. While the sampling is admittedly somewhat small, for no club that I’ve tested so far has my initial thinking differed from my conclusion.
While neither myself nor anyone else who hit the 9064LS for us can honestly claim it gives us 15 or even 10 more yards, most of our testers did find it to be at least 5 yards longer than their current driver. As far as you the 9064LS compares to other drivers we’ve tested this year; if you read our review of the PowerBilt Air Force One N7 drivers, you can no doubt understand why we consider that club to be the gold standard as far as off-the-shelf raw distance is concerned. While the majority of our testers that hit both clubs hit the N7 Tour farther, I personally hit the 9064LS 5 yards longer on average. My tests alone certainly aren’t enough for me to call the Adams 9064LS the longest driver we’ve hit this year, but across the board it’s in the top 3, and that’s plenty to warrant an A-grade.
Distance Grade: A
My results, as well as anecdotal results from regular testers Dan and Kent suggest that the Adams 9064LS may very well be the most accurate driver we’ve tested this year. Dan, who normally misses the centerline by somewhere in the neighborhood of 22 yards, found that number improved to 16 yards with the Adams. With most clubs that I’ve tested, I generally find myself missing by 15-18 yards, with the Adams, I missed the centerline by 7.8 yards on average. The chart we use to assign a score for accuracy can be brutal, with nearly every yard off the center line chipping away at the score. While no club has managed an A+, the final numbers for the 9064LS are as close as we’ve seen to date.
Accuracy Grade: A
GolfSpy T’s Range Chart:
While I harbor no illusions that I’ll never miss another fairway again, our results show the 9064LS is a fairway finder. While Adams certainly deserves a ton of credit for pairing a very good head with an extremely high performing product, I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest that some of that performance, and more specifically, the accuracy of the new Speedline, should be attributed to the Aldila RIP shaft. I’ve found it to be extremely stable, especially during my less than elegant transition. What is most impressive to me is that distance is not traded for accuracy. The 9064LS offers both without sacrificing either.
>> Performance Score: (57 out of 60)
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If I had one complaint about the looks of the Speedline Fast 10 it was that I’d have been happier without the teal sole. Thankfully Adams has replaced the teal with black. If fact, the 9064LS is practically all black. The sole is black. The crown is black. The Aldila RIP shaft is black. And of course, the Golf Pride grip is black. If you’re the kind of guy who demands a splash of color with his golf clubs, the 9064LS probably isn’t right for you. For the rest of us though, the color palette (or lack thereof) combined with a high-tech head that manages to both look traditional, and set up perfectly (neutral) at address, you’re unlikely to find a better looking driver. If you could see the funky, scooped-out sole, the score might be lower, but for our testers – who threw around words like “sinister” and “bad-ass” while when describing the 9064LS – to a man, everyone thinks the Adams 9064LS looks great, and the majority (myself included) think, from butt to head, it’s the best looking driver we’ve seen this year.
Looks Grade: A+
Sound continues to be a tricky thing to quantify, as we still have a few testers who don’t care what a club sounds like. Of course, when a couple of those guys tell us that the 9064LS sounds great, it makes us think there really might be something special about this club. While I won’t declare the new Adams to be the best sounding driver of the year, it’s on the short list, and that alone makes it worthy of the ‘A’ our testers gave it.
Sound Grade: A
Not unlike sound, getting our testers to give us a meaningful rating for feel can be a bit tricky. I’ve learned that the best way to do it is have them hit the test driver, then their driver, and then the test driver again. Occasionally I’ll throw something else in the mix, but at least this way we can get a relative sense of things. In the case of the Adams 9064LS, the majority of our testers thought it felt “fine”. Then most hit their driver. And then the Adams again. In most cases, the Adams felt “great” the second time around. Based on feel alone, I greatly prefer it to what’s in my bag now. And I’m not alone.
When talking about shafts, guys often throw around words like “smooth” and “stable”. Those certainly apply to the Aldila RIP shaft. Moving back and forth between the Adams 9064LS and my current gamer (Nike VR STR8-FIT with a “made for” shaft) is night and day. I definitely feel more in control with the RIP, where as the Nike VooDoo feels a bit whippy. Despite being only a few CPMs apart in flex, the difference in feel is substantial, which if nothing else illustrates that when comparing shafts, flex only tells part of the story.
Feel Grade: A-
I have three thoughts I’d like to share about value in general. Firstly, the gross majority of drivers are overpriced. Secondly, accepting my first point, the industry “standard” for driver pricing should be in the ball park of $300. Thirdly, points one and two not withstanding, a driver (or any club for that matter) is worth whatever someone will pay for. Reconciling the three into a coherent value judgement isn’t really that difficult, at least not where the Adams 9064LS is concerned. With a retail price of now only $299 it far exceeds the cost of many name brand drivers we’ve tested this year. Of course, it’s also a fair amount cheaper than others we’ve tested. Factoring in the Aldila RIP shaft, and what we’ve come to believe are superior looks, feel, and sound, well, me and Adams are probably still about 8% apart, but at the end of the day, you could spend a more and do worse. Actually, I’m guessing most of you have.
>> Subjective Score: (37 out of 40)
For woods and hybrids, our current SpecCheck involves verifying length, Swing Weight, and Flex. The Adams 9064LS measured exactly 45.5 inches, and came in within fractions of the specified D3 swing weight.
At 258 CPMs, the Aldila RIP Gamma fell right on the line for the leading edge of our stiff range. In my mind, this is the rare shaft that actually feels stiffer than it is. Of course, in this case, what I mean by stiff is actually stable.
It’s actually very difficult for me when a review turns out like this one did. As you may have already discovered on your own, there are other golf blogs out there which habitually give great reviews to nearly every product they review. We are NOT one of those guys. We pride ourselves on our objectivity. We’re not beholden to a single OEM, we’re not on anyone’s payroll, and I’m personally more than willing to make a little noise when a club doesn’t live up to its billing, or when the marketing information is silly, stupid, or just plain doesn’t make any damn sense.
For the most part, the majority of the clubs on the market today, look and perform…well…like most every other club on the market, which is why most of the clubs we review end up with B grades and scores in the mid-80s. I suppose we could set our baseline at 95 instead of 85, but that doesn’t really allow much room for the cream to rise to the top. Yeah, I hate glowing reviews because I’m always afraid that they convey some sort of bias. They make me feel dirty, but the thing is, every so often, a club is truly worthy of a glowing review.
As far as our subjective scoring is concerned, not everyone is going to agree what looks good, what sounds good, and what feels good; except all of our testers did. While individually some testers gave higher scores to other clubs, no single driver we’ve tested this year comes close to matching the Adams 9064LS as far as the opinions of our testers are concerned. If fact, save the most subjective of all of our categories, value, the 9064LS could easily have squeezed out enough points to become our first ever A+ driver. If it was priced $50 less it would have.
With respect to performance, only the freakish PowerBilt Air Force One N7 has proven longer, and no driver we’ve tested this year has been, on average, more accurate for our pool of testers. Comparing the numbers to every driver we’ve tested this year, the 9064LS ranks 2nd in overall distance, and 1st in accuracy. Wow.
We have a strict formula we follow to arrive at these scores, and the Adams deserves every bit of the A grade that it finishes with. Normally I find myself wondering if we’ve been too generous with the points (maybe an A should be B+), but in this case I find myself wondering if I should be trying to find a couple more points to get the Adams 9064LS to the A+ level. If you were to tell me I should, I probably wouldn’t argue.
I said at the beginning that I’d never hit an Adams driver that I loved. That’s not true anymore. Numbers aside, the Adams 9064LS is my personal favorite driver of 2010. While I can never be certain that somebody won’t send me something I like better tomorrow, right now the Adams is in my bag and will probably stay there until the snow falls.
>> Total Score: (94 out of 100)
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