"If you're simply looking to pick up an extra MPH or two, generate some extra ball speed, and generally smack the cover off the ball, by all means go demo the 9088 UL and find out if ultralight is right for you."
Adams Speedline 9088 UL Driver
(Written By: GolfSpy T) If you're Adams Golf right now, I'm probably the last guy you want to send a driver. If you recall, last year's 9064LS is the highest scoring driver we've ever tested, and remains the standard by which all others are judged. It's almost enough to make one wonder why Adams would even bother making another driver.
The thing is...it's a different marketplace these days. Every golf club manufacturer of any measurable size offers at least 2 distinct models in their driver lineup, and that's before we start talking about tour models and limited editions. It wasn't that long ago that two drivers was enough to cover every type of player...not anymore. In addition to tour models for better players, draw biased models for big slicers, and the standard models for most everybody else, many manufacturers are now offering Ultralight models. Like nearly everything else in the club game, Ultralights are designed to increase clubhead speed, and of course, promote distance. The point is, even if I, and many others are perfectly content with the 9064 LS, Adams still needs to offer a complete lineup.
What Some Others Are Saying!
The Marketing Angle
As is often the case, the marketing angle is mostly what we're accustomed to seeing with every new driver release. According to Adams, the 9088 UL is longer (+7.5 yards compared to other ultralight models), more consistent, more accurate, and easier to hit. Like other Adams drivers it features aerodynamic shaping for less drag and higher club head speed.
What we do find interesting about the Adams 9088 UL is that unlike other Ultralight models which swing weight out on the heavy side (D6-D9). The stated spec of the 9088 UL is only D0. The result is a driver that feels as light as it actually is.
How We Tested
The 6 golfers for whom we collected detailed performance data were asked to hit a series of shots on our 3Track Equipped simulators from aboutGolf. As usual, testing was done at Tark's Indoor Golf, a state of the art indoor golf facility located in Saratoga Springs, NY. Detailed data for each and every shot for which we collected data is now viewable in the interactive portion of this review. This data serves as the foundation for our final performance score. As a supplement to our 6 performance testers, a subset of additional golfers were given the opportunity to test the Adams 9088 UL Driver and provide feedback in our subjective categories (looks, feel, sound, perceived distance, perceived accuracy, perceived forgiveness, and likelihood of purchase). This information, which we also collected from our performance testers, is used as the foundation for our total subjective score. Testing was done using a 9.5° and 10.5° drivers in regular and stiff flex.
I can't say I'm overly surprised to learn that our testers hit the Adams 9088 UL on average of 261.39 - the club feels long. While individually our testers put up very good numbers, two testers put up numbers that were in the ballpark of +6 yards of their normal averages. While not the +10 yards we'd all like to add, it's still an impressive number.
What's really interesting is that the longest drive for the majority of our testers bested the 2nd longest by more than 10 yards. This suggests that when you catch the ball flush on the sweet spot there is some serious pop, however; the best results are not easily repeatable.
MGS Distance Score: 94.88
For me the accuracy the 9088 UL, and in fact, all Ultralight drivers is a concern. For the most part the average miss (18.56 yards from the center line), is in the average range for all the drivers we've tested. That said, we did have a couple of testers who absolutely struggled to put the ball anywhere near where they were aiming. My takeaway is that ultralight drivers aren't for everyone, but for those who can control the lighter shaft and not compromise their accuracy, the distance is intriguing to say the least.
MGS Accuracy Score: 88.57
While far from poor, consistency numbers with the 9088 UL aren't quite as high as we've seen with some other clubs. I suspect the Ultralight design plays a role, and the simple fact is that some, especially those with quick tempos (particularly during transition), may find it harder to control the head through the hitting zone. Still, we can't entirely discount that fact that our testers love the extra pop they get when they make perfect (or near perfect) contact.
MGS Consistency Score: 92.66
Overall the numbers produced by the Adams 9088 UL are very good. Intrigued by what I saw indoors, I brought the 9088 along with me for a recent round. The on course stuff more or less fell in line with the numbers. I hit some big (one really HUGE) drives, but I also struggled a bit more than usual with control. I'm probably not an ideal candidate for an Ultralight driver anyway, but if you think an ultralight may be right for you, the 9088 UL is a solid option.
MGS OVERALL PERFORMANCE SCORE: 91.82
From a subjective standpoint Adams drivers have been either hit or miss for me. It goes without saying that I loved the 9064 LS, but the Speedline Fast 10 (the first Adams we reviewed) didn't really do it for me. The sound and feel were as good as any, but the aesthetics (teal sole graphics) weren't my style. At least you can always count on Adams woods to look reasonably traditional at address...well at least before the velocity slot thing came along.
The 9088 UL features what Adams calls a black on black design. Basically, like so many other clubs on the market today, it's black. Crown, sole, face...it's all black. The sole has a matte finish, which gives it an almost raw appearance, which is actually kinda cool. The head itself has a relatively traditional looking pear shape to it, and the sole doesn't look quite as scooped out as previous Adams designs. There are 3 slightly curved depressions carved into the crown. I assume they're for aerodynamics. They definitely look strange, although none of our testers found them distracting at address.
Finally, like the 9064LS, and previous Speedline drivers, the 9088 has a black and white ringed ferrule. It's a very small detail, but one I happen to like quite a bit.
MGS Looks Score: 86.00
The feel of the 9088 UL is distinctly different from the other Adams drivers we've tested. It feels a bit more solid, less metallic at impact. Quite honestly, while it's still quite good, I don't personally like it as much as other Adams drivers, but when you do catch it flush, it leaves very little doubt, and there is something to be said for that.
There's also an element of feel in the ultralight design. We've had testers complain about certain drivers in the past by saying they "can't feel the head". While I wouldn't go quite that far, with the 9088 UL I sometimes feel like I lost the club head somewhere between my shoulders and impact. Considering my current gamer has a 75 gram shaft in it, it's not unreasonable to expect I'd notice a difference with a shaft that's a full 30 grams lighter.
MGS Feel Score: 86.00
From a sound perspective the 9088 UL is deeper, more muted than other Adams drivers. Again, there's certainly nothing to dislike, but the sound of the 9088 also didn't offer anything particularly special...the kind of thing that gets our testers excited. I'd call it average, and so would most of our testers.
MGS Sound Score: 80.63
It's fascinating to me how a group of guys could hit two drivers within 2 yards of one another (on average) and come away with completely different perceptions about distance. Fortunately, the 9088 UL is one of those clubs where our testers realize how long it is. Of course, it certainly helps that each tester hit one or two shots that I would classify as bombs (substantially longer than the average). When those outliers happen, they're invariably the shots our testers remember.
Tester Perceived Distance Score: 91.38
Once again the issue of controlling an ultralight driver has to be discussed. On most surveys our testers submit a wide range of scores for the accuracy category. In the case of the Adams 9088 UL, nearly every tester rated it no better than average.
Though the actual data suggests the 9088 UL is actually better than our surveys indicate, it's also rather obvious that our testers don't have a lot of confidence in their ability to hit the club straight on every swing.
Tester Perceived Accuracy Score: 75.25
Everyone perceives forgiveness a little bit differently. For some it's usually lock step with accuracy, for others it's distance. What I take away from the results of our forgiveness surveys is that the average mis-hit does a very good job of retaining distance. Of course, as we've seen the sweet spot on the 9088 UL is capable of producing drives that rival anything else we've tested. For the average swing however, there's not a lot of distance lost.
From an accuracy standpoint, while the overall averages are well...average, based on the splatter pattern shown on our interactive charts, the 9088 UL may not be quite as forgiving as some others.
Tester Perceived Forgiveness Score: 84.31
Likelihood of Purchase
While the results themselves are fairly good (average accuracy, above average distance), there wasn't a tremendous amount of excitement during the testing of the 9088 UL. My thinking is that our testers probably should have liked it a bit more than they did, but when it comes down to whether or not each individual testers would be willing to drop his money on the counter for this driver, only 1 said he probably would. The other guys aren't feeling the ultralight vibe.
Tester Likelihood of Purchase: 80.63
The simplest summation of our subjective surveys that I can offer is that ultralight drivers aren't for everyone. While I'd venture a guess that the Adams 9088 UL is as good as anything else in that market segment, we don't think there's a huge demand for super lightweight drivers. While some manufacturers have chosen to build their entire lineups around them, we think ultralights in general are niche products, and in time could potentially go the way of the square driver.
TOTAL SUBJECTIVE SCORE: 83.98
As I said at the outset, Adams has a bit of problem on their hands. That problem as it relates to me and their drivers is that every Adams driver I test is measured in comparison to the 9064 LS. In fairness the 9088 UL is a very good driver on its own, but in truth its a completely different animal than the 9064, and certainly isn't the ideal driver for me. The same holds true for the majority of our testers. Those with the smoothest, most controlled tempos hit the club extremely well. Those with quick transitions, and less than smooth tempo weren't as successful.
Unless that golfer has a swing well suited to the ultralight design, I would expect to see some degradation in accuracy. It's not a trade-off I can afford to make, but in the right golfer's hand, there won't be any need to compromise. Of course, if you're simply looking to pick up an extra MPH or two, generate some extra ball speed, and generally smack the cover of the ball, by all means go demo the 9088 UL and find out if ultralight is right for you.
MGS TOTAL SCORE: 88.86
Tell Us What You Think!
- Are Ultralight drivers here to stay, or are they simply another industry fad?
- Have you hit the 9088 UL driver? If so...what were your thoughts?
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