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ULTIMATE REVIEW! – Adams Speedline 9088 UL Driver

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adams 9088ul review

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. We’ve had close to a dozen drivers in for review since the 9064LS came in and it’s still in my bag. How can they possibly hope to top that?

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.

PERFORMANCE SCORING

Distance

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

Accuracy

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

Consistency

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 Performance

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

 

SUBJECTIVE SCORING

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.

Looks

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


 

Feel

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

Sound

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

Perceived Distance

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

Perceived Accuracy

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

Perceived Forgiveness

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

CONCLUSION

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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Review Summary

B+
88.62

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy Greenwald October 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Nice review. I loved the Adams A4 (9015D) and really tried to like the Fast series, but never loved them. Adams makes good equipment from my perspective. I have a fast tempo, so I have avoided buying ultralight clubs (I do test them out).

I wonder if anyone will make a lighter club for a fast tempo player.

I would like to see a comparison test of the Long Tom with some of these ultralight drivers. Maybe next year?

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Steve P. October 18, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Let me first say that I think your reviews are the best in the business and I wish you had the opportunity and time (and free clubs) to review every club and set the industry launches as they come out. But I’m sure there are some manufacturers content with selling millions of drivers a year based on what they pay dozens of pros play, and the buzz amongst consumers that results from it. I’m sure some of those brands are less than willing to take a chance on allowing the public to hear from an unbiased source as to how their products actually stack up.
I think more and more golfers are finding this site and they appreciate the impartiality with which you report your findings. Well done.
That said, I did have a question regarding how you tabulate your final scores you give products.
Specifically, how does this driver, that received an overall performance score of 92.16 and a subjective overall score of 82.64, receive an overall rating of only 88.62, while a recently reviewed club received an overall rating of 89.70 (higher) but only had a total performance score of 92.06 (lower) and a subjective score of 75.36 (also lower).
Any insight you can provide would be most helpful.
Cheers.

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GolfSpy T October 19, 2011 at 9:25 am

Steve – Great catch. After reading your comment I went back and looked at the sheets we use to track the overall and category scores. It looks like I transposed some digits, used the wrong numbers in other places, and forgot to change some other numbers (we copy one review to the next to give us a template to work from). Basically I made a mess.

Anyway, I’ve double-checked everything and updated the scores accordingly.

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Richard P. Jacobs II October 20, 2011 at 8:54 am

Spy T, my question is unrelated to the 9088UL though I’ve wanted to ask it for awhile and I keep forgetting(don’t laugh, for you too will experience this in your “middle-age”..lol)…I understand why you review the “regular” versions of the drivers vs. Tour/TP versions & I whole heartedly agree & would do the same though do you feel the corresponding Tour/TP(although the only OEM who uses this lettering wouldn’t let you play with their toys..lol) driver characteristics would make their numbers similar to the regular version(ex., would the objective #s of the Razr Tour be similar enough to the Razr to use the review for the Tour also) if tested?…Thanx much for a great site..Continued success..Fairways & Greens 4ever…

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GolfSpy T October 22, 2011 at 4:46 am

Richard – The short answer is that it’s different with every OEM. As a general rule, “Tour” Models incorporate any (and sometimes all) of 5 differentiating characteristics: smaller heads, open faces, “upgraded” (or just different) shafts, modified head shapes (beyond just the size…think deeper face top to bottom), and in some cases…an actual hosel.

If you look at the drivers we’ve reviewed this season, most don’t have a true “Tour” model (adaptability has mitigated the supposed need). The head alignment on the Cobra S3 8.5 degree model is slightly different (can’t be set to closed, neutral is as far as it goes), the G20 offers a tour shaft, but is otherwise identical. The new VR Limited (430cc head), while an updated model, is as close as it gets to a tour equivalent of the Nike VR Pro. There was no tour model for the PowerPod. That leaves the Titleist 910D2 & D3 (we didn’t test the D3), and the Callaway RAZR Hawk (for which we received all 3 models (standard, draw, tour). As a quick side note, Callaway earnestly believes they have an outstanding product line top to bottom, and goes above and beyond to make sure we see everything they offer.

As to the actual heart of your argument – and I’m painting broad strokes here – the “Tour” models tend to a bit longer, nearly as accurate, but have smaller heads and open faces. The latter two speak to the conditioning of the golfer’s mindset. A few years back every OEM in the game was preaching bigger is better. Everything was maxed out at 460ccs, and so the industry went. Now when we see a 430, 445, or even 450cc head, many think they can’t hit it straight, or as far, and they want to wait for the bigger version.

For everyone but the habitual slicer, the open faces on the tour models aren’t, however, proving to be a big problem (and there are some fitters who have been known to recommend open face drivers for slicers because the face angle promotes a more inside out swing path (the mind does an adjustment of sorts to square the face).

I wish we had time to fully test the tour models as supplementals to our regular reviews, and I continue to request OEMs send them when available. While the 9064LS remains my gamer, I came dangerously close to bagging the RAZR Hawk Tour (smaller, open face, different shaft, full-sized hosel). The standard model is very, very good, the Tour model is exceptional. Right now am doing some serious experimenting with the new Nike VR Limited, and I’m quickly falling in love with it (it very well could replace the 9064.

Bridgestone’s J40 drivers (2 versions, neither larger than 440cc) are interesting alternatives to the 460cc standard. I’ve hit the larger of the two, and quite like it.

Finally…it’s ok. You can say their name. TaylorMade hasn’t provided us with equipment in 2011, and while it’s safe to say we remain of differing opinions when it comes to pre-release “Spy” photos, the relationship is cordial, and I don’t believe either side as closed the book on 2012.

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Richard P. Jacobs II October 22, 2011 at 8:47 am

Spy T, thanx much for taking the time to answer my question…It’s funny you mentioned the Razr Hawk Tour, because that’s the exact driver that I’ve sorta fallen for, although it hasn’t kicked the 9064LS outa the bag..I’ve played it for the past 7 rounds and it smokes, while not killing me when I don’t quite get my hands through…I can’t wait to hit the ’12 Razr Hawk, both the adjustable & the one piece, though after hitting the 9064LS w/DFS, I’m partial to one piece drivers with all else being equal..Again, thank you for the comprehensive response…You indeed answered my questions…Fairways & Greens 4ever…

Richard P. Jacobs II October 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

Golfspy T, is the Powerbilt Air Force One Air Foil N7(that’s a friggin mothful!) still the longest driver tested @ MGS?…Fairways & Greens 4ever….

Richard P. Jacobs II October 25, 2011 at 8:58 am

Spy T, got to hit and play a round with the Nike VR Limited…I can say with about 80% certainty that it’s going into my bag..February can’t come fast enough…Fairways & Greens 4ever….

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Michael L. October 18, 2011 at 11:11 pm

so do you guys still think the 9064 is better than the 9088, or is it just personal preference now?

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GolfSpy T October 19, 2011 at 9:27 am

The 9088 has not displaced the 9064 from my bag. They are very different drivers designed for very different golfers. I think the 9064 just happens to be a better fit for me.

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Jeff October 19, 2011 at 9:43 am

A buddy recently swapped a Diamana White 73x out of his 9064 into a 9088 and says he gave up nothing but gained forgiveness out on the toe. He did not do anything to adjust swing weights, just swapped out the shaft. Apparently the head is not what’s light, but just the shaft?

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GolfSpy T October 19, 2011 at 9:45 am

I believe the head is slightly light, but yes, the shaft is extremely light (45 grams I believe). The idea of putting a heavier shaft in this head intrigues me. I really like the head, but the shaft is just not a good fit.

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Springbok October 19, 2011 at 6:21 am

I *would* play this club….. EXCEPT, I won’t because of the 1 major flaw (IMHO) in Adam’s design of their drivers. They have the same issue in all of their drivers, and I don’t understand why they insist on designing them this way. What is it? The excessive bulge in their faces. That is my dispersion is bad with Adams drivers. They have soooooo much bulge in the face that if you are even a fraction off center, you are screwed. There is no other company that has as much bulge in their driver faces. Fix that, and you have a winner.

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GolfSpy T October 19, 2011 at 9:26 am

Springbok – Last year’s 9064 was one of the most accurate drivers we tested all season. Quite frankly, I don’t believe there is an issue with excessive bulge and roll at all.

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Richard P. Jacobs II October 20, 2011 at 9:26 am

I too play the 9064LS(RIP Alpha XS) & am using the F11(had same shaft put in it) as my back-up & I recently purchased the 9088UL after hitting/playing it for a few rounds….I’m undecided on the shaft, though I must say that having hit these three drivers extensively I too do not know what Springbok is speaking of regarding “excessive bulge”…Actually what I realy like(love??) about the 9064 & F11 is that while the distance is great, when I’m off, they are fairly forgiving with my swing, though the F11 is more so than the 9064….Fairways & Greens 4ever…..

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Greg Mertz October 19, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Great Driver for me—-xtra 20 yds. But agree, not for everyone and ur review is through, accurate and wonderful. Thanks for sharing. G

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froneputt November 4, 2011 at 1:13 am

Adams likely made this driver for 50 something guys who enjoys lighter shafts and a lighter overall feel – me.

Of course, 46 inches is too long and I did not try it with the stock shaft. My club guy installed a Fuji 55g Blur at 45 inches and said, “Hit it!”

I didn’t have a choice.

The feel is soft all over the face. I can’t tell where I hit it — it just feels good. Impact tape (or staring at the black face for dimples) show that I hit it around center or slightly above (for the most part).

For a 12.5 driver, the Blur does a good job of keeping the flight down and boring, even for an older guy, the ball flight is intense.

As to swing speed, I jumped on the LM and received about 5 additional mph over a Superfast 2.0 — that’s about 10+ more yards. And it sold me.

The club is new to me, so I’ll need to report back. So far, it’s a friendly, long club for the target market.

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