Adams A12OS Iron Review

"Ideal for beginning golfers, or seniors hoping to regain some lost clubhead speed, the Adams A12 OS hybrid-irons are an intriguing offering in the super game-improvement space. With traditional hybrids available through the 7-iron, and new transitional hybrid options through the 8-iron, Adams has provided the golfer with the flexiblity to build his bag exactly as he sees fits. While they're perhpaps not the most accurate of the clubs we've tested, they are simply exceptional when it comes to keeping the ball in play, which makes them a compelling option for those looking for maximum forgiveness."

Adams A12 OS Hybrid-Irons

(Written By: GolfSpy T) Adams clubs have traditionally fared very well in MyGolfSpy's club tests. Though all were tested under previous, and less rigorous review system, the 9064LS driver, Idea Pro A12 hybrids, and MB 2 irons are all at the top or near the top in their respective categories, and I think most of our testers would agree that regardless of what the testing system was at the time, each is among the very best we've ever tested. The A12 OS series, however, is unlike any other Adams irons we've ever had in for review.

For starters, the Adams A12 OS is a hybrid-iron set. While it won't be the last, this is the first time we've had to try and account for a hybrid replacement for long irons (and even middle irons). It also happens to be the first super game-improvement iron review we've done under the new system, and in actuality, only the second time we've ever taken on the category. What can I say...the super game-improvement can be difficult to judge. I'm a guy who needs a bit of help from my irons and shaft to help keep the ball down. Most super game improvement are designed to help golfers get the ball in the air. I'm a guy who needs a heavy shaft to help control my frenetic swing. Most super game improvement clubs feature lightweight shafts to help golfers generate more clubhead speed (and get the ball even further into the air). The point is, I probably wouldn't consider bagging any set of super game improvement irons, and realistically, neither would most of our testers.

It's actually tempting to skip the Adams a12 OS, and other Super GI designs, but our readers run the gamut in regards to what they play, and it would be pretty stupid to review irons the exclusion of a large portion of the golfing population. While the results might not be what you expect, and may not gel with your definition of forgiveness, we came away from this test impressed by how well the Adams a12 OS can save strokes by keeping the ball in play . Perhaps more intriguing for those of you looking for your next set, or perhaps first set of super game-improvement irons, is our newly found belief that when it comes to SGI, the more hybrids you can stick in your bag, the better.

Tell Us What You Think!

  • Would you consider replacing your mid irons with hybrid equivalents?
  • Do you believe Super Game-Improvement irons are truly more forgiving?
  • When it comes to iron design, particularly in the SGI space, how big is too big?

The Marketing Angle

We don't like to get too bogged down in the marketing speak. You guys can get that stuff anywhere. We're working on some ideas for sprucing this up a bit, but until we get that implemented, I'm just going to drop a few bullet points on you that I find at lest a little interesting.

  • The A12 OS hybrid, available in lofts designed to replace your 2-iron all the way up to your 7-iron, is the first that leverages Adams' Velocity Slot Technology
  • The A12 OS introduces us to what Adams calls the Transitional Hybrid. The "Truss Back" design does all the stuff that makes GI irons what they are; it lowers the center of gravity, and distributes more weight to the perimeter.  Conceptually, a traditional hybrid bridges the gap between fairway woods and irons. The Transitional Hybrid, bridges the gap between the modern hybrid and traditional irons.

How We Tested

To find out more about how we test our irons: CLICK HERE

Radius-Based Scoring

For more information on our "Radius Based Scoring System": CLICK HERE


PERFORMANCE SCORING

The Adams A12 OS are the 4th in total, and the 1st true Super Game-Improvement iron that we've put through our revised testing system.

Short Iron Performance

There's a curious pattern developing as we test more and more irons. What we're finding is that our testers, at short iron distances, are generally more accurate with what most would consider "Player's Clubs". We've speculated that the cause might be as simple as what suites the eye, or it could be that clubs designed with precision over forgiveness might actually be easier, at least when shaft length is manageable, to hit at shorter distances. I suppose there is a reason why Pro Combo sets exist.

In truth, our testers struggled to find the pin more so with the A12 OS short irons than any iron tested under the new system. Our testers missed the pin by an average of 29.50 feet, which is roughly 7 feet farther away than the most accurate short iron we've tested. When we remove our least accurate tester, the average improves to 27.27 feet.

Control was clearly a problem for our testers who missed the absolute target distance by an average of 19.55 feet (17.28 feet with the least accurate tester removed).  Left/Right dispersion was also a bit below our previous results. Directionally testers missed by an average of 19.55 feet (17.28 adjusted), which is again is roughly 2 feet further than the other irons we've tested under the new protocols.

Most surprising perhaps is the overall dispersion pattern. While generally speaking shots often fall long left, and short right, with the A12 OS short irons we see a higher than expected number of shots that fall short left of the target.

Looking for birdie opportunities (shots inside 10 feet), we find a total of 10 shots from 5 different golfers. When birdie range is bumped out to 15 feet, we find no improvement.

Short Iron Performance Score: 87.58

Middle Iron Performance

At middle iron distances, our testers showed improvement with respect to the comparative accuracy of the Adams A12 OS irons. Our testers missed the target by an average of 35.85 feet. When we remove the least accurate tester, the distance to the pin improves to 34.33, which while close to the other game improvement iron we've tested to date, is still well outside the range posted with clubs generally targeted towards better players.

Just as with short irons, north/south and left/right distances were a bit off from previous tests. Our testers missed the target distance by an average of 25.3 feet, or 23.46 feet with our least accurate tester removed from the equation. Left/Right dispersion was actually better than we saw with the PING G20s, with our testers posting averages, and adjusted averages of 20.55 feet and 19.86 feet respectively. Noteworthy is that these numbers are only slightly worse than the short iron equivalents suggesting minimal accuracy loss with the longer clubs.

Looking for birdie opportunities, we find our testers only placed 5 shots (from 4 testers) inside of 15 feet. When we bump the distance out to 20 feet, birdie opportunities increase to 9. Interesting perhaps is that all 4 of the shots inside 15 feet are from locations either directly below the hole, or to the right side of it.

Middle Iron Performance Score: 87.44

Long Iron Performance

In many respects the A12 OS long irons could be considered a totally different set of clubs. To hit the target distance, each of our testers was required to choose one of the true hybrids from the set. Based on our results, the change from the irons to hybrids is a significant one.

With the A12 OS hybrids in hand, our testers missed the pin by an average of 42.59 feet, which is the best raw number we've had from any iron test in which all 6 of our testers participated. When the least accurate tester is removed, the average improves to 40.29 feet. While that number isn't the absolute best it is near the top. More compelling is that removing a tester resulted in only a 2 foot improvement in accuracy, which suggests not a single tester struggled to hit the A12 OS hybrids.

While not the absolute best, at the distance, missing the vertical distance by an average of 29.00 yards (27.66 adjusted) is respectable. More telling is that left/right dispersion averaged only 25.55 yards off the center line. When our least accurate testers is removed, that number improves to 23.05 feet, which is the 2nd best we've seen to date.

Even at long iron distances, our testers managed to put 5 shots inside of 15 feet (including one just inches from the pin). Increasing the range to 20 feet, bumps the birdie opportunities up to 9. Finally, if we expand out to 30 feet (which I'll take all day long from distances in the vicinity of 20o yards), we find 23 shots (with all 6 testers represented) that could be considered legitimate birdies opportunities for the distance.

From a scoring perspective, half of our 6 testers posted their best numbers with the hybrids, and only a single tester was measurably worse (and he's the guy who is almost always significantly worse with long irons in his hand).

Long Iron Performance Score: 88.00

Performance Notes

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong for our testers at middle and short iron distances. It could be as simple as the A12 OS not suiting our testers eyes particularly well (the A12 OS is larger iron than any of our testers currently game). It also must be pointed out that our test sets were outfitted with the stock graphite shafts. Better than half of our testers play heavier weight (120+ gram) steel shafts in their games, so it's reasonable to speculate that the lighter weight (almost 50% lighter) shaft may have played a roll in the accuracy problems.

It's certainly noteworthy that once our testers moved into the hybrids, where the shaft weights are more in line with what our testers are more familiar with, the results improved. With better fitting shafts iron performance would likely improve, and as we've come to expect from Adams, the hybrids in the A12 OS sets are excellent.

MGS OVERALL PERFORMANCE SCORE: 87.39

The Interactive Data

The charts below show the individual and group averages (black dotted line) for each shot our golfers took during our test of the the Adams A12 OS Irons. You can click on each of 3 tabs (Adams A12 OS - Short Irons,Adams A12 OS - Mid Irons, Adams A12 OS - Long Irons) you can see where each shot came to rest on our virtual driving range, and the raw data (averages) for each of our testers. Hovering over any point will give you all the details of that particular shot. You can use the filters on the right-hand side to show and hide individual golfer based on handicap and proximity to the pin.

SUBJECTIVE SCORING

When it comes to the subjective side of things, many of our testers indicated they were of two minds. For them, the irons and hybrids that comprise this set, look, feel, and most importantly play differently. A few of our testers ultimately decided to score the hybrids and irons separately. In those cases, the average of the two scores was used to determine the individual rating.

Looks

In my estimation Adams has always taken a slightly understated approach to game improvement, and certainly super game-improvement designs. The Adams a12 OS is no exception. From graphics, to contours, everything about the irons are exceptionally clean. Now certainly they don't possess the natural beauty of a forged blade, or even a modern player's cavity back, but there's nothing loud or ostentatious about the design, and that's a true rarity among super game-improvement clubs.

As you would expect, soles are broad, and toplines, particularly in the transitional hybrids, are thick. Compared to other irons in their class, the A12 OS are long from heel to toe, and comparatively shallow from bottom to top. Offset is noticeable, but not visually extreme. For some lofts, the broadness of the sole, and parts of the back cavity are visible at address, which some may find distracting.

// "I'm a golfer who is swayed A LOT by looks, and these just don't fit my eye" - Nick B.

The hybrids are a bit more refined. The lower lofted clubs are bulkier (the 2 hybrid is almost a fairway wood), but once you move into the higher lofted clubs (we received all lofts of hybrids as part of our "test kit"), transitions are smooth, and head size is manageable (although it is admittedly odd swinging a hybrid at 7 iron distances).

While initially the velocity slot can be distracting, after a few swings our testers found they didn't much notice it any more. With the hybrids, though offset is again noticeable, Adams has blended it well. None of our testers expressed any concerns that they might produce a disproportionate number of hooks.

Generally speaking our testers preferred the looks of the hybrids over the irons.

MGS Looks Score: 83.31

Sound & Feel

From a feel perspective, what I think stands out about the Adams A12 OS is that, unlike many of the game improvement clubs we've tested, they provide an outstanding amount of feedback. While not everyone necessarily likes to feel their misses, I do, and the A12 OS let me know exactly how well I've struck the ball. This is true of the hybrids as well, which some of our testers found to be harsh on mishits. Hit them on the sweet spot, however; and the feel of the hybrids is as good as anything we've tested.

// "The hybrids felt so nice to hit...I would definitely look at this when replacing my current hybrids" - Lou Y.

In general, I think the hybrids do offer better feel in general, but the more time I spent with the irons, the more the feel started to grow on me; though they'll never be confused with the Idea Pro A12 irons, and certainly not the MB2s.

MGS Feel Score: 86.00

Perceived Forgiveness

As we've indicated in the past, forgiveness means different things to different people. While we could talk about MOI, and distance loss on mishits, after managing and participating in a a few dozen club tests over the last couple of years, forgiveness, for me, has become a measure of penalty. In my observations, the most forgiving clubs aren't necessarily those that consistently hit closest to the pin, or even maintain the most consistent distance across the club face. To me, forgiveness isn't about precision, it's about keeping the ball in play, minimizing the impact of mistakes, and reducing penalty strokes along the way.

Looking at our charts for the Adams A12 OS, even though our testers weren't always precise with their shots, they always kept the ball in play. Granted a few bad swings with the short irons put some testers upwards of nearly 20 yards offline, but that number actually improved as the clubs got longer. With the long irons, remarkably, barely more than a handful of test shots were more than 15 yards offline.

// "Very forgiving and Long" - Dan R.

While not every shot our testers hit resulted in a solid birdie opportunity, if you assume no ponds between our testers and the greens, nearly every shot our testers took resulted in a ball that would be easy to find, and most importantly, a ball they could hit again without penalty.

// "Cant hit anything but straight" - Tim S.

When our testers considered the results, especially with the A12 OS hybrids, it's not surprising that the forgiveness number was the highest of any rating for the club.

Tester Perceived Forgiveness Score: 91.38

Likelihood of Purchase

While a few of us are ideal candidates for game improvement irons, once you move up into the Super GI space, we're admittedly out of our element. At one point we tried bringing in higher handicap golfers (22-25 index), but unfortunately, the level of consistency was insufficient to get any sort of meaningful test data. Simply put, even with adjustments for handicaps, scores would have been horrific.

Instead I've asked our testers to try to step into the shoes of  the guy looking for Super Game-Improvement clubs, Framed in that context, most of our testers told us they think the Idea A12 OS irons, are an excellent offering; however, when measured against some of the other game improvement and super-game improvement clubs we've tested, none was absolutely certain the A12 OS irons would be his first choice.

Tester Likelihood of Purchase: 80.63

While most of our testers liked (or even loved the hybrids), the irons, which at a minimum would include 8-iron through gap wedge, didn't really excite our testers. In some respects the Adams A12 OS irons don't look the part of a super game-improvement iron. Don't get me wrong, as I said, they're clean...almost refined, but the Super GI space is dominated by clubs with bright graphics, flashy designs, and even a little bit of bling designed to attract golfers in that market segment (which includes many young, beginning golfers).

I suspect, while Adams isn't going to do particularly well with what you might call the PUMA crowd, among the 50+ group; aging guys looking for a bit more distance, and more forgiveness, the Adams A12 OS will be viewed as nothing short of an exceptional offering.

TOTAL SUBJECTIVE SCORE: 84.66

CONCLUSION

Our testing doesn't take into account whether the iron being tested is longer or shorter than another. It's gotten far too difficult to draw apples to apples comparisons when you're dealing with lofts that can be as much as 3 degrees weaker than what's generally regarded as standard. Toss in the occasional ¼" to ½" longer shaft and things get murkier still.

It has always been our position that iron distance doesn't really matter. Most increases are artificial (most 10+ yard gains can be traced to manipulations in loft and length), and quite frankly, the number on the bottom of the club has become meaningless, but... we also realize that some of you out there want to squeeze every ounce of distance you possibly can out of every club in your bag. So...I will at least mention that our testers found the Adams A12 OS irons to be approximately one club longer than much of what we test (of course, much of we test is targeted at golfers in the 5-15 handicap range). Most of us who generally hit pitching wedges to our short iron distance found ourselves hitting gap wedges. Some of us had to bump out the middle iron distance in order to keep a true middle iron in our hands, and for some who often find themselves hitting 3 or 4 irons to get to get the long iron distance, the 5 hybrid proved to be the right choice.

If getting more distance out of your iron play is the objective, the Adams A12 OS hybrid irons can almost certainly help you achieve that goal.

As a set I have mixed feelings about the Adams A12 OS. While I think they very well could improve the average to beginning golfer's game, the irons and transitional hybrids simply didn't move me. They true hybrids however; are another story. That shouldn't really surprise anyone given that Adams is basically known for their hybrids above all else, but speaking as a guy who has a strong preference for small peanut style hybrids, I'm much more impressed with the OS hybrids than I would have expected to be. The face is extremely hot, and more importantly, our testers hit them straight, and at the target.

With that in mind, for those who do ultimately choose the Adams A12 OS (I believe the set is better than the score might suggest), the MyGolfSpy recommendation is to skip the transitional hybrids, and order your A12 OS set with 4-7 hybrids.

MGS TOTAL SCORE: 87.11

 

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