This may very well be the “single best looking iron” we’ve ever tested!

Adams CMB Irons

(Written By: GolfSpy T) There’s a trick writers will use from time to time when they’re jammed up. When you don’t know how to start, go the end and work your way to the beginning. Using that very same approach, I’ve been spinning the story of the new Adams CMB irons for the last 2 years.

Look…I’m a lucky guy. My job provides me with certain luxuries where golf equipment is concerned. Not everybody has the budget to play what I play, and that’s not excessively fair. But their costs and your budgets are what they are. So for the last two years, I’ve been trying to find a compromise. I’ve been looking…waiting really, for a truly special iron; one worthy of a subtitle I’ve been desperate to write.

I had no way of knowing what iron it would be, or when it would show up on my doorstep, but I was confident I’d know it when I saw it, and based on the way things have progressed over the last year and a half or so, I had a pretty damned good idea who would eventually make it.

Now you’re probably reading this and thinking, “what the hell is this clown talking about? What the bloody f^#k does any of this have to do with an iron review?”. These are fair questions. Bear with me. Indulge me a bit, and trust that I’m going somewhere with this, and that eventually someday I’ll get to the point. Hell…it took me two years to get this far. What’s 10 more minutes between friends?

Before we get to the meaty part of this review, let’s acknowledge that it is almost impossible not to mention the new overlords when discussing any Adams product these days, and that this…this type of player’s cavity back is likely what golfers fear losing the most as a result of the TaylorMade-Adidas acquisition of Adams Golf.

Hopefully the team at TaylorMade fully comprehends what they’ve managed to get their hands on, because this iron…the Adams CMB is a shining example of how to design a golf club and get every mother-f’n detail absolutely, 100% right.

The Marketing Angle

Quite frankly, this review doesn’t require any marketing crap (my word, not theirs) from Adams. This is, as you’ll soon see, an iron that will very likely sell itself the first time you swing it. Marketing mumbo jumbo is inconsequential. The irons themselves tell you everything you need to know, but for the sake of consistency, here’s the blah, blah, blah from Adams Golf on what they’re calling “The Most Playable Player’s Iron“.

  • Forged 1025 carbon steel body provides exceptional feel.
  • Unique tungsten weight inserts strategically placed low in the toe to position the center of gravity in the exact center of the scorelines. This creates enhanced feel and minimal twisting at impact.
  • Two-piece, laser plasma-welded forged construction.
  • Nickel-chrome satin finish gives these irons a unique and better player look.
  • 3-way cambered sole improves turf interaction.
  • Triple-milled (face, grooves & cavity) improves the scoreline design.
  • Progressive performance provides consistent forgiveness and ball flight control from long irons to scoring club

How We Tested

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

*We’re migrating our testing model to a custom fitting system, as such fewer testers (most within the target player demographic will participate in reviews). We absolutely would have liked to include our lowest handicap golfer in this test, however; he was unavailable due to a medical issue.

Radius-Based Scoring

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

Our test set included 4-GW with KBS C-Taper shafts in both stiff+ flex.

Short Iron Performance

With a 46° pitching wedge (50° gap wedge), the CMBs are slightly stronger than what I still consider to be the modern standard for a player’s iron. At 35.75″, the pitching wedge is also a tick longer than traditionalists like to see. You can harp on that detail or not…your choice, but I thought you might like to know.

In terms of general distance, our testers would likely tell you that distances are reasonably consistent with what is in their bags now, with the long irons perhaps being slightly longer. As I’ve always said, distance probably shouldn’t be a real concern when shopping for irons, and if it is, I’d politely suggest that the CMB is probably not right for you.

Looking at the raw averages the numbers are borderline stupid for a few reasons. So before I give you the data, let’s make sure we paint a complete picture of what could account for the numbers being what they are:

  • We used fewer testers. We’re modifying our testing protocols for irons such that we primarily test with guys inside the target handicap range for a given set of irons. No more 18 handicaps testing blades. No more 4 handicap golfers testing SGI clubs.
  • Mark couldn’t hit the short irons to save his life. It was – take 2 weeks off, and then quit – bad. Horrific. His was nothing short of the worst short iron test we’ve ever seen. It was so anomalous, especially when you consider his long iron test, that we dropped his score. To put this in full perspective,  our graphic shows an area 20 yards by 20 yards with the target in the middle. Despite this relatively large area, Mark only placed 4 balls (of 10) on the screen…with a short iron. I can’t recall another occasion where a tester failed to put less than 9 on the screen. It’s an abomination.
  • When I did my portion of the short iron test, I found myself in that zone we all wish we could spend a bit more time in. Offsetting Mark’s worst short iron test ever was my best short iron test ever.

So with that out of the way…our testers missed the target pin by an average of 31.45 feet. That’s obviously well into the not-so-good range, but we have to maintain perspective here while understanding that Mark (who incidentally was not swinging left handed) missed by over 60 feet on average…average. His best shot missed by just under 9 feet. His worse miss (after we threw out 2 that were worse still) was by an alarming, yet strangely brilliant, 106.38 feet. Wow. In case you’re wondering, futility has a mustache.

If we drop Mark from the math (which we do for scoring purposes only), the group average improves substantially to 16.79 feet. Basically, overall accuracy nearly doubles simply by kicking one guy to the curb. He was just that bad…and then some.

As you can see misses (not counting Mark) favored the right-side slightly, with an average miss of 8.59 feet (left to right).  Telling is that, while our competent testers missed the target distance by an average of 12.83 feet (18.3 feet with Mark included) nearly as many shots missed long as short.

Finally, when we look more closely for birdie opportunities we find that our group of testers as a whole managed 7 shots inside of 10 feet. We rarely see 7 inside of 10 when we test with 6 golfers, so from a pinpoint accuracy perspective, the results are pretty damn impressive.

If we’re feeling generous, and bump birdie range out to 107 feet, even all 10 of Mark’s shots are within range, however; at a more reasonable distance of 15 feet, the number of birdie opportunities climbs to 11.

If we exclude Mark from the scoring formula…and we feel like we absolutely have to out of fairness, the Adams CMB short irons performed exceptionally well.

Short Iron Performance Score 91.84

Middle Iron Performance

With the middle irons our testers produced some interesting results. I was slightly worse, Nick was slightly better, and Mark, while not great, showed some improvement.

What the data shows is that our testers missed the target by an average of 33.56 feet. Once again, while better, individually Mark had arguably his worst middle iron performance ever. When we drop him from the math, the group average improves to 25.25 feet. Comparatively speaking, the 33.56 feet isn’t near the top, but the adjusted average would be among the very best…and I think that’s what we need to think about here.

When we look purely at our testers ability to put the ball close to the center line, we find that our testers missed by an average of 27.31 feet. That’s ugly. When we drop captain hook, however; center line accuracy jumps to 18.40 feet, which is much, much better.

Interestingly, distance control played out quite a bit differently from left/right accuracy. Our testers missed their distance by an average of 14.02 feet. While on its own that number is well above average, when we drop the lowest performing golfer, we see an improvement of almost 2 feet to 12.12 feet.

Looking at what matters most (the probability of draining a putt), we find that our testers were able to place 5 shots inside of 15 feet. We like how we’re putting today, so we’re going to call birdie range 20 feet. In that case, the number of one-putt birdie opportunities improves to 11, and even Mark gets in on the fun.

Middle Iron Performance Score: 90.34

Long Iron Performance

Here’s where things get interesting. My test played out similarly to just about every other long iron I’ve ever tested. Nick stepped up his game a bit, and Mark…well Mark, pulled his head out of his ass and decided to play some serious golf.

Looking at the raw averages, our testers (armed largely with 4 irons) missed the target by an average of 32.31 feet. When the lowest tester is dropped, the improvement is relatively modest; gaining less than a foot to 31.59 feet. Any way you crunch the numbers; this is the single best long iron test we’ve had to date.

Looking at proximity to the center line, we see that our testers missed the mark by an average of 32.28 feet, and 23.60 feet adjusted, both of which are above average.

When we look solely at our testers ability to hit the club the appropriate distance (for many the most difficult piece of the long iron puzzle), we find that our testers missed the distance by an average of 18.15 feet. When the least consistent tester is removed the number improves to 16.63 feet, which is also excellent.

Finally, seeking out those rare birdie opportunities; when we look inside 20 feet, we find our testers hit a total of  8 shots that qualify. Bumped out to 25 feet, the number of birdie chances climbs to 12. While not the highest total we’ve ever seen, considering we had only 3 testers, from a percentage standpoint the results are likely the best to date.

Long Iron Performance Score: 90.41

Performance Notes

There’s little doubt in my mind that the Adams CMB irons are among the highest performing irons we’ve tested to date. Certainly we have to acknowledge that Mark’s abomination with the short irons is cause for concern, however; we feel his steady improvement, and outstanding long iron score more than mitigate his initial results, while suggesting he perhaps just needed more swings than normal to get loose.

The bottom line here is that the CMB is yet another in a growing line of ridiculously good player’s iron from Adams.

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 Adams Idea CMB Irons. You can click on each of 3 tabs (Adams CMB – Short Irons, Adams CMB – Mid Irons, Adams CMB – 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. At your whimsy you can drag the Distance from Hole slider around to show you how many shots fell within the area you specify.



Looks

It’s hard to know where to begin and end where the looks of the Adams CMB irons are concerned, but I’ll start with this:

Stunning to the point I don’t want to pound them into the dirt” – Mark C.

Nick told us he thinks they’re the best looking iron we’ve had in for review…ever. Kent (the owner of Tarks – our test facility), has literally seen everything that’s come through the doors in the last 3 years, and he said exactly the same time (without hearing Nick say it first).

Honestly, I’m struggling to find fault with anything Adams did here. The matte finish on the sole works flawlessly with the Nickel-chrome satin found elsewhere on the head. The gold CMB badge which reflects more light than we’d like it to in photos, isn’t nearly as ostentatious as it might appear, and the milling on the cavity badge is just enough to give the head some added distinction without crossing the line to pretense.

Where shape is concerned, the CMB offers everything the low to mid handicap golfer could ask for. The head is compact, but not intimidating. The topline is relatively thin, and remains consistent from the 4-iron through the gap wedge. Offset is progressive, but never offensive.

They are perfect.

Paired with the stock KBS C-Taper shafts, and White and Black GolfPride New Decade Multi-Compound grips, and I’m inclined to agree with everyone. The Adams CMB may very well be the single best looking iron we’ve ever tested, and that’s saying quite a bit.

MGS Looks Score: 100

Sound & Feel

The score you see below tells more about what the Adams CMB isn’t, than what it actually is. Feel, particularly with an iron, often boils down to the perception of softness. I can assure you the Adams CMB is a soft iron ( the small dings on our samples suggest as much). Where feel as it relates to feedback is concerned, the CMB probably isn’t as soft as…well…most any Mizuno iron we’ve ever tested. Nor does it feel as soft as the surprisingly amazing Wilson FG Tour iron.

What the Adams CMB is – is crisp. It’s the closest I’ve ever felt to my Miura CB-501s, and that in and of itself should tell you nearly everything you need to know about this tremendous iron.

If you’re looking for an iron that’s buttery soft on anything near the center of the clubface, the CMB probably isn’t going to give you everything you look for. If you want something that will make you giddy like school girl at a Justin Bieber concert every time the center of the face hits the ball…this one is special.

MGS Feel Score: 96.75

Perceived Forgiveness

I did have to laugh just a bit when the forgiveness scores came back. By my estimation it’s probably the 4th most forgiving iron we’ve tested from Adams in the last year (CB3, Idea Pro a12, and a12 OS are all probably more forgiving), but when you consider its place in the Adams lineup, it’s everything it should be and more. It’s familiar to me.

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking the Adams CMB is anywhere near as forgiving as say… Rihanna (just an example). If forgiveness is near the top of your list, go elsewhere.

No doubt our testers probably thought of forgiveness in terms of how well they hit the best of the CMB set (long vs. short. vs. middle), and if we’re rating the CMB against other irons in its class (which we should be), our testers and I more or less agree.

Tester Perceived Forgiveness Score: 93.17

Likelihood of Purchase

How do you think this is going to play out? You’ve got guys who mostly hit the CMB irons as well or better than any iron we’ve tested. You’ve got guys who tell you that they think the CMBs are the best looking irons we’ve ever tested. And you’ve got guys who, even if they aren’t the softest, think the CMBs are among the best feeling (and most forgiving) player’s cavity backs we’ve ever tested.

Love these irons and everything about them” – Nick B.

Surprising to no one (I hope), this is a recipe for a club that EVERYONE wants to put in their bag…yesterday.

Tester Likelihood of Purchase: 100

Just one guy’s (and a bunch of other guy’s) opinion here, but if we’re talking about the subjective qualities of the Adams CMB iron, this one is special. Arguably it’s the single most impressive iron we’ve ever put through our testing process, and one of now 3 (Adams MB2 and Mizuno MP-59s), that I wish I could hang on a wall in my man room (I don’t actually have one of those…my daughter has a playroom instead…which is less cool, and frankly pisses me off a little).

While a 100% buy-in rate is next to impossible, the CMB is an iron I think you’re really going to love.

CONCLUSION

At this outset of this thing I babbled quite a bit about, hell…I can barely remember. Anyway…two years ago I was fortunate enough to receive a set of Miura CB-501 irons for testing. For my money…for really any amount of money, properly fit, I think they’re the best irons I’ve ever had the opportunity to test. The downside is that my Miura’s run about $2000; well above the bottom line of what most golfers are willing to pay for a set of irons.

I get that – and it’s not fair. So from the first time I hit those irons, I’ve been searching for what I suppose you might call the poor man’s version. In nearly every respect, design, feel, and performance, the Adams CMB are the closest things I’ve ever seen to the Miura CB-501s…and they cost roughly half as much (full disclosure, at $999/set the CMBs still qualify as a premium priced forged offering).

I dare you to hit them and not take them home” – Mark C.

I have never, and I will never tell anyone “You must go buy these irons“, but dude, if you’re going to buy a set of player’s cavity backs, you damn sure better try this iron. Just don’t try it first – you may not try anything else. In my estimation the Adams CMB are every bit worthy of being called The Poor Man’s CB-501, but if you are that poor man who puts them in your bag, I wouldn’t expect anyone to feel sorry for you.

Adams Idea CMB Gallery

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