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Barney Adams

Interview by John DunphyPublished: December, 2012

Long before the word “hybrid” became common in the golf industry, Barney Adams was blazing a trail with inventive clubs designed for the average golfer troubled by long iron shots.

He founded Adams Golf in 1987 and initially specialized in custom-fitted clubs. In 1996 he created the Tight Lies fairway wood, a low-slung metal club with a lower center of gravity that was easier to hit. It revolutionized play for amateurs, and many golfers still carry the club. Since then, most big-name manufacturers have jumped on the hybrid bandwagon.

The company has an innovative line of Speedline drivers and fairway metals; its Adams Idea irons and hybrids also are popular.

Today Adams Golf counts Champions Tour great Tom Watson and Aaron Baddeley among its stable of players. Although he spends much of his time these days pursuing saltwater fly fishing, Adams took a few moments to talk with Southland Golf.

Q: How did you first get interested in golf? I started [at age 14] as a caddy in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1953 and had a fascination with equipment from Day One.
Q: What led you to becoming one of the top club makers? I was dedicated to improving the ball flight of my customers [during] the years I worked as a custom fitter; this led to making “better tools.”
Q: Do you have any thoughts about Augusta National admitting its first women members? Private club, their rules. I’ve been turned down at places. It’s the right of privacy. A non-issue.
Q: Do you think Tiger Woods will break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors? If he can drive the ball under the gun. Otherwise, not yet.
Q: Do you have a favorite golf course in Southern California? I’m a big fan of The Palms [private] in La Quinta. It’s a pure-golf place. The average handicap for the whole membership is like 9 or something and reasonably priced.

Three hours and forty-five minutes is the time limit for 18 holes, and it is strictly enforced. Any serious golfer coming to the desert should investigate The Palms.
Q: What’s your opinion about belly putters? Should they be banned on Tour? No, they have been around for 80 years, and there is no data that they are superior - non-traditional, yes – but not enough of a reason. The amateur game is losing players; we need to be inclusive, not turn folks away.

Q: Who would be in your dream foursome? My dad, he was a good player but died before we ever got to play. I don’t care who else. I’ve been very lucky and gotten to play with many of my golf heroes.


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