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Faldo and Adams to fill the bag

On the surface, Nick Faldo and Barney Adams look like an odd couple.

The 60-year-old founder of Adams Golf is colorful and engaging, a straight shooter who is not afraid to tell it like it is, even if his sharpest digs are aimed at his own company.

"We did a better job beating ourselves than some other people," he says of Adams' financial setbacks late last year.

But Adams is also a stickler for detail, having spent the first eight years out of college as a field engineer for Corning Glass, the next 10 in Silicon Valley.

Faldo is the ultimate perfectionist, the mechanical man who was rarely satisfied with his swing even as he was winning six major championships. His fresh sense of humor is often lost in a furrowed brow of concentration.

But when Faldo and Adams began talking last year, they realized they would be a perfect fit.

"The reason Nick is good to work with is because he has an unrelenting desire for quality, which is me," Adams said. "And he's very involved. When we were putting the shafts into the new driver, and we had to have a sit-down session to tell him exactly how the shafts were made."

With this unique partnership, Adams has set out to become more than just a company that makes the Tight Lies fairway metals.

Now on the shelves of golf stores is the Adams SC Series titanium driver, which features a shaped face to control the spin. Also introduced at the PGA Merchandise Show last month was the Faldo Series wedge, designed to hit three kinds of shots with one club.

Faldo already is working on irons, one set for professionals and one for amateurs.

"I thought I had something to offer," Faldo said. ``Barney said he wanted somebody on board who was going to be part of the company. Here was this company that was interested in my involvement and was successful with one product, the Tight Lies.

"We have the rest of the bag to fill, which is very exciting."

It starts with the driver, developed with technology aimed at achieving a specific ball flight by slightly shaping the titanium face under extreme heat. Four models have been designed for players who tend to hit a severe slice, a regular slice, a hook and those who can work the ball left or right.

"No question this is superior technology," Adams said. ``It's a better engineering job than Tight Lies. The one thing Tight Lies had going for it was it looked different. That means a lot in our business. This has a new look, but the look is not tied to performance."

And, of course, Faldo's name is on the bottom of the club.

"Nick doesn't put his name on stuff that isn't good," Adams said.

Another aspect to their relationship is that Faldo doesn't have to play the Adams equipment. What impressed him about Adams is that new clubs weren't produced for the sake of having something new on the market.

"When an Adams club goes into the bag, that means they're ready, and they're for me," Faldo said. "I don't want to put a clubs in my bag unless they're better than what is put in there now. That's always been the goal."

Faldo stumbled into wedge design by accident late last year.

Frustrated that he could play out of the sand but struggled with chips and pitches, and carrying additional wedges at the risk of having to remove another club from the bag, he took his idea to Adams and went to work on it with Rick Nelson, a tour representative that Adams hired away from Mizuno.

The wedge is a classic style with an asymmetric sole designed to deliver three wedge shots -- sand, pitch and lobs -- with one club.

Faldo started with a blank wedge and wound up grinding and sanding the first prototype himself. He then marked it with colored ink, sent it to Adams' engineers and kept tinkering until he had a wedge he trusted.

"That's been my own project," he said. ``The irons are really the next things, and I've already started a little on that."

This is what Faldo had in mind when his contract expired with Mizuno last May. For years, he says he felt like he was nothing more than a name on a poster, his contributions limited to promotions and advertisements.

"I've been playing golf for 20 years and had some good ideas, but it was falling flat with other companies," he said. "It was very difficult to get an answer, which annoyed me, frustrated me. Even if you did have ideas, it took six months for a note to come back.

"It doesn't work that way here."

Faldo's contract with Mizuno expired in May, and he signed a unique deal with Adams -- not the typical endorsement fee for wearing the hat and carrying the bag, but 900,000 shares of Adams stock, plus the right to appoint a director to the board.

Best of all, he is helping Adams fill the bag the way without feeling the pressure to get something out on the market for the sake of time.

"You have guys sit across the table, and if they like the idea they pursue it," he said. "If not, it's killed. But it's fun getting the opportunity.''