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Equipment Report
  • EQUIPMENT

    The story behind these 10-year-old super-rare irons

    Chad Campbell helped design his own ‘old-school’ irons that remain in his bag

  • Chad Campbell teamed up with the Adams R&D team to design a set of irons that perfectly fit his preferences. (PGA TOUR)Chad Campbell teamed up with the Adams R&D team to design a set of irons that perfectly fit his preferences. (PGA TOUR)

In general, golfers split into two different philosophies when it comes to equipment. Some change clubs often to keep up with new look and technologies, while others stick with what they know. Four-time PGA TOUR winner Chad Campbell falls into the latter category, at least when it comes to his irons.

Approximately 10 years ago, Campbell, who was an Adams Golf staffer at the time, teamed up with the Adams R&D team to design a set of irons that perfectly fit his preferences. The irons were called “Idea Black CC1,” and the company released a very limited-edition run of 45 sets to the public.

“I was with Adams for four years. … They gave me the privilege of helping design a set of irons when I was with them,” Campbell told PGATOUR.COM. “It took a couple sets, and we finally came up with these. It’s just what I like to see.”

Exactly how involved was Campbell in the design process?

“I didn’t do much,” Campbell said, humbly. “There was a guy named Justin. I told him what I like to look at, what I like to see, showed him a couple mold irons that I liked, and what I would want to change from there. We just ran with it and came up with these. He did an awesome job.”

The “guy named Justin” was Justin Honea, the director of product development for Adams Golf at the time. Honea recalls “completely breaking down” Campbell’s previous set of irons to measure their specs and exact CG (center of gravity) locations, because Campbell was very particular about what he wanted.

“Some guys will take a new iron and just try to make it work, but Chad is very particular,” Honea recalled. “He’s like Bernhard Langer. He knew exactly what he wanted.”

Although Campbell downplayed his design involvement, Honea said Campbell was “100 percent integral” and hands-on throughout the process. In fact, Honea said it took months of fine-tuning with Campbell and hours on the range at his home course in Texas to get the look right.

Eventually, Campbell and Honea came up with the Adams Idea Black CC1 irons, which were cast from 8620 carbon steel and plated with the frosted satin look that Campbell desired.

Ten years later, Campbell still has those irons in his bag. It’s the set he used this fall during his first four starts of the 2019-20 PGA TOUR season in a career that began on TOUR nearly two decades ago. A month ago, he finished T-9 at the Houston Open, his first top-10 finish in two years, and is ranked 122nd in the FedExCup standings.

While he’s still competing in the modern game, he doesn’t prefer the look of new-age iron designs. Campbell wants to see a bit of offset, whereas most golfers, especially on today’s PGA TOUR, want to see as little offset as possible. He also likes a thicker topline, while many of his PGA TOUR contemporaries opt for a thinner look.

“The TOUR players at that time loved the [CC1] irons because of the thick topline, offset and blade size,” Honea said. “It felt like you were hitting the ball with a hammer.”

Times have changed, though.

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The term “offset” refers to a design that sees the leading edge of an iron setback from the hosel or neck of the club. (PGA TOUR)

“You don’t see it very much, the offset with a little bit thicker topline, a shorter heel-to-toe length,” Campbell said. “That’s what I like to look at, and they’re hard to find out here right now, especially with the offset. Offset has kind of gone to the wayside. It’s an old-school kind of thing.”

There’s no problem with liking irons that have a different look, but for Campbell, the availability of the irons could pose an issue at some point.

Not only were just 45 sets made of the irons, but in 2012, the Adams company was purchased by TaylorMade Golf, and Adams no longer makes golf clubs. Campbell is now down to just few sets, and actually went on eBay to buy a set of the Idea Black CC1 irons just in case.

Yep, that’s right -- the guy who helped design the iron had to purchase a set on eBay.

For now, with a couple of backup sets handy, Campbell isn’t worried about running out, and he’s hopeful at some point of finding a new iron that fits his eye.

“I’ll run out some time, but we’ll see,” Campbell said. “I’ll find something out there eventually. I’m not too worried about it for now.”

Honea, who’s out of the golf business full-time but occasionally helps out with Hogan Golf, said he still has a fresh set of the irons should Campbell need them down the road.

Actually, Honea still remembers the small factory in China which made the golf clubs, and he pondered whether he could get access to the original tools used to make the CC1 irons.

If so, perhaps we’ll see a “CC2” iron sometime in the future.