Barney Adams Named Recipient of the 2010 PGA Ernie Sabayrac Award

barney adams
Adams Golf/The PGA of America
Barney Adams, 71, will be honored at The PGA of America Awards next January in Orlando.
PGA of America


Published: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 | 3:28 p.m.

Barney Adams of Dallas, Texas, who sparked a revolution in golf through his invention of the Tight Lies fairway wood, has been named the recipient of the PGA Ernie Sabayrac Award, for lifetime contributions to the golf industry.

Adams, 71, will be honored at The PGA of America Awards, Jan. 27, 2011, in conjunction with the 58th PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The program, featuring all 2010 PGA national award winners, will be conducted in the Convention Center's Linda W. Chapin Auditorium.






Ernie Sabayrac


Bob Rickey


Gary Adams


Dick Tarlow


Karsten Solheim


Joe Phillips


Bob MacNally


Ely Callaway


Jim Ireland


Jim Vincent


Jim Butz


David Branor


Thomas Crow


Patrick O'Grady


Ed Abrain


Ron McPherson


Nancy Haley


Phil Tralies


No recipient


Barney Adams


No recipient


Bev Dolan

Born in Syracuse, N.Y., Adams grew up 20 miles away in Marcellus, a town of 750, and carved a path to the golf industry at age 14, serving as a caddie at The Onondaga Country Club in Syracuse, where during caddie assignments he observed the bond between golfers and their equipment.

"I had an interest in what clubs a golfer uses and why," said Adams. "Why are some clubs dirtier than others? It was because golfers play with the tools that they can hit with more success."

Adams said that his "personal epiphany" took place between 1991 and 1995. After laboring for nearly 12 years in obscurity and collecting six patents on golf products that would not sell, he answered customers' needs for a club that could be played from "long iron [180 to 200-yard] distance." He designed the Tight Lies® fairway wood with a lower center of gravity, crafting a club that had the traditional head upside down.

"I don't take design credit for a piece of equipment that was essentially in golfers' bags as early as the 1870s," said Adams. "There was a form of a 3-iron hybrid back then. What I did from a design standpoint was to make a design to facilitate a shot. I wanted to make a club that performed to the satisfaction of the consumer. My job was improving the ball flight of my customers."

Adams attended Clarkson University of Potsdam, N.Y., a school noted for engineering excellence, where he earned seven athletic letters, graduating in 1962 and joining Corning Glass, from 1962-69. Adams then took a position in sales in California; was recruited into a small manufacturing company and ultimately arrived in Silicon Valley, specializing in the semiconductor industry.

In 1983, Adams was recruited again, this time to Abilene, Texas, by Dave Pelz, the renowned short-game aficionado who was then head of an equipment company. Adams later purchased the company's assets in 1986, beginning Adams Golf Company which he moved to Dallas in 1991. Perfecting his skill as a club fitter at Hank Haney's Golf Ranch in McKinney, Texas, Adams' new fairway wood was launched in 1996. Fueled by a TV Infomercial, sales began to jump and the industry took notice. By 1998, Adams Golf reported $85 million in sales, was included in the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Small Companies, and in July 1998 had the largest sale of a stock to the general public in the history of the golf industry.

Adams retired in 2002, turning over the chief executive officer post to Chip Brewer. Today, Adams Golf continues its momentum through emphasis on research and development, and Adams Golf "Idea" irons are the No. 1 hybrid iron sets in golf, and the Idea hybrids the No. 1 hybrid used by tour professionals.

In 2008, Adams captured his career in print, with the book, "The WOW Factor – How I Turned One Great Idea and My Unbridled Enthusiasm into a Golf Revolution."

"Barney Adams is a remarkable American success story and his career is a tribute to those dedicated to the business of golf," said PGA of America President Jim Remy. "The same steadfast spirit that epitomizes our country's finest inventors came to life through Barney's ability to improve a piece of equipment that has produced tremendous enjoyment in the game. A new generation of golfers can thank Barney for his quest for perfection. It is with great pride that we present him with the PGA Ernie Sabayrac Award."

Adams and his wife, Jackie, live in Dallas. Adams is the parent of daughters, Cindy and Susan; and a son, Eddie.

Begun in 1994, The PGA of America's Ernie Sabayrac Award was first presented to its namesake, the late Ernie Sabayrac, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. A prominent figure in the origin of the PGA Merchandise Show and a pioneer in the development of the golf shop, Sabayrac revolutionized merchandising among PGA Professionals, introducing golf shoes, soft goods and logoed products in golf shops nationwide.

The Ernie Sabayrac Award was created to reflect The PGA of America's commitment to golf industry manufacturers and distributors and to recognize the mutually beneficial relationship that has thrived for more than 50 years.