Callaway Fairway & Hybrid Reviews
Our Callaway golf club reviews, including the fairway and hybrid reviews below, come courtesy of exclusive access to Callaway's product designers...okay, not technically "exclusive". Callaway blitzes the interweb, radio (via podcast) and radio waves, providing access to all comers. Still, we do get to visit their plush offices in Carlsbad, California to gather exclusive interviews with the product team and lead our customers through club trails for video feedback from players like you. Be sure to read the TGW Golf Guide for more all our golf club reviews and be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter for all the latest golf gear reviews.
Callaway’s popular Steelhead fairway shape gets a modern technology infusion
Steelhead XR Fairway
For many golfers, the name Steelhead is synonymous with fairway woods.
And why wouldn’t it be? After all, the combination of the original Steelhead fairways, Steelhead Plus, and finally Steelhead III was a ridiculously successful franchise for Callaway.
“Steelhead was the best selling fairway wood of all-time for Callaway,” said Dave Neville, Callaway Senior Director of Brand Management for Metal Woods.“We sold 2.3 million of them and at one time we were selling 600,000 per year. If we can sell 120,000 fairways per year we feel like we’re doing pretty good.”
Given the success of the original franchise, the idea of bringing back a new Steelhead fairway wood had long been a consideration for Callaway.
It finally opted to make the move, however, after seeing the success of something of another retro product, the Steelhead XR irons, which featured the same shape as Callaway’s most popular iron of all-time, the X-14, albeit with some significant technology introduced into the classic shape.
“We had been thinking about it for a while, but when the Steelhead iron came out last September and immediately went to No. 1 everyone was asking, ‘Where are the fairway woods?’ It was something that we felt we just had to do,” Neville said. “We think there are a lot of people who still play a Steelhead fairway wood or have one in their garage or who played them in the past who are going to want to try this out.”
Like the Steelhead XR irons, the new Steelhead XR fairway woods will feature the classic look and shape that made them so popular, but they, too, have been updated with modern technology.
Most notably, a new J-36 carbon crown has been utilized in the design, a move that gave engineers significant weight that they could reposition to improve playability, especially as it relates to forgiveness.
“The J-36 is a different carbon than the Triaxial we use in the Epic woods but it weighs about the same,” Neville explained. “This crown weighs about six grams where the crown for our XR 16 fairways is about 26, so that 20 grams of weight is a big deal in terms of getting the MOI that we want.”
The Steelhead XR fairway woods also feature Callaway’s highly successful next generation Face Cup Technology, which helps produce faster ball speeds from across the clubface, as well as a Speed Step on the crown to improve aerodynamics and help create more swing speed.
In addition to the familiar shape of the clubhead, one other thing that fans of the original Steelhead series will appreciate is the Steelhead XR’s sole design, which was modified only slightly from Callaway’s popular Hawkeye Sole.
“It’s by far the most versatile sole that we have for sure,”Neville said. “It just cuts through the turf effortlessly. The Steelhead fairways also have a taller face, more camber, and a rounded leading edge, which is what makes them so versatile. You can hit these clubs out of the rough or even fairway bunkers with no problem.”
Golfers can also expect some performance differences between the the Steelhead XR fairway woods and the other fairways in Callaway’s current lineup.
“The Steelhead has a more forward CG location, so it’s going to have a flatter trajectory,” Neville said. “It’s really a low-spin fairway wood when compared to the Epic fairways. And with the deeper face, it’s going to be a rocket launcher off the tee for some players. We like to say it’s iconic versatility with modern power.”
Also new with the Steelhead XR fairways is a new stock shaft offering from Callaway, as they will feature the Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue, which is a smooth, mid-launching shaft that Callaway believes is a perfect match for the head design.
“Tensei CK shafts are a combination of kevlar and carbon, and they are really high-end shafts,” Neville added. “There are a lot of top-ranked guys who have the Tensei CK in play. It was really a natural fit for this product, and Mitsubishi has always been a great partner for us.”
Callaway also believes that even with all of the success that it’s enjoying with the Epic fairway woods on Tour that the Steelhead XR fairways will also be a popular choice for some of the best players in the world.
“We had it out at the U.S. Open and one player who’s not even under contract with us played it,” Neville said. “We had Branden Grace test it and he said ‘that’s going in the bag.’ And we expect more guys to put it into play in the coming weeks.”
Steelhead XR fairway woods, which are not adjustable, will be available in the following models: 3+ (13.5 degrees, 163cc clubhead volume), 3-wood (15 degrees, 171cc), 4+ (16 degrees, 157cc), 5-wood (18 degrees, 160cc), Heavenwood (20.5 degrees, 165cc), 7-wood (21 degrees, 152cc), and 9-wood (24 degrees, 145cc).
Of note, the 3+ and 4+ models will only be available as custom options for left-handers, and they will also feature flatter lie angles and a heavier stock shaft, as they were designed for stronger players.
Additionally, women’s versions will be offered in the 3-wood, 5-wood, Heavenwood, 7-wood, and 9-wood. The women’s options also will feature the Tensei CK Blue shaft, albeit in a 50-gram, ladies flex model.
Epic hybrids delivering exceptional distance, launch, and forgiveness
Callaway Talks: Epic Hybrids & Irons
Rounding out the Epic family from Callaway for 2017 are brand new Epic hybrids, and as has been the case with every Epic product that has been released there is significant technology driving their performance.
And has also been the case with Epic products across the board, Epic hybrids are delivering golfers significant ball speed gains, which has been accomplished in multiple ways.
“The Epic hybrids take some of the technology from our fairway woods and some from our irons,” said Luke Williams, Callaway Senior Director of Global Product Strategy for Irons.
Of particular note, the Epic hybrids feature a lightweight Triaxial Carbon Crown, a first for Callaway in a hybrid, and the weight that was saved in constructing the crown allowed engineers to move the CG lower and deeper to optimize launch conditions, distance, and forgiveness.
Helping produce explosive distance and faster ball speeds from all impact points is Callaway’s next generation Hyper Speed Face Cup.
“The Face Cup allows the whole face to flex more, particularly as you move away from the center of the clubface, and that creates more ball speed,” Williams said. “We can control the thickness of the face, and that flex helps keep ball speeds up on mis-hits and low-center hits.”
Additionally, as is the case with the new Epic irons, what Callaway is calling a Tungsten-Infused Standing Wave has been included in the design of the Epic hybrids, which enables tungsten weight to be precisely injected into the clubhead to produce an optimal CG position and ideal performance for each loft.
And given that the Epic hybrids are adjustable (-1/+2 degrees of loft, as well as draw settings), that was no small task for Callaway’s design team.
“With an adjustable hosel like the Epic hybrids have, weighting can be a challenge, as the adjustable hosel wants to suck the weight toward the hosel and higher in the clubhead,” explained Williams. “The carbon crown saves weight that we can reposition and tungsten helps us lower the CG.”
One thing, however, that’s different about the Epic hybrids when compared to the Epic irons is who they were designed for.
While the irons weren’t designed with Tour players in mind given just how long they are, Callaway envisions significant Tour play when it comes to the Epic hybrids based on how playable they are.
“We’ve got a couple of Tour players already playing it,” Williams said. “Kevin Kisner won with one in his bag a couple of weeks ago, and I expect this will be a really good hybrid for us out on Tour.”
In terms of its profile, Epic falls sizewise between some of Callaway’s most recent and popular hybrid releases.
“It’s a little bit larger than the Apex but smaller than Steelhead, so it’s a nice size, and it’s been really well-received,” Williams said.
Epic hybrids are being offered in standard loft settings of 18, 20, 23, and 26 degrees and with the UST Mamiya Recoil ES 780 as a stock shaft offering in flexes ranging from light to extra stiff.
They are also available in both right- and left-handed models and come standard with Golf Pride New Decade grips.
GBB Epic Fairways and Hybrids. Faster, longer, more forgiving, and more accurate: An Epic combination
GBB Epic Fairways: Callaway is taking its impressive fairway wood game to all new heights with the release of GBB Epic and Epic Sub Zero fairways, as both models are delivering ball speed numbers the likes of which the company has never seen before.
Unlike the Epic drivers, you won’t see Jailbreak Technology utilized in the Epic fairway woods, and the reason for that is pretty simple.
“The fairway woods don’t have Jailbreak Technology because of the heights of the clubface,” explained Dave Neville, Callaway’s Senior Director of Brand Management.
Fear not, however, said Neville, who added, “but this is the best ball speed producing technology we’ve ever had in a fairway wood. It’s extremely, extremely hot.”
Face Cup Technology has been the key ingredient in Callaway’s fairway wood success in recent years, and the Fourth Generation Face Cup being utilized in the Epic fairway woods is more efficient than ever on off-center hits, which is creating faster ball speeds from impact points across the clubface.
But also crucial to the improved performance of the Epic fairway woods has been the use of a Triaxial Carbon Crown, which is significantly lighter than the steel crown that Callaway has predominantly used in its fairways, including the highly successful XR 16 line.
“The big thing is the Triaxial Carbon Crown on both of the fairways,” Neville said. “When you go from 26 to 5.8 grams, that’s a huge number in terms of being able to get the MOI and ball speeds up.”
More specifically, Neville said the new, lightweight crown design creates MOI that’s 11 percent higher than XR 16. The weight that’s saved also allows for a lower, deeper CG placement that is creating effortless launch conditions with less spin, a combination that is equating to shots that are more accurate and longer from the fairway or a tee.
Players will also see that a Speed Step has been included on the crown of the Epic fairway woods. That technology was a result of Callaway’s collaboration with aerospace expert Boeing and helps create more clubhead speed, another component that enables more distance.
As mentioned previously, there are two different Epic models in the lineup, the standard GBB Epic and the Epic Sub Zero.
The biggest difference between the two is that the Sub Zero model has two adjustable weights to be utilized in ports in the front and back of the sole, one weighing 22 grams and the other weighing three grams. By positioning the heavier weight in the back position, players can expect higher launch and trajectory, as well as increased spin and MOI. The heavier weight being positioned forward, however, will create lower spin rates, launch, and trajectory.
The Sub Zero, which is available in lofts of 13.5, 15, and 18 degrees, also has a slightly more compact profile than the standard Epic, but it is not a club that was built solely with lower-handicappers in mind.
“The size is slightly smaller, but not a ton,” Neville said. “From a shaping standpoint it might be more for a little better player but not from a performance standpoint. With the 22-gram weight in the back, the MOI is close to the standard (Epic), within 10-15 points.”
While the standard Epic fairway woods don’t feature moveable weights, there are a number of additional lofts to choose from to help players fill the gaps in their bag. There are 15- and 18-degree models like the Sub Zero, as well as lofts of 14, 21, and 24 degrees, along with the 20.5-degree Heavenwood, which has more loft but specs and a clubhead size similar to many 4-woods.
Both models also feature Callaway’s OptiFit adjustable hosel, which allows loft to be adjusted by one degree stronger or two degrees weaker while also providing draw bias settings.
Another impressive aspect of the Epic fairway woods, as is also the case with the drivers, is the quality and scope of the stock shaft offerings, as Callaway has partnered with some of the most popular and successful shaft manufacturers in the world.
The four stock shaft options for the Epic fairway woods are the Diamana M+ Green, the Project X Hzrdus T800, the Fujikura Pro Green, and the Aldila Rogue Max, all of which are available in multiple flexes and weight classes to fit any player’s needs. The two stock shaft options for the Epic Sub Zero fairway woods, meanwhile, are the the Fujikura Pro Green and the Aldila Rogue Max.
“We’re really excited about the stock shafts we have,” Neville said. “We feel like we have the most comprehensive stock shaft lineup. We think 90-95 percent of players will fit into one of these stock shafts, and we’re also offering all our no-upcharge shafts for Fusion for Epic as well.”
From a profile standpoint, the new Diamana Green is a lightweight shaft (weight range from the high 40s to high 50s) that will produce high launch and high spin. It will be a great option for players who don’t generate a lot of clubhead speed and need to maximize carry distance.
The Hzrdus T800 is a mid-weight option (55 or 65 grams) that will deliver mid-launch and mid-spin conditions with a smoother, more active feel than some of its more stout Hzrdus counterparts, most notably the Black and Yellow versions.
The Pro Green, which is also new, is a stable shaft that will suit more aggressive, stronger players and produce low-to-mid launch and spin conditions. It is available in weight ranges from the low 60s to mid 70s.
And finally, the Rogue Max is the heaviest of the stock shafts and also features the lowest torque, which will give it a stout feel at impact. High swing speed players who are looking for low launch and low spin will be great candidates for the Max, which is available in 65-, 75-, and 85-gram models.
The release date for Callaway GBB Epic and GBB Epic Sub Zero fairway woods is Jan. 27, but they will available for pre-sale on Jan. 13. Those who order Epic fairway woods before Jan. 21 are guaranteed to receive them on Jan. 27.
XR16 and XR16 Pro Fairways
XR16 and XR16 Pro Fairways: Callaway’s Hyper Speed Face Cup has been the driving force behind its fairway wood success. The Face Cup is a structure that surrounds and supports the clubface, enabling a thinner face to produce higher ball speeds. The XR16 and XR16 Pro have the thinnest, hottest faces that Callaway has ever created. Additionally, weight has been removed from the crown and that allowed the CG to be moved lower, which improves launch angles and MOI. The shape of the club has also been modified slightly to improve aerodynamics, resulting in higher swing speeds.
Despite much of the same technology, the XR16 and XR16 Pro do have very different profiles, most notably in the size of the clubhead. The head on the XR16 was enlarged to make it easier to hit, while the head on the XR16 Pro is significantly smaller and also features a shallower face. Also of note, the XR Pro will feature a heavier stock shaft and stronger lofts, while the standard length is shorter. For comparison, the XR16 3-wood is 15 degrees, 43 1/4 inches in length, 175cc, and the stock shaft, depending on flex, will be in the 60-gram range. The 3-wood in the XR16 Pro, meanwhile, is 14 degrees, 43 inches, 150cc, and the stock shaft, depending on flex, will weigh between 72 and 76 grams. What does that mean? It means that the XR16 Pro will probably appeal more to a better, stronger player. That said, thanks to all of its technological features, it’s still a very forgiving fairway wood. Also of note, the XR16 Pro fairway woods only come in lofts of 14, 16, and 18 degrees, while the XR16 features seven different options ranging in lofts from 14 to 25 degrees.
"It actually produces high speeds all the way across the face, easy to launch, and the ball goes forever." - Dave Neville - Callaway Global Director for Woods and Wedges
“Good trajectory, good feel. It looks like it's got some speed going through.” - Bob, TGW Customer 3 hdcp.
Steelhead XR Hybrids
Callaway Steelhead XR Hybrids: In 2000, when the X-14 irons were released, hybrids hadn’t made their way onto the golf scene yet. Today, however, having hybrids to complement iron sets is almost a must in the golf marketplace, which was the motivation behInd the creation of Steelhead XR hybrids.
In terms of playability, the Steelhead XR hybrids were designed to feature many of the same performance benefits as their iron counterparts, most notably exceptional distance, high launch, and amazing forgiveness, which should make these hybrids popular with a wide range of players
Some of the performance that the XR hybrids deliver comes in a similar technological manner as the irons as well, especially with Face Cup technology fueling the impressive distance that these hybrids produce.
And in addition to having a hotter face thanks to a new Hyper Speed Face Cup, the Steelhead XR hybrids also feature a larger clubface that delivers faster ball speeds on mis-hits, while a Speed Step on the crown helps reduce air drag for increased swing speed.
Additionally, the larger overall profile of the Steelhead XR hybrids, both in terms of blade length and body width, as well as a CG placement that’s low and deep in the clubhead, help encourage the higher launch conditions that these hybrids were designed to produce.
Steelhead XR hybrids are available in lofts of 19, 22, 25, and 28 degrees for both men and women, albeit in different swing weights. They come standard with lightweight Matrix Ozik F15 graphite shafts, but additional no upcharge options are available depending on a player’s needs.
Big Bertha OS Hybrids
Callaway Big Bertha OS Hybrids: As mentioned, the Big Bertha OS irons rank as Callaway’s most forgiving in its current iron lineup, and the same can be said for the Big Bertha OS hybrids, which were designed to be exceptionally easy to hit and launch without having to sacrifice distance
Callaway’s next generation Hyper Speed Face Cup is the key component in the distance generated by the Big Bertha OS hybrids, as it enables a clubface that delivers incredible ball speeds, even on off-center hits.
Additionally, a larger overall clubface makes the face more flexible for enhanced distance, while also inspiring confidence from players at address, and the use of a Boeing inspired Speed Step on the crown helps produce faster swing speeds.
Meanwhile, the higher launch that the Big Bertha OS hybrids produce is made possible by a low CG placement in what from a profile standpoint is a deeper overall clubhead, which also improves MOI by creating more stability at impact.
And finally, unique to the Big Bertha OS is that this is the only hybrid in the current Callaway lineup that features an adjustable hosel, which gives players the option to adjust loft by three degrees (+2/-1), as well as set the club up with either a neutral or draw bias. That combination of adjustability not only allows players to hit these hybrids the precise distances that they want but they can also better control trajectory and ball flight.
Big Bertha OS hybrids are available in mens and ladies models in lofts of 19, 22, 25, 28, and 31 degrees. The stock shaft is the UST Recoil ES, but other options are also available at no upcharge.