Callaway Golf Driver Reviews
On a recent visit to Callaway headquarters in Carlsbad, California, hosting four lucky customers for in-person trials at Callway's Eli Callaway Performance Center, we were shown a room where Phil Mickelson comes in, at all hours, to tweak his own clubs and work with the Callaway team on new product testing. We also passed a bin in the warehouse with a stash of Arnold Palmer's favorite grips, kept there as back-up. Now that's pedigree! But nothing at Callaway feels old! They're on the forefront of new technology as well as new media, blanketing social media with high-quality content.
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GBB Epic Drivers Review. Jailbreak Technology keying Epic’s explosive ball speed numbers
Callaway GBB Epic Drivers with TGW
Callaway GBB Epic Drivers: To say that there’s excitement in the air at Callaway headquarters these days would be quite the understatement.
As Callaway Senior Director of Brand Management Dave Neville explained, his company believes that through the years there have been three “big shifts” when it comes to driver technology. The first was the advent of metal woods, the second was the release of Callaway’s titanium Great Big Bertha driver in the mid 1990s, and the third was TaylorMade introducing moveable weight technology in 2007.
Callaway believes that shift No. 4 has arrived with its GBB Epic and GBB Epic Sub Zero drivers, which feature revolutionary innovation that Callaway has termed Jailbreak Technology.
“We’re very excited,” said Dave Neville, Callaway Senior Director of Brand Management for Metal Woods and Wedges. “The buzz is just off the charts. This is the most buzz I’ve seen about a product since I’ve been at Callaway. It’s just been incredible.”
So what exactly is Jailbreak Technology?
Neville explained that Callaway engineers discovered that the clubface of a typical driver would expand slightly from top to bottom at impact, resulting in a loss of energy transfer.
In an attempt to maintain maximum energy transfer at impact, Callaway’s Jailbreak Technology utilizes two titanium rods within the structure of the Epic driver heads that connect the crown and the sole, and the results in terms of ball speed have been nothing short of remarkable.
“It’s the fastest driver that we’ve ever made,” Neville said. “We had tremendous success with XR 16 but (Epic) blows that out of the water. We’ve never seen ball speeds like this.”
As an illustration of the ball speed increases that Callaway is seeing with Epic, Neville recounted an event he attended recently in Palm Springs, California, where 50 golf professionals were introduced to the new Epic drivers.
All 50, according to Neville, saw ball speed increases over their current driver, and the majority of those players saw increases in the 5-6 MPH range, with a couple of players seeing increases of as much as 10 MPH.
“I knew it was good,” Neville said. “But when you see fifty pros all increase their ball speed … that makes you feel pretty good.”
Golf fans can also expect to see plenty of Epic drivers in play on every professional tour right out of the gate in 2017.
“We did the Tour Launch completely differently this time,” Neville added. “We’ve actually flown to players’ houses and set up in Palm Beach where so many live. They love it. I would imagine by the end of January we’re going to have 95 to 100 percent of our guys in one of the models.”
Neville added that he also expects to see players who aren’t on staff with Callaway put Epic in play early this year, that based on numerous testing requests that have been received.
In terms of the Epic’s design, while the aforementioned Jailbreak Technology might be the key innovation, it’s hardly the lone innovation.
Epic drivers also feature the successful Exo-Cage construction that Callaway introduced in 2016 with its incredibly forgiving Fusion driver, as a titanium cage is surrounded by lightweight Triaxial Carbon Fiber, including a crown that weighs just 9.7 grams, the lightest ever produced by Callaway.
By saving so much weight in the design, more weight was able to be distributed along the perimeter and the CG was able to be positioned low and deep. The result is a driver that not only delivers incredible ball speed numbers but also extremely high MOI.
Additionally, an aerodynamic Speed Step has been included on the crown. That technology, born out of Callaway’s collaboration with aerospace expert Boeing, helps create enhanced clubhead speed, which also enables more distance.
As mentioned, there are two Epic models, the standard version and the Sub Zero. Both models have 460cc clubheads and they look fairly similar at address with the exception of slightly different crown shapes. They also both utilize moveable weight technology but do so in very different ways.
The standard Epic has a sliding weight track that allows players to position a 17-gram weight as needed to combat a typical miss or create up to 21 yards of fade or draw bias.
That said, the Epic’s track does not extend as far around the perimeter of the clubhead as was the case with the most recent Great Big Bertha driver, but that decision was intentional as it relates to forgiveness.
“The track is shorter,” Neville explained. “If you’re in the current Great Big Bertha and you slam that weight all the way to the heel you’re losing about 500 MOI points So we’ve shortened the track and added a heavier weight, 17 grams as opposed to 10, and we’ve kept the MOI up and have even more ball flight control.”
The Epic Sub Zero, meanwhile, has two weight ports that exist in the front and back of the sole and comes standard with 12-gram and two-gram weights. The head design of the Sub Zero is already lower-spinning than the standard Epic, and by positioning the heavier weight forward players can reduce spin by an additional 250-350 RPM. Positioning the heavier weight in the back, however, will increase launch, spin, and MOI for players who need that fit.
The XR 16 family also had a Sub Zero model. However, that low-spin driver was intended only for low-handicap players who generated extremely high clubhead speeds.
That is not at all the case as it relates to the GBB Epic Sub Zero, even though it would also be classified as a low-spin driver.
“We’re calling it the Sub Zero because the CG is on the (neutral) line, but this is not your father’s pro-style driver,” Neville said. “It has the same MOI as the standard Epic, but it’s still very low-spinning, about 500 RPM less. It’s not one that amateurs can’t hit.”
With both models offering high and similar levels of forgiveness, how should players approach picking the right model for their game?
“Here’s the way that we’re fitting it,” Neville explained. “If you need shot shape correction, meaning left or right, the standard Epic is going to work for a lot of those players. But if you’re someone who needs more trajectory control, whether it’s up or down, the Sub Zero could be a great fit.”
In terms of available lofts, the standard Epic is offered at 9, 10.5, and 13.5 degrees, while the Epic Sub Zero is available at 9 and 10.5 degrees. Both models 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.
The stock length for both models is 45.5 inches, and the swing weight for the standard Epic is D3 while it’s D4 for the Sub Zero. Custom paintfill options are also being offered in green, pink, orange, gold, red, blue, and black colors for those looking to spice things up with additional personalization.
Also worth mentioning when it comes to the new Epic drivers are 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 stock shaft options for Epic drivers are the Diamana M+ Green (standard Epic only), 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 an individual player’s needs.
“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 can fit into one of these stock shafts, and we’re also offering all of 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 a new shaft, 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 expected to get some play on Tour.
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.
Full details including all shaft specs, adjustability range and loft specs, are located on the the detail page for each club. Follow the link below to view all options.
Callaway’s GBB Epic Sub Zero Driver Earns High Marks
Callaway GBB Epic Driver - TGW First Look
By Chris Wallace - TGW Staff Writer
There has been a lot of buzz about Callaway’s GBB Epic drivers in recent months, as players of all ability levels have seen ball speed increases and subsequently more distance from both the standard Epic and the Epic Sub Zero.
Of course, playing a driver that truly fits your game factors significantly into the ultimate performance that you will get as well.
As an example, my tendency with the driver is to launch the ball too low and spin the ball too much. As a result, for me, trying to increase launch often leads to too much spin and a loss of distance, while trying to reduce spin often leads to launch conditions that are too low, making it tough to achieve optimal carry distance.
Before the release of Epic and Epic Sub Zero, I had the chance to interview Dave Neville, Callaway Senior Director of Brand Management for Metalwoods, who explained that from a fitting standpoint the standard Epic was designed for players who struggle with a directional miss (left or right) and the Epic Sub Zero was a lower-spinning head that was designed to help people who have trajectory issues (launch and/or spin).
I also had the chance to hit both models in advance of their release, and while there wasn’t a 10.5-degree Epic Sub Zero to test on that particular day, Callaway sales rep Nate Wright, based on the launch monitor numbers I was producing, said that he would fit me into that model and loft.
Fast forward several weeks and I have had the chance to spend some significant time testing the GBB Epic Sub Zero using Trackman and during actual rounds of golf I’ve played. As was recommended, I have been using a 10.5-degree head, as well as a Mitsubishi Rayon Blueboard shaft (63x) that has long been a good fit for my game.
What follows are my comprehensive thoughts about the Epic Sub Zero. And just to reiterate, as a low-launch, high-spin player, I’m focusing on the Sub Zero as opposed to the standard Epic because it’s a better fit for my game and needs.
If you’re someone who, like me, struggles to optimize launch, spin, and/or trajectory, this review might be of some help to you if you’re considering a Sub Zero driver this year.
If, however, launch and spin aren’t your issues but rather you’re someone who fights a directional miss or you’re trying to achieve a preferred ball flight, the standard Epic might be the better choice for you, and TGW will have more comprehensive player reviews of that model in the coming weeks.
In my opinion, Callaway deserves high marks for the Epic Sub Zero aesthetically. It’s a 460cc clubhead, but at address it appears to have a more compact profile, which is something I prefer as a lower-handicap player.
The triaxial carbon crown has a fast, sleek look and the green and black color scheme is eye-catching but not overdone. Additionally, while there is a Speed Step on the crown of the driver to improve aerodynamics, it’s practically hidden as part of the black in the color scheme and not distracting at all.
What I probably liked best about the Sub Zero from a look standpoint, however, was that in every setting I experimented with the clubface seemed to sit just slightly open. Again, that’s personal preference, but oftentimes higher-lofted driver models tend to have a toed-in look, which is not the case here, even when adding loft through the use of Callaway’s OptiFit hosel.
As personal as a look preference can be when it comes to a driver, a feel preference is probably even more personal and likely more important. And of course, for most, feel is also tied to acoustics.
More specifically, there are many players who like a loud, explosive sound from a driver, one that suggests the golf ball has just been punished. Others, however, prefer a softer, more muted sound and feel at impact, similar to the thwack of hitting a baseball with a wooden bat.
The latter is my preference and exactly what players can expect from the Epic Sub Zero. The muted sound and feel will remind players of some of Callaway’s other composite classics through the years, including the 815 Double Black Diamond and the FT Tour.
I have read other reviews of the Epic Sub Zero that described the clubface as feeling firm or hard at impact, but I didn’t find that to be the case. I found that the face felt quite responsive, especially on center strikes, and that on mis-hits the feel was still solid but with valuable feedback provided.
Judging how the Epic Sub Zero would perform involved two components. First, testing the driver and experimenting with different settings using Trackman at the Josh Cook Golf Academy here in Wichita, Kansas. Most notably, I wanted to see if I could increase launch and reduce spin to get more carry and total distance. Second, of course, was seeing how the driver would perform on the golf course, which is obviously most important.
I started the process by trying to establish the best settings for me based on Trackman numbers, and that proved to be keeping the loft at 10.5 degrees and not utilizing a draw setting.
From there it was on to experimenting with the interchangeable weights in the sole, a feature that makes the Sub Zero such a great option for players with spin and trajectory issues.
The two weights, which weigh two and 12 grams, respectively, can be positioned in separate ports to optimize performance. Launch is increased with the heavier weight in the back position, while the heavier weight being in the forward position will reduce spin rates.
As mentioned, the Sub Zero was designed to be lower spinning to begin with, and having the heavier weight in the back position proved to be most effective for me, as my launch conditions improved while the design of the head kept spin rates down.
With the driver dialed in from a setting standpoint, I used Trackman outdoors on a couple of different days to gather and compare numbers, and I came away impressed.
I was able to increase my launch angle from the 11.5 degrees I was getting on average with my driver to 13 degrees with the Sub Zero. Additionally, my spin rates dropped from the high 2000s with my driver to numbers that were consistently between 2100 and 2300 RPM.
While launch and spin were a major focus for me, Epic’s big promise to golfers has been more ball speed, and I saw that as well.
With my driver, I was in the 147-149 MPH range in terms of ball speeds. But with the Sub Zero, I was consistently between 151 and 153, and I saw ball speeds as high as 155 MPH, impressive numbers given my swing speed, which typically ranges from 101-103 MPH.
Add it all up and the result was significantly more carry distance and total distance, the latter of which was admittedly aided by firm turf conditions here locally, than I was getting with my driver.
Of course, solid numbers on Trackman while hitting shots on a driving range is all well and good, but the ultimate test is on the golf course. And at my home course, Terradyne Country Club, the Epic Sub Zero performed impressively.
I certainly picked up yardage and hit a few tee shots in places I hadn’t visited before, and by that I mean good places. My ball flight was also higher, but I was getting more rollout as well.
But that was only part of the story. Even though it’s a low-spin head, the Sub Zero is also a high MOI driver, and that’s what stood out on the golf course more than anything.
I was amazed at how far my mis-hits traveled and even more so with how straight they were. The ball simply didn’t want to fly very far off line even when I missed the center of the face.
As mentioned at the outset, there’s a lot of buzz in the golf world these days about GBB Epic drivers, and based on my extended, firsthand experience it’s easy to see why.
The Sub Zero looks great, it’s absolutely top-notch in terms of feel and acoustics, and the on-course performance was exceptional.
While I did experience the ball speed increases that many others have, and that’s obviously a big deal, what stood out most to me was how forgiving this driver was and how well the head design worked in terms of helping me address my launch and spin issues.
Needless to say, I was impressed, and I would expect others to enjoy similar results with Epic provided they pick the right head for their game.
Big Bertha Fusion Driver
Callaway Big Bertha Fusion Drivers
Callaway Big Bertha Fusion Drivers: If you asked golf fans to play word association with Callaway drivers, forgiveness would likely be a popular answer, which is one of the reasons that the company has had so much success with its drivers through the years with players of all ability levels.
But in its estimation, the new Big Bertha Fusion driver ranks as the most forgiving driver Callaway has ever made, a statement which is certain to pique the attention of many.
The forgiveness that the Fusion provides has been made possible by a new construction approach that gave engineers more than 30 grams of discretionary weight to use in the design, which is just an incredible number.
The weight was saved by using a titanium Exo-Cage frame that has been surrounded on the crown and sole by proprietary, lightweight triaxial carbon. The result is incredible perimeter weighting for higher ball speeds on mis-hits and a low, deep center of gravity that provides impressive launch conditions, as well as faster ball speeds and improved stability at impact.
The excess weight that engineers had to work with also enabled a new head shape, which thanks to improved aerodynamics is helping produce faster swing speeds while maintaining high MOI. The design also utilizes a Speed Step on the crown for reduced air drag during the swing, technology that was born from Callaway’s collaboration with Boeing.
Another new feature that Callaway has implemented with the Fusion driver is that it is being offered in two different stock lengths.
“It’s the first time ever we’ve offered two stock lengths,” said Dave Neville, Callaway Senior Director of Brand Management for Metal Woods and Wedges. “We have the normal 45.5 and we have the one-inch under. The one-inch under has a 12-gram weight, so it’s a pretty elegant solution. It doesn’t mess up the swing weight; they’re both at a target of D2.”
Callaway discovered in testing that many golfers actually generate more distance with a shorter driver by hitting the center of the face more often, which is among the reasons for experimenting with a shorter stock length. But engineers also wanted to keep a longer model available for those players who really need every avenue possible to maximize distance.
“If you’re a golfer who always hits it in the center of the face and you need as many yards as you can get, go with the longer,” added Neville. “But if you’re a player that’s kind of hitting it all over the face, you might try the shorter one.”
As has been the case with all of Callaway’s recent driver offerings, the Fusion comes with an adjustable hosel that allows for three degrees of loft adjustment to help players achieve their preferred trajectory and ball flight.
In terms of stock shaft options, the Fusion comes with another surprise of sorts. Callaway has long partnered with UST in utilizing Recoil graphite shafts in its irons, and the Fusion will feature the first Recoil driver shaft, a lightweight offering designed for smooth feel and a powerful kick at impact. Also available is the popular Mitsubishi Diamana Red, which is a high-launching shaft that delivers lower spin rates and a smooth, stable feel.
Additional shaft options are available at no upcharge for the Fusion driver, which also comes in a ladies version at 44 1/2 inches.
XR16 Golf Drivers
Callaway XR16 Golf Drivers
Callaway XR16 and XR16 Pro Golf Drivers: In creating the XR16 and XR16 Pro drivers, Callaway sought out assistance from Boeing, the leading aerospace company on the planet. The goal? To create drivers that were aerodynamically better.
That mission appears to have been accomplished, as XR16 and XR16 Pro have been a huge success with touring professionals and recreational golfers alike. Boeing’s biggest contribution was in helping Callaway redesign its Speed Step on the crown, which has made the driver more aerodynamic by better controlling airflow.
Additionally, the XR16 and XR16 Pro feature Speed Rakes on the bottom of the driver, which also enhance aerodynamics and lead to higher swing speeds. Both drivers are designed to be forgiving and long, the latter thanks to Callaway’s R-MOTO face, but there are some differences as well. The CG placement on the XR16 was designed to create higher launch conditions and the face was stretched slightly to improve MOI and keep ball speeds high on shots hit off the heel or toe. Also, at 460cc, it’s slightly larger than the Pro, which is 450cc. The Pro, however, will look even smaller visually at address thanks to its deeper face, which will deliver lower spin numbers. What’s most important when it comes to picking the right XR16 driver are your launch conditions and spin numbers. Don’t be confused by the descriptions into thinking that the XR16 is more of a higher-handicapper’s club and the Pro is only for better players. In fact, Dave Neville, Callaway’s Global Director for Woods and Wedges, told TGW that 70 percent of Tour play when it comes to the XR16 series is with the standard model, including the one used by newly crowned Masters champion Danny Willett. Said Neville, with a laugh, “Those guys like forgiveness, too.” Both the XR16 and XR16 Pro also feature Callaway’s Opti-Fit Hosel, which creates eight different settings of adjustability to help players dial in their preferred ball flight and trajectory.
"The big thing with XR16 is our collaboration with Boeing. Boeing’s the leading aerospace company in the world and we reached out to them to have them help us with the aerodynamics." Dave Neville - Callaway Global Director for Woods and Wedges
"(The Ball) was going farther than I can see so that's gotta be pretty good." Tony, TGW Customer 12 hdcp.