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.