Regional products have always been a thing in golf equipment. There's a small but noisy chunk of golfers who go loco for Japanese equipment, extolling the virtues of their craftsmanship, often without being able to quantify any performance benefits. Seve used to use different brands of irons depending on what continent he was playing on, and Henrik Stenson has used a set of Japanese Callaway Legacy Black irons for as long as we can remember.
In the modern world, product is generally split geographically between Japan and Asia as one market and the rest of the world as the other market. Very rarely – Mizuno being a notable exception - does Europe (Africa and the Middle East as well if we're splitting hairs) get exclusive product. Yep, unfortunately, we got the Jetspeed too…
So why is the European Market getting a new equipment line that the USA isn't?
Two words: Price point.
Epic was an unprecedented success for Callaway. Rogue is looking like a strong follow-up, and the one thing they have in common is they are bloody expensive. In 2017, 70% of all the drivers sold in Europe over £400 were manufactured by Callaway. But the reality is around 70% of all drivers sold were well under that threshold. That's a lot of sales opportunities missed.
The XR16 was a tremendous success for Callaway, but despite having two major victories to its credit, it wasn’t replaced…at least not on the expected schedule. The new XR speed line is the replacement. Callaway is claiming that the new XR is the best driver on the market without jailbreak. Of course, it is.
So what has the XR Speed got under the hood? Well, it hasn't got Jailbreak. The biggest tech innovation in Callaway arsenal was the first to be cut. Callaway is saying ball speeds are 1-1.15mph lower than the Rogue and Epic. Yet, according to Callaway, that still makes the XR Speed faster than every other driver on the market. The MGS Most Wanted driver test might have something different to say.
What it does have is the X Face VFT from the Rogue, which is said to be lighter, thinner, and more flexible than driver faces that have come before it; a combination designed to produce more ball speed across the face. It has has a Triaxial carbon crown, 45% lighter than the one used on the XR16, helping lower the CG for higher MOI. It has the Speed Step Crown for improved aerodynamics. And finally the adjustable hosel. Callaway's adjustable hosel is still one of the most versatile out there, offering 8 different loft and face angle options. It comes with what's advertised as a premium Project X Hzrdus graphite shaft, but in reality, it’s a repainted HZRDUS T800, which you may remember from the Epic. Shaft upgrades are offered, however.
Designed to be a lightly draw biased and slightly higher spinning than Rogue, the XR Speed is positioned to hit that sweet spot for the everyman golfer. It’s sole plate design and blue color scheme may even evoke some nostalgic memories of the Callaway SteelHead Plus and Hawkeye woods.
Matching fairway woods are also available. Sharing the same face profile and an overall shape that goes back to the Diablo Edge Tour, the fairway also features the Hawkeye sole which should make it forgiving off the deck. A Hyper Speed Cup face is the source of the clubs power, while Speed steps again are there to improve aerodynamics.
We’re sure these clubs will perform decently, but it would be a hard decision to pick an XR Speed over pretty much any other driver on the market. TaylorMade may launch an M3 and an M4 but they launch them at the same time and their marketing never tries to tell you that one is superior over the other, just that one is more adjustable. Here Callaway is saying that their other driver is noticeably better. The keen price point is only reason for a golfer to buy an XR Speed. Is that enough?
Available March 8th in 9°, 10.5° and 13.5° HT options at an rrp of £339. The fairway woods are available in 3, 4, 5, and 7 at an RRP of £229.
For more information, visit UK.Callawaygolf.com.