When nine Callaway Mavrik drivers showed up on the USGA conforming list in mid-December, there was the expected here we go again refrain mixed in with a couple of sideways glances and some descriptions which were anything but parliamentary.

That said, as noted in MyGolfSpy’s 2019 Editor’s Choice awards, the AI (Artificial Intelligence) component of Callaway’s signature Flash Face technology is a new club technology that’s likely to impact club design throughout the industry – and with the Mavrik irons, it’s clear Callaway is dedicated to extending its use throughout its hardgoods lineup.

So not to bury the lede, Callaway’s Mavrik irons (3 models) incorporate for the first time, AI face design…in every iron. Yes, each individual iron will have a different face thanks to AI capabilities though as sets progress toward shorter irons (8-iron, 9-iron, PW) the designs are more similar than different due to the role loft plays in performance. Specifically, clubs with more loft result in less blunt impact conditions and therefore the face technology (materials, design, etc) has a reduced impact. On long irons, the converse is equally true which is why the AI face design on a Mavrik 5-iron is wholly different than on a 9-iron.

For such advanced technology, it really points to a basic concept of iron design. As much as clubs are sold as a set, each iron has a specific task and with that, Callaway is leveraging AI technology to better achieve the fundamental performance objective of each individual iron.

Alongside AI face technology, Callaway tosses in 360 Face Cup, a Tungsten Energy Core, urethane microspheres and self-described premium components (stock shafts and grips) in each of the three Mavrik iron models (Mavrik, Mavrik Pro, and Mavrik Max). If you revisit the launch of the $2,400 Epic Forged released in July of last year, save for the AI face, the story will sound familiar –  save the $1,400 price difference.

While the technologies work together, it’s helpful to flesh each out separately.

As opposed to a face insert, Callaway uses a 360 Face Cup design that wraps a single piece of metal around the front of the clubface, encapsulating the crown, sole, heel and toe areas. The chief benefit, according to Dr. Alan Hocknell, Senior VP of R&D at Callaway, is more control over the remainder of the design and better performance on off-center strikes.

Tungsten is a dense material which is why it’s often used to help club designers shift CG locations to alter launch conditions. The problem with tungsten is that it doesn’t bond well to steel. Therefore, to ensure optimal location, Callaway engineers use a urethane jacket to cover the tungsten weight. From there, urethane microspheres are injected in liquid form and, once solidified, lock this tungsten/urethane system in place. According to Callaway, the urethane microspheres do not inhibit face flex (which could reduce ball speed) but do help absorb unwanted vibrations, promoting a more solid sensation at impact.

What separates the three models is ultimately a decision as to how a player can best maximize launch conditions and Mavrik is built for mid/high handicap players who likely could benefit from a distance boost. Also, as compared to Rogue/Rogue X irons, Callaway’s testing shows Mavrik to have both higher center-face ball speeds and increased ball speeds over a larger percentage of the face.

MAVRIK

The model without a surname has the strongest lofts (41° PW, which is the same as Epic Forged) and is designed to be the longest of the three models. Theoretically, Mavrik should cater to the performance needs of a majority of players fitting into one of the three Mavrik models.

The stock shafts for Mavrik are the True Temper Elevate 95 (steel) and Project X Catalyst 55/65/75 (graphite).

MAVRIK PRO

The Pro part is a little misleading in that golfers might assume this version is designed with tour players in mind. It’s not, at least not Callaway’s PGA Tour staff. That said, of the three models, the Mavrik Pro does have the least amount of offset, thinnest topline and flattest lie angles. It also starts with a 43° PW that we now tend to accept as the point at which we determine whether a set qualifies as strong-lofted.

The stock shafts for Mavrik Pro are the True Temper Elevate 105 (steel) and KBS TGI 90 (graphite).

MAVRIK MAX

In an industry that continues to struggle with uniform definitions, MAX might be the exception.

If any club is “MAXed” it’s generally going to be the most-forgiving, highest-launching (so, lowest/deepest CG) and at least in the iron-category, the largest footprint. All of that holds true with Mavrik Max.

The stock shafts for Mavrik Max are the KBS Max 80 (steel) and Project X Catalyst 55/65/75 (graphite).

Presale for Mavrik irons begins today with retail availability set for February 6.

Mavrik and Mavrik Max are priced at $799/steel and $899 graphite (7-piece). Mavrik Pro retails for $899/steel (7-piece).

LOFT-JACKING

Most club engineers loathe the term as it connotes a lazy approach to iron design. After all, what’s easier than taking a 7-iron, producing it with 4° less loft, still labeling it a 7-iron and then touting that the new version is a “full club longer?”

The counter-argument is that when mass is reallocated low/rear in the clubhead, lower lofts are necessary to offset the design geometry. As is often the case, the truth is probably somewhere in between.

That said, it’s fair to ask if we’re giving too much weight to loft as a single measurement. The static loft is only one of the myriad design dimensions and ultimately, each golfer can carry a maximum of 14 clubs, so what difference does it make if your 48° club is called a pitching wedge or sand wedge? Likewise, why should anyone care if it’s your 7-wood or 5-iron with 21° of loft?

Maybe the shift in thinking is that loft is a design outcome, not an objective. To paraphrase a point Tony Covey (MGS editor) likes to make, there seems to be a clear “loft-jacking” double-standard as evidenced by the fact that some players find optimal performance with an 8° driver whereas others require 11°, yet there’s no mention of “driver loft-jacking.”

Ultimately, each club has a purpose and golfers are best served when there’s a comprehensive focus on every parameter that determines whether or not that club can offer optimal performance. With irons specifically, the list should never be shorter than dynamic loft, launch angle, spin rate, descent angle, and dispersion.

With that…

Mavrik Hybrids

If you checked Callaway’s website yesterday, you would have found TEN different and distinct hybrids to choose from. That’s another way of saying that if you can’t find a hybrid you like in the Callaway stable, you should probably take up Pickle Ball.

As of today, that offering goes up to TWELVE, as five new Mavrik offerings (men’s and women’s) take the place of the three expiring Rogue models.

Don’t care how you slice it, twelve is a lot.

The good news is the three men’s hybrids and two women’s hybrids (more on them later) are similar enough to one another to all be under the Mavrik banner but different enough to be, well, different.

All three (the Standard, the Max, and the Pro) feature Cally’s optimized flash cup face and Jailbreak.

“Jailbreak is similar to what we’ve used in hybrids before,” says Dave Neville, Callaway’s Senior Director, Brand & Product Management. “It stiffens the body of the hybrid to transfer more energy back to the face.”

Flash Face, however, is closer to what you’re seeing in Callaway’s fairway woods – an individual face for nearly every loft in each category.

“It’s a 455 Carpenter Steel face,” says Neville. “Getting the topology we’re after is more difficult and more expensive. But we moved to 455 simply because the balls speeds come up.”

SS20, of course, is Callaway’s umbrella name for the new Flash Faces in the Mavrik line. The SS stands for Super Strength, while the 20 stands for 2020. The driver faces are FS2S Titanium, the fairways are C300 Maraging Steel and the hybrids, as mentioned, are 455 Carpenter Steel.

Standard, Max & Pro, Hybrid Style

Both the Standard and Max Mavriks fall into the more iron-like hybrid category with a mid-sized square-toe look. The Standard will be the longest of the group, while the Max – as the name would suggest – will have a slightly larger body and be easier to launch.

The Pro model is a bit of a misnomer – it does have some better-player specs, including a flatter lie – but is more of a fairway wood-looking hybrid, and Callaway says you’ll find it more forgiving than, say, the Apex hybrids.

“There are players who hit their irons very well and prefer an iron-shaped hybrid,” says Neville. “And there are players who hit their fairways well and prefer a more wood-like hybrid. It’s an itch we know people have and we’re just trying to scratch it.”

As mentioned earlier, each hybrid line – and nearly every individual loft – will have its own unique Flash Face.

“It’s a huge leap forward from when we had just one Flash Face for the driver,” says Neville. “We didn’t just take the spreadsheet and start with one and cut and paste from there. Every face has a purpose and nearly every one is unique.”

“We get made fun of for having 7- and 8-hybrids, but we sure sell a lot of them,” adds Neville. “People mix and match and we want to have a full unique offering.”

The Mavrik hybrids are all fixed hosel so overall there are 14 different models ranging from as low as a 2-hybrid in the Pro line to an 8-hybrid in the Max line.

The Standard and Max lines feature the same stock Project X Catalyst in 55-, 65-, and 75-gram models as the Mavrik irons. It’s important to note the Project X website lists the Catalyst as available only in  50-, 60-, and 70-gram models, but not in 55-, 65-, or 75-gram models. Real deal? It makes you wonder.

The standard Mavrik will be available in a 3- through a 6-hybrid. The Max will be available in a 3- through 8-hybrid.

As for the Pro model, it will come stock with the KBS Tour Hybrid shaft which is listed on the KBS website. It will be available in the 2- through 5-hybrid.

Each hybrid will retail for $249. Pre-sale started today, and the Mavrik will be in stores February 6.

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Women’s Mavrik

Callaway feels it’s the leader in women’s golf equipment and, in terms of sheer dollars, they very likely are. Over the past year, Callaway has done significant research into the women’s game, surveying more than 2,000 women golfers who aren’t necessarily Callaway fans.

“We found they wanted specifically engineered women’s models,” says Callaway’s Senior Director of Brand Management Dave Neville. “They didn’t want the pink-it and shrink-it.”

So, two things to note about the new Mavrik women’s line: first, the cosmetic is the same look as the men’s line and, second, the technology – for lack of a better term – isn’t dumbed down or diminished.

For starters, there are two irons models: the Max W and the Max W Lite. One size doesn’t fit all for the men so logic dictates the same applies to women.

“We know the women’s golf segment, although much smaller, is growing quicker than the men’s segment,” says Neville. “We want to have dedicated models there.”

The women’s models feature all the latest Callaway tech: Flash Face Cup with A.I., the Tungsten Energy Core, and Urethane Microspheres. The key difference will be in the weight.

The Max W has the same head shape as the men’s Max iron but is considerably lighter with slight offset, lie angle, and loft structure. Callaway is using the lightweight and high-launching UST Mamiya Helium shaft and a lightweight women’s grip in the Max W, which is designed to a C8 to C9 swing weight. The Max W Lite, as you’d guess, is lighter still – both in the head itself and with a lighter weight Helium shaft and is designed to a C1 swing weight.

The same story can be told about the women’s hybrids – both the Max W and Max W Lite bear the same cosmetics as the men’s models and will be available in a 3-hybrid through 8-hybrid, with lofts ranging from 21- to 36-degrees.

As mentioned, Callaway says its own studies show women do want clubs designed, engineered and marketed for and to them, something the company learned the hard way with its latest Big Bertha irons. “We had two Big Bertha heads, a light one and heavy one,” says Neville. “We did not have a dedicated women’s model, and we actually sold less to women than when we did have a dedicated women’s model.”

“Fundamentally, the clubs don’t know who’s swinging them,” says Dr. Alan Hocknell, Callaway’s senior VP of Research and Design. “But in the case of women’s clubs, women want to know that something in particular has been done for them, without major labeling.”

Both the Max W and Max W Lite are priced at $899 for a 7-piece set. The women’s hybrids are priced at $249.

Pre-sale starts today, and they’ll hit retail February 6.

For more information visit callaway.com.