• Callaway Rogue ST Fairway Woods leverage new batwing Jailbreak design.
  • Three models: Rogue ST MAX, ST MAX D and ST MAX LS
  • Retail price $349.99

One could make the argument that the Callaway Rogue ST fairway woods offer a more compelling tech story than the 2022 Rogue ST drivers.

There, I said it.

And if you look at the 2021 Epic Speed/Epic Max and 2018 Rogue fairway woods, the Rogue ST fairway woods are less like their predecessors than the accompanying driver releases. Will those changes fundamentally alter performance? That’s the real million-dollar question.

For its part, Callaway states that, compared to anything on the market, the Rogue ST is clearly the “leading fairway wood in performance.” The caveat here is that, like every other manufacturer, Callaway tests its new product against existing equipment. Fortunately, 2022 Most Wanted testing is already underway.

Stay tuned.

CAN’T SEE ME

As with the rest of the 2022 “ST” (speed-tuned) line, Callaway’s entire story revolves around a single performance attribute. Speed.

That doesn’t mean Callaway is ignoring the importance of MOI (forgiveness), proper launch conditions or sound/feel. It’s simply that the majority of golfers on the planet don’t hit the ball too far. With any club in the bag.

So, if Callaway can increase ball speeds and generate better performance on off-center hits, it’s a clear benefit that many golfers should see in a typical demo-day or basic fitting environment. That’s Callaway’s hope, anyway.

TECH STORY

 

The new Jailbreak ST structure serves the same purpose but looks entirely different. In fact, had this been the original approach, I doubt that anyone would have agreed to “Jailbreak” as the marketing term. “Batwing,” perhaps. But not Jailbreak. There’s no jail and no lurid green bars to suggest that a piece of technology is helping you break through some sort of unimaginable speed boundary.

That said, Callaway believes the new Jailbreak (I’m still going with Batwing) is more effective than the previous two-bar arrangement.  To that point, Alan Hocknell, Senior VP of R&D at Callaway, stated, “Jailbreak probably was getting in the way a little bit.”

Translation: the purpose of Jailbreak is to enhance vertical stiffness without impeding how much the face can flex and rebound. Given less total face area on a fairway wood, the previous designs limited ball speed rather than maximizing it. That’s my take, anyway.

As you can see in the graphic, the two structures (one in the heel and one in the toe) conjoin the face, sole and crown without impeding face flex. It also pushes more weight toward the perimeter which increases stability.

WEIGHTING

Speaking of weighting. Callaway utilizes up to a 28-gram Tungsten Speed Cartridge that looks similar to the one in the Rogue ST driver. Golfers tend to resonate with visible technology and that’s certainly part of Callaway’s motivation here. However, it’s the location that directly impacts performance. By moving weight forward, this pulls the CG low and forward as well. This CG location helps promote more ball speed and higher launch with less spin.

Quick sidebar: Moving weight along the perimeter of any club will have a larger impact on CG location and movement than internal weighting. With that, CG location directly impacts launch conditions such as ball speed, trajectory and spin.

The other benefit of a low/forward CG location is that it’s more in line with the typical thin/low miss with a fairway wood. When the ball/face impact location is below the sweet spot, we tend to see lower launch and considerably higher spin rates. This leads to less distance (carry and total). Theoretically, a low/forward CG location helps retain more of the optimal launch conditions. While that’s great for ball speed, it tends to work against MOI/forgiveness. So, while you can’t see it, Callaway does keep a good bit of weight in the rear of the club to maintain a reasonable amount of forgiveness.

ST ROGUE AI FACE

You’ve likely heard about Callaway and AI face technology before. If not, here’s the 30,000-foot view.

Computers can iterate much faster than humans and, in doing so, are more capable of handling complex problems. Basically, you provide the computer with a list of priorities and it spits out the optimal face geometry.

That’s a vast oversimplification. But it’s accurate. This time around, Callaway wanted to optimize ball speed, launch and spin at multiple face locations, meaning the model-specific face design should account for a desired amount of ball-speed retention on off-center strikes while reducing or increasing spin rates. For example, a strike location above the center of the face tends to launch too high with less than optimal spin. Strike locations below the center of the face generate the opposite: low launch with more than optimal spin.

It’s not realistic to expect a club to generate identical launch conditions regardless of impact location. That said, Callaway believes this version of AI Face Optimization is a step in the right direction

Callaway is sticking with the C300 Face Cup technology. And, as it’s quick to point out, the C300 steel material is employed as a full face cup, not a smaller face insert as with some of its competitors. Wrapping the face around the sole and topline gives the AI optimization software more of the C300 material to leverage in its designs.

THREE MODELS

If there’s a subtext to the Rogue ST release, it’s that Callaway isn’t afraid of SKUs. Four drivers, three fairway woods and four hybrids bring the total to 11. Some will argue that product differentiation ultimately is a good thing for consumers. Others will point out that it’s a great tactic when looking to take up shelf space at the local big box retailer. Whatever the reasoning, here we are.

Callaway Rogue ST MAX is the middle-of-the-market design and will likely be the best-selling of the three models. It features plenty of typical game-improvement attributes (high MOI, neutral ball flight and mid/high launch) without looking like a game-improvement fairway wood.

The Rogue ST MAX D is the first dedicated draw-biased fairway wood for Callaway. In this case, draw-bias isn’t entirely a function of pushing more weight toward the heel. In addition to draw-friendly internal weighting, the ST MAX D starts with more loft (16°/3w) and a slightly closed face. It also features a slightly more upright lie angle. The sum total of those attributes should provide ample benefit for golfers who fight a slice or prefer a more pronounced draw trajectory.

The ROGUE MAX LS is the lowest-spinning, most compact model in the Rogue ST line. Think of it something like Sub Zero models in previous releases. It features a slightly deeper face and more heel/toe camber. If the Rogue ST MAX is a fairway wood for the masses, the MAX LS is geared toward the better player who needs less spin to find ideal performance. You’ll also note the additional weight screw in the sole which serves two purposes. First, it does bring a bit more weight toward the face to lower spin. But more importantly, it can be adjusted to hit specific swing weight and/or total weight requests.

Another note: All Callaway Rogue MAX fairway woods are non-adjustable. That said, Callaway is offering a 3HL (or what I like to call a 4-wood) in both the MAX and MAX LS models.

For better or worse, fairway woods tend to ride the coattails of the accompanying driver release. This holds true almost regardless of metric but certainly in terms of sales which is likely what Callaway cares about most. As noted in the Rogue ST driver article, should TaylorMade’s Stealth driver story resonate with golfers, this could negatively impact the entire Rogue ST line.

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Specs, Pricing and Availability

The Callaway Rogue ST MAX is available in 15-, 16.5-, 18-, 20-, 21-, 24- and 27-degree models. The 20-, 24- and 27-degree models are right-hand only.

The Rogue ST MAX D is available in 16-, 19- and 22-degree models. All lofts are available in both right- and left-hand.

The Rogue ST LS is available in 13.5-, 15-, 16.5- and 18-degree models. The 13.5- and 16.5-degree models are right-hand only.

Stock shafts include the Project X Cypher Black (lightweight/women’s – 40/50 gram), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Blue (50 , 60 and 70 gram) and Mitsubishi Tensei AV White (60, 70 and 80 gram).

The stock grips are Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 and WINN Dri-Tac 2.0 (women’s).

Retail price for Callaway Rogue ST fairway woods is $349.99.

Pre-sale begins Jan. 21. Full retail availability begins Feb. 18..

For more information, visit Callawaygolf.com.