Typically, a star is meant to designate elevated status or focus a spotlight on something extra special. All-star games feature standout players, and celebrities are immortalized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
For Callaway, its Star family of equipment is unique in that it’s intended to attract golfers who are willing to pay a moderate upcharge for Callaway’s signature technologies in a lighter-weight package. From a distribution standpoint, it’s a line which shouldn’t cannibalize sales of standard Epic Flash line in North America, which offers the specs demanded by the core group of consumers, the majority of whom, have already upgraded by this point in the sales cycle.
To that end, Callaway believes its Epic Flash Star line stands alone because it retains all of its signature ultra-premium materials and high-end performance, while only subtracting a sizable chunk of weight from the equation. OEMs put a confident foot forward with any product release, and while Epic Flash Star does give golfers another option (and isn’t more choice inherently a good thing?), it’s not without its foibles.
For the sake of brevity, we’ll focus on what makes each piece of equipment in the Epic Flash Star series different from the corresponding piece of equipment in the standard Flash line.
Selection, weight, finish, and some adjustability. That’s really it.
All of the hallmark Callaway technologies (Flash Face, Face Cup, Jailbreak, Urethane Microspheres, MIM’d tungsten weights, Suspended Energy Cores, T2C carbon triaxial crowns) play the same integral role in the Epic Flash Star series as they do in the current generation of Epic Flash equipment. To be clear, Epic Flash Star is essentially Epic Flash with lighter components (shaft, grip, hosel) and a black with gold accents color scheme.
Epic Flash Star Driver
The Epic Flash Star driver adds one additional loft, bringing the total number to three. However, only the 10.5° version is offered to left-handed players. The 12.0° and 13.5° are right-hand only. Compared to the Epic Flash and previous Epic Star drivers, the Epic Flash Star is roughly 50 grams and 20 grams lighter, respectively.
No doubt, those are impressive figures, but consumers should note the dropped weight is achieved by utilizing a lighter shaft (UST Mamiya ATTAS Speed – 30 grams) and grip (Golf Pride JL00 grip – 30 gram) and trading an adjustable hosel for a fixed one. The head weight of the Epic Flash Star driver head is pretty the same as that of the standard Epic Flash driver. For comparison, we weighed an Epic Flash head. Without the adjustable tip, it came in at 191-192 grams. The standard Callaway Optifit adapter weighs 9 grams, bringing the total stock head weight to roughly 202 grams. By eliminating the Optifit adapter and going with a glued-hosel, the head weight of the Epic Flash Star driver sits at 196 grams +/- manufacturing tolerances.
It’s not something to necessarily get worked up about, but some consumers will hear the messaging of ultra-lightweight and assume this means something was done to alter the mass properties of the clubhead, which doesn’t appear to be the case here. One might even argue, though the entire club is lighter because loft, lie, and face angle are fixed, the Epic Flash Star gives golfers fewer options, though I suspect adjustability isn’t as much of a selling point for the target demographic as it is for higher swing speed players.
EPIC FLASH FAIRWAY WOOD and HYBRID
As with the driver, all of the technology present in the Epic Flash fairway woods and hybrids carries over to the Star versions. Again, the bulk of the weight savings are courtesy of a glued (non-adjustable) hosel, 40-gram ATTAS Speed shaft (a 50-gram ATTAS Speed shaft is also available for the hybrid) and Golf Pride JL00 or J200 grip.
The Epic Flash star fairway includes Callaway’s signature Jailbreak and Face Cup technology to deliver top-end ball speeds and a T2C carbon crown to allow for more weight to be redistributed low/back in the clubhead to increase launch and boost forgiveness/MOI.
The hybrid incorporates Jailbreak Technology, a thin 455 carpenter steel face and MIM’d tungsten weights to increase perimeter weighting and promote a higher initial launch.
The 3-wood and 5-wood are available in both right-hand and left-hand, while a 7-wood, 9-wood, and 11-wood are right-hand only.
It’s a similar situation with the Epic Flash Star hybrid which goes 3h-6h for both dexterities and adds a 7h and 8h option for right-handed players.
Epic Flash Irons
Compared to the Epic Forged irons, the Epic Forged Star irons are even stronger lofted (38° PW) and come with the option of a specific Women’s/HL spec with lofts suited to players with the slowest swing speeds. The standard set is offered in 5-iron (22°) through SW (55°) while the Women’s/High-Launch set is 6-iron (26°) though AW (48°). There is also a 54° SW available in the Women’s/HL set.
What most will notice, however, when comparing Epic Forged to Epic Forged Star is what Callaway terms an “Infinite Black” finish on the Epic Forged Star. This is a PVD finish, which historically isn’t as resistant to wear as DLC or DBM finishes, but Callaway asserts that this one has undergone a more thorough baking process, which should give it a longer life.
One caveat is that any iron or wedge with a black finish is going to show signs of wear. Some finishes don’t last as long as others and given the menu of premium black finishes on the market, it’s reasonable to question why Callaway didn’t order off the top shelf, particularly on a $325/club iron.
If anything, one benefit of such extreme loft jacking is that it does provide some validity to the argument that static loft (stamped number on the club) is far less important than dynamic loft (the amount of loft delivered to the ball at impact). A club with 22° of loft can be, effectively, whatever an OEM wants to call it – 5-iron, 7-iron, 2-iron – but the fact remains, players can only carry so many clubs, and one natural consequence of loft-jacking is the necessity to carry more wedges at the top end of the bag. Another way to think about this is the only club without a speed limit is the driver. With the driver, more distance is almost exclusively without exception, better.
The other 12 clubs need to fit specific distance gaps and whether you have a 45° A-wedge or 45° pitching wedge, ultimately what matters is that your set up covers all of the gaps you need it to.
If not for the significant difference in prices ($699 Driver, $399 Fairway Woods, $325 Hybrids, $325/club Irons) a Star line of equipment seems like a reasonable addition to Callaway’s equipment portfolio.
The ultra-lightweight approach is beneficial for senior golfers and anyone who struggles to get the ball in the air due to slower swing speeds. But where the messaging gets a little convoluted is that on paper, Star is a textbook example of an American OEM coming out with a J-Spec (clubs with attributes specifically for the Japanese market) series intended for a different market. Callaway makes mention of this in its marketing materials by pointing to the fact it released the previous Epic Star line primarily as a J-Spec initiative.
Epic Flash Star makes perfect sense for the Japanese market, where a healthy portion of the playing population tends to have slower swing speeds and a penchant for expensive and ornate golf equipment. That said, Callaway is hoping Epic Flash Star will have appeal for a similar demographic of North American golfers, where it’s more likely critics will question whether lighter weight shafts and grips (and the absence of adjustability) is enough to warrant the asking price.
It’s a fair question, and ultimately, the market will decide, but tell us what you think.