Just five minutes ago, when I wrote about the TaylorMade SIM2 MAX D, I mentioned that we’re now into the golf equipment world’s annual release SZN. So you had to know the Callaway Epic Speed Driver collection was coming.
As has become tradition for Callaway, the number of models on the USGA list is basically double what we would expect to find their way to retail.
If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 3 for you and 3 for the Tour.
The future of speed is coming. 👀 pic.twitter.com/QAK0IKv6Ji— Callaway Golf (@CallawayGolf) January 4, 2021
Jailbreak AI Speed Frame
The story here, as it always is with Callaway, is speed. So much so that “Speed” itself is in three of the product names. Based on the stamp on the bottom of the sole and Callaway’s recently released teaser video, we can reasonably assume Callaway will position Epic Speed (and Epic Max) as faster because of the new Jailbreak AI Speed Frame.
I expect it will ultimately boil down to more speed by way of improved AI geometries that further stiffen the connections between sole and crown, resulting in less deformation and ultimately less energy loss.
Can Drivers Get Faster?
With that said, there are several things to keep in mind.
- As we noted in our five-year driver test, Callaway drivers are almost invariably among the fastest we test and are often the fastest. There does appear to be something to the company’s ongoing speed story.
- By all accounts, the space between the USGA’s original speed-limiting rules (Coefficient of Restitution or “COR”) and the current speed-limiting rules (Characteristic of Time or “CT”) allows for drivers to exceed the former limit while staying within the confines of the latter.
- As technologies and materials evolve and manufacturers become more comfortable with both, they’re able to set more aggressive CT targets.
- There remains significant opportunity to increase speed on off-center hits. That doesn’t necessarily boost peak balls speeds but it does increase average ball speeds which, by the letter of most claims, still counts.
With all of that said, we’re largely playing in a space where results are measured in tenths of miles per hour. Set your expectations accordingly.
If you want more distance, your best bets are to bulk up like Bryson or to get fit. Grabbing a driver off the rack isn’t likely to give you 10 more yards.
So with that out of the way, here’s what hit the list.
Callaway Epic Speed (V1 and V2)
It’s a safe bet the single-weight Version 1 is your retail Callaway Epic Speed. That was the case with last season’s Mavrik (now $399). It’s true that while previous Epic retail offerings featured adjustable weighting, leaked pictures suggest this year’s offering will be fixed weight. That’s not a bad thing.
The admittedly more intriguing front/back weighted Version 2 of the Callaway Epic Speed is likely for Tour players looking to precisely dial in trajectory. The triple-diamond mark near the hosel has typically signified both Tour and low spin.
Callaway EPIC MAX Driver
The photos suggest the Callaway Epic Max driver will fill a slightly different position in the market than last season’s Mavrik Max. With the Big Bertha B-21 driver in the market, there isn’t necessarily a need to push as heavily towards the draw-biased segment of the market.
My expectation is that Epic MAX will be a higher MOI offering with enough movable weighting to provide appreciable draw bias.
I don’t believe that will mean super-high MOI.
Callaway has typically strayed from super-high MOI offerings that challenge PING or PXG for high MOI numbers. Callaway’s philosophy is that there’s a point of diminishing returns and that the boost in inertia isn’t worth adding weight (and spin) to the head.
We shall see.
Callaway Epic MAX LS
The logical conclusion is that LS stands for Low Spin, which would make the Callaway Epic MAX LS this year’s answer to the Mavrik SZ ($399). Going back two seasons, the Epic Flash Sub Zero was slightly fade-biased (and filthy long). The positioning of the track on the MAX suggests that’s likely to be true this time around as well.
Nothing in the sole profile suggests super low spin but USGA photos can be deceiving. It remains to be seen how low Callaway will go with spin. With the majority of the market offering something that borders on uber-low spin, it’s not unreasonable to think the LS will be one of the lower-spinning drivers on the retail market.
Callaway Epic Speed DS and Epic Speed LS
Like the Callaway Epic Speed Version 2, the Callaway Epic Speed DS and Epic Speed LS feature the triple-diamond mark at the hosel. Other similarities between the three Tour models include the adjustable front-to-back weighting and dual Jailbreak logo bars (versus four in the new models).
There are no hard and fast rules from year to year as to what the differences between retail and Tour models are. The catchall is that the different models exist to fill specific Tour needs. While we all long for that sort of individualized attention, it’s not practical at the retail level.
As I said: 3 for us, 3 for them.
Callaway EPIC Speed and Epic MAX Pricing
Given how much flagship drivers from the biggest manufactures cost, you can expect Epic Speed and Epic MAX to set you back at least $500.
If that’s more than you’re looking to spend, the Callaway Mavrik family of drivers has been discounted to $399.99 while supplies last.
More information the Callaway EPIC Speed and Epic MAX drivers is expected in the coming weeks.