Callaway XR16 Pro driver and XR16 fairway wood â€“ Official MGS Forum Review by N8ball
One thing my Papy taught me is to never look a gift horse in the mouth and I couldn't have been more excited to get some new toys to play with. However, do the best things always seem to happen when they are least needed? Sometimes it seems that way, like when you get picked to review a driver and fairway wood. One of which would potentially attempt to replace a current favorite club in my bag(Tour Edge XCG7 7 wood shortened 3/4"). If you attempted to take that club from me when I got selected for this, I may very well have attempted to murder you. I LOVE IT THAT MUCH. Its competition for this match up, the Callaway XR16 7 wood Kuro Kage Black Tini 60S. Good luck little fellah!
As for the other club we are looking to replace, it is a Ping Anser 10.5 Aldila RIP Phenom Stiff 50g which I really had no complaints about. Keep in mind, this is coming from a guy who has had no fewer than 20 different drivers in the bag since I started golf 5-6 years ago. So it's not difficult for me to find something to complain about. The one trait I won't abide in a driver is when it feels excessively penal on mis-hits. Toe strikes that fall out of the air at 150 yards from no spin... better pack your bags son. So knowing I sometimes have a too low of spin problem what did I choose? The lower spin, less forgiving Callaway XR16 Pro... obviously. Why, you ask incredulously?! Because the pretty girls always get asked to the dance first and I am an idiot.
I'll start with the driver. Admittedly, I don't typically get along too well with low spin drivers, but I wanted the looks and sounds of the XR16 Pro considerably more than the standard version. So I took a few steps to mitigate the known issues. First I went to 2nd swing and hit both drivers on the simulator and as expected on the 9.5* XR16 Pro - Aldila Rogue Silver Stiff I had plenty of good strikes below 1500 RPM of backspin(I was swinging about 100-102mph that day). So I hit a few different Driver/shaft combos until I tried a previous year Callaway XR with a Kuro Kage Black regular and loved the feel of that combo(note: I got the Kuro Kage Black Tini 60 Stiff... because ego). So in my little reptile brain I concocted a scheme of A(higher spinning shaft) + B(more loft on head - 10.5) = C-allaway driving nirvana(hopefully it isn't a suicidal plan).
So, what did happen when I started hitting it? Lets start off with everybody's favorite:
Distance: The big question is did I get more distance? On the simulator, yes, although I didn't hit them on the same day. My best hits were about 5-8 yards further. One other caveat is that my swing speed has had a slight increase as we hit mid-summer. Could I attribute that to the aerodynamic witchcraft on this club? Well, I personally think it is something else(more on that later), but to be kind to Callaway I'll shrug and say maybe. My lowest spin rates on toe strikes were around 1700-1900 and typically 1900ish - 2300 on decent center strikes. I found my spin rates to be little lower with this club, but also more consistent. So does this translate to more distance on course? In general, yes. The biggest factor I have noticed playing this club is when hitting into the wind, the flight doesn't change that drastically. Obviously it still loses distance, but it seems to be a good 15 yards longer than my previous driver into the wind.
Accuracy: This one is a bit tough for me to say definitively. At this point it feels as if the previous worst shot in my bag, a moderately hard pull draw has been calmed down a bit with the XR16 Pro. However, I do have a few more slight pushes that don't quite come back. To me the accuracy is pretty much a wash. I certainly don't feel as if i have lost anything in accuracy though.
Forgiveness: This is the big one for me. This is make or break stuff for any driver in my opinion. Do my toe strike draws fall out of the air grossly premature? NOPE!! I haven't hit a single dead toe hook with this driver since I got it and it still maintains a decently low spin rate on all other hits as well. Does it lose yards on face exploration type strikes? Of course, but the most important thing to me is I never feel unfairly punished on a mishit(I'm looking at you Bio-Cell+, you handsome bastard). So, to me the XR16 Pro passes with flying colors on this category. Although, I am pretty confident that with the wrong shaft and loft this could have been a disaster. LOVE IT.
Trajectory: Consistently medium height for me and this is my favorite place to be. I never feel like I am backed into a corner and need to swing hard to get it to launch. Yet on the flip side, when i do start going after it a bit it only goes in one direction forward(not severely up). LOVE IT.
Control: Truth be told I don't attempt to hit anything other than one shape a straight-ish draw. I know what lane I need to be in when driving and I stay there. Once in awhile I try to go a bit high or low and I haven't seemed to have any issues here. So not a lot to report on this front for me.
Range Score: 9 out of 10
Course Score: 28 out of 30
I have been extremely pleased with the XR16 Pro's performance, I have not hit a single ball and felt like I got something less than that swing deserved. One of the biggest factors that contributes to my high score on performance is that I feel like I chose a REALLY good shaft/head/loft combo for me. The Kuro Kage Black Tini feels VERY smooth to me while still feeling stable on mishits and when I swing harder. If a shaft starts to feel a bit too much like swinging a nice piece of Douglas Fir in the dimensions of 2x4(note: technically 1.5"x3.5" in case you are the type who is trying to find a hosel adapter to fit one), the chimpanzee in me comes out and I fight the shaft for dominance. I'm not sure who wins typically, but I know my scorecard loses. I have been hitting this thing right on the button more than any driver I can recall and that always helps. If I had to guess this is where my extra speed is coming from, the confidence gained by good results always helps you get a bit more aggressive.
I have no problem admitting that looks drive my golf purchases as much as anything else these days. There is an old saying in aviation - "If it looks right, it will fly right". Given that Boeing helped design this club, it should apply here. I'll break it down into 3 criteria on what looks good:
Head shape at address - I love the shape, not too stretched back or flattened out. The "speed steps" on the crown make no difference to my eye. I don't even really notice them any more, if I ever did when setting up for a shot.
Face shape - Deep faces are where it is at for me, take your shallow nonsense elsewhere please. This one has just enough depth to please me. It's not quite up to Bio-Cell+ or Cleveland Classic standards of depth, but I've got no complaints.
Sole shape/graphics - While this may matter the least since you can't see it while playing, I still like seeing something interesting. First thing you see in the store is the sole of the club in the display rack. NAILED IT. For my money, I haven't seen one better. It looks the business and no I don't care if it actually does anything.
Looks Score: 18 out of 20
Sound and Feel:
The best description I can think of to explain the sound is "like Thor's hammer beating on the Liberty Bell". Which admittedly might seem a bit semi hyperbolic and it is. However, when you are slamming a hunk of titanium goodness into a golf ball at a rate 1848 inches per second, you want everybody in the county to know what you have done. So for my tastes it could be turned up to 11 rather than at about 7, but it makes a nice less hollow sounding metallic smack. Also, there is a nice slight tone change on off center strikes which I always like.
Sound and Feel Score: 17 out of 20
Likelihood of Purchase:
So, obviously at this point I like the XR16 Pro driver. As this one is setup, 10.5* Kuro Kage Black Tini 60S I would not hesitate to buy it. This is a true story, I had 18 scheduled one Friday afternoon and the Callaway box came in right before I left for the course. I took both drivers and hit the XR16 Pro for the first time on hole 9 and have never even once swung my old driver again.
LOP Score: 19 out of 20
Looks great(I always appreciate color options if anyone is listening Callaway)
Sounds good - not everyone might want more volume added like me
I really thought I might be making a mistake getting this driver rather than the standard XR16 and I couldn't be more pleased with the result. Certainly I never really expected to gain huge amounts of distance, even from "The Kings of Distance", over a driver that was already a decent fit for me. What really happened is I got a few small but not insignificant gains from the driver without any downsides. I have been hitting driver on more holes than I previously had and to me that speaks volumes on confidence and enjoyment.
One other note: It should be brought to the attention of us internet golfers, at least those who watch golf on youtube. This is also the same driver that Mark Crossfield currently plays and while that may not make me go spend $350 on a new club, it certainly plays into brands I like to support when they get involved with something I find fun. #Knuckleball
Total Score: 91 out of 100
XR16 Fairway wood - 7 wood
I requested a 7-wood for this test since I don't really use a 3-wood. I have been absolutely in love with 7-woods since replacing my 3-hybrid with a TE Exotics XCG7 7-wood. So as opposed to a driver, a 7-wood has a very different set of criteria. It makes absolutely no difference to me if this new club is longer than my old one(Spoiler Alert: it certainly is). The old one already goes the exact distance I want - 220 on a good swing, 230 if I cane it. All that matters is how easy is it to hit off the fairway(80%) and how is it off the tee(20%)
Distance: Is it longer? - Absolutely. How much you ask? Oh, about 8 yards. Why? Well, the shaft is 3/4" longer and it spun a bit less for me. I will give it this, off the tee out on course I hit a couple shockingly long shots with it. I cannot explain how it happened, nor could I likely repeat it but it did go within 15 yards of my driver on well hit drives.
Accuracy: I tended to get a few more pull draws with this club than my old 7-wood. It seemed to me that I only had two shots in the bag with this one - perfect small draw up the gut, or pull hook to the adjacent fairway. There weren't many shots headed right with this guy.
Forgiveness: Its a 7-wood, they are typically more forgiving that the Dalai Lama himself(reputedly a big hitter). Catch it a little thin, it still flies like a 3/4 wood. Too much in the heel or toe? No worries. I got a pretty good flight wherever I hit this one on the face, so no complaints here.
Trajectory: I'm more surprised that this wasn't co-developed with Cialis rather than Boeing, its easy to get it up. For me this one was not quite as high when hitting off the deck, but still not an issue to elevate. Given that it is a 7-wood, hitting into the wind is not their forte.
Control: For me, this is where I had issues with the club. The hard left was always playing in my mind. I never felt quite as at ease with this one in my hands. It never really occurred to me to try hitting it low on course, but I messed around with it on the range and it wasn't impossible.
Range Score: 7 out of 10
Course Score: 22 out of 30
I hit a lot of good tee shots with this club on days I was on, but never was able to hit as consistently off of the deck with the XR16 7-wood. Confidence off the deck it is the most important attribute for with a fairway wood and I never quite felt as good with this one. I may try shortening it a bit and adding some weight to the head. If I do, I will post an update in the thread.
Looks: The head has a nice small-ish rounded shape and the top line on the face/crown looked decently straight and made it easy to line up at address. I do like the small gray lines around the back of the head, it matched the graphics of the Kuro Kage shaft perfectly. The face is a bit deeper than my old 7-wood and the sole matched the looks of the driver which I loved. On pure aesthetics I do like it better than my old club. However, as a shape/size of a club I actually want to bag and play, I prefer a shallower face and a wider heel to toe length on the face. Which is exactly what my old club delivers. I personally don't get why fairway woods get considerably small as you get to a 7-wood. I'm not playing a 7-wood because I am awesome at hitting fairway woods off the deck, give me some space on the face! I will cut Callaway a bit of slack on this one since they do make a model that fits this description and I have already begun the lust/justification cycle on.(Great Big Bertha heavenwood, you will be mine)
Looks Score: 14 out of 20
Sound and Feel: I really like the sound of this one, the high pitched tink is exactly what I want to hear. It can make you feel as if you have committed a homicide every time you take a swipe at the ball. The sound seemed pretty consistent on all parts of the face and I do like the sound of this a bit better than my old club. Volume here is plenty to satisfy this attention enthusiast.
Sound and Feel Score: 20 out of 20
Likelihood of Purchase
This is where the rubber meets the road for Callaway and to be honest based on the headsize(kinda small) and face shape(I want shallower) I wouldn't buy one. Even though I have a pretty good centered strike pattern with it and certainly didn't need a bigger head. I WANT to look at a shape and size that makes me more confident hitting off the floor.
LOP Score: 10 out of 20
The reality is the club did play pretty well for me and I can take credit for the hard pull miss since its not the only club I have ever done that with. Even if I had no misses with it(unlikely, since I can top any fairway wood off the deck), I still probably wouldn't have replaced my old 7 wood with it. That doesn't mean that Callaway won't get my money, since they have a wide product line and make my favorite looking fairway wood out this year(GBB Heavenwood). It just so happened that this was not my preferred type of fairway wood to begin with and why would I ever play something that doesn't suit my preferences.
Total Score: 73 out of 100