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Callaway Steelhead Irons

 

Here's our lineup of testers...

 

HighFade                                   Stage 1             Stage 2          Stage 3
 

808nation                                  Stage 1              Stage 2         Stage 3

 

newballcoach                            Stage 1             Stage 2         Stage 3

 

burkmi08242012                       Stage 1             Stage 2         Stage 3

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What's in the bag:
 
Driver:  Sub 70 639D - 9.5; :cleveland-small: Launcher HB Turbo; :mizuno-small: ST 190 
FW Wood: :tour-edge: Tour Edge EXS 220 - 15*; :mizuno-small: ST 180 14*
Hybrids:  PXG 0311 22
Utility Irons: :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model Utilities 18, 21, 24*;  Lynx VT Stinger - 16*
Irons::wilson_staff_small: D7 Forged; :benhogan-small:PTx Pro, :macgregor-small: VIP 1025 V-Foil MB/CB; :wilson_staff_small: Progressives (circa 1993)

Wedges:  :cleveland-small: CBX -2, :benhogan-small:Riviera 52-56-60; :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model
Putter:   :edel-golf-1:  Willamette,  :bettinardi-small: BB8,  :benhogan-small:Baby Ben

Ball: :bridgestone-small: Tour B X (2020); :srixon-small: Z-STAR XV

Stat Tracker/GPS Watch: :ShotScope:


 
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First off, I need to thank MyGolfSpy.com and Callaway for allowing me the privilege to write this review.  We at MGS are very fortunate to occasionally receive brand new equipment direct from the manu

Hi everybody! I was very excited to get an opportunity to review the Steelhead XR's, and I'm very grateful to the MGS staff for giving me my first opportunity to review a product here on the forum. I

This video is awesome on it's own accord, but the last few seconds demonstrate my reaction to being picked for this testing:   https://youtu.be/9_33MzgnBG0?t=57s     First of all I was pretty jac

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First off, I need to thank MyGolfSpy.com and Callaway for allowing me the privilege to write this review.  We at MGS are very fortunate to occasionally receive brand new equipment direct from the manufacturer, with our only debt being the documentation of our experience.  To me, this is not just free stuff – I feel a heavy responsibility to write a quality, honest review.  I hope I do not disappoint...

 

 

About Me

 

I have been playing golf since 1992.  While in the military in SoCal, a bunch of us went to the military course nearby, and about half of us were instantly addicted.   We played El Toro golf course for $6 back then.  We sucked something awful, but we fell in love.  Some of us got lessons and did it the ‘right' way, while I and a few others went the self-teach method.  But almost all of us from that group still play today.

 

 

As my tour of duty was coming to a close, I went to a local teaching pro to look for a civilian job.  The pro was receptive and very nice, but tried to sell me on his pyramid scheme as a way to make great money (sigh)….So that ended my golfing career before it got started.  My thought process went like this:  If this pro needs to supplement his income, maybe this is the wrong career path.  I got into IT, and have been doing that since 1997.  While the money is far better, I still regret letting some dork and his poor life choices divert me from a career I would have loved.

 

Although I am self-taught, I have had a few lessons - the most memorable was with Lee Trevino's instructor in Okinawa Japan.  Really neat guy who said “skosh” every other word.  I have also been to GolfTec, but hated the experience.  Not that it was bad instruction, but I am a feel player, and GolfTec is more for technical players.  I am a firm believer in “finding the answer in the dirt.”

 

 

My index steadily went down from the high 30's or 40's way back then to a solid 12 a few years later.  I slowly but steadily improved to a 2 as of a few years ago, including quite a few sub-par rounds, even in tournament play – my personal best being a 68, witnessed by my father and brother.  The big index rebound came after visiting GolfTec.  I have recovered some, but lately I've stagnated at about 6 the last couple years.  My putting has improved this year, and the driver is finally starting to come around, so I have hope for a good year (don't we all?)

 

 

As my screen name indicates, I play a natural fade.  I used to rely on a consistent iron game and better than average putting to make up for my lack of length.  My swing speed has been pretty consistent through the years at just a shade over 100.  If I ever hit 110mph, I'd be very surprised.  I commonly played tournaments where my opponents outdrove me by 20 yards or more.  But there is no better feeling than sinking par-putt after par-putt to beat a guy who blasts it past you!  People have told me that my swing tempo is really great (a nice way to say I swing slow).  I've seen video, and even though I feel like I'm swinging out of my shoes, the swing is sooooo slow.  I guess that's a good thing. 

 

 

I currently play Mizuno JPX 825 Pro 4-PW.  I am pretty cheap, and only got those because I got a fat bonus from work a few years ago, and Mrs. HighFade gave me the green light.  Before that I played the Golf Galaxy brand (the name escapes me).  I could not be happier with the Mizzy's, but I always feel underpowered compared to my competition, so I am hopeful the Steelheads will add some yards.

 

 

About 6 months ago I started writing a golf book.  It will have some instruction, but it is more about learning course etiquette, course management, and playing within your limits.  One huge error I see with instruction is that we teach the full swing first, and that is so contrary to every other skill humans learn.  While the book is still very early in the writing process, I do have a name – Good Enough Golf.  The point being you don't have to play like a pro to enjoy the game.  

 

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TaylorMade M3
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Callaway Diablo 18°
Callaway Steelhead XR Pro 4-W
Mizuno TP-4 50, 54, 58
TaylorMade Rossa Monza Spyder

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Callaway Steelhead Pro – Official MGS Forum Review by HighFade

 

Player Biography

I currently bag the Mizuno JPX 825 Pro in 4-GW.  I picked these up only because I got a bonus at work.  I usually go cheap, because I'm, well, cheap.  I fell in love with the Mizzy's immediately, and it will be a tall task to boot them from my bag.  I will be looking for good distance and forgiveness, especially with the long irons.  My game plan has always been to stay out of trouble, get it on the green, and make a putt or two.  I am a sometimes over-cautious player, so I tend to hit a lot of irons off the tee.  But a long iron off the tee will do me no good if I find myself in the rough. 

 

Performance at the Range

I am not a fan of measuring distance or playability solely at the range.  In my experience, I tend to over-swing at the range, and I do not get a realistic view of expected performance on the course, especially during tournament play. 

I haven't done a review in a while, so I was honestly a little nervous at the range when I took that first swing with my new 8-iron.  It took about 10-15 swings to get warmed up.  I wasn't striping them immediately, so wasn't impressed at first. The feel was decent.  Not amazing, not horrible, but decent.  When I mishit them, I knew it, but they felt good overall.  Let's call it middle of the road for feel.  But going head to head with a Mizuno iron in a competition of feel is never a fair fight.  No one beats Mizuno irons when it comes to feel.  No one.

 

My normal ball flight with the long irons is a medium trajectory with the same spin – medium.  Maybe even low.  I am not a short-knocker, but I rarely blow it past people either, so the medium-low trajectory matched my game.  But when I pulled out the 4 iron and aimed it at the 208 yard green on the range, I experienced the real advantage of the Steelhead.  This thing flies high!  The ball landed softly about 15 yards past the green, then stopped surprisingly quick.  What makes all of this so confusing is the loft on the Steelheads are slightly stronger than the Mizunos.  The Steelhead should have flown lower and landed with less spin than the Mizzys.  But it flew higher, farther, and landed softer. 

 

More confusing to me were the short irons and wedges.  They have almost identical lofts to the Mizzys but flew really high.  I felt like I was waiting forever for that PW to come down out of the sky.  My normal PW distance at the range is the front edge of the green of the 155 yard hole.  When the Steelhead finally came down, it landed at the pin, easily 12 yards past my typical PW distance.  These things are LONG and HIGH!

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Range Score: (9 of 10 points)

 

Performance on the Course

I expected the performance on the course to be somewhat different than on the range, and I was right.  The massive distance gains I saw on the range did not carry over to the course, but I still saw some slight gains.  There are two reasons for the shorter carries on the course.

1.    On the range mats, I was able to trap the ball cleaner, giving it more spin and a more pure strike.

2.    There are no hazards or consequences on the range.  I simply swing harder on the range with no fear. 

I have learned to love the Steelhead 4 iron on the tee-box.  I cannot stress enough the height and length of the Steelhead long irons.  I am typically a conservative player, so I play less than driver off the tee more than most.  Having a solid long iron that flies 230 yards and keeps me in play is an absolute treat!

The middle irons are where the Mizunos could still compete with the Steelheads.  The Steelheads played straight and solid, and again the high ball flight helped me stick a few close.  But I could say almost the same thing about the Mizunos, and they feel fantastic.  Last week I hit a good drive on a short par 5, and had 190 yards to go, over water, to a semi-island green.  I grabbed my 6 iron and put it 15 past the hole.  Could I have done that with the Mizuno 6 or 5?  Probably.  But I just feel so confident with the Steelheads, I never gave the water a second thought.  That's a fun way to play golf.

The Steelhead short irons and wedges absolutely destroyed Mizuno.  This was no contest.  You want a wedge that goes straight up in the air, lands where you aim it, and stops where it lands?  Steelhead.  The accuracy on these is insane.  I have found a new confidence in my short irons that I thought I had, but these guys really deliver.   In a tournament a few weeks ago on a short-ish par 4, I dunked the A wedge for an eagle 2.  ‘Nuff said.

My index has hovered around 6 the last couple years, and I just have not scored well.  My average score this year has been 77-81.  But the last two rounds I played with the Steelheads, I scored 69 and 74.  I attribute it to the only thing I changed:  Replacing the Mizuno JPX with the Steelheads.  Same ball, same swing, same woods, same putter.  8 strokes.
 

Course Score: (40 of 40 points)

 

Looks

I cannot say I like the color of these guys.  I like the polished finish of a stainless steel iron.  The Steelhead is more of a brownish tint.  I expect the finish to wear off, leaving a worn-out looking silver mars where the ball strikes it. That hasn't happened yet (see 8 iron pictured below), so maybe I am being overly critical.  Time will tell.

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Looks Score: (5 out of 15 points)

 

Sound and Feel

The feel is pretty good - not bad, not great.  It just doesn't have that marshmallow feel that Mizuno does.  But when you flush it, the club tells you (and I flushed these a lot).  When you mishit it, you will definitely get that feedback as well.  As far as forgiveness on mishits, they did not punish me catastrophically, but they were not overly forgiving either.  I'll call it middle of the road.

 

Sound and Feel Score: (10 out of 15 points)

 

Likelihood of Purchase

I am a cheapskate, so likelihood of purchase is not a fair question for me.  But if I were given a budget for the purchase of new irons, these go straight to the top of the list.  I have played none better.  Would I pay $1,200 for a set?  Probably not.  I think they're priced well at a retail of $899.

 

LOP Score: (19 out of 20 points)

 

Conclusion

 

This picture is all you need to know.  This is the new home for my Mizunos. 

IMG_5531.JPG

I have done a couple reviews of clubs, but so far very few have beaten my current gamers.  The Steelheads are the exception. I am totally sold.  You can have my Steelheads when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers.

Total Score: 83/100

This is a really misleading score.  It should be over 90.  The low marks I gave were for the look and feel.  I cannot get used to the color.  I just hate it because it's not stainless steel.  And anyone will suffer when comparing feel with a Mizuno.  But if you want pure performance, the Steelhead beats everything I have seen.  And it's not close.

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WITB
TaylorMade M3
Callaway Diablo 15°
Callaway Diablo 18°
Callaway Steelhead XR Pro 4-W
Mizuno TP-4 50, 54, 58
TaylorMade Rossa Monza Spyder

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There is no spoon.

WITB
TaylorMade M3
Callaway Diablo 15°
Callaway Diablo 18°
Callaway Steelhead XR Pro 4-W
Mizuno TP-4 50, 54, 58
TaylorMade Rossa Monza Spyder

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Stage 1 header.JPG
 
 
I'd like to thank MyGolfSpy for this amazing opportunity to test these Callaway Steelhead XR irons.  I've read and watched reviews on them and now I have a chance to see for myself if these irons provide the much needed distance and forgiveness to a mid handicapper that is in need of some serious distance.  I'll definitely keep an open mind as I go through the testing phase and report my findings back to my fellow spies, of course keeping it unbiased because that's how we do it here @MyGolfSpy.
 
Look at what my cat dragged in: He can smell the fresh new clubs!!!!

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Nicely packed and ready to be taken apart and drooled on.

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Handicap/average score?
 
Never really kept an official handicap, but my scores tend to range from the mid 80's to low 90's, so I have given myself an average handicap of 15.  My best score was a 72  and I was on “fiya”, possessed by the golf gods. 
 
Strengths/Weakness of your game?
 
Putting has been my greatest ally and is my greatest asset to my game.  Putting has saved me countless strokes that I would otherwise lose in the inconsistency of my short game and the distance I lack in my mid to long game.
 
Typical ball Flight/Miss?

 
My typical ball flight for my irons is a mid-trajectory (I would love a higher ball flight) and misses to the left from what I presume is coming from the dreaded over the top move when I get lazy with my swing mechanics.  I'm not 100% sure but I would also bet the misses are due to equipment not properly being fit.
 
Current comparable equipment?
 
I currently game a set of TaylorMade PSI irons 5 - AW

 
Swing tempo/Driver swing speed?
 
Moderate tempo - Medium speed going up and medium coming down which equates to not very far.  I need to learn how to accelerate through the ball and not at the start of my downswing which gets me into trouble from coming from the outside.  The last time I was fit for a driver, my average swing speed was around 95. 
 
What makes you love the game/How long have you been golfing?
 
I have played and loved this game for about 25 years now, and not a day goes by where I don't think about the game or equipment.  I like to tinker with new or old equipment and see what works for my game.  I love getting out there and walking the course, meeting like-minded golfers, and experience what this awesome game has to offer.
 
What is in your bag?
 
      Driver:   TaylorMade M2 (2017), Fujikura Pro XLR8 56, Stiff
      FW Wood:   Titleist 910F, Diamana Kai'li 75, Stiff
      Hybrids:   Nike Vapor Flex 19*, Fubuki z60x5ct, Regular
      Hybrids:   Nike Vapor Flex 23*, Diamana S+80HY, Regular
      Irons:   TaylorMade PSi, 5-GW, KBS Tour 105 C-Taper, Stiff
      Wedges:   TaylorMade R-Series EF Spin Groove, 56 ATV grind, KBS
      Putter:   Newport M2 @ 33”
      Ball:  Snell MTB & Srixon Q Tour Star
     

Reviewing: Callaway Steelhead XR Irons 4-GW with Matrix Ozik Program F15 64 gram stiff graphite shafts

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How did you choose them?
 
Steelhead XR irons? Well, I didn't.  I signed up to be a reviewer right here on MGS and miraculously I was chosen to review these clubs.  I'm taking into account that my handicap had something to do with which clubs I was chosen for.  One thing I did choose was graphite over steel shafts because I've heard of all the benefits and right now I have absolutely no regrets.

 

I know I should be considering clubs that would actually benefit and improve my game and make playability easier, but I have to be honest here.  Most of the time, I tend to choose my clubs primarily by looks and then feel, sound and forgiveness…this is my stubbornness and my achilles heel when it comes to equipment.  If it doesn't look right to my eyes, I'll never play them.  
 
What region do you play out of?
 
I have not really gone out of state or neighboring counties to play since moving to New Jersey about 6 years ago.  I normally play the five municipal courses in my county of Northern Jersey.  This summer I plan on venturing out and playing more courses in neighboring states or counties. 
 
What are you hoping to get out of these irons?
 
My yardage with my current set is on an average 10-15 yards below the standard, so with these stronger lofted and graphite shafted irons I am expecting to use one club less, meaning where I once used a 6 iron for a 145 yardage, hopefully I will use a 7 iron.  I hope to achieve greater distance and forgiveness versus my TaylorMade Psi's, since the Steelhead XR's are categorized as Game Improvement irons - we shall see....stay tuned!

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WITB:

 

Driver:   :cobra-small: F9 driver 9* stiff shaft 

FW Wood:   :cobra-small:  F9 wood 14.5* regular shaft

Hybrids:  :nike-small: Vapor Flex  3 hybrid regular shaft 

Irons:  :srixon-small: Z565 - 7 thru PW & ZU85 - 5 thru 6 with Recoil ZT9 F4 shafts                                            

Wedges:   :cleveland-small: RTX4 52*, 56*, 60* 

Putter:  Ben Hogan BHB01 blade

Ball:  :Snell: Black

Bag: 2015 Ogio Chamber Cart Bag & 2018 MyGolfSpy Stand Bag

 

 

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Player Biography

 

I was very fortunate to be chosen by MyGolfSpy to review the Callaway Steelhead XR Irons and I chose them with the stock Matrix Program F15 graphite stiff 68 gram shafts, my very first graphite shafts in iron, so I didn't know what to expect except for the fact that I heard through other golfer's reviews that graphite shafts are better on your body.

 

I play to a 15 handicap and have been playing for more than 20 years.  My average score is about an 87 with days when nothing can go wrong and I shoot my lowest round ever of even par 72 and sometimes all hell breaks loose and I shoot near a 100.  I am not long by any means, just an average distance kind of guy, so any advantage I can get with my equipment, I'll gladly take it.  I love to play and if I could I would play every day, I am hooked for life.  I love the game and I love tinkering with golf equipment.  So without boring you to death, here is my review.

 

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Performance

 

Performance at the Range

 

I was so excited to receive these in the mail, that I headed down to the range as soon as I got them and see what they were made of.  Right off the bat I noticed the distance was the BIGGEST difference and for someone that hit a 7 iron only about 135 yards, I was hitting this 7 iron past the 150 marker, carry distance.  I was very shocked at the distances I was getting with these across the board, averaging a gain of 10 – 20 yard difference versus my TaylorMade PSI's.  I don't hit my irons as high as I used to so the trajectory was a mid-flight when comparing them with my PSI's.  I found it way more forgiving and hit the center of the face more as well.

 

I did have some getting used to when it came to control.  Coming from KBS C-Taper Lite steel shaft at 105 grams, I definitely had to swing a lot smoother with the graphite shafts or else I would lose control of my shot.  I had no problem in feeling where the head was during the swing because of the lighter shaft and heavier head, that aspect of the club felt really nice.  I could not wait to get these clubs out to the course.   

 

Range Score: (9 out of 10 points)

 

 

Performance on the Course

 

I was able to get in 12 rounds of golf during my testing phase and like I mentioned above (I feel like I'm going to repeat this alot) I really love the distances I was able to achieve with the steelhead xr's.  I gained 10+ yards on average throughout the entire set 4 through AW, yes these are very strong lofted irons when I compared them to my TaylorMade PSI's, but you still have to hit pretty decent shots and you will not have trouble because they're very forgiving irons. 

 

 

I thought because of the lighter shaft that I was going to be all over the course, but I learned to control and swing smoother without making too much compensation to my swing.  The second biggest change I saw was the amount of extra roll I got with these irons, except with the higher lofted irons which I able to stop pretty much after a hop and or a skip.  The playability factor is excellent for mid to high handicappers and I am sure they would enjoy these irons in their bag.  For low to scratch players, I would suggest moving on to the pro version for more versatility and shaping.

 

Course Score: (37 out of 40 points)

 

 

Performance Notes

 

Overall, I was thrilled that I had a chance to review these steelhead xr's, but the only reason I might hesitate in keeping them in my bag (I will give more details later in the looks category).  Performance is the only reason I would consider keeping these in my bag, I know this might be the biggest factor to most but for me there are other factors that I need to account for before having them in my bag for a long time. 

 

For a mid-handicap player like me, I thoroughly enjoyed playing with these and at times it made me feel like a long hitter.  These irons are big improvements when comparing them previous game improvement irons from Callaway, especially in the head design with less offset yet still very forgiving compared to older versions.    

 

 

Subjective

 

Looks

 

I love the new design and Callaway did a wonderful job of not making the offset make the irons look flat out weird.  Now, as I mentioned in my performance notes there is a reason I might not keep these irons in my bag longer than usual.  When it comes to clubs, I am one of those OCD hackers that like to keep the clubs clean and tidy.  Yes, you say dents and scratches gives them character but I just cringe when I have to hit out of a bunker filled with tiny pebbles or whatever to that extent.  I noticed that these irons scratch up quicker and easier (see pictures from only a couple of rounds compared to a competitors clubs with the same amount of rounds).  I'm not sure if it's the club material or cast versus forged, but I thought that was the only negative.  Everything else about these irons was great; from the design and just the right amount of offset.  From past to present.

 

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BAM!!!

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UGLY SCRATCHES AFTER ONLY 2 ROUNDS, WORST IN PERSON!!!

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COMPETITORS IRONS AFTER 5 IRONS, STILL LOOKS BRAND NEW.

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Looks Score: (12 of 15 points)

 

 

 

Sound and Feel

 

The sound and feel was dependent of what type off ball was used.  At the range, when hitting range balls the club made a clicking sound and the feel as you would expect it was harder off the face.  If you use softer compression or urethane balls which I played on the course, you will notice a significant change in the sound and feel.

 

Sound and Feel Score: (13 out of 15 points)

 

Likelihood of Purchase

 

How likely would you be to purchase this product? - I would definitely consider purchasing the Callaway Steelhead XR Irons.  Why? – Well the #1 reason is distance, ‘nough said.  Secondly being that it was a game improvement iron it gave me more confidence overall made the game more fun and enjoyable.  I would not only purchase it but recommend it to all mid to high handicap golfers.

 

LOP Score: (19 out of 20 points)

 

Subjective Notes

 

Callaway has been bringing out a lot of irons and driver of late and to me I think that is a good thing.  There are certain types of clubs that will appeal to certain golfers and with the steelhead xr's, I think they came out with a winner. 

 

Overall performance and looks was excellent and I believe these irons will appeal to a very large demographic of golfers, from mid to high handicappers and low handicappers that just like to hit it long-ger with their irons.

 

Conclusion

 

Overall performance and looks was excellent and I believe these irons will appeal to a very large demographic of golfers, from mid to high handicappers and low handicappers that just like to hit their irons long-ger.  I'm so happy that I had this opportunity to review these game improvement irons, I actually forgot what it was like to hit GI irons, I gamed TM R7 irons back in the day which were pretty good, eventually moving on to somewhere in between.  The only thing I can attest to is that playing these Callaway Steelhead XR irons will make your game a lot more fun, after all golf is only a game.    

 

Total Score: 90 out of 100

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WITB:

 

Driver:   :cobra-small: F9 driver 9* stiff shaft 

FW Wood:   :cobra-small:  F9 wood 14.5* regular shaft

Hybrids:  :nike-small: Vapor Flex  3 hybrid regular shaft 

Irons:  :srixon-small: Z565 - 7 thru PW & ZU85 - 5 thru 6 with Recoil ZT9 F4 shafts                                            

Wedges:   :cleveland-small: RTX4 52*, 56*, 60* 

Putter:  Ben Hogan BHB01 blade

Ball:  :Snell: Black

Bag: 2015 Ogio Chamber Cart Bag & 2018 MyGolfSpy Stand Bag

 

 

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The Five Questions

  1. Will this product go in your bag? Why or why not?

·        As a couple of my fellow spies already know, but I have parted with these Steelhead XR irons and gave them to my brother that has been playing for a few years, and he absolutely loves them.  As for me, I definitely can't boast enough about the distance I got with these, bottom line it made golf fun again.  I gained anywhere from 15 to 20 yards, stronger lofts? Yes, but you still gotta hit'em good.  Couple of factors that kinda turned me off was how quickly the clubs got scratched, comparing them with my other set which was forged I played 10 rounds with them and barely any scratches compared to 3 rounds with the Steelhead XR's and they were pretty beat.  They were both chrome finishes so wasn't sure if the forged metal scratched less versus non-forged?? Anyways, some might say that gives it character, but I for one like to keep my clubs clean as long as possible, call me OCD, I don't care ;) The other reason would be the sound off the face.  Use a 2 piece ball and you will definitely hear the difference versus using a 3 or more piece ball.  I regularly use urethane balls so it didn't affect me too much, but it is one thing to consider if you're bothered by it.

 

  1. To whom, if anyone, would you recommend this product? Why?

·         I would recommend these to any mid to high handicapper.  Definitely your game improvement iron category type, but they were not as thick with huge offsets like from previous models from Callaway.  For the lower handicapper, they may be put off by its playing characteristics in not being able to work the ball, but for those that just want to hit it long, these will work for you.

 

  1. How, if at all, did this product change your overall impression of [brand]?

·         For me it did not change any impressions I have of Callaway Golf.  I've always liked Callaway clubs, as my very first driver was a Great Big Bertha driver from 20 years ago.  Callaway has a great R&D and marketing department that puts out many competitive models for all level of players.  I think with the Apex CF16 models and the Epic drivers and not to mention their Mac Daddy Wedges, they're really appealing to what I like to see in clubs.

 

  1. What feature would you change or eliminate from the next generation of this model?

·         As for me, maybe take the chrome out and make it a satin finish or anything else except chrome…yuck!!! Work on acoustics and leave everything else alone and you have a winner.

 

  1. What feature do you really like, and would most like to see continued or evolved in future models?

·         I like the strong lofts so I would like to see those stay in future models, and I bet they will.  After all, distance is the best marketing tool in golf…IMHO.  I'm an average hitter and whenever I can hit shorter irons, it's a major plus.

 

 

 

I like to thank the MGS Staff for allowing me the chance to try these Steelhead XR's.  I thoroughly enjoyed them while I had them, now my brother will enjoy them.  Thank you again!!

 

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Driver:   :cobra-small: F9 driver 9* stiff shaft 

FW Wood:   :cobra-small:  F9 wood 14.5* regular shaft

Hybrids:  :nike-small: Vapor Flex  3 hybrid regular shaft 

Irons:  :srixon-small: Z565 - 7 thru PW & ZU85 - 5 thru 6 with Recoil ZT9 F4 shafts                                            

Wedges:   :cleveland-small: RTX4 52*, 56*, 60* 

Putter:  Ben Hogan BHB01 blade

Ball:  :Snell: Black

Bag: 2015 Ogio Chamber Cart Bag & 2018 MyGolfSpy Stand Bag

 

 

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Hi everybody! I was very excited to get an opportunity to review the Steelhead XR's, and I'm very grateful to the MGS staff for giving me my first opportunity to review a product here on the forum. I am a huge fan of MGS and I really believe in their mission. Now to get into the details.

 

A bit about myself, 33 year old high school teacher from Kitchener, Ontario. I coach football, hockey, rugby, golf and fishing at my high school. Don't worry though, I don't do any of them very well. My wife and I got married last July and are expecting a baby in a week. As you can tell, I have the ability to get things done. This is the first year I have really been recording scores for handicapping purposes, but my current unofficial number is 21. I am very happy with that but obviously hope to improve it. I have the ability to drive the ball pretty well but accuracy can be dicey. My approach game is rapidly improving but usually where I do well is the shorter game. Working very hard on chipping, pitching and putting and have managed to put up some good scores this year due to those skills. An area where I need to improve is consistency with face contact on all clubs and improving my ability to course manage (and not just smash the ball as far as possible). I have a good repeatable high draw with my irons and wedges, but the driver sometimes gets that little right turn into it. My miss is usually a pull dead left when I get disconnected in my downswing.

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The current irons I am playing right now are the Adams XTD Cross Cavity Irons. These are definitely in the super game-improvement category as they are big, clunky and a bit ugly. They have offered a lot of forgiveness but I get a lot of fat shots or toe digs with them. My driver swing speed is usually in the 105-115 range (depending on how confident I am at that point) and I would say that I have a medium tempo, although when I start to struggle I begin to take a much slower backswing (which I'm not sure fixes the problem, but makes me feel better anyway). I also have the 2016 Taylormade M1, which I was fitted for in November at a great shop just outside of Toronto called Modern Golf (read golfspyshawn's Modern Golf review here: https://forum.mygolfspy.com/topic/17354-modern-golf-experience-post-one-two/   ). I would not have predicted to be fit that particular driver, but it definitely gave me the best numbers and results. I also have a set of MD3 wedges I bought in February, which helped gap my set better than the old wedges I was using.

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One of the things I enjoy the most about golf is the ability to challenge yourself. Having been an athlete all my life, and coaching athletes, I really enjoy the chance to compete and see myself improve. It fills the competitive fire for me during the summer and gives me a great chance to relax with friends. I have golfing very recreationally for years, since I started playing with my father and grandfather off-and-on in high school. I actually caddied for my grandfather on a golfing trip he took when I was 9 (so I obviously wasn't much of a caddie) but it let us spend time together and helped spark my love of the game. I have really only been taking golf seriously for the last year, I probably played more rounds last year than I have in the last decade, and obviously started to see myself improve. This then fueled my desire to play more, and get even better, and now, I'm an MGS member, so I'm not slowing down anytime soon.

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I like to play a mix of solo rounds and rounds with friends. Both are enjoyable for different reasons and both allow me to practice different parts of my game. The one thing I hate to be is a slow golfer, I never want to hold anyone up on the course and I make it my business to be as quick as possible. I often find I play better when I have the feeling of someone breathing down my neck because it forces me to really focus on what I am doing.

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Most of my golf is played around Kitchener-Waterloo, ON, my hometown. There are lots of nice courses around here. As you get closer to Toronto (about an hour away) you really start to get into some high quality courses. I don't get out and play many of the big, long expensive ones, mostly due to the my limited skill level. I get kicked around enough at home that I don't need to be beaten around more than that. I bought my first golf membership this year, at a pair of city owned courses, so I am looking forward to being able to play as often as I would like.

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I am pumped to try these new Steelhead XR's. As you can see, they came shiny and bright out of the box and should be a lot of fun. I did go and get some fitting done from a local Callaway rep before sending in my specs, so the idea is that these should fit me very well. I have True Temper XP 105 shafts which should fit me up nice. I am hoping to improve my consistency with these irons and add a bit of distance. In particular, I'm really excited to try out my 3 iron, as I have been playing with a hybrid for the last little while. Looking forward to going through with this process and I hope you guys enjoy reading these reviews!

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Driver- PING G400 LST w/ Project X Evenflow Black

Fwy- TM Aeroburner 16.5HL

Irons- Callaway Steelhead XR (3-PW)

Wedges- Callaway MD3 (50,54,58)

Putter- Cleveland TFI Satin Cero

Ball-  Snell MTB-X

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Callaway Steelhead XR Irons – Official MGS Forum Review by newballcoach

Normally when I hear the word Steelhead, I start thinking about fall fishing in the rivers that flow from the Great Lakes. But this time, we're talking about something easier to catch flush, the new Callaway Steelhead XR Irons.

I have made a mistake during this review process. You may not know this, but teachers are terrible listeners! So when MGS recommends for me to take the clubs to the range first, I do the opposite. So it has taken me much longer than I would like to become accustomed to these irons. So I shot some pretty ugly scores right after I got them, which had me legitimately terrified. However once I spent a couple of nights on the range, I got it. And then I got it again, and again. These clubs have given me an opportunity to make a solid shot from any lie and I've been able to really dial them in. I'm creating more spin in the short irons, and more accuracy in my long irons while gaining distance. If that sounds ridiculous, well my friend, you need to read on. As I posted before, I'm around a 20 handicap, so I make lots of mistakes on the course. These irons have made my life a lot easier, and have given me a lot less excuses on the course.

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Performance

First of all guys, I think you need to read the MGS Most Wanted GI Irons post from a week ago (link is here: https://mygolfspy.com/2017-most-wanted-game-improvement-iron/ ). That test definitely proved some of the things that I had thought about these irons, but it was interesting to see those results. I will explain further as we go on.

Performance at the Range

The first thing you will notice when you hit these bad boys is distance. You will improve your ball speed which will increase your distance. That part is non-refutable. So if you are looking to hit the ball farther, these are the clubs you are looking for. From reading about them, Callaway has put tons of research and innovation into increasing the ball speed, and it's worked, these guys are bombers. I am at least half a club longer on every iron. It makes a great sound when you smash the ball and it really zips and goes.

The launch has been excellent in the higher lofted clubs. The long irons of course are more difficult to get into the air, but not comparatively more than other clubs. The accuracy has been something I have struggled with, part of that may have been more of my issues than the clubs. I have not been able to control these clubs as much as I would like, with fades, low/high trajectory etc. However to be honest, that's never been a strength of my game so that may be a problem of the archer versus the arrow.

An area where these clubs shine is forgiveness. Even on mishits, toe hits or thin shots the ball still gets nicely down range towards its target. It obviously doesn't end up where you wanted it, but it does a great job of giving you an opportunity to play another shot. As a man who makes a lot of mistakes, this has been very helpful for me. The large oversized heads are definitely important to that.

Range Score:  9/10

 

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They make a good alignment stick too!

 

Performance on the Course

 

My accuracy has been hit or miss. I've struggled with my own swing (had to get a lesson to straighten myself out) and that has impacted my ability to be accurate. If you want to keep your golf swing during the summer, don't have a baby. She hijacked my golf game! That being said, when I have my swing dialed in, these clubs have been easy to hit straight and land softly on the green. My best accuracy gains have been with my shorter irons, 9 and PW, which is not surprising because they are the easiest to hit.

The biggest surprise to me and the most fun has been the 3-iron. I've never had a 3-iron before and I was really interested in comparing this club to my existing Adams hybrid. My success with this club has made me re-think my entire golf bag, so much so that I think I have ditched my 3-wood. I have been using the 3-iron mostly as a driving iron, using it off the tee on shorter par 4's or tight holes. It has been amazing! I have been getting around 230-40 yards of carry off the 3-iron, and then obviously a bit of roll due to the lower launching and lower spinning nature of the club. This has been a perfect replacement for my 3-wood, which doesn't go much farther than that. There are 3 holes at my home course that are perfect for my 3-iron and I don't think it's any surprise that I've scored better hitting the 3-iron and putting myself in a better position.

My distance gains have been consistent across the board with all my irons, at least a half club longer and in some cases more. I went from having a slightly less than 150 yard carry with my 7-yard to being consistently over 160 (as measured on a Foresight at the Golftown where I did my club fitting). This has caused me, at times, to hit over the green because I have miscalculated the club or swing I needed. This is a good problem to have, but is something that I will be able to adjust to in time.

Like most GI clubs, these have been very easy to get up into the air consistently. This has led to a huge advantage in holding greens, because the descent angle has minimized rollout. I'm holding greens more than I ever have before, and that has definitely helped me shoot better scores. The only issue I have had is that I am unable to keep the ball down often when I need to, which means it gets up into the wind. Maybe a more skilled player would be able to do better, but I can't.

Without a doubt these clubs have helped my game and my scores (shot my best 2 rounds ever with these bad boys).
 

Course Score: 37/40

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To summarize, these clubs have performed up to my highest expectations. I have held more greens, hit longer distances and generally felt more confident about my iron play. These have done exactly as advertised, improved my game.

I was playing Adams XTD Cross Cavity clubs. They're gone, I sold them. These Steelheads are gamers, going straight into the bag.

I was pleasantly surprised with the launch and spin I have gotten from these clubs. I was not expecting to be able to hold greens so well with these clubs. Even with 2-piece Surlyn balls I'm able to get a small rollout after impact. I've never fixed so many ball marks in my life. The shorter irons in particular have been excellent for this. My iron play from 100-150 has been a big area of improvement. I definitely think that although the range performance on these clubs was awesome, I think the course gains I have seen are even superior to that. It's one thing to be able to smash an iron farther, but if it doesn't help your game, then what's the point.

As I said, if you are looking for clubs with lots of workability, these probably are not for you. They are more of the “point and shoot” variety, encouraging a straighter ball flight and offset to help decrease slices. But hey, I know a lot of golfers who could use a little more point and shoot in their games.

Looks

I will say that (as you can tell from the pictures) these clubs do have quite a big offset. The soles are also extremely wide. I personally think these clubs straddle the line between GI and Super GI clubs. I think that is partially why they scored so poorly in the Most Wanted testing. The accuracy was not there in many of those clubs, even though they were the longest and fastest off the face. Now, those results say other testers had difficulty launching these clubs high and getting them to spin (depending on the club). That was not my experience, I saw a great increase in both of these areas.

I do love the shape of these clubs! The steelhead look is classic and the graphics on the club are really sharp. My wife (not a golfer) has even commented on how cool they look and that's a victory in itself! I think they look sharp, especially with the true temper shafts and the all chrome look. My general theme with my golf equipment is red, grey and black (Guelph Gryphon colours) so these fit in extremely nicely. I think they definitely catch the eye, and we all know that's a bit part of winning the retail space.
 

Looks Score: 14/15

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Look of the 3-iron at address

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The 9-iron, with lots of offset

Sound and Feel

I love the sound of these clubs. It has a nice solid “crack” at impact when you pure it. This may sound crazy, but it reminds me of the solid crack of a wooden bat making contact with a ball during a baseball game (my first sport). It feels great in your hands. With my old clubs I would feel a ton of vibration, especially on mishits. Now, the sound obviously isn't as good when you don't pure it, in particular thin shots have a real “clunk” type of sound to it.

 

Sound and Feel Score: (14/15)

 

Likelihood of Purchase

I would absolutely buy these clubs. I think that's obvious from the review. In fact, more people in North America are buying these irons than other (they're the #1 sellers right now). I think that has a lot to do with the attractive looks but also how easy they are to hit. You can smash them, and they go straight. Most of us aren't aspiring tour players, we don't need fancy workable irons that let you hit “all the shots.” I'm happy with one shot, and these guys will help you deliver it.

LOP Score: (20/20)

 

 

As an addition, I played a round on a 9-hole course using JUST the Steelheads. I wanted to see if these clubs were versatile enough to play all the shots on a course. I was pleasantly surprised, because I was able to use the 3-iron off the tee and had mid irons into every green (with the exception of the 500 yard par 5). The only area I had some issues were greenside performance (because of only having a pitching wedge) but it was a fun surprise to be able to play only irons for a round. These clubs really can do anything!

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Driver- PING G400 LST w/ Project X Evenflow Black

Fwy- TM Aeroburner 16.5HL

Irons- Callaway Steelhead XR (3-PW)

Wedges- Callaway MD3 (50,54,58)

Putter- Cleveland TFI Satin Cero

Ball-  Snell MTB-X

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Stage Three - The Follow Up & Value Question.

 

The Five Questions

  1. Will this product go in your bag? Why or why not?

  2. To whom, if anyone, would you recommend this product? Why?

  3. How, if at all, did this product change your overall impression of [brand]?

  4. What feature would you change or eliminate from the next generation of this model?

  5. What feature do you really like, and would most like to see continued or evolved in future models?


 

  1. This product is absolutely, unequivocally, 100% going into my bag. I have sold my old irons, I no longer needed them after I started hitting the XR's. I have enjoyed the increase in distance and the ability to hit consistent straight shots.

  2. I would recommend this product to anybody who is looking for consistency and can handle what they will have to give up. You won't have world class “feel” when you hit the ball. You won't be able to shape shots on command. You won't have the sexiest clubs in the world. You will just have irons that get the ball up in the air and on the green. Definitely a club for the mid to high handicapper, especially somebody who doesn't practice much or needs help with launch.

  3. I can't say I had much of a concrete impression on Callaway going in. If anything, I would have said they made clubs for more of the every man golfer. This product has done nothing to sway that opinion. These are clubs that make regular everyday golfers better and that is exactly what they have done to me (well, sometimes).

  4. I might try to offer the different colour options in each version of the club (XR and XR Pro). I'm a big fan of the dark coloured irons (no one can see the scratches I put on them) and I would have liked to have the option. Doesn't seem to be that difficult to do. Perhaps the finish could also be worked on? I have noticed these irons did not hold their finish well, they are quite scratched and look like they've been through a bit of a battle. Of course, that might be more my fault.

  5. I like the expanded toe in the steelhead design, which creates more forgiveness, as well as the extra grooves on the bottom of the club. The face cup inserts on the bottom also provide a ton of launch, which is a great thing in these clubs and helps make them easier to hit. I also thought the stock shaft and grip options were excellent and help make these clubs right for everybody. Callaway needs to maintain the forgiveness in these irons, because they are more forgiving than your wife when you sneak out for 18 holes on the weekend.

 

Thanks everybody for reading, this really was an awesome experience. Thanks especially for mygolfspy for choosing me and to Callaway for making it all happen. I have had my eyes opened to how different clubs work and how they are right for different golfers. Thanks again everybody!

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Driver- PING G400 LST w/ Project X Evenflow Black

Fwy- TM Aeroburner 16.5HL

Irons- Callaway Steelhead XR (3-PW)

Wedges- Callaway MD3 (50,54,58)

Putter- Cleveland TFI Satin Cero

Ball-  Snell MTB-X

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20170525_154826.jpg   

This video is awesome on it's own accord, but the last few seconds demonstrate my reaction to being picked for this testing:

 

https://youtu.be/9_33MzgnBG0?t=57s

 

 

First of all I was pretty jacked up when I got a message from Golfspy Meyer late one evening a little over a month ago.  I vividly remember laying in bed, sitting up and throwing a fist pump to the point of shaking the bed and waking my wife up.  I read a lot about these "players cavity" irons and have been very interested in their looks and performance.  Well needless to say the looks are pretty stellar, no arguing that.

 

They came in a beautiful brown box with "CALLAWAY" on it and each was individually packaged for freshness.

 

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1. Handicap/average score?

My current index as of 6/1/17 is 2.5 and my scores float between 71 and 78. My lifetime low is 69 and a couple times per year I can be subject to the occasional “balloon” round of 81 if it is windy.

 

2. Strengths of your game?

The biggest strength of my game is without a doubt my putting (it is the only club in my bag that has not changed since 2007). I'm blessed with naturally good feel on the greens but I am also really good at reading breaking putts. I like to consider my course management a big strength as well, I'm a “percentage shot” kind of guy (I would drive Roy McAvoy nuts) and use a lot of fairway metals or long irons off the tee on par 4s/5s. Third for me would be driver, it is a club that I have always been confident with. I keep it cut shorter then normal for accuracy purposes but still maintain plenty of distance.

 

3. Weakness of your game?

Unfortunately the thing holding me back from being a better player is my iron play overall. I battle consistent ball flight issues with my irons throughout and have yet to find a set of irons which can help remedy that (big part of being interested in these Steelheads). I am naturally a high ball hitter but stuggle with long iron trajectory and hit short irons that are far too high most of the time.

 

4. Typical ball flight?

My “typical” ball flight can be described as high and always moving in one direction or another. I am really confident in moving the ball, draw or fade because I don't believe the golf ball was designed to fly straight on purpose. I love shaping shots and trying new things each time I'm on the course. My stock shot or go to shot is a high fade though. It is very difficult for me to hit irons and wedges low, so as you can guess I tend to struggle in the windy conditions.

 

5. Typical miss?

Typical miss is a blocked shot off the toe, I can also over-turn a draw occasionally as well. I try to make sure that, because I prefer a fade, that if I miss it is going to get blocked. The “double cross” is such a horrible feeling.

 

6. Current comparable equipment?

Honestly, I don't have anything comparable to the Steelhead XR Pros, this year I started with a set of Dunlop Players Blades.

 

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I've only ever played cavity irons twice in my life (Titleist 962b and 690mb) and both only lasted a few months in my bag, and they we just in the long irons. I've played mb or blade irons full time otherwise because I love the feed back. I'm very interested to see how a “players' cavity” stacks up this day in age.

 

7. Swing tempo?

My swing tempo is very deliberate allowing me for good tempo, but also the ability to generate last second speed. I try to be really deliberate in the takeaway and for most of the downswing. If I get quick, that's when the “oh no” comes into play, or the “Thinzy Lohands” pops up. So by keeping it “timed” really well I fare much better around the links.

 

8. Driver swing speed?

Driver swing speed hovers right around 112 mph. If I've got a huge fairway without much trouble, I might try to step on one and I've hit 118 on trackman before.

 

9. What makes you love the game?

Hardy Greaves from The Legend of Bagger Vance said it best, “It's fun. It's hard and you stand out there on that green, green grass, and it's just you and the ball and there ain't nobody to beat up on but yourself…It's the only game I know that you can call a penalty on yourself, if your honest…There just ain't no other game like it.”

 

I absolutely love the individuality of golf and I love the challenge that each new round presents to us. Unlike a baseball diamond or a basketball court, a golf course is different every single day. I love that anyone has the potential to be great at it or qualify to play in our national open. “It doesn't matter if you're a garbage man, a bean picker, or a driving range pro who's check is signed by a stripper. If you qualify, you're in” (Tin Cup). I love that there are lots of options for equipment and that there is time for socializing in between the action.

 

10. How long have you been golfing?

I first took a swing with a golf club when I was eight years old. Played my first tournament at fourteen and have been at it still to this day.

 

11. What kind of golfer are you?

This is probably the most difficult question to ask on this list. There is a heck of a lot of adjectives I could choose but here are a few that came to mind right away. Athletic, deliberate, methodical, percentage player, social, and traditionalist. I am a person who lives for competition on a golf course, I am in no way motivated to play “just for fun”, at the very least we are gonna play for lunch or a beverage after. I don't believe in “bragging rights”, and if we were friends before we tee off, then we will be friends after and don't let the round get in the way of that. You literally can't get me to go play unless I have a reason to (tourney or charity outing), because to me “just going to play for the fun of it” just doesn't do it for me.

 

12. What's your story?

I grew up in Pinckney, Michigan, which is a town a very small percentage of people have ever heard of (about half hour north of Ann Arbor). I went to Wabash and Alma college for education, played on the golf team, and got a degree I'll never get a job for (philosophy…I know). Out of college I got into the golf industry as an apprentice pro at my local public course and fell in love with the work. I had a short stint in Oceanside, CA back in 2008 but other then that I've resided in Michigan all my life. I left the golf industry in 2014 for insurance to allow me more time for the Mrs. and our two young kids. It has been hell trying to build a book of business, but I'm starting to see the upside.

I don't get to play as much golf as I used to, but I still get out a fair amount each year. I love competitive golf environments and I always have to have something to play for. I enjoy two-man team events a lot too.

 

13. What is in your bag?

Golf clubs mostly, but I keep some other stuff like tees and balls too……Okay, in all seriousness here is where I'm at for this year:

Driver: Cleveland Launcher 8.5 degree

3-Metal: Callaway Steelhead III, 15 degree

5-Metal: Callaway Big Bertha, 18 degree

3-Pw: Nothing locked in currently

Sw: Nike Vrev Tour, 56 degree) (bent to 54)

Lw: Adams Pugliells Black, 56 degree (bent to 58)

Putter: Mitchell Studio Custom, 34 inches

 

14. How did you choose them?

First, lots of research goes into a club decision I make. I've never been tied down to “the latest and greatest” and never disregard something “retro” or “old school”. Callaway has made some of the best fairway metals ever from back in the early 2000s and the ball absolutely jumps off the face. Wedges I tend to stick with longer then I should, and mine have been around the block a few times haha. I've had my putter since it was new in 2008 and I'm never getting rid of it.

 

15. What region do you play out of?

I play out of the Great Lakes Region (or maybe the Midwest too?). Based out of Michigan, but I do travel a little to surrounding states. I've been to pretty much every area of the country for golf related events, and I think my top two favorite places to play are Barton Creek Resort (Austin, Tx) and Pawleys Island (SC).

 

16. Describe your short game

Outside of putting, a lot of my short game can be streaky. I can be feast or famine based on GIR, and I hate practicing short game stuff. If my feel around the green and inside 50 yards is good on a day then I'm gonna post a competitive score, but if not then here comes a 78. I try to be very creative with my short game but I am a firm believer in getting the ball rolling as soon as possible. I don't like to have to hit flop shots and I would much rather play from a bunker then be short sided in the rough or fringe.

 

17. How is your wedge play currently?

Wedge play currently is like my short game, very streaky. I think my GIR and hole proximity is significantly better with my 5 iron then my SW which is sad but true. A lot of rounds I will intentionally lay back off the tee to 165 yards so I can have a full 8-iron versus a 95 yard Sw. For as good as my feel is with the putter, my feel with wedges is probably that bad. I've never been good at “half shots” or “flighting” my wedges, so I try to make sure I have as full a shot as possible with them.

18. What are you hoping to get out of the irons?

I'm hoping to become a believer in cavity irons, and also benefit from more effortless distance. Playing mb irons provides no benefit for bad misses, so I am really looking forward to the XR Pros and the mishit benefits they advertise. I'm also hoping that this set can provide me with the ability to have more consistent ball flight and be able to “feel” some partial distance shots better then what I do now. I'm looking for these irons to allow me to generate a “flatter” trajectory as well.

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Stage 2:

Callaway Steelhead XR Pro Irons – Official MGS Forum Review by burkmi08242012

 

Player Biography

Well I started this year with Dunlop Tour Blades in my bag and I also have a nice set of MP-33s.  With older model or blades in general I always look to bend the lofts a couple degrees strong to help keep ball flight down (I swingweight to get the distance perfect).  I am a traditionalist by nature with golf and have never been someone who is drawn to cavity irons although I do demo them from time to time.  I like the “pure” and “simple” looks of a players blade iron, and the “softness” is unmatchable.  I like blade profile irons also because it is one solid chunk of metal with a lot of mass behind the ball to generate launch.

My biggest concern with cavity irons is always: Feel, head weight, sole width, launch angle, and adjustability.  I was really excited to try the new XR Pro irons from Callaway because everything that I read or saw indicated that these are “something different” and I am always looking for the new iron which can open my eyes.  I am always looking for improvement in my irons more than anything else because they are a different animal than any other club type in the bag.

 

My first “real set” of irons was from Golfsmith when I was 15 years old.  I still remember that fitting to this day and I was so excited to actually have some say in the set makeup from start to finish.  I got a set of forged cavity irons with x100 shafts and cord grips.  Man did I think they were awesome.  My first set of blades came a couple years later as college approached and I ended up with a set of MacGregor VIP blades which were the cat's ass.  Those things were so soft (and so hard to hit haha) and forced me to get better.  The feedback was incredible, and I was hooked.  Sixteen years later I am still a blade guy to the heart but I have always maintained interest in a cavity iron that can outperform a blade in my opinion.

 

I am a player who relies heavily on long irons off the tee for Par 4s and I rely heavily on having “full clubs” into the green when I can.  Because I like to utilize long irons off the tee a lot, I have constantly been fiddling with finding irons which can provide me correct trajectory, distance, and feel all in one.  I'm yet to come across that which is why every year is a new adventure for me.  I've played so many different iron sets in my life, sometimes 3 – 4 different types in a calendar year.  I'm literally that picky about my irons and have yet to find a set with staying power.  So having the opportunity to try something new and allow others to hear honest, unbiased feedback was a certain win-win for me.

 

The sets with the most staying power have been Titleist 690mb (2008) and KZG ZO (2007).  Those two sets were really close to being “the one” for me but I was never able to get 100% of what I was seeking out of them.  I've tried several cavity iron sets too, Titleist 962b is probably the best cavity iron set I've ever hit because they have a blade profile.  Extremely small cavity and minimal offset but they are cast and the feedback just wasn't the same.  The 690 set actually had 3-4 irons with cavities.

 

I'm a competitive person by nature and that is very evident for me with golf.  First, I won't go play just for the sake of hanging out with my buddies.  I can hang out with them whenever, so for me there has to be a compelling reason to tee it up.  Either a tournament, money game, or a charity.  I don't mind handicapped events, but the handicap percentage has to be agreeable (I don't believe in anyone getting 100% handicap in an event).  So for me, “testing” equipment is a bit of a competition because it is a contest to see which iron set hits certain parameters better.  So in this example, can the XR Pro irons outperform things I have in the bag currently or have recently played?

 

Having played golf at a relatively high level for a while, I was a bit bummed out when the golf industry wasn't working out for me anymore from an occupation standpoint.  Getting married and having two young children just absolutely conflicted with what the golf industry asks from an assistant professional.  I had a great run from 2006 – 2014 as an assistant pro, but family and income needs changed all that.  I had a good friend offer me a position with an agency for senior retirement services and I jumped at the chance.  A few years into it now and man are things moving in a much more positive direction.  I make my own schedule, have all weekends off, income looks really good (finally) for 2018, and next year I will be able to join a country club.  Things are lining up perfectly for the next 20 years to allow me to play in a lot of golf tournaments.

 

I believe that my game travels well pretty much anywhere because I am not a golfer who takes risks on the course.  The only conditions which I struggle with are windy because I tend to hit the ball really high most of the time.  I've played golf in a lot of different parts of the country and even got to visit Ireland several years ago.  I love watching golf, and I'm on youtube at least once a day looking at old Tiger videos, or classic duels on the course.  Things have changed so much over the last ten years for golf in general, that a lot of the “Traditional” aspects have gone out the window.

 

I am one of the few out there that will argue til the day I die that technology has ruined a lot of the game of golf.  And the view that our society has about needing “instant gratification” and 3 ½ hour rounds of golf is absurd.  If I buy a ticket to a pro golf event, I like getting my money's worth so a long round is better in my opinion.  Just like playing, golf is expensive, so why would I want to make my dollar less valuable by playing faster?

Anyway, I think you can probably get a good picture of who I am as a golfer and what I look for in a set of clubs.  Now on to the ratings.....

 

 

Performance at the Range

Describe the following:

•   Accuracy – Are you able to consistently hit your target?
I had some very good performance on the practice tee with these irons.  When making contact on the “Sweet spot” these irons are very accurate.  I could fade and draw the ball equally well with them.  I did hit some balls intentionally on the toe and heel to see what would happen and here's where we have some issues.  These irons were very susceptible to major direction issues when mishit.  I could feel the face of the club flair open or snap shut if I made contact on the outter portions of the face.  To the point of up to 15-20 yards offline in either direction on a mishit.  So I do have some concerns about that which will require a little more testing.  The shafts may have affected things a bit because they are lighter than the Dynamic Golds.

•   Distance – How does the club compare to other products strictly from a distance perspective?
On clean contact these irons do provide very good distance, not crazy long but I did hit them farther.  On heads up testing (based on clean contact, center face) here are a few results (total carry):
8-Iron: XR Pro(172 yards), Dunlop(164 yards)
6-Iron: XR Pro (191 yards), Dunlop(183 yards)

4-Iron: XR Pro (210 yards), Dunlop(205 yards)

•   Trajectory Characteristics – Does the ball launch high or low, or somewhere in-between? Do you find it more or less difficult to get the ball in the air?
These XR Pro irons launch the ball really, really high (and I already hit it high).  Now, that did lead to a benefit in the long irons.  I was able to get the ball higher in the air with long irons much easier with the Callaways than the Dunlops.  The XR irons across the set have a very high initial launch angle but they don't balloon.  They would launch out high but the ball seemed to “die out of the air” once it reached the apex, where as the blade irons launched flatter with more of a gradual descent.

•   Forgiveness – What happens when you mis-hit the ball? How much distance is lost? Does the ball still remain between the trees?
Ok, this is an area where I'm quite a bit frustrated, but it may not be entirely the clubhead's fault.  My misses with the XR Pros were unfortunately really bad both direction and distance.  I do think that the lighter shaft (I had to go with stock option, even in an x-stiff I don't think it is ideal for my profile) caused some impact issues for the head.  I could feel the shaft flexing a bit too much before impact, so my timing had to be really good or it could be bye bye golf ball.  I noticed very pronounced flared shots particularly in the longer irons when hit on the toeThese irons also felt very, very “clicky” if they weren't flushed.  This was a gigantic concern for me as is the case with any cavity iron, and the golf ball would just come off “dead” if there was any toe impact.  Off the heel it was a lot better, I didn't see nearly as much distance loss or the “banana ball” flight tendency with off-center hits towards the toe.  I do not believe these are “that forgiving” based on my experience seeing the significant loss of distance for mishits on the outer portion of the face and I sense that the “cup faced” speed benefits are a bit overblown.  As I said though, part of this may be caused by the shaft combination as well.

•   Control – Are you able to make the ball do what you want it to (within the limitations of your own abilities). Can you launch high or low when you need to? Are you able to move the ball right to left or left to right?
Yes, I can move the ball either direction, although drawing the ball required more effort than it does with a blade.  Easy as pie to hit a fade with these irons though, which is great because I prefer that shot shape most days anyway.  As stated above, launching the ball high is no problem, but getting these things to launch low for me required a lot of manipulation with ball position and angle of attack.  For someone looking to get a higher ball flight, these things are definitely right up your alley

 

Range Score: 7.45 (Out of 10 points)
      Accuracy: 1.25 out of 2.0
      Distance: 2.0 out of 2.0
      Trajectory: 1.5 out of 2.0
      Forgiveness: 1.0 out of 2.0

      Control: 1.7 out of 2.0

 

Performance on the Course

Describe the following:

•   Accuracy – How well did you your target?  How is your dispersion and your proximity to the hole on full shots? Partial shots?
From an overall accuracy standpoint, these irons aren't horrible.  The short irons (8-Pw) were extremely accurate and flighted the ball consistently.  Even with toe and heel impact, the ball more or less went on a straight flight path, not much curve.  The mid irons (5-7) were acceptable for accuracy, but the 5-iron is where overall accuracy started to hurt me versus forged mb irons.  The 3-4 irons are unfortunately a big bummer for me with accuracy standards.  I had several shots both on the practice tee and the course which caused me a great deal of strife.  Because we are only as good as our misses, with the longer irons I regressed from an accuracy point versus mb irons.  The heel contacts were far more serviceable misses then the toe contacts at lease.  With these irons though (3-5), anything hit on the toe felt dead as a 2x4 on contact and flared miserably out to the right.  I was seeing distance disparities up to 15 yards consistently in length and direction.  I found that toe contact causes the face to flip open and I would have to hold on for dear life to prevent major sliced misses with these things.

•   How is the spin? Do these irons help you? Can you back the ball up intentionally?
These irons do actually generate a pretty high level of spin for me.  The wedge and 9-iron were really good, I even got some pull back on firm greens.  I tried a few different setups with the irons overall and found that the really high trajectory combined with the moderate spin in the long iron heads was pretty damn solid.  On good contact I could routinely get the 3 and 4 irons to limit any roll out, and in some cases land like a butterfly with sore fee.  I've never been a “high spin” guy because I prefer to play for some roll most of the time, so I did like that I had a bit more spin control with these irons then I tend to have with forged mb styles.

•   Consistency – Are you able to control the distance consistently with these irons?
Depending on the contact at impact, distance control was very good or miserable.  As a player who really strives on distance control because I like to hit a lot of full shots into greens, these irons drove me nuts a lot of the time.  If I made solid contact I could consistently fly them the same distance within a couple yards, but any mishits immediately caused length issues.  The wedge and shortest irons didn't pose as much of an issue, but the longer irons really got my panties in a bunch.  I am unfortunately finding that no amount of technology is making up for the true benefits of a solid piece of steel on the end of a shaft.

•   Are you able to hit a variety of shots with these irons?
Yes!  These irons get a big A+ in my review for the multitude of different shot types I could execute with them.  I could hit fades and draws, and getting the ball up in the air was no problem at all.  The only problem I had was getting the long irons to flight down on full swings.  Everything would flight down if I cut off my swing a bit, but on like a tee shot, I just couldn't get the long irons to flight down.  I am saying an A+ though because I have trouble hitting the ball low anyway, so I don't hold the clubs accountable there lol.

•   Is the sole grind effective? How is turf interaction in a variety of conditions?
I find that these irons are about what I would expect with cavities.  Very few cavity models ever have had thin soles so I was prepared for a wider sole.  They did not disappoint in that regard, and I found them to be pleasantly surprising from a turf interaction standpoint.  MB irons tend to have a digging capability (particularly since I bend their lofts strong a little), so with these cavity irons I noticed a pretty nice benefit of them not digging into the turf when the conditions were soft.  Tight fairway lies were a breeze and I didn't have to manipulate anything for fear of digging too much and causing a ballooned approach shot.  Out of the rough I did have a little more difficulty if the ball was nestled down a little, because the sole of these irons is so much deeper then mb's I was having difficulty getting down after the ball, requiring me to swing harder to get a similar result.  I think that for someone who has a shallow angle of attack, these would be a source of frustration in the thicker types of turf.  Out of fairway bunkers though, these things were really great to prevent digging.

•   How is the sand performance?

Course Score: 31.75 (Out of 40 points)
Accuracy: 6.0 out of 8.0
Spin: 7.0 out of 8.0
Consistency: 4.25 out of 8.0
Shot variety: 7.5 out of 8.0
Turf interaction: 7.0 out of 8.0

 

Subjective

Looks

•   General shape.
The general shape of these irons is great from a cavity iron perspective.  The lines on the heads are really clean (think BMW) and there isn't too much curve on the leading edge.

•   Offset.
Well unfortunately like most all cavities, these could use quite a bit less offset.  In my opinion if an iron touts that it is a “Pro” model, there shouldn't be any need for offset.  The whole point of offset is to help players who are higher handicaps, but a pro style iron should never need to do that.  The 3-iron is this set has what feels like to me almost half a golf ball of offset (it isn't that much, but it looks and feels like it).

•   Graphics.
Graphics are top notch, bar none.  Callaway really did a great job with the cavity fill, colorations and design are really solid.

•   Other unique details.
The grey on grey gunmetal finish is a nice accent to really frame the ball.  At address I was very easily able to set the club behind the ball with confidence.

•   How does it come together visually?
Oh man, visually these irons come together really well.  The dark color of the irons hides the thick top line really well.  The only negative mark with these from a visual standpoint (besides long iron offset) is that the bottom of the cavity sticks out behind the top line at address.

Looks Score: 11.35 (Out of 15 points)
Shape: 3.0 out of 3.0
Offset: 1.0 out of 3.0
Graphics: 2.5 out of 3.0
Uniqueness: 2.5 out of 3.0
Visuals: 2.35 out of 3.0

 

Sound and Feel

•   Is it soft, crisp, dull, clunky, etc?
Well this totally depends on where you contact the face.  Unlike a solid piece of metal that mb heads are composed of, these iron heads were subject to the same detractors as other cavities.  On a solid center face contact, there was virtually no sound and the ball just went.  No vibrations whatsoever.  But if it was a mishit, there was a noticeable “clicky” feeling and significant vibration up the shaft into my hands.

•   Does it feel consistent across the face, or are mis-hits noticeably pronounced?
Unfortunately because these irons are not one solid piece, my fears about feel were revealed right away.  I believe that if they would have included some more mass behind the heel and toe via tungsten that we could have a higher performing fee factor.  Across the face it is consistent, but it is either consistently nice or bad depending on the area of contact.  Heel contact was a lot more reasonable then toe contact, anything catching the toe was dead to the world.

•   Compare to your best/worst feel and sound experiences?
The greatest feel in the world is an mb iron flushed just left of center face.  There is nothing like it in the world of golf.  On flushed contact, these Callaways come very close to that.  They make very little sound, and you barely feel anything.  I think the worst feel and sound for me has to be the Nike CCi irons from yesteryear.  Those things were legitimately terrible anywhere you make contact, and unfortunately if you hit these Callys on the toe, it is dreadful.

 

Sound and Feel Score: 9.25 (Out of 15 points)
Sound Good Contact: 3.75 out of 3.75
Sound Bad Contact: 1.25 out of 3.75
Feel Good Contact: 3.25 out of 3.75
Feel Bad Contact: 1.00 out of 3.75

 

Likelihood of Purchase

How likely would you be to purchase this product?
Well, me personally as it stands right now, I would not be motivated to go purchase these irons.  I think that even putting my preferred shaft in them, the heads are just too light and lacking face consistency.  I can live with more offset and the long iron back of cavity distraction, but these irons just don't live up to what Callaway presents to me.  I just didn't see enough distance generation on mishits and a straight enough ball flight when missed.  The toe misses were far too significantly worse than any mb's I'm going to play.

These are a really good set of irons, but I would pair them up with someone who is a moderate handicap and has a slower swing speed.  I get the feeling that like most products release, the “gains of distance” are really beneficial to people who don't have the swing speed to generate enough.  Also, I really feel like the person who digs a bit too much would find these a great match.  Now, if I had to provide a reason to purchase them, I think I would honestly purchase them in a situation where I'm going to adhere some tungsten or maybe lead to the heel and toe just behind the face. 

 

LOP Score: 10.0 (Out of 20 points)

 

Conclusion

Look, I'm a really difficult golfer to please, as I mentioned before I'm yet to find a set of irons which really has staying power.  I'm gonna rotate through probably 4 sets this year (these Callaways included).  There is nothing inherently wrong with these clubs, they just aren't for me at this point in time.  Will I continue to fiddle with them, of course, that's my nature lol.  I find these to be a really solid product for the right player profile, but like TMade tends to do, their claims might be a bit blown out of proportion.  I realize that there is significant time and monies that goes into R&D for these products, but every “pro style” cavity back still misses the mark.  If Callaway re-did these irons and established a better concept for mass around the face I think these would be killer.  Much like they discovered with drivers, what needs to happen with cavity irons is to develop a thicker face in the center and thinner at the edges with supporting mass right behind the face.  I do think for as difficult as I rated them, they really aren't that far off from being a really, really awesome set for a high speed, low handicap player.  For a “traditionalist” at first attempt they aren't the right club for the right person, but I can honestly say they are really close.  If anyone from Callaway reads this, I'd be happy to discuss further.

Total Score: (Add up all 5 categories and present a total score)

Range Score: 7.45 (Out of 10 points)
Accuracy: 1.25 out of 2.0
Distance: 2.0 out of 2.0
Trajectory: 1.5 out of 2.0
Forgiveness: 1.0 out of 2.0
Control: 1.7 out of 2.0

Course Score: 31.75 (Out of 40 points)
Accuracy: 6.0 out of 8.0
Spin: 7.0 out of 8.0
Consistency: 4.25 out of 8.0
Shot variety: 7.5 out of 8.0
Turf interaction: 7.0 out of 8.0

Looks Score: 11.35 (Out of 15 points)
Shape: 3.0 out of 3.0
Offset: 1.0 out of 3.0
Graphics: 2.5 out of 3.0
Uniqueness: 2.5 out of 3.0
Visuals: 2.35 out of 3.0

Sound and Feel Score: 9.25 (Out of 15 points)
Sound Good Contact: 3.75 out of 3.75
Sound Bad Contact: 1.25 out of 3.75
Feel Good Contact: 3.25 out of 3.75
Feel Bad Contact: 1.00 out of 3.75

LOP Score: 10.0 (Out of 20 points)

Total Review Score: 69.80 / 100.00

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Great introduction burkmi! Love the looks of those irons and can't wait to see how they perform and feel for you.

 

Sent from my SM-G955U using MyGolfSpy mobile app

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WITB:

 

Driver:   :cobra-small: F9 driver 9* stiff shaft 

FW Wood:   :cobra-small:  F9 wood 14.5* regular shaft

Hybrids:  :nike-small: Vapor Flex  3 hybrid regular shaft 

Irons:  :srixon-small: Z565 - 7 thru PW & ZU85 - 5 thru 6 with Recoil ZT9 F4 shafts                                            

Wedges:   :cleveland-small: RTX4 52*, 56*, 60* 

Putter:  Ben Hogan BHB01 blade

Ball:  :Snell: Black

Bag: 2015 Ogio Chamber Cart Bag & 2018 MyGolfSpy Stand Bag

 

 

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Thanks for the intro Burk!! Really looking forward to your testing of these.

 

Sent from my LG-D850 using MyGolfSpy mobile app

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:titelist-small: TSi2 Kuro Kage 50g R Flex

:titelist-small: TSi2 16.5 FW with GD AD IZ 6 Shaft

:ping-small:  G410 FW 7 Alta CB R flex 

:ping-small: G410 Hybrid 26 degree Alta CB R Flex

:titelist-small: T100S/T200 Combo 5-7 T100S 8-P T200 TT Black Oynx R Flex

:titelist-small: SM7 54.08 F 58.12 K 

:ping-small: Heppler Tomcast 

:titelist-small: ProV1X Play number 12

 

 

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Great read, Burk. Look forward to more!! "Now go get 'em" - Shooter McGavin

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using MyGolfSpy

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Titleist 917D2 10.5

Mizuno JPX EZ 3W, 14U

Cobra Fly-Z Hybrid 18.5

Titleist 816 H1 23

PING G30 5-PW

Cleveland RTX 3.0 50/10 V-MG

Cleveland RTX 3.0 54/14  V-FG

Cleveland RTX 3.0 58/12 V -FG

EVNROLL ER-3

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BUMP.  My Stage 1 is up.

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WITB:

 

Driver:   :cobra-small: F9 driver 9* stiff shaft 

FW Wood:   :cobra-small:  F9 wood 14.5* regular shaft

Hybrids:  :nike-small: Vapor Flex  3 hybrid regular shaft 

Irons:  :srixon-small: Z565 - 7 thru PW & ZU85 - 5 thru 6 with Recoil ZT9 F4 shafts                                            

Wedges:   :cleveland-small: RTX4 52*, 56*, 60* 

Putter:  Ben Hogan BHB01 blade

Ball:  :Snell: Black

Bag: 2015 Ogio Chamber Cart Bag & 2018 MyGolfSpy Stand Bag

 

 

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Congrats testers. Those are some beautiful irons, excited to read about how everyone feels about them :)

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Driver: :taylormade-small: SIM Max 10.5 Fujikura Motore X F3 5S

3w/5w: :titelist-small: TSi2 Tensei AV Raw Blue 75S

4h: :mizuno-small: CLK 22* Hybrid Tensei CK Pro Blue 80HY S

Irons 5-PW: :mizuno-small: JPX 919 Forged Nippon Modus 3 Tour 105 S

Wedges: :cleveland-small: RTX Zipcore Tour Rack 50, 54, 58 Modus 3 115 Wedge

Putter: L.A.B. DF 2.1, 34.5", BGT Stability Tour, 71* lie angle, Press II 3* Grip

Ball: :bridgestone-small: Tour B X

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Great start everyone, I am looking forward to reading all of your thoughts on these iron, I am a fan of the weighting of these clubs and also multi compound grips they use.

 

Newballcoach -  Congrats on the up coming family addition and want to hear how the new one likes the clubs!

Driver - Ping G5 10.5

3W & 5W - Taylormade aeroburner 

Irons - Cobra Amp cell 4-GW 

Wedge - Titleist Volky 60deg

Putter - Odyssey V-7 tank superstoke long grip

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