Over the last handful of years, Callaway Golf has released numerous drivers trying to appeal to golfers of all abilities. This year, Callaway has trimmed down its offerings to three drivers; there is the RAZR Fit Xtreme (the sequel to last year's RAZR Fit) and the new X Hot and X Hot Pro. The RAZR Fit Xtreme offers the most adjustability of Callaway's three drivers and is aimed at the better player. The X Hot line, on the other hand, is aimed at golfers seeking a little more in the way of forgiveness and a lot more in the way of distance. Callaway claims this to be their hottest driver and with the X Hot line their focus is very much on hitting the ball a long way.
In fact, the company's focus on distance is so high that this year that they have assembled their "X Team" of long hitters. For every 325+ yard drive that is hit by a Callaway staffer, they are receiving a "bomb patch" to put on their bag and a special "4 bills" patch is out there for those who smash one over 400 yards. While most amateurs won't be hitting the ball quite as far as that, Callaway says that this club will have you further down the fairway than ever before. Read on to find out if this club is really a hot as they say it is.
Test Model Details
For the purpose of this review, I received the standard X-Hot Pro driver with 10.5° of loft. The club has the stock, Project X Velocity shaft with a stiff flex.
Over the last few years, driver esthetics have gone under a bit of an overhaul. For many years, the go-to look was a dark (usually black) crown but all that changed with the introduction of white drivers. Now companies are getting bolder with their looks and we have seen many different colors popping up. For the X Hot Pro (and standard X Hot), Callaway has opted to go for a matte grey for the crown of the driver. I prefer my drivers to have a clean look at address and over the last couple years my favorite looking drivers have been the two Mizunos that I've had because they were void of any alignment markings on the crown. The same is true of this diver; there are no markings on the top of this club. It has an extremely simple and sleek look when set up behind the ball. The standard X-Hot doesn't have quite the same look as it has some graphics surround the edge of the club. The sole of the driver sports a glossy black finish with white and red accents. The face of the club is finished in black and features some grooves painted in white along with a stylized "X" marking the sweet spot of the club.
Of the drivers I've had over the last few years, this is the best looking that I've had. As I said before, I prefer the simple, clean look at address that this club delivers. I also love the finish on this club. The matte gray is different enough from the standard black that it stands out and has that uniqueness about it but isn't distracting as some of the other bolder colors might be. The matte finish is also nice because even in the sunniest of conditions you do not have to deal with glare. From a marketing stand point I think Callaway has achieved exactly what they wanted here; nobody else has a driver with this finish so it's evident when your using one, but it isn't so distracting that it turns people away.
Design and Technology
In my mind, golf equipment manufacturers are kind of divided into two different camps; there are those that stand more on traditional designs and those that are more on the cutting edge of technology. While companies like Titleist and Mizuno do their fair share of research and development and we see new technology in their clubs each year they are in that first group in my mind; their designs are more traditional and that seems to be their focus. To me, Callaway is in that second group. They are always trying to find a new way to make their clubs that much better than their competitors. While at times it can come off a bit gimmicky, their clubs are always packed full of new technology that promises to help you hit the ball straighter and further than ever before. It's worth noting that the top three in driving distance on tour this year are all Callaway staffers (1. Nicolas Colsearts, 2. Luke List, 3. Gary Woodland) so maybe it's not as gimmicky as some might think.
There are a number of new features on the new X Hot Pro that help the golfer get the ball further down the center of the fairway. Like the RAZR Fit Xtreme and the original RAZR Fit, the X Hot drivers have Callaway's OptiFit hosel. This adjustable hosel is one of the more basic ones available and allows for just three settings; either square (S), open (O), or closed (C). For me, the adjustable hose is more about fine tuning the club to fit your swing. Don't think that if you normally slice the ball like crazy but then set the face closed that you will all of a sudden be in the center each time. You won't be. While the OptiFit hosel has significantly fewer settings than some of their competitor's offerings, I think that it is more than sufficient for the average golfer. More settings means that there is more to play around with and that can lead to unnecessary tinkering. On top of that, it's kind of nice not to need a chart to figure out how to adjust the club each time. One feature that I really like about the OptiFit hosel is that no matter how the club is set up, the shaft stays in the same orientation. This is nice because if I want to change the set up, my grip still stays in the same spot so I don't all of a sudden have the grip's logo on the side of the club. As far as making the actual adjustments, it couldn't be easier. You simply use the supplied wrench to loosen the screw on the bottom, move the ring in the hosel to the desired setting, and then use the wrench again to tighten the screw until it clicks. The hosel is also sized very well as some of the adjustable ones available (admittedly fewer than in the past) are a bit on the large and distracting side.
Two other new technologies on the new X Hot driver are Speed Frame Face and Ultra Thin Wall Casting Technology. Both of these new design elements help to optimize the club's center of gravity. The Ultra Thin Wall Casting Technology allowed Callaway to design a very lightweight head while the Speed Frame Face helps to create faster ball speeds over the entire face. This means less distance loss and more forgiveness on the occasional mishit.
The X Hot Pro comes in with a 435cc head, which is slightly smaller than the standard X Hot (460 cc). It is also geared towards slightly better golfers as it has a neutral weight configuration as opposed to the standard verision which is set up to help golfers draw the ball. The standard length of the club is 45.75 inches.
At this point we know that there is a bunch of cool technology in this club and that it looks pretty damn good, but how does it perform? That's the important part, right. For me, it is among the best drivers that I've had. I've never had a big stick that I've hit longer and with as much accuracy as this one. That's not to say that I'm hitting this club 20 yards further than my old driver, because I'm not but I'd say that I've gotten maybe five yards or so more distance. That part really doesn't matter to me though; honestly is there a big difference between 250 and 255? Not really. What I've been more impressed with is the accuracy. I've still had my bad days where I can't seem to hit a fairway to save my life, but on those days, it's not the driver, I can assure you. On those days everything is bad. On good days though (and there seems to be more of them lately) I feel like the fairways could be 10 yards wide and I'd still find them. With this driver in the bag I've had rounds of 13/14 fairways and 14/14 fairways. Part of that is due to me getting better and putting in the work on the range, but part of that is having a club that is forgiving and that fits my swing pretty well.
One significant change that I've noticed with this clubs is the trajectory of my shots. Anybody who has read my reviews before knows that I've described myself as some what of a "line drive" hitter of the golf ball. With this club though the good shots are high. Not to the point where they are ballooning or where I feel that I'm loosing distance but just enough for me to notice that it's higher than what was my usual.
In terms of forgiveness, I have found this club to be above average. Callaway says that they have designed the face so that off-centered hits don't loose too much ball speed or distance and I have found that to be the case. Good drives for me are in the 250 yard range and even if I miss the center of the face a little I'm still right around that number. Same is true for direction; unless I really make a poor swing and hit it way out on the toe or something like that, I don't find myself way off in the woods.
Another important aspect of a club, and especially a driver, is the sound that it makes at impact. This is important because much of what is interpreted as feel is actually the sound of the club. Audibly this club is very good. In the past Callaway clubs had always sounded very much like an aluminum baseball bat, and it was a sound I didn't like. I found them to be loud, high-pitched and overall annoying. The sound of this club is much better. At impact the club is more muted and gives off a deeper thwack when the ball is struck. I've also found the the club doesn't feel or sound "dead" at impact which was a common complaint with some of the early adjustable drivers.
The bottom line with this club is that it performs. I think most people go through a bit of a honeymoon period with a new driver where it can seemingly do no wrong, but even after that period has come and gone, I am still finding the results I'm looking for with this driver. Part of that is definitely due to improvements to my swing as I've been working harder than ever to improve but I'm still going to give the club at least some of the credit. I feel like I've found the total package with this club; it has great looks and great performance and it even sounds good. In the past I've felt like I've gotten two of the three. With tax season just ending, it may be worth it to take a portion of your refund and put the X Hot Pro into your bag.