I thought the tour and driver fitting I received at the Ely Callaway Performance Center back in May was a once-in-a-lifetime type of deal ...
... but then I get the call from Mike that they want to have us back to test out their 2013 line! Woohoo! I ain't missing that one! (Tons and tons of thanks go to all of the guys at Callaway, as well as Mike and Erik here at The Sand Trap, for making this happen and letting me be a part of it.)
This time around, we skipped the tour and headed straight for the driving range to do some testing. And you can't help but feel like a tour pro while practicing on what amounts to a private driving range. There isn't even a single ball sitting out there prior to the beginning of our session ...
(and at the end of our 2 hour session, they collected every ball off the range to give the next lucky group - could have been Ernie Els for all I know - the same experience) After taking this photo, that giant pyramid of pristene non-range balls was screaming out to be hit by the 2013 Callaway irons sitting in the racks behind me.
[Side note: It is at this point that I have to apologize because once I started testing out these new clubs I stopped taking photos, and before I knew it our time was up and we were off to lunch. I will try and make up for it by posting a myriad of pictures of my Xhot driver when I can.] Now back to the story ...
We had the opportunity to test four new sets of irons. The X Hot, X Hot Pro, X Forged, and X Musclebacks. I started by testing out the X Hot's. They are a typical Callaway Super Game Improvement iron with the oversized head and thick topline. Not my cup of tea, as I prefer my irons to look a little more "blade-like" at address, however, these were easy to hit. Because of the look, I didn't spend too much time on them though, skipping over to the X Forged. These are beautiful looking irons! (Just ask Beachcomber ... I'm surprised Santa didn't bring him a set of these!) I have never owned a forged iron of any kind, nor would my game benefit from it at this point, so I took the opportunity to hit these while I could. They felt great and were surprisingly forgiving on all but my more severe mis-hits off the toe. (It's because of those misses that I will not be in the market for player's irons anytime soon, at least until I sort that out) If I was a better ball-striker I might consider these irons. One reason I wouldn't ...
Is because of the X Musclebacks. Good lord, these things are gorgeous! Some might find the X design/pattern on the back as a bit over-stated, but not me. I love it. And I was making good swings with these clubs as well, putting a few nice high draws out there to 170 or so with a 7 iron. Again, if I was in the market for new clubs and was ready for blades ... these would be my choice. I loved them back in May, and I love them now!
Lastly, I spent some time with the X Hot Pro's. Now, I feel like these irons were made for me and my game as it currently stands. A cast cavity back GI iron with plenty of tech behind, but a simple thin topline look from up above. Similar to the i20's that I currently play, these irons were just as long as the forged irons on solid hits, and a lot friendlier on my toe misses. If I swapped these in for my i20's, I don't think I would miss a beat.
One thing all four sets had going for them in my book is their look. The players irons are simple and sleek with no color paintfill to speak of ... just chrome (or satin) and black. And the X Hots and X Hot Pro's were not gawdy at all ... as I've come to expect from typical irons in the GI and SGI categories. The only addition to the Raiders colors on these is the red "X" in the middle. Well done, Callaway!
Next it was on to the hybrids and fairway woods. The hybrids I tested were the X Hots and X Hot Pro's. Love the matte grey finish! The most obvious difference between the two is the head size. The X Hot Pro's were considerably smaller than the X Hot, otherwise they looked almost identical. I was a fan of the bigger X Hot, since it leaned more towards a fairway wood look.
The biggest winner of the day for me, however, was the X Hot fairway woods. (You won't see any pictures of these until I believe January 7th, but Mike and Shawn will have plenty to share at that point) I was hitting the 3 wood in 15 degree and 13.5 degree (X Hot Pro). Due to my steep swing angle and low launch, the 13.5 was not for me, unless I used it exclusively as a 'stinger' club. The 15, however, was a monster. I'm not sure what the 'X' stands for, but I most definitely know what the 'hot' stands for, as this thing was smokin'! The best ball I hit all day was in the (estimated based on the flag - not on Trackman) range of 280 yards with this bad boy. (My "average" 3 wood currently - Titleist 910F 15 degree - is about 240-250 at best) My best shots while testing out drivers barely surpassed this! If nothing else, they got something in these fairway woods!
Lastly, it was time to get fitted for a new driver on the Trackman with Garrett (he also fitted me for my RazrFit). We compared the X Hot, X Hot Pro, and Razr Fit Extreme, to my current Razr Fit. We ended up going with the same shaft I currently play ... Diamana Kai'ili XS. (For anybody wondering, shafts from current Razr Fits are interchangable with all of their new drivers, as they use the same tip system) The first thing we learned from my baseline data with my current driver is that I tend to hit down considerably with a fairly low launch angle. My attack angle ranged around -4, while my launch angle hovered around 9 degrees. My ball spin was in the low to mid 2000's along with a ball speed around 158-ish. With the X Hot, we were able to get that spin up in the 2700-2800 range and the ball speed to right around 160, while keeping the same tight (a relative term ) dispersion. (My best drives carried into the low 260's) The X Hot was the clear winner for me. (When they are available, I will post numerous pictures of it, along with a more detailed review after another extensive side-by-side comparison with my current driver)
All in all, I have a hunch Callaway is in for a nice bounce back year with these new offerings!
To top off the entire day, it was lunch and swing talk (along with some good teacher war stories) with Mvmac, his dad, and Beachcomber. A great start to the holiday weekend to be sure! Once again, a big thank you to Chad, Garrett, and all the guys at Callaway, as well as Mike, Erik, and The Sand Trap!
Merry Christmas (and Happy belated Hanukkah) and Happy New Year everybody!