Last year, Callaway introduced its X fairway woods. That design harkened back to the old, and still popular, Steelhead and Steelhead Plus series. After carrying a Steelhead plus in my own bag for over five years I replaced it last year with a TaylorMade r7. I saw a jump in distance and accuracy that was impossible to ignore. It kept my beloved Callaway from getting back in the bag.
I had a chance last year to demo the non-Hot Callaway X fairway wood and liked it. It felt pretty good but it wasn't quite good enough to make me think about removing the TaylorMade from my set - but it did make me think.
This year I was able to get my hands on the new Callway X-Hot fairway wood. Now I would be able to take a full and even better look at the new design. The question is, would it be enough for me to make a change after having a great experience with the r7? Read on to find out if Callaway is back in my bag.
Design, Technology and Specs
Callaway has had a long and successful history in the fairway wood and driver markets. They have continued the use of their S2H2 (Short, Straight, Hollow Hosel) technology in the X and X Hot fairway woods. This takes weight out of the hosel by boring through to the sole of the club and allows that weight to be moved to the perimeter of the clubhead.
The face of the X Hot is made of 455 Carpenter steel. This is harder than the typical 17-4 steel found in normal fairway woods. It is also lighter, allowing for a better weight distribution across the face and increased swing speed.
Another, newer technology that Callaway has employed in the X Hot is their X-Sole design. Also in a number of other Callaway woods, the X-Sole design ensures that, at address, the club rests on two distinct areas and does not rock. This allows a truer alignment.
There are multiple shaft options in the X Hot. Well, multiple is a gross understatement. Just about any shaft you see on tour can be had in the X Hot, including the Aldila NV series, Fujikura, or Grafalloy shafts. The shaft included in this review was the Fujikura Banzai.
One big difference is that the X Hot's standard shaft length is 44 inches, only ½ to 1 inch shorter than the standard driver shaft length.
With all the different shaft selections, there is only one loft: 15 degrees. The different kickpoints in the shafts can help a player get the ball up or down a bit more if they feel they need an adjustment.
Look and Feel
Callaway has made a very smooth and classic looking club in the X Hot. The top is solid black with a glossy finish broken only by the familiar Callaway chevron as an alignment aid. Coming from a Steelhead, the clubface is quite familiar to me.
What I liked most about the Steelhead is how the face of the club rounds off at the bottom. Some fairway metals, like the Titleist 904 series, have a flatter bottom. Callaway's rounded bottom gives me the feeling that I can hit the X Hot off of any lie, no matter how thin it may be. Others may like think that the flat bottom enables them to sweep the ball off the ground, but I prefer a sharper, deeper leading edge that makes it easier to hit the ball higher up in the face.
One big difference in feel, mentioned before, is the length of the shaft in the X Hot. At 44 inches, it is very noticeable to me at address. It nearly feels like I'm trying to hit a driver. While this gives a player more swing speed resulting in a boost of distance, it takes a bit of getting use to. Don't worry, after a bucket of balls, you'll get the hang of it.
There are two distinct areas that a fairway wood serves to just about any golfer. First, and most obviously, is as a club that lets you advance the ball as far as you can off of the ground. Second, as a club to hit off the tee - or a backup to your driver for some people. The X Hot performs admirably in both.
I expected to struggle hitting the X Hot off the ground. The extra length in the shaft gave me the initial feeling that the club was too long to hit without teeing it up. My brain was telling me I had a driver in my hands, not a fairway wood. Add to this the fact that the range I use is covered in a very thin, brown, dry Bermuda grass. It really doesn't do much for your confidence. To top it off, while not big, the X Hot is larger than the previous fairway woods I've owned - the Steelhead Plus and TaylorMade r7.
It only took a few swings to remind me why I loved the Callaway design. My first few balls off the tight lies got up easily into the Carolina air. I quickly looked at the face, scuffed slightly after its first contact with a golf ball, and I could easily see that I was striking it much higher into the face than I thought I would. Again, I think it is that deep leading edge that helps me get down into the ball.
I was easily matching the distance of my TaylorMade r7 and could control the ball a lot easier. At times I can hook the r7, but I never had that problem with the Callaway X Hot. For the most part my misses were pushes that didn't draw back in as much as I'd like, but they were misses that were not off by much given the distance they covered.
As for the second use of the fairway wood, the Callaway X Hot is absolutely perfect. Once I teed up a ball and hit the X Hot, I was sold. I'm the kind of person that doesn't mind pulling the fairway wood out of the bag and hitting it on shorter or tighter par fours. Normally this comes at a sacrifice of distance. Well, I can tell you that the sacrifice isn't biblical any more.
During my testing on the range, I alternated the X Hot with my TaylorMade r7 TP driver to get a feel for carry and roll distances. I can tell you with certainty that the X Hot was carrying only a few yards less than my r7 TP driver. It didn't roll as far, but I think that the distance loss between the two clubs was in the 10-15 yard range where it was (at least) in the 20-25 yard range with my other fairway woods.
On the course, it was more of the same. I was playing a shorter par four at my home course and we were teeing up from about 310 yards, slightly up hill. With bunkers left and right, instead of hitting driver I pulled the X Hot out and laced a beautiful draw down the middle of the fairway. I expected to see the ball about 30 yards short of the green but to my surprise I was only a few paces off the fringe. The guys in the group were surprised to see the ball that far and even more surprised when I told them it was a 3-wood. I've been around that green before, but only with a driver. I can control the X Hot better than the driver and not lose that much distance.
I guess it isn't surprise that I really like and highly recommend the X Hot. Once I got over the initial setup issues related to the extra length of the club it was smooth going.
Looking at how I use the fairway wood in my game, the X Hot makes even more sense to me. Its strength is off the tee and most of the time, when I pull a fairway wood out of my bag, it's on the tee. In fact, in all the golf I've played this year, limited as it may be, I have yet to hit a fairway wood off the ground. The X Hot has found a home in my bag.
For $229 at Edwin Watts, the X Hot is worth every penny. If you're someone who doesn't like to hit a driver, and are looking to replace an old fairway wood or driver, take a look at the X Hot. You owe it to yourself to at least give it a shot.