This seems to be the year where fairway wood technology is the topic of conversation. Top companies are making distance claims, going longer, lighter, adding slots on the crown, slots on the sole to achieve a boost in distance. Tour Edge may not have the big marketing budget of some of these companies but they have a steady history of great fairway woods and the New Exotics XCG5 is one of the hottest, most innovative 3-woods on the market.
When The Sand Trap was at the 2012 PGA Show, we attended a Tour Edge media conference and got to meet and play golf with members of the Tour Edge team. I have to confess to not hitting many Tour Edge clubs in the past, but I knew of their reputation, especially the cult following of their fairway woods. I heard theses clubs were long and knew that Tour Edge puts stickers on the clubs claiming that they were 20 yards longer. It was great to finally spend some time on the range with these products and was delighted when Tour Edge gave us an opportunity to write a review on the Exotics XCG5 15° Fairway Wood.
Tour Edge does things a little differently than the rest of the golf equipment world. They want golfers to utilize the very best materials that are available. That combined with some great engineering gives us some products that have a ton of technology and pleasing aesthetics. Or as they put it "Superior Materials. Superior Design. Superior Construction."
What has helped Tour Edge fairway woods stand out from the competition is that they incorporate titanium faces into the club. So, the hot titanium face you have in your driver can now be found in your fairway wood. The Exotics XCG5 fairway woods are no different. They are constructed using a beta titanium cup face with a heavy tungsten sole brazed onto a titanium body.
Brazing is an important technique used in the Exotics line that allows two pieces of metal to be joined without the use of traditional welding, saving weight that can be repositioned for improved playability and forgiveness. Extremely expensive, combo-brazing is utilized when only the highest-quality joint is needed. The parts must be fitted to 1/1000 of an inch and the base metals must be exceptionally clean and free of oxides. The process is expensive because it is performed inside a vacuum chamber over several hours. The end result is exceptional because it greatly reduces residual part stresses by using slow heating and cooling cycles. This,in turn, significantly improves the thermal and mechanical properties of the material for longer, better feeling shots.
The heavy tungsten sole plate provides 68% of the club head's total weight. At the PGA Show I got to hold a 15° head where the crown and sole were separated to examine the construction of the head. I can verify that the crown is light as a feather and the sole is heavy. Tour Edge is proud to say that "the XCG5 is the only fairway wood on the market that uses a titanium cupped face and tungsten sole." The titanium offers exceptional distance while the tungsten allows for a smaller more traditional-sized head with a low center of gravity. This gives the golfer increased ball speed and forgiveness from the increased MOI.
Also included is the Boomerang face design that, As Tour Edge says, "super-charged design offers multiple levels of variable face thickness that make the most of the rebound effect from more points on the face. The V-shaped boomerangs allow for thinner and thicker areas on the face that produce a hotter launch and superlative feel even on off center hits." The idea being that even mis-hits will go a long way.
The crown of the fairway wood is an elegant deep black that works well against the grayish beta titanium insert. The alignment mark is the Exotics "X" and works well to center the ball. The size of the head is moderate, not small and not large. The heavy radius of the sole works to make the club perform on a variety of lies. I was testing the Exotics with the Graphite Design Tour AD shaft, which is mostly white with some orange script and thought that contrast worked well. To me, it makes the black head stand out more and focuses your attention. The face angle is nice and square which is rare to find in a non-pro or "tour" model club. Most fairway woods tend to be left biased but the Exotics is very neutral at address.
My current fairway wood is a Bobby Jones, which has a similar head shape but is smaller and the face is much shallower. The Exotics XCG5's face is deeper than my 3-wood, which makes it more useful off the tee but took me a few rounds to get used to from the fairway. Compared to other 3-woods on the market, the face depth is right in the middle, some are deeper, some are slightly shallower. The heavy tungsten sole allows these shots to come off with ease but could intimidate a few golfers that might be used to seeing more loft or different face profiles.
Playability and Feel
I've been playing with a 15° stiff in the Graphite Design Tour AD 40 at the stock length of 43.5". This Exotics XCG5 is one of the best sounding fairway woods I have ever hit. When you hit it, you notice right away that there is something different about this club, the ball comes off the club faster and with authority. I wanted to film a couple shots to give you an idea of how solid it sounds.
It took me a couple rounds to get used to the deeper face because of how it framed the ball differently. I noticed that at first I had a tendency to hit shots thin. Caused by an effort to get the ball airborne and tipping my upper center back. Even thin hits were pretty good and went about as far as a good shot with my "gamer" 15° 3-wood. I also wasn't used to the longer shaft, at 43.5", it's 0.75" longer than my 3-wood. The overall weight of the club felt heavier and I was further away from the ball. As I started to practice more with the longer shaft and stay more centered I was able to launch some balls high that went a long ways. Ball flight is extremely consistent across the face, with a slight draw curve for toe hits and slight fade curve for heel hits.
The ball really does explode off this face and makes you look like a better player than you actually are. I enjoyed trying to rip it with the Graphite Design Tour AD shaft because it is a higher torque shaft and felt lively. I've never like the boardy, super stiff shafts like an Aldila RIP. I think the Graphite Design is a great fit for this head because it gives it a little extra kick to engage this hot face.
From these pictures you can see the heavy radius of the sole, almost "V" like when viewed from looking at the face, that allows for great turf interaction from rough, sand or just your ordinary lie from the fairway. This design makes the Exotics a versatile tool for attacking par 5's. I especially noticed this feature when I played a course that had very thin grass, almost hardpan, on most fairways. Even on shots that were a little behind the ball, the radius sole along with the low COG allowed me to hit some well struck shots.
I wanted to do some testing and compare my current 3-wood, a Bobby Jones, to the Exotics. Thanks to instructor Andrew Marr, I was able to hit 10 shots each on his Flightscope. Again, my 3-wood is 0.75" shorter, with the same loft and a Graphite Design YSQ 75 gram stiff shaft. The face of the 3-wood is a maraging steel which hotter than most on the market. I was curious to see what the actual numbers were because I had definitely noticed an increase in distance, but sometimes your mind can play tricks on you during a new club's "honeymoon" period.
I hit the Tour Edge first. I hit mostly good shots and for the Exotics XCG5 my average swing speed was 98 MPH, with a ball speed of 143.73 MPH (1.47 smash factor). On average I carried the ball 232.74 yards resulting in a total distance of 248.88 yards.
I then hit 10 shots with the Bobby Jones and my average swing speed of 95.2 MPH with a ball speed of 137.5 MPH (1.44 smash factor). On average I carried the ball 220.32 yards with a total distance of 240.42 yards.
I also hit the Exotics straighter, an average side spin of -670 (right to left curve) with the Bobby Jones compared to the Exotics with a side spin average of -288. The launch angles were almost exact for both 3-woods, around 15°, but the peak height (the point in the sky at which your shots stop rising and start falling) for the Exotics was six yards higher than the Bobby Jones.
It was good to see the actual data backs up what I was seeing on the course but had no idea it was 12 yards longer in the air. That is a huge distance increase and has been a lot of fun to bring out to the course. This past month, not only have I been testing the new Exotics but I also participated in match play competitions where my club competes against another club. One of the best fairway wood shots I've ever hit occurred in the 3rd match of the season. It was on a par 5 and I pulled my tee shot left but still had a chance to go for the green, unfortunately my hybrid shot hit a branch and ricocheted behind me about 50 yards. Very embarrassing and not exactly the situation I wanted when I was one up with 2 to play. I think being a little mad helped but I drilled my 3rd shot, Exotics XCG5 from 260 yards downhill into a breeze, over water, onto the green and salvaged par to halve the hole. It was a big shot at the right time to eventually win the match. I normally wouldn't have attempted that kind of shot but the situation dictated that I had nothing to lose. No way I could have hit that shot with my other 3-wood. For me, it's longer due to the shaft being lighter, which gives me some extra speed, the titanium face and the tungsten sole, which gave me a higher peak height.
The Exotics is available in a multitude of lofts and shafts. I was able to hit the 11.5° at the media day in Florida and was surprised how easy it was to hit off the fairway. The Tour Edge rep I played with that day announced he is using the 11.5° as his driver this year and routinely hit it longer than I was hitting my driver. The club is for those that want a super charged 3-wood, a 2-wood, or for players that struggle with hitting drivers and prefer to hit fairway woods off the tee.
Model Loft Lie Length Face Angle Avail. Flexes ----- ---- --- ------ ---------- ------------- 3+ WOOD 11.5° 57° 43.5" Square L,A,R,S,X 3+ WOOD 13° 57° 43.5" Square L,A,R,S,X 3 WOOD 15° 57° 43.5" Square L,A,R,S,X 4 WOOD 16.5° 58° 43" Square L,A,R,S,X 5 WOOD 18° 58° 42.5" Square L,A,R,S,X 7 WOOD 21° 59° 41.5" Square L,A,R,S,X
There are three stock shafts available, the Graphite Design Tour AD 40 gram, Exotics Fujikura BLUR 65, and the Aldila RIP SIGMA 70. The Graphite Design and Fujikura are "made for" shafts. The GD is the lightest and has the most torque, so it's great for players that need some extra speed. The Fujikura is heavier and feels more stiff while the Aldila is for a higher swing speed player that doesn't need help launching the ball and wants to keep the dispersion at a minimum. For more information on specs for the BLUR and RIP go Here
Standard grip with Fujikura Blur and Aldila RIP shaft is the Golf Pride Exotics New Decade Cord. Standard grip with Graphite Design Tour AD shaft is the Exotics Winn Lite. X-flex is not available in Fujikura Blur shaft.
I was fortunate to do this review at the right time. I was in the market for a new 3-wood and I think I found it. The use of technology mixed in with the sleek, pearl shaped design is a winner. Already known for their fairway woods, Tour Edge continues to impress and I would encourage you to try one out if you get the chance. Just take some time and appreciate the sound at impact. At $299 it costs as much as some drivers but compared to other well known fairway woods on the market, the price is within $50-$70. But those brands are using steel in their fairway woods, not titanium. For more information on the new Exotics line, go Here